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The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

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1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened - by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own tho 1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened - by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum. The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line - conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored. No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose... ©2021 Kate Moore (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing


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1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened - by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own tho 1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened - by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum. The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line - conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored. No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose... ©2021 Kate Moore (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

30 review for The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Well I am now properly and rightly enraged. It’s seems that Kate Moore isn’t going to shy away from writing the stories of badass women that history wronged. I thought that The Radium Girls was infuriating, I had no idea how much angrier this book would make me. This is the story of Elizabeth Packard and her garbage husband who was intimidated by her intelligence so claimed she was insane and had her committed to an asylum. Only for her to discover that the asylum is just full of perfectly sane Well I am now properly and rightly enraged. It’s seems that Kate Moore isn’t going to shy away from writing the stories of badass women that history wronged. I thought that The Radium Girls was infuriating, I had no idea how much angrier this book would make me. This is the story of Elizabeth Packard and her garbage husband who was intimidated by her intelligence so claimed she was insane and had her committed to an asylum. Only for her to discover that the asylum is just full of perfectly sane women who’s husbands didn’t want to deal with them anymore. The torture and abuse these women went through was horrendous and the amount of injustices and blatant lies they were told is unfortunately not as appalling as it should be. This book embodies the whole “nasty woman” mentality and it’s brutal and incredibly empowering seeing how many times Packard was shoved down only to pick herself back up and keep trying. And yet have you ever heard of her? Probably not. The perseverance this woman had to continually keep trying to have her voice heard speaks volumes of how suppressed women have been and yet still keep screaming. I got chills, I cried, I raged, I did victory laps, this book brought out so many visceral reactions. And yet it’s another piece of history that no one knows about simply because it’s a woman’s story. The post script at the end really gut punches you with how far we think we’ve come with feminism only to realize we’re still dealing with the same struggles and same suppression she went through. This is yet another story that I want to put in everyone’s hands and will recommend relentlessly.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book tells the true story of Elizabeth Packard, a mid-19th century wife and mother who fought for women's rights in America. Elizabeth Packard Historically, women in the United States had no rights. "Women....were subsumed within the legal identities of their husbands. The husband and wife are one, said the law, and that one is the husband." Thus a husband owned all his wife's possessions, could take custody of the couple's children, and had the power "to deprive [his wife] of her liberty an This book tells the true story of Elizabeth Packard, a mid-19th century wife and mother who fought for women's rights in America. Elizabeth Packard Historically, women in the United States had no rights. "Women....were subsumed within the legal identities of their husbands. The husband and wife are one, said the law, and that one is the husband." Thus a husband owned all his wife's possessions, could take custody of the couple's children, and had the power "to deprive [his wife] of her liberty and to administer chastisement." In June 1860, Illinois resident Elizabeth Packard had been married to her pastor husband Theophilus for twenty-one years. Theophilus Packard The Packards had six children, who were "the sun, moon, and stars" to Elizabeth, and she spent her days "making their world as wondrous as she could." Elizabeth Packard and her children Elizabeth's husband Theophilus was of a less gentle nature. He was an autocratic man who had at times confiscated Elizabeth's mail, refused her access to her own money (from her father), and isolated her from her friends. Elizabeth felt "the net [Theophilus] cast about her felt more like a cage than the protection marriage had promised." Things were about to get much worse though. In the bible class run by Theophilus's Presbyterian church, Elizabeth had expressed views that differed from her husband's. In Theophilus's eyes, this meant his wife was insane, and he determined to have her committed to an asylum. In 1860 a husband could have his wife committed by merely asserting she was mad and getting medical certificates from two doctors. Theophilus approached two physicians he knew, and they agreed to affirm that Elizabeth had "derangement of mind...upon religious matters." Elizabeth soon found herself in Illinois's Jacksonville Insane Asylum, over two hundred miles from her home in Manteno. The Packard family home in Manteno, Illinois Elizabeth resisted being transported to Jacksonville Insane Asylum Jacksonville Insane Asylum Jacksonville Asylum operated under the supervision of Dr. Andrew McFarland, who answered to a Board of Trustees that rubber-stamped all his decisions. Dr. Andrew McFarland As the saying goes, 'absolute power corrupts absolutely', and McFarland was a dictator who ran the