Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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"Well-behaved women seldom make history."

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (1938-) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian specializing in early America and the history of women, and a professor at Harvard University.

You may have seen this famous quote appear everywhere - mugs, T-shirts, framed on someone's coffee table - but what's the story behind the quote? In 1976, Ulrich included it in her first published scholarly article about Puritan funeral sermons. The full sentence reads: "Well-behaved women seldom make history; against Antinomians and witches, these pious matrons have had little chance at all," - in reference to "virtuous women" who are overlooked by historians due to their subservient characters, and who "never asked to be remembered on earth".

Read Ulrich's full paper - "Vertuos Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735"

Nikol Chen (she/her)

Digital Content Manager, Laidlaw Foundation

Hello! My name is Nikol and I look after the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

I am originally from Kazakhstan and I studied Human Sciences at UCL. My final research explored the potential effects of design on patient wellbeing in hospitals, and I also took modules such as Ethnographic Documentary Filmmaking, Anthropology of the Built Environment, Art in the Public Sphere, and other less interesting-sounding things :)

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