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Madeline McDowell Breckinridge and the Battle for a New South

by Melba Porter Hay foreword by Marjorie J. Spruill

Availablecloth$40.00s 978-0-8131-2532-9
Availableweb pdf$40.00s 978-0-8131-7326-9
Availableepub$40.00s 978-0-8131-3914-2
Topics in Kentucky History
368 pages  Pubdate: 04/24/2009  6 x 9 x 1  26

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Kentucky native Madeline McDowell Breckinridge (1872–1920) was at the forefront of the suffrage movement at both the state and national levels. The great-granddaughter of Henry Clay and a descendant of several prominent Bluegrass families, Breckinridge inherited a sense of noblesse oblige that compelled her to speak for women’s rights. However, it was her physical struggles and personal losses that transformed her from a privileged socialite into a selfless advocate for the disadvantaged. She devoted much of her life to the struggle for equal voting rights, but she also promoted the antituberculosis movement, social programs for the poor, compulsory school attendance, and laws regulating child labor. In Madeline McDowell Breckinridge and the Battle for a New South, Melba Porter Hay recounts the remarkable life of this well-known vanguard of social change in the Commonwealth. The first biography of Breckinridge since 1921, this work features new primary sources, and draws on decades of research to bring the story of an extraordinary Kentucky woman to life.

Melba Porter Hay is former division manager at the Kentucky Historical Society. She is coeditor of The Papers of Henry Clay, Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers, and Kentucky: Land of Tomorrow.

"Dr. Hay has made an important contribution to American history, one that is of special significance to Kentucky history, the Progressive Era, and the women's rights movement." --Paul Fuller, author of Laura Clay and the Women’s Rights Movement

“Hay brings to life a multi-dimensional woman, emblematic of her times, with whom readers can identify and sympathize.” Melanie Beals Goan, author of Mary Breckinridge: The Frontier Nursing Service and Rural Health in Appalachia

"This is a valuable study that should appeal to historians, biographers, and social activists not only for what it reveals about the life of this gifted woman, but also for what it adds to the growing understanding of reform efforts in the South in the early decades of the twentieth century." --Ohio Valley History

"History buffs will revel in the new biography’s rich detail, marvel at Madge’s pace and recognize many of the settings." --Lexington Herald Leader

"The book is not only a highly appealing story, the details and documentation are exemplary." --Kentucky Kaleidoscope

"This is a thoroughly researched and insightful biography that furthers our understanding of the critical role women played in Progressive reform in the southern states." --American HIstorical Review

"Well written and substantive, this biography revels a strong elite woman with a powerful public presence in privately struggling with poor health, child-lessness and physical disability." --The Journal of Southern History

"Hay's Madeline McDowell Breckinridge deserves a spot on the bookshelves of scholars and aficionados of the history of women, Progressivism, and Kentucky."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society