institute more like a prison than a hospital. Moreover, McFarland - who had little training in the field of mental health - couldn't tell an insane person from a bunch of carrots. McFarland allowed perfectly rational women to stagnate in Jacksonville for years on the say-so of their husbands....who often had ulterior motives. When Elizabeth arrived at Jacksonville Asylum, she found McFarland to be a fine-looking gentleman with a nice manner. At first, Elizabeth thought Dr. McFarland was a charming man Elizabeth thought the doctor would realize how intelligent, well-spoken, and sane she was, and would release her immediately. This didn't happen however, and Elizabeth was incarcerated for years.....during which she sorely missed her beloved children. Elizabeth's children lament their mother's absence McFarland had theories about ingratiating himself with patients for therapeutic purposes, and he got close to Elizabeth to help 'cure' her. As a result, Elizabeth developed a complicated love/hate relationship with the doctor, which is detailed in the book. While in Jacksonville Asylum, Elizabeth observed the abusive treatment of patients, and met competent women who were incarcerated by scurrilous husbands. Dr. McFarland overseeing a recalcitrant patient's punishment Patients were routinely abused by staff Elizabeth recorded her observations in a secret journal, and wrote a book while in Jacksonville. All of these proved useful later on. Once Elizabeth was released from the asylum, she published her writings, and campaigned day and night to change America's laws. Elizabeth wanted to secure equal rights for women and get asylum reform....and a nice bonus would be to get McFarland fired. Elizabeth went door to door; spoke to legislators; implored governors; attended court; testified before the Jacksonville Board of Trustees; and more. Elizabeth published pamphlets Elizabeth published books Elizabeth met with legislators The Illinois senate debating laws about women's rights Of course Dr. McFarland, Theophilus, supervisors of asylums, profiteers associated with mental hospitals, and newspapers (run by men) fought Elizabeth tooth and nail, and the suspense of the book lies in 'who would win?' Theophilus opposed Elizabeth's campaign for reforms The story is interesting, and the topic is VERY important, but the narrative is much too detailed and over-long. Kate Moore did extensive research for the book, and she includes too much of it in the narrative. Trial transcripts, witness testimony, and the like could have been summarized with no loss of impact. Still, Elizabeth Packard was a force majeure for women's rights, and her contribution was almost forgotten until Kate Moore unearthed it. Thus, this is a very important book, highly recommended. Thanks to Netgalley, Kate Moore, and Sourcebooks for a copy of the book. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    3.5 Stars “As Elizabeth put it, “I have neglected no duties, have injured no one, have always tried to do unto others as I would wish to be done by; and yet, here in America, I am imprisoned because I could not say I believed what I did not believe.” ― Kate Moore, From What a remarkable and inspiring woman Elizabeth Packard was, an ordinary Victorian housewife and mother of six, until the first women’s rights convention was held in 1848 inspiring Elizabeth and many other women to dream of 3.5 Stars “As Elizabeth put it, “I have neglected no duties, have injured no one, have always tried to do unto others as I would wish to be done by; and yet, here in America, I am imprisoned because I could not say I believed what I did not believe.” ― Kate Moore, From What a remarkable and inspiring woman Elizabeth Packard was, an ordinary Victorian housewife and mother of six, until the first women’s rights convention was held in 1848 inspiring Elizabeth and many other women to dream of greater freedoms. She began voicing her opinion on politics and religion, opinions that her husband did not agree with. So in order to silence her he had her committed to an asylum and declared slightly insane. This is her story and her fight for justice and her legacy to all readers of how far we have come and how far we still have to go. This was quite a read, and the author Kate Moore has certainly done her research with this story. You cant help but admire Elizabeth for her strength and determination and also her ability to fight the injustices inflicted on her in such a graceful manner. I listened to this one on audio which was narrated by Kate Moore herself and it was excellent. However my only complaint of the book was the length. I felt the book was quite lengthy at 560 pages and I found myself tuning out a little towards the end as the account was so drawn out. Having said that I did enjoy the book and feel it is an important and informative read. Never ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right to an opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore was both inspirational and riveting. I listened to the audiobook that was masterfully read by the author. It is embarrassing that I had no idea who Elizabeth Packard was prior to listening to this captivating audiobook. How she slipped through history without more of a presence was hard to fathom! Elizabeth Packard was a true heroine in women’s rights. Author, Kate Moore, impeccably researched this book and combined her research with her masterful s The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore was both inspirational and riveting. I listened to the audiobook that was masterfully read by the author. It is embarrassing that I had no idea who Elizabeth Packard was prior to listening to this captivating audiobook. How she slipped through history without more of a presence was hard to fathom! Elizabeth Packard was a true heroine in women’s rights. Author, Kate Moore, impeccably researched this book and combined her research with her masterful storytelling and talent to remind everyone about this all but forgotten woman who changed the history of women’s rights. The Woman They Could Not Silence was a true account of Elizabeth Packard’s time in an insane asylum and her long and difficult fight she fought in the name of mental health