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Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854-1911by Malvina Shanklin Harlan
Synopses & Reviews
Like Abigail Adams, Malvina Shanklin Harlan witnessedand gently influencednational history from the unique perspective of a political leader's wife. Her husband, Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan (18331911), played a central role in some of the most significant civil rights decisions of his era, including his lone dissenting opinion inPlessy v. Ferguson, the infamous case that endorsed separate but equal segregation. And for fifty-seven years he was married to a woman who was busy making a mental record of their eventful lives. After Justice Harlan's death in 1911, Malvina wroteSome Memories of a Long Life, 18541911, as a testament to her husband's accomplishments and to her own. The memoir begins with Malvina, the daughter of passionate abolitionists, becoming the teenage bride of John Marshall Harlan, whose family owned more than a dozen slaves. Malvina depicts her life in antebellum Kentucky, and her courageous defense of the Harlan homestead during the Civil War. She writes of her husband's ascent in legal circles and his eventual appointment to the Supreme Court in 1877, where he was the author of opinions that continued to influence American race relations deep into the twentieth century. YetSome Memoriesis more than a wife's account of a famous and powerful man. It chronicles the remarkable evolution of a young woman from Indiana who became a keen observer of both her family's life and that of her nation. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg began researching the history of the women associated with the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress sent her Malvina Harlan's unpublished manuscript. Recalling Abigail Adams's order to "remember the ladies," Justice Ginsburg has guided its long journey from forgotten document to published book.Some Memories of a Long Lifeincludes a Foreword by Justice Ginsburg, as well as an Afterword by historian Linda Przybyszewski and an Epilogue of the Harlan legacy by Amelia Newcomb. According toLibrary Journal, "This is the sort of book you call a publishing event."
About the Author
Malvina Shanklin Harlan (1838–1916) was the wife of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan and the grandmother of the second Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan. Born in Indiana, she died in Washington, D.C., in 1916, a year after completing Some Memories.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court since 1993.
Linda Przybyszewski is an associate professor of history at the University of Cincinnati. She is the author of The Republic According to John Marshall Harlan.
Amelia Newcomb is an editor at The Christian Science Monitor. She is the granddaughter of the second Justice John Marshall Harlan, and the great-great-granddaughter of John Marshall and Malvina Harlan.
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