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Elly Peterson

"Mother" of the Moderates
Sara Fitzgerald
With a foreword by Haynes Johnson
The life and political history of a woman who broke gender barriers in the Republican party—and later threw her support to a Democrat

Description

Elly Peterson was one of the highest ranking women in the Republican Party. In 1964 she ran for a Michigan seat in the U.S. Senate and became the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. During the 1960s she grew disenchanted with the increasing conservatism of her party, united with other feminists to push for the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive choice, battled Phyllis Schlafly to prevent her from gaining control of the National Federation of Republican Women, and became an independent.

Elly Peterson's story is a missing chapter in the political history of Michigan, as well as the United States. This new biography, written by Sara Fitzgerald (a Michigan native and former Washington Post editor), finally gives full credit to one of the first female political leaders in this country.

When Peterson resigned in 1970 as assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote that "her abilities would have earned her the national chairmanship, were it not for the unwritten sex barrier both parties have erected around that job."

"[Fitzgerald's] chronicle of Peterson's transformation into one of the first women to hold a national party leadership position is unrelentingly sharp."
—Ann Arbor.com

"In this gripping biography we meet one woman who entered a male-dominated world and triumphed."
—Francis X. Blouin Jr., Director, Bentley Historical Library

"An intense but subtle examination of the cultural milieu of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and the emergence of women's issues, all against the backdrop of a political world."
Dome Magazine

"Magisterially written, well-researched, informative, and entertaining."
—Dave Dempsey, author of William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate

"Fitzgerald's book is essential reading for anyone interested in how the Republican Party changed during the turbulent decades after 1960 and how women and women's issues shaped those changes."
—Kathryn Kish Sklar, Distinguished Professor of History, State University of New York, Binghamton

"Elly Peterson will be a text to which historians and researchers turn for insight into the yin and yang of mainstream politics in the mid-century."
—Patricia Sullivan, past president, Journalism and Women Symposium

Front photo courtesy of Margaret Cooke; back photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Elly M. Peterson Papers.

Sara Fitzgerald is a former editor and new-media developer for the Washington Post. She has also worked as a reporter and editor for National Journal magazine, the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald, and the Akron Beacon Journal.

Praise / Awards

  • "A magisterially written, well-researched, informative, and entertaining biography of a woman who helped throw open the doors to broader participation and power for women in the Republican Party and American politics."
    —Dave Dempsey, author of William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate

  • Michigan Notable Book Award 2012

  • 2012 Independent Publisher Award Bronze Medal - Great Lakes - Best Regional Non-fiction

  • Historical Society of Michigan 2012 State History Award

Look Inside

Copyright © 2011, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

News, Reviews, Interviews

Watch: Q&A with Sara Fitzgerald | 05/09/2011

Watch: Sara Fitzgerald on CSPAN | 10/18/2011

Read: Q&A with Sara Fitzgerald | PDF | 5/09/2011


Read: Review | PDF | July/August 2011

Read: Review | 8/23/11

Read: Review | Blog | 8/24/11

Listen: Shelley Irwin Interview | Podcast | Aug. 26

Read: Blog | 8/16/11

Read: Mention | 7/5/11

Read: Ninc.com

Media Kit

  • Press release .doc
  • High resolution book cover .jpg 
  • Author biography .doc 
  • Author photo .jpg
  • Photo 1 .jpg: Elly McMillan in her Red Cross uniform, Washington, D.C., 1943. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Elly M. Peterson papers.
  • Photo 2 .jpg: Richard M. Nixon, George Romney and Elly Peterson during the 1964 campaign. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Elly M. Peterson papers.
  • Photo 3 .jpg: Elly Peterson straightens Gov. George Romney's tie at a political dinner. Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Elly M. Peterson papers.
  • Photo 4 .jpg: Elly Peterson and President Gerald R. Ford in the Oval Office, 1976. Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Elly M. Peterson papers.
  • Photo 5 .jpg: Elly Peterson, former First Lady Betty Ford and Bella Abzug listen as First Lady Rosalynn Carter addresses the ERAmerica rally at the International Women’s Year Conference in Houston, November 1977. Photo Credit: Carolyn Salisbury, National Education Association, ERAmerica records. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 348pp.
  • 20 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03513-7

Add to Cart
  • $26.95 U.S.

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Keywords

  • Women, politics, Republican, moderates, political party, sex discrimination, Equal Rights Amendment, Michigan, partisan, Romney

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