rights for women and the rights of married women. Kate Moore relied heavily on letters, memoirs and trial transcripts to detail the obstacles Elizabeth faced both before her confinement in the insane asylum and after. Although The Woman They Could Not Silence was quite long (over 14 and half hours of listening time), I found that I could not pull myself away from her story. I wanted to know more. In the year 1860, Elizabeth Packard had been married for twenty one years to Theophilus Packard. Elizabeth was a housewife and patient and loving mother to their six children. Her children were Elizabeth’s heart and sole. She lived for them. Theophilus was a Calvinist minister and quite threatened by Elizabeth’s remarkable intelligence, unheard of independence and inability to hold back her own thoughts on any subject she found contrary to her own thoughts. In those days, a woman lost all her rights as a U.S. citizen when they married. In the eyes of the law, in 1860, the man was always right. The husband was regarded as being in sole possession of the property where a husband and wife lived and the husband would be awarded complete possession of the children if either were to be contested in a court of law. The laws always favored the husband. Based on these laws, Theophilus had no trouble having Elizabeth committed to the Illinois State Hospital insane asylum located in Jacksonville, Illinois, against her will. He proclaimed her insane just because she had begun to question his religious views. Theophilus had two friends write letters for him to support his findings. That was all Theophilus needed to have Elizabeth committed. At the Illinois State Hospital, Elizabeth quickly learned that she was not the only sane housewife to be committed without evidence of insanity. Dr. Andrew McFarland, the doctor in charge of the asylum, held the power to silence Elizabeth and keep her locked up for three long years. All that time, Elizabeth fought back against her cruel husband, unmoving and detestable doctor who showed the world a different side of him than he showed the patients at the asylum and the 19th century laws that gave men, and especially husbands, absolute power over women and wives. Elizabeth was determined to change those laws and give women their undeniable rights as citizens. The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore was both powerful and dramatic. Elizabeth Packard’s accomplishments were historic and heroic. She got her points across through her voice during the trials she endured, the books she wrote and by seeking intervention and reform by the government both through individual states and by the national government. Elizabeth Packard became an advocate for women’s rights. The Woman They Could Not Silence was a testament to how far women’s rights have progressed from those dire days of 1860 but also how far they still need to come. Hats off to the courageous and undying bravery Elizabeth Packard displayed as she fought for her own freedom and rights and those of her fellow women. This is a book not to be missed. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Blackstone Publishing for giving me the opportunity to listen to the audiobook of The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    A million thanks to Kate Moore for bringing Elizabeth’s story to life. I was awed by Kate’s extensive research and compelling storytelling. Kate points out in her Author Note that this is a nonfiction book and that everything in it is based on careful historical research. Every line of dialogue comes from a memoir, letter, trial transcript or some other record made by someone who was present at the time. It is an incredible story. Elizabeth was a remarkable person. Her husband Theophilus felt so A million thanks to Kate Moore for bringing Elizabeth’s story to life. I was awed by Kate’s extensive research and compelling storytelling. Kate points out in her Author Note that this is a nonfiction book and that everything in it is based on careful historical research. Every line of dialogue comes from a memoir, letter, trial transcript or some other record made by someone who was present at the time. It is an incredible story. Elizabeth was a remarkable person. Her husband Theophilus felt so threatened by her independent thinking and philosophy that he conspired to have her committed, tearing her away from her beloved children. He could not cope with his independent, outspoken wife who was gaining influence so began a conspiracy theory of derangement. At the time, the law stated that women could be put in an asylum simply based on the request of the husband. As I turned the pages, I became so angry about how women were treated, their intelligence stifled, the ease in which husbands had the ability to force a woman to be locked up in an asylum based on nonsense like simply reading a novel, having sunstroke, or domestic troubles. There is a historical chart Moore includes that lists these numerous causes of insanity. The list is insanity!! The misinformation of science of the times was staggering, quackery rampant. For example, it was once believed that a woman’s insanity sprang from the position of her uterus. Moore has meticulously researched historical records. Actual documents and photos are included and as I looked at a photo of the behemoth-sized Illinois State Hospital in the early 1860’s, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness for the many thousands of persons placed there based on fraudulent and idiotic diagnoses of mental illness. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    To all the women who have had someone call them crazy. 4.5 stars. I stumbled across The Woman They Could Not Silence on Netgalley and immediately put in a request because I loved Kate Moore's last book, The Radium Girls. In a similar vein, her new book shines a light on an important part of women's history that has been somewhat lost to time. Moore excels at writing this kind of journalistic memoir in a way that is riveting to read and immediately connects readers to the protagonists. Despite thi To all the women who have had someone call them crazy. 