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The Girl Explorers
Cover of The Girl Explorers
The Girl Explorers
The Untold Story of the Globetrotting Women Who Trekked, Flew, and Fought Their Way Around the World
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Never tell a woman where she doesn't belong.

In 1932, Roy Chapman Andrews, president of the men-only Explorers Club, boldly stated to hundreds of female students at Barnard College that "women are not adapted to exploration," and that women and exploration do not mix. He obviously didn't know a thing about either...

The Girl Explorers is the inspirational and untold story of the founding of the Society of Women Geographers—an organization of adventurous female world explorers—and how key members served as early advocates for human rights and paved the way for today's women scientists by scaling mountains, exploring the high seas, flying across the Atlantic, and recording the world through film, sculpture, and literature.

Follow in the footsteps of these rebellious women as they travel the globe in search of new species, widen the understanding of hidden cultures, and break records in spades. For these women dared to go where no woman—or man—had gone before, achieving the unthinkable and breaking through barriers to allow future generations to carry on their important and inspiring work.

The Girl Explorers is an inspiring examination of forgotten women from history, perfect for fans of bestselling narrative history books like The Radium Girls, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, and Rise of the Rocket Girls.

Never tell a woman where she doesn't belong.

In 1932, Roy Chapman Andrews, president of the men-only Explorers Club, boldly stated to hundreds of female students at Barnard College that "women are not adapted to exploration," and that women and exploration do not mix. He obviously didn't know a thing about either...

The Girl Explorers is the inspirational and untold story of the founding of the Society of Women Geographers—an organization of adventurous female world explorers—and how key members served as early advocates for human rights and paved the way for today's women scientists by scaling mountains, exploring the high seas, flying across the Atlantic, and recording the world through film, sculpture, and literature.

Follow in the footsteps of these rebellious women as they travel the globe in search of new species, widen the understanding of hidden cultures, and break records in spades. For these women dared to go where no woman—or man—had gone before, achieving the unthinkable and breaking through barriers to allow future generations to carry on their important and inspiring work.

The Girl Explorers is an inspiring examination of forgotten women from history, perfect for fans of bestselling narrative history books like The Radium Girls, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, and Rise of the Rocket Girls.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 4, 2021
    Historian Zanglein debuts with an entertaining look at the founders and early members of the International Society of Women Geographers. Founded in 1925, the society was started by explorers, artists, scientists, and writers who shared a common love for travel and exploration in an era when women were told their place was in the home. Zanglein briskly recounts the accomplishments of individual members and their fights for recognition, detailing, for example, how mountain climber Annie Peck (1850–1935) was the first to scale the northern peak of Mount Huascarán in Peru, in 1908, but was ignored by the media 26 years later, when a group of men ascended the southern peak. Other members included Margaret Edith Trussell (1928–1988), who argued that the female perspective was essential to the field of geography, and society cofounder Blair Niles (1880–1959), whose ex-husband, with whom she had participated in several expeditions, refused to include her name on their publications and plagiarized large sections from her personal publications for his book. With careful research and clear enthusiasm for her subjects, Zanglein makes a strong case that restoring these pioneers to the spotlight will “give a new generation of women courage to chisel away at the glass ceiling.” Armchair adventurers will thrill to this inspirational account.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2021

    Zanglein (law, Western Carolina Univ.) takes readers on a journey to meet the lesser-known women who traveled the world in the early 20th century. The author focuses on the Society of Women Geographers, and follows the four founding members: novelist and travel writer Blaire Niles, reporter and spy Marguerite Harrison, geographer Gertrude Emerson Sen, and writer Gertrude Matthews Shelby. In addition to following the lives of the four founders, Zanglein offers insight into the successes of other prominent members, such as Chickasaw Nation citizen Ta Ata as well as nurse and journalist Ellen La Motte. Notably, while acknowledging that there were no Black women among the early members of the Society of Women Geographers, Zanglein mentions that many of the women involved in the Society were also active in the NAACP, as they sought to fight back against discrimination. With chapters moving year-by-year, the author recounts how Niles and Matthews Shelby, especially, fought against the stigma of women traveling without a chaperone. Maps and illustrations are a highlight. VERDICT Zanglein comprehensively covers a wide range of accomplished women, and does all of them justice. This book is perfect for those interested in women's history and adventure stories.--Rebecca Kluberdanz, Central New York Lib. Resources Council, Syracuse

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2021
    A lawyer's account of trailblazing women who made history through their travels and their founding of the Society of Women Geographers. In her "first non-law book," Zanglein, who has traveled to 58 countries, reveals how a group of early-20th-century female explorers went about proving wrong the men who doubted their skills, grit, and professionalism. The author focuses on writer and world traveler Blair Niles (1880-1959), whose novels about Devil's Island convicts and gay men in Harlem helped her gain a reputation as "an advocate for marginalized and oppressed people." Niles and several of her traveler friends founded the Society of Women Geographers in 1925 after being excluded from the all-male Explorers Club. The wife of a prominent zoologist named Will Beebe, Niles caused a scandal in 1913 by divorcing him (he never acknowledged her assistance in his research) and marrying a younger man who shared her passion for travel. She took an active role in the women's suffrage movement, which put her into contact with such future Society members as Mary Ritter Beard, who had traveled the world "to recover women's history." In an ironic twist, Beebe offered opportunities for research and travel to many of the women--such as science artist Anna Heward Taylor and zoologist and deep-sea diver Gloria Hollister--who eventually joined the Society. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white photos and narrated in a style that moves back and forth between expository and quasi-novelistic, the book offers fascinating glimpses into lives that are as inspiring as they are unconventional. While the story lacks diversity--all of Zanglein's subjects were White, and many came from privileged backgrounds--the author's message, that "only when male bastions crumble will society be whole and history complete," is both topical and important. Informative reading on a subject with which many readers will be unfamiliar.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2021
    The Society of Woman Geographers is approaching its hundredth year and boasts more than 500 members worldwide. Brought together by a shared interest in expanding their knowledge of the world through travel and exploration, respectfully celebrating and preserving the cultural heritage of Indigenous people, and documenting the information they gather in writing, recordings, images, art, and dance, the first women of the society were trailblazers in every sense of the word. Writing in a conversational, often first-person voice, Zanglein profiles 17 intrepid members and chronicles their adventures and missions of inclusion and compassion within vivid historical contexts and via archival photographs. Blair Beebe Niles helped found the organization because the Explorers Club excluded women, and she wrote groundbreaking books about gay people, the incarcerated, and the enslaved. Here, too, are historian Mary Ritter Beard, mountaineer Annie Peck, Chickasaw actor and storyteller Te Ata, and scientist and conservationist Gloria Hollister. As different as their backgrounds were, Zanglein's "cast of characters" shared a commitment to learning about the world first-hand and championing human rights. A fascinating addition to women's history and the annals of exploration.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Girl Explorers
The Girl Explorers
The Untold Story of the Globetrotting Women Who Trekked, Flew, and Fought Their Way Around the World
Jayne Zanglein
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