Did you know how recent … The Memphis Public Library
Posted January 9, 2012on:
As late as 1971, the Memphis Public Library refused to issue library cards to married women in their own names. For example, Mrs. John Smith, nee Rebecca Doe Smith, could only be issued a library card in the name of Mrs. John Smith — no matter how she wanted the card issued. Carol Lynn Yellin, mother of Emily Yellin, author of Our Mothers’ War, fought a battle in the early ’70s to have a library card issued in the name Carol Lynn Yellin. Speaking about this later, she said: “Throughout history, women have yielded and diffused their own personal identities….Would it be so terrible if we had a new structure of society that allowed all of us to remain individuals and didn’t require as a matter of course for one half of the human beings to yield to the other half?…Couldn’t there be some awfully good things about it?”
I don’t know if Carol Lynn Yellin ever got a library card issued in her own name. I doubt it and her daughter does not reveal this in her book.
But obtaining a library card in the name she sought it issued in, though an honorable fight, does not measure the legacy she left the women’s movement by inspiring her daughter to write her wonderful book.
If you are a fan of women’s history, consider reading this terrific book: Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II by Emily Yellin.