4.5 stars. I stumbled across The Woman They Could Not Silence on Netgalley and immediately put in a request because I loved Kate Moore's last book, The Radium Girls. In a similar vein, her new book shines a light on an important part of women's history that has been somewhat lost to time. Moore excels at writing this kind of journalistic memoir in a way that is riveting to read and immediately connects readers to the protagonists. Despite this being a non-fiction book, it reads like fiction, bringing historical figures to light in a way that makes readers really empathize with their plight. In short, Moore knows how to ignite righteous anger at the injustices that have been, and continue to be, perpetrated against women. This story starts in Illinois in 1860 and centers around one woman, Elizabeth Packard. After 21 years of marriage and bearing 6 children with her husband Theophilus, he has Elizabeth committed to the Illinois State Insane Asylum against her will. Her crime? Questioning Theophilus' bible study teachings in the church in which he is a pastor. Pushing back against your husband, questioning religion, and being intelligent in general were all signs of mental illness in the 1860's, and as such, Theophilus has no difficulty in getting his wife locked up. Elizabeth immediately fights back against the claim that she is insane, but recognizing that such pleas will only make her look more insane, she does her best to maintain her dignity at the asylum and after her first meeting with the state hospital director, Dr. Andrew McFarland, with whom she develops a good relationship, she is sure her release will not be long in coming. Though Dr. McFarland is unable to determine the root of Elizabeth's insanity, he is convinced it is there and will be revealed in time. Due to her intelligence, she is granted special privileges at the hospital. However, despite these privileges, Elizabeth soon becomes aware of the level of abuse that is being perpetrated by hospital aides within the walls of the hospital and starts stirring up trouble with the other inmates. This results in the revoking of Elizabeth's privileges and life at the hospital soon becomes very hard for her. The rest of the novel is about Elizabeth's struggles in the asylum and her fight for freedom. Elizabeth is very intelligent and an accomplished writer, and though Dr. McFarland tries to silence her within the walls of the hospital, she is determined to record and share her story. She makes friends within the asylum and keeps a secret journal of all the abuses she witnesses. I couldn't help but compare her to Alexander Hamilton because the woman constantly wrote like she was running out of time! However, her goals are not only to record history, but to change it. Elizabeth is strategic in going about this. She knows that raging against the machine will get you nowhere in an insane asylum and so she goes about cultivating relationships and manipulating those around her, including McFarland. I found it really interesting to read about Elizabeth's experiences and progression while at the asylum. The whole system is completely unjust for so many reasons, but the two that stand are that, first, almost no proof is required to lock a woman up in an asylum. All Theophilus needed was 2 certificates of insanity from local doctors, which he was easily able to procure thanks to his influence as a man and pastor. Unmarried women are entitled to a trial before being shipped off to the asylum, but married women need only the desire of their husbands. As they are considered his property, they are not permitted any voice of their own. Many of the other women in the asylum were in the same situation as Elizabeth and had been sent there without any legal rights. Second, the whole premise of what qualifies a person as insane or cured is entirely stacked against the patients. Like I said, women could basically be committed for showing any inkling of self thought or governance. Theophilus didn't like that Elizabeth was questioning things or flouting his authority, so he quickly put an end to it. But what's really enraging is that women who push back against the diagnosis of insanity only further the diagnosis. Showing any kind of indignation at anything is basically a sign of insanity. Women were only considered cured when they would finally submit to everything: the will of the abusive attendants, their doctor, and their husbands. The injustice of the system is that it literally conspires to make you insane and then only release you at the moment when your spirit is finally irreparably broken. I say Elizabeth's progression is interesting because she somehow manages to hold on to this one thread of truth throughout the entire ordeal, the idea that 'I am not insane'. She is determined to be free and she is determined to be free under her own will, not through submission. The longer she is imprisoned, the more frenzied she becomes in her desperation to get out. She documents her experiences and ideas in a kind of manic fervour that you can't help but question if maybe she is going a little bit insane. Rather than diminish, her ideas of justice and equality of women only grow more and more ambitious to the point where she envisions women as totally equal to men and able to even hold public office, something that is quite radical in 1860 and unlikely to get you released from an insane asylum. I don't want to give away the whole book because even though it's historical, it's still a story and I did take joy from the experience of having no idea whether Elizabeth was going to succeed and to what degree. She inspired a book to be written about her, so I knew she was going to have some level of success, but it was honestly so bleak, it was hard to imagine how a woman would ever recover from either the trauma or the stigma of such an asylum. But Elizabeth is a fighter and I honestly can't imagine a woman with more spirit. She had a lot of influence on early American politics and it is a shame that her name is virtually unknown, even among the roll call of suffragettes. But such is the way of women's history and I love that we keep hearing about more and more women who have contributed greatly to our society but who's legacies have been little preserved. The author added a