4.11 - 1251 ratings - Source

Ellen Steinberga€™s Irma, painstakingly crafted out of Irma Rosenthal Frankensteina€™s voluminous writings, gives us an inspiring and richly rewarding account of the life and times of an active, socially engaged woman who devoted herself to her family and her community over the course of a long and full life. Irma (1871-1966) was born in Chicagoa€”just before the Chicago Firea€”of German Jewish parents who had come to the U.S. shortly after the Civil War. Irma attended public schools and the University of Chicago, participated energetically in Jewish womena€™s and social-welfare activities, raised her family, and published one poem and a small book. Irmaa€™s journals and diaries were private accounts in which she chronicled the rhythm of her days and the shape of her life. She recorded her thoughts and short quotations from her reading, jotted down her own poems and short stories, constructed dinner-party menus, and wrote biographical sketches of her family. Interspersed among the records of what she did when and with whom are a number of lengthy reflections on Chicago history, her early life, religious beliefs, education, her aspirations, disappointments, sorrows, and successes. She documented her familya€™s activities during the Chicago Fire, the citya€™s rebuilding, early educational curricula in the citya€™s schools, what it was like to participate in the suffrage movement and vote for the first time, the effect of the Great Depression on the middle class, and World War II as seen from her perspective. In each chapter, Ellen Steinberg has set Irmaa€™s contemporary entries and later memoirs against the context of the Chicago history that Irma knew so well. Irmaa€™s story will fascinate those interested in diaries and autobiography, womena€™s history, and Chicago history. From a plethora of rich source materialsa€”including over half a million words of Irmaa€™s writings alonea€”Steinberg has created a seamless, fascinating narrative about a Chicago woman who, although a€œnobody famousa€ (in her words), lived a vital life in a vibrant city.Fifth grade was fractions. Sixth grade was decimals, [and the] French and Indian Wars. Seventh grade was American History through the American Revolution and into the later formative years of the country. I loved the American Revolution anbsp;...

Author: Irma Rosenthal Frankenstein, Ellen Fitzsimmons Steinberg
Publisher:University of Iowa Press - 2004-04-01

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