Mary Ritter Beard Quotes

1876 - 1958

Mary Ritter Beard
Mary Ritter Beard. Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Mary Ritter Beard was writing about women's history before women's history was an accepted academic field -- her major works were published in the 1930s and 1940s.

Selected Mary Ritter Beard Quotations

  1. The dogma of woman's complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind.
  2. Viewed narrowly, all life is universal hunger and an expression of energy associated with it.
  1. Woman's success in lifting men out of their way of life nearly resembling that of the beasts -- who merely hunted and fished for food, who found shelter where they could in jungles, in trees, and caves -- was a civilizing triumph.
  2. In their quest for rights they have naturally placed emphasis on their wrongs rather than their achievements and possessions, and have retold history as a story of their long martyrdom.
  3. The volumes which record the history of the human race are filled with the deeds and the words of great men .... The Twentieth Century Woman ... questions the completeness of the story.
  4. Can it be, merely, that this is a man's world still and that the deeds women do are not of public worth?
  5. In military stages of society, when men take to war and women to industry and books and culture, it is deeds of military valor that count.... In peaceful stages of society, when men take to industry and to books and to culture, it is talk and learning that count.
  1. While it is generally agreed that the visible expressions and agencies are necessary instruments, civilization seems to depend far more fundamentally upon the moral and intellectual qualities of human beings -- upon the spirit that animates mankind.
  2. It is just because workingmen don't know their own power and have so little imagination that they are so scornful of the idea of their women folks voting.
  1. The very men whose wives, daughters, sisters and sweethearts are working in the factories, laundries, canneries and shops of this city and state will tell workingwomen that a woman's place is in the home, when these men themselves haven't enough wages to make it possible for their women folk to stay at home and live. Why, even their children have to work in factories and tenement shops that the fathers and mothers may have bread. And then there are all the unmarried girls who are the bread winners for old fathers and invalid brothers and brothers who must go to school. There are the widows with their little children and sons to educate and the countless women who have to earn for themselves every cent they have in the world.  What would all these women do in the home to-day? Starve.  Every workingman knows it at heart, if he stops to think.
  2. Every revolution has its counter-revolution. Every social movement in these days of wide-spread newspaper publicity meets its active adversary. Women, therefore, who are working hard for political enfranchisement are wondering whether new opponents are to be met in the promoters of the Institutes of Mothercraft now springing up all over this country.
  1. [About suffrage movement tactics] An organization that is working for the Federal and state amendments at the same time will find that one or the other holds its major interest and gets the bulk of its money. It is easily surmised where that major interest will lie. One phase of the work will lag behind, and if the referendum loses one time, its second trial must absorb still more of the attention and energy and money of its supporters.
  2. Unless one's philosophy is all-inclusive, nothing can be understood.
  3. It is grievous to read the papers in most respects, I agree. More and more I skim the headlines only, for one can be sure what is carried beneath them quite automatically, if one has long been a reader of the press journalism.

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Mary Ritter Beard Quotes." About Women's History. URL: . Date accessed: (today).