post script at the end of the book that I really liked. The book will make obvious the impact Elizabeth's writings and efforts had on the women's rights movement, but it also highlights how these same ideas are still present in today's society. The idea of insanity is still used today to threaten, discredit, and silence women. Men have always used the excuse of 'craziness' to belittle women. The idea that fault lies only with women is still wildly believed by many men and women, even if only subconsciously. When men don't like the ideas or actions put forth by women, it's only too easy for them to dismiss them entirely with the callously thrown away phrase "she's crazy". I think we see it used most often by men to either dismiss the actions or requests or a partner or to speak of their ex. But even women use it to describe other women, particularly in scenarios where it relates to how other women interact with men (I'm thinking of reality television here). But the idea is everywhere. Moore draws attention to its presence even at the top level of the American government when Trump once screamed at Pelosi for being wrong in the head. Powerful men still seek to silence women through the threat of insanity. For this reason, I thought this an extremely important read. A lot of the content didn't surprise me, but experiencing it through Elizabeth's eyes did help to put it into perspective. Even after all the work that Elizabeth did, Dr. McFarland is still kindly remembered by the eyes of history while Elizabeth has more or less been forgotten. This wasn't a perfect book. I thought the writing was a little simplified in the beginning, though it got much stronger as the story went on. I also thought the story could have been shortened, some parts are a little over indulgent and I fear the length may deter some readers from this. But overall, still an excellent read and I would definitely recommend!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    A million thanks to Kate Moore for bringing Elizabeth’s story to life. As with Lilac Girls, I was awed by Kate’s extensive research and compelling storytelling. Kate points out in her Author Note that this is a nonfiction book and that everything in it is based on careful historical research. Every line of dialogue comes from a memoir, letter, trial transcript or some other record made by someone who was present at the time. It is an incredible story. Elizabeth was a remarkable person. Her husban A million thanks to Kate Moore for bringing Elizabeth’s story to life. As with Lilac Girls, I was awed by Kate’s extensive research and compelling storytelling. Kate points out in her Author Note that this is a nonfiction book and that everything in it is based on careful historical research. Every line of dialogue comes from a memoir, letter, trial transcript or some other record made by someone who was present at the time. It is an incredible story. Elizabeth was a remarkable person. Her husband Theophilus felt so threatened by Elizabeth’s independent thinking and philosophy that he conspired to have her committed, tearing her away from her beloved children. He could not cope with his independent, outspoken wife who was gaining influence so began a conspiracy theory of derangement. At the time, the law stated that women could be put in an asylum simply based on the request of the husband. As I turned the pages, I became so angry about how women were treated, their intelligence stifled, the ease in which husbands had the ability to force a woman to be locked up in an asylum based on nonsense like simply reading a novel, having sunstroke, or domestic troubles. There is a historical chart Moore includes that lists these numerous causes of insanity. The list is insanity!! The misinformation of science of the times was staggering, quackery rampant. For example, it was once believed that a woman’s insanity sprang from the position of her uterus. Moore has meticulously researched historical records. Actual documents and photos are included and as I looked at a photo of the behemoth-sized Illinois State Hospital in the early 1860’s, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness for the many thousands of persons placed there based on fraudulent and idiotic diagnoses of mental illness.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    Kate Moore, has followed up her hugely successful title The Radium Girls  with another book I'm absolutely convinced will be a resounding success.     In her superbly researched work of narrative non-fiction  The Woman They Could Not Silence Moore once again demonstrates her skill at bringing the voices of women from history alive.  She wrote a compelling story that alternately incited feelings of anger in me and made me want to jump with joy.  All in all it provided a fabulous insight into the l Kate Moore, has followed up her hugely successful title The Radium Girls  with another book I'm absolutely convinced will be a resounding success.     In her superbly researched work of narrative non-fiction  The Woman They Could Not Silence Moore once again demonstrates her skill at bringing the voices of women from history alive.  She wrote a compelling story that alternately incited feelings of anger in me and made me want to jump with joy.  All in all it provided a fabulous insight into the life of Elizabeth Packard a woman who was instrumental in progressing the rights of women and those in the mental asylums of the nineteenth century. At times I wanted to rail against the unfairness, the injustices levelled at our protagonist and other women of her time.   Elizabeth Packard (1816 - 1897), wife and mother of six was locked away in a lunatic asylum (to use the terminology of her day), accused of insanity.  There was no need for a trial nor proof of illness. " Most states then had no limits on relatives’“right of disposal”  to commit their loved ones..   I was shocked by some of the reasons.     "An unbuttoned blouse, an undone bun, or even simple carelessness of dress was considered damning evidence a woman’s mind roamed free from its moorings"....another shocker was “novel reading.”  