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

Sourcebooks. Mar. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9781728215242. $25.99. HIST
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.
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