Cover image for No stopping us now : the adventures of older women in American history
No stopping us now : the adventures of older women in American history
1st ed.
Physical Description:
vii, 422 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Introduction -- The colonies -- The 1800s arrive -- Before the Civil War -- The mid-1800s -- The nineteenth-century finale -- Turn of the century -- The twentieth century arrives -- The 1920s -- The 1930s -- The War -- The 1950s -- The 1960s -- The 1970s -- The 1980s -- The 1990s -- Into the twenty-first century -- Onward and upward.
Americans have always had a complicated relationship with aging-- and women have been on the front lines of the battle, willingly or not. Collins illustrates the ways in which age is an arbitrary concept that has swung back and forth over the centuries. From Plymouth Rock to the first female nominee for president, she provides a social history of American women and aging-- and gives women a reason to expect the best from what's to come.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 305.262 COL 0 1
Book 305.262 COL 1 1
Book 305.262 COL 1 1

On Order



"Gail Collins inspires women to embrace aging and look at it with a new sense of hope" in this lively, fascinating, eye-opening look at women and aging in America, by the beloved New York Times columnist (Parade Magazine)

"You're not getting older, you're getting better," or so promised the famous 1970's ad--for women's hair dye. Americans have always had a complicated relationship with aging: embrace it, deny it, defer it--and women have been on the front lines of the battle, willingly or not.

In her lively social history of American women and aging, acclaimed New York Times columnist Gail Collins illustrates the ways in which age is an arbitrary concept that has swung back and forth over the centuries. From Plymouth Rock (when a woman was considered marriageable if "civil and under fifty years of age"), to a few generations later, when they were quietly retired to elderdom once they had passed the optimum age for reproduction, to recent decades when freedom from striving in the workplace and caretaking at home is often celebrated, to the first female nominee for president, American attitudes towards age have been a moving target. Gail Collins gives women reason to expect the best of their golden years.

Author Notes

Gail Collins is a columnist for the New York Times . From 2001-2007 she was editorial page editor of the paper--the first woman to have held that position.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This lively and well-researched compendium by New York Times columnist Collins (When Everything Changed) surveys older women's social roles and achievements throughout American history. Working chronologically--starting with Martha Washington in the Colonial era and ending with the 90th birthday party for Muriel Fox, a cofounder of NOW--Collins juggles vignettes, longer portraits of both well-known and comparatively obscure black and white women, and tales of racism, sexism, and ageism. She writes of Gidget and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the abolitionist Grimké sisters; of the Rev. Pauli Murray, civil rights leader, and Rep. Millicent Fenwick, the "pipesmoking grandmother of eight" who represented New Jersey in Congress for eight years. She follows some women--such as abolitionist and poet Lydia Maria Child and diplomat Eleanor Roosevelt--through several decades. Collins portrays Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a "canny strategist" for raising her children before embarking on activism, thereby ensuring her respectability; credits the success of the civil rights movement to its older women; and describes a time when male doctors thought sex was fatal for women over 50. She inserts significant data with a light touch and leavens the subject matter with her signature humorous tone. This enjoyable and informative historical survey will delight Collins's fans and bring in some new ones. Agent: Alice Fried Martell, Martell Agency. (Oct.)

Kirkus Review

"This is the story about women and age in America," writes New York Times op-ed columnist Collins (As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, 2012, etc.) in a jaunty survey of women's lives from Colonial days to the 21st century, focusing on the ever changing designation of what counts as old age.Colonial society valued usefulness, no matter what a woman's age, and in the 1920s, any woman older than 19 was considered past her prime. Dispatching the 18th and 19th centuries in a handful of chapters, Collins looks at the 20th century decade by decade, enlivening her history with portraits of a wide variety of significant womenfor example, the legendary African American stagecoach driver Mary Fields, who was "past fifty when she moved to a Catholic mission in Montana, where she helped out by hauling supplies"; Frances Willard, who wrote a bestseller about learning how to ride a bicycle at 53; and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who published an article about divorce reform two weeks before she died at 86. Some women Collins profiles in her abundantly populated history faced growing older with equanimity; others saw aging as "a problem to be solved through personal effort" that included diet, exercise, cosmetic surgery, and hair dye. In the early 1900s, actress Lillian Russell "announced she was getting in shape through a regimen of rolling over 250 times every morning." Some womenlike activist Jane Addams and Labor Secretary Frances Perkinsdefied social expectations by entering business and politics; others believed that women's place was in the home. During periods of economic stress, especially the Depression, women who worked were condemned for taking jobs away from men. In the 1960s, however, when fewer workers were available because of the low birth rate of the 1930s, more opportunities opened up for older women. As Collins sees it, there was never a time when women's aging wasn't controversial and, for some, troubling. But, she adds, "we're teaching ourselves how to get old in the best way possible."A lively celebration of women's potential. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Popular New York Times columnist Collins continues her exploration of women's history with this breezy look at the position of older women in American society. Beginning with the legend of the first-known colonial woman to arrive in Boston in 1630, she moves forward to the present, mining pop culture, biographies, and a mountain of magazine and academic sources to reveal how older women have been treated (or mistreated) in the ensuing years. Collins' research (backed up with copious endnotes) is impressive, and she manages to make an unexpected page-turner out of her findings, sharing one outrageous tale after another about such luminaries as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Chase Smith, and Betty Friedan. There are a lot of lesser known names to be found as well, including African American examples, but the lack of Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American women (several of whom would have fit perfectly) is disappointing. Still, this is a diverting and certainly interesting and valuable read, hopefully the start of more comprehensive history on the topic.--Colleen Mondor Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

New York Times columnist and author (When Everything Changed) Collins presents a highly readable account of the history of women and aging in America. Beginning with the Colonial era and ending in the modern day, this work sheds light on the perception of aging, and how it has liberated and stigmatized women throughout the ages. Particularly in the country's formative years, the voices of women, and especially women of color, were lacking, but Collins strives for an account that is inclusive of the stories of all women. Throughout are summaries of influential women of each era, including Martha Washington, Jane Addams, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, making this a worthy addition to the canon of American history as well as women's studies. VERDICT Written with Collins's signature wit and style, this heartily recommended book is likely to enthrall even the most reluctant readers of history. An ideal selection for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/19.]--Mattie Cook, Flat River Community Lib., MI

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
1 The Coloniesp. 9
2 The 1800s Arrivep. 30
3 Before the Civil Warp. 45
4 The Mid-1800sp. 57
5 The Nineteenth-Century Finalep. 74
6 Turn of the Centuryp. 83
7 The Twentieth Century Arrivesp. 99
8 The 1920sp. 110
9 The 1930sp. 131
10 The Warp. 157
11 The 1950sp. 170
12 The 1960sp. 191
13 The 1970sp. 221
14 The 1980sp. 254
15 The 1990sp. 271
16 Into the Twenty-First Centuryp. 287
17 Onward and Upwardp. 302
Acknowledgmentsp. 335
Notesp. 337
Indexp. 405