Doctors believed that those who indulged in this “pernicious habit” lived “a dreamy kind of existence, so nearly allied to insanity that the slightest exciting cause is sufficient to derange.”  Women of the Goodreads community would have been in strife in the nineteenth century!!!   Questioning her pastor husbands religious views, speaking her mind and challenging him were the main grounds for Elizabeths committment and he had her locked away with ease. With the benefit of hindsight she was certainly outspoken and a radical thinker but there is no doubt she was sane.    She was educated, a former teacher, and was both likeable and popular.   During her first few months at the asylum she was granted privileges and freedoms few others had.   However, she spent much longer amongst some truly deranged and unwell women.    Their conditions were abysmal.  Filthy,  violence filled wards where patients were at the mercy of cruel attendants. Throughout it all Elizabeth treated  these women with kindness and compassion, and it only strengthened her determination to stand up for not only herself, but also for these downtrodden, mistreated women. Her educated mind would not allow her to accept the situation and the seeds of feminism began to sprout.     Throughout her life she never gave up her battle, advocating  for womens rights.  In total  "she secured the passage of thirty-four bills in forty -four legislatures across twenty-four states. She campaigned for women’s equal rights and for the rights of the mentally ill..." What a remarkable woman she was especially given the prevalent attitudes towards women in those days.   It was an equally impressive, must read book.     I don't think of myself as a feminist but this book sure opened my eyes to just how far we've progressed and thanks must go to women like Elizabeth Packard for working tirelessly to make this possible. Thanks to Kate Moore for her dedication to unveiling the story in such an interesting way.    Thanks too to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    The Woman They Could Not Silence is the long-awaited new book from the bestselling author of The Radium Girls and tells the dark and dramatic yet uplifting and inspirational, long-neglected story of women’s rights pioneer Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (1816–1897), and it’s every inch as riveting and impeccably researched as its predecessor. It's a well-established fact that many of those in Victorian America who were placed into insane asylums were actually there for reasons other than having l The Woman They Could Not Silence is the long-awaited new book from the bestselling author of The Radium Girls and tells the dark and dramatic yet uplifting and inspirational, long-neglected story of women’s rights pioneer Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (1816–1897), and it’s every inch as riveting and impeccably researched as its predecessor. It's a well-established fact that many of those in Victorian America who were placed into insane asylums were actually there for reasons other than having lost their sanity or their touch with reality, and that was certainly the case for Elizabeth Packard whose cruel, treacherous husband, Theophilus Packard, a Presbyterian minister 15 years her senior forced her into treatment. The objective of this was to put his wife back in her place but little did he know, her 3-year term at the facility would only serve to perpetuate and solidify her beliefs and actually helped fuel her enduring fight for freedom and equality for all women. This is a compelling, captivating and truly exquisite piece of narrative nonfiction by one of the best historical storytellers on the writing scene. It's beautifully written, rich in period detail and intricate from start to finish and I don't believe anyone could have done a better job at presenting this memoir of such an important and sadly overlooked woman who we all should be paying homage to for her sacrifices in order to further the civil rights of both women and those in involuntary medical facilities. Packard was one of the first to shine a light on gender-based injustices and start the ball rolling towards a more egalitarian ideal. She was an extraordinary woman far ahead of her time who courageously fought for what she truly believed regardless of the adverse situation it usually resulted in. That is true dedication and fearlessness to the cause. A scintillating, fascinating and important book and one I can't recommend highly enough.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS for an egalley in exchange for an honest review I am starting my #summerreading recommendations off with a nonfiction book. This is the story of an Illinois mother of six who was involuntarily committed to an insane asylum in 1860 by her husband and her fight to take on the American legal system. Meticulously researched and well-paced, Kate Moore had me very invested in the life of Elizabeth Packard. Publication Date 26/06/21 Goodreads review published 03/07/2 Thanks to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS for an egalley in exchange for an honest review I am starting my #summerreading recommendations off with a nonfiction book. This is the story of an Illinois mother of six who was involuntarily committed to an insane asylum in 1860 by her husband and her fight to take on the American legal system. Meticulously researched and well-paced, Kate Moore had me very invested in the life of Elizabeth Packard. Publication Date 26/06/21 Goodreads review published 03/07/21 #erinrossreads2021 #readersofinstagram #goodreads #teachersandbooks #netgalley #sourcebooks

