An anthology featuring local female writers was recently released.
“Before They Were Our Mothers: Voices of Women Born Before Rosie Started Riveting” is a collection of 15 real-life stories about women before they were mothers, written as them in real-time by their current-day descendants.
Edited by Irondequoit native Patricia A. Nugent, the project was inspired by regrets, realized at her mother’s funeral, that she knew little about her mother’s life before she was her mother. Her friends had similar experiences. “Why does it surprise offspring that their mothers had lives before we came along?,” Nugent wondered.
To help others avoid the same regret and to inspire families to share personal histories, she wrote a grant to Saratoga Arts for a Community Arts Grant from the NYS Council on the Arts, which kick-started the project.
“The Call for Submissions reaped a wide-range of stories about foremothers’ victories and defeats, hopes and disappointments, connections and alienations. Stories of ordinary lives contending with war, racism, sexism, classism, disease, poverty and degradation. Ordinary lives infused with determination and defiance, resilience and resistance,” according to the book’s Forward.
In addition to evocative first-person accounts, “Before They Were Our Mothers” offers readers a personal glimpse of world events from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Their stories take readers around the world, including several U.S. states.
Three Rochester-area writers are included in the collection: Nadia Ghent, Donna Jackel, and Ginny Riedman-Dangler. They’re eager to continue the project by sharing their foremothers’ journeys, thereby encouraging others to do the same. Nugent’s ongoing vision is that this book will be a catalyst for storytelling and truth-telling within families.
“Ask now, before it’s too late,” said Nugent. “You won’t be able to Google the story of grandma’s first heartbreak.”
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