  12. 4 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    “Can [a woman] not even think her own thoughts, and speak her own words, unless her thoughts and expressions harmonize with those of her husband?” Taking inspiration from the #MeToo movement, Kate Moore delved into the history of women who, more often than not, have been labelled ‘crazy’ and silenced for speaking the truth. Kate wondered if there was a woman whose perseverance, despite everything that was done to discredit her, prevailed. She found Elizabeth Packard who, in 1860, was taken agai “Can [a woman] not even think her own thoughts, and speak her own words, unless her thoughts and expressions harmonize with those of her husband?” Taking inspiration from the #MeToo movement, Kate Moore delved into the history of women who, more often than not, have been labelled ‘crazy’ and silenced for speaking the truth. Kate wondered if there was a woman whose perseverance, despite everything that was done to discredit her, prevailed. She found Elizabeth Packard who, in 1860, was taken against her will to Jacksonville Insane Asylum, two hundred miles from her home, because of her “excessive application of body & mind.” The person who was responsible for this injustice was her husband of 21 years and the father of her six children. The evidence of her so called insanity? “I, though a woman, have just as good a right to my opinion, as my husband has to his.” Elizabeth, after being a dutiful wife, mother and homemaker for almost all of her adult life, heard about the women’s rights movement and gave herself permission to think for herself. She also disagreed with her preacher husband about matters of religion and, with her great intellect and her persuasive arguments, he was afraid of the consequences of her speaking her mind. This was a time when most states “had no limits on relatives’ “right of disposal” to commit their loved ones”, where an insanity trial had to take place before you were admitted to a state hospital (but not if you were a married woman) and where “married women had no legal identities of their own.” The thought of me living in 1860 terrifies me. I’m certain I too would have been institutionalised and I don’t know I would have been able to sustain the fortitude that Elizabeth displayed. Don’t think that you wouldn’t have also been at risk of such a fate, as one common cause of committal to an asylum in Elizabeth’s time was “novel reading.” In the asylum, Elizabeth met other patients, including other sane women who had been trapped there for years, similarly pathologised for their personality. The asylum served as a “storage unit for unsatisfactory wives”. She also witnessed patients being abused by the staff. Elizabeth was determined to prove that she was sane and secure her release from the asylum. She also wanted to enact change that would see her new friends also released and to protect the mentally ill from abuse. But what Elizabeth wanted more than anything was to be able to parent her children again. This is a thoroughly researched and well written account of the life of a woman I’m sad to say I had never heard of before but will certainly not forget. So in the end, this is a book about power. Who wields it. Who owns it. And the methods they use. And above all, it’s about fighting back. Content warnings include (view spoiler)[ derogatory terms used to describe mental illness and mention of death by suicide, domestic violence, eating disorders, medical abuse, mental illness, racism, slavery, suicidal ideation and suicide attempt (hide spoiler)] . Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read this book. I’m rounding up from 4.5 stars. Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    Wowee! I adored this. A little known area of history (or figure of it, at least) that I think everyone should know. I was absolutely hooked. Where is my movie adaptation?! Paging Focus Features! Of course, I came to this book because of Radium Girls--which I read earlier in June and Amazon recommended this to me as soon as I finished. Kate Moore is such a brilliant narrative non-fiction writer--she really makes real people characters in their story, walks you through everything with so much tensi Wowee! I adored this. A little known area of history (or figure of it, at least) that I think everyone should know. I was absolutely hooked. Where is my movie adaptation?! Paging Focus Features! Of course, I came to this book because of Radium Girls--which I read earlier in June and Amazon recommended this to me as soon as I finished. Kate Moore is such a brilliant narrative non-fiction writer--she really makes real people characters in their story, walks you through everything with so much tension and stakes, without having to embellish history. I'm in awe of her research and notation skills. Seriously: even if you're not really a non-fiction/history reader, but you're interested in women's rights and a chapter of American history that runs parallel to the Civil War (Elizabeth was committed in 1860), read this. It reads like fiction but IT'S ALL TRUE. What I found especially chilling, and I know it's why Moore chose this subject, is how reading it I was struck by how absolutely screwed I would have been had I been born/lived in this time period. I would 100% have been locked up in asylum--I am a LOT like Elizabeth (save the religious fervor lol), and several of the other women profiled. Talkative. Opinionated. Smart. Your husband could literally commit you FOR LIFE for those things. But I don't know if I would have had Elizabeth's strength and fortitude. I won't spoil all the twists and turns--though it is history--because I went in knowing very little, and I think it benefits the reading experience. But this book has everything! A strong heroine at its center. A villainous husband. An asylum doctor with two faces. Romance... kind of! (but not really) Exposing abuse. Shedding a chilling light on both how far we have come and how far we have NOT come in 150 years. I thought about Britney Spears once or twice while reading--how easy it is to call a person (especially a woman) "crazy" and take away her rights. A must read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    In all honestly, I was somewhat disappointed in the book. I loved The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women and immediately bought this book when it was released, hoping and expecting the same riveting experience as I had with the other book. While I feel the author does a good job presenting us with a woman from history that I don't think many have ever heard of, a strong, effective and courageous woman who I'm happy to have learned about, the writing just didn't work for me. In all honestly, I was somewhat disappointed in the book. I loved The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women and immediately bought this book when it was released, hoping and expecting the same riveting experience as I had with the other book. While I feel the author does a good job presenting us with a woman from history that I don't think many have ever heard of, a strong, effective and courageous woman who I'm happy to have learned about, the writing just didn't work for me. I felt the writing was too full of dramatic effect and lots and lots of quotes which did not give me that narrative non-fiction flow I love. While the first half of the book held my interest, the second half started to drag and I feel we could have had a more concise experience in that second half.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    Elizabeth Packard is not a household name, but she should be. When her selfish and cruel husband put her away in the asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, he thought he had taken away her voice. That was just the beginning of Elizabeth's life work and dedication to women's rights. While in the asylum she realized that women like her were not protected from the whims of men who did not want women to use their minds or color outside the lines. She was motivated to get back to her six children and also Elizabeth Packard is not a household name, but she should be. When her selfish and cruel husband put her away in the asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, he thought he had taken away her voice. That was just the beginning of Elizabeth's life work and dedication to women's rights. While in the asylum she realized that women like her were not protected from the whims of men who did not want women to use their minds or color outside the lines. She was motivated to get back to her six children and also to free the women she met inside. Her story is inspiring. While in the asylum she was at all times trying to make conditions better for those with her. She also used her gift for writing to document what she saw and experienced at the time. Later she would use that information in court to be declared sane, then to support herself and help pass laws on behalf of women who were victimized by current statutes. It is encouraging to see that there were men who stepped up to assist Elizabeth in her quest. We owe her a great debt and I hope many will read her story and know her name. Kate Moore did extensive research to write her story and if you loved The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women, you will also want to pick this one up. Thank you to Sourcebooks and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    3.5 stars Very enlightening on the rights—or lack thereof—of women in the 19th century. And how women were deemed hysterical (or too cantankerous or too obstinate or whatever their husbands or fathers deemed they were) were sent away into asylums, where they received horrific treatments and neglect from the quacks who were supposed to be treating them. It very much focuses on middle to upper class whyte women, although there is a small acknowledgement on what women of color and working/lower clas 3.5 stars Very enlightening on the rights—or lack thereof—of women in the 19th century. And how women were deemed hysterical (or too cantankerous or too obstinate or whatever their husbands or fathers deemed they were) were sent away into asylums, where they received horrific treatments and neglect from the quacks who were supposed to be treating them. It very much focuses on middle to upper class whyte women, although there is a small acknowledgement on what women of color and working/lower class whyte women faced. It was good but good gravy it was long (definitely could tell Moore did her research and then some). But hot damn Elizabeth was the most trusting woman on the planet, even though she was incredibly forthright and brilliant.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Many of us have seen the graphic that circulates social media with the list of reasons women could once be institutionalized. It’s an absurd list and in the book groups I’m in, “novel reading” is often circled. People laugh. And it is funny when you don’t think too deeply upon it. Because that list is a reality. Those were reasons women could once be institutionalized. That list exemplified the lack of rights women had. That list declared that women who actually thought for themselves, showed em Many of us have seen the graphic that circulates social media with the list of reasons women could once be institutionalized. It’s an absurd list and in the book groups I’m in, “novel reading” is often circled. People laugh. And it is funny when you don’t think too deeply upon it. Because that list is a reality. Those were reasons women could once be institutionalized. That list exemplified the lack of rights women had. That list declared that women who actually thought for themselves, showed emotions, used their imagination, or did anything else outside of the structure set for them as females could then be contained and controlled. So, while on the surface, that list may seem humorous, it’s actually quite terrifying. Elizabeth Packard lived during a time when the beliefs that list imposed were widely practiced. Because she had spoken out about women’s rights, possessed religious beliefs that contradicted her husband’s and simply proved to have a mind of her own, her husband was legally able to have her institutionalized and declared insane. That was the beginning of Elizabeth’s harrowing, gasp-inducing ordeal. She endured a number of institutional abuses and a painful separation from her children, while they were being conditioned to view her adversely in her absence. As the title of this book clearly conveys, that was not the end of Elizabeth’s story. I did appreciate that Moore included some of Elizabeth’s own misjudgements of other women when she possessed a positive perception of the male they condemned. Her mistakes show her humanness, as well as one of the many issues still prevalent in today’s society. We are often quick to dismiss claims of mistreatment when we don’t experience such mistreatment from the culprit ourselves. Fortunately, Elizabeth was able to learn from her own errors and came to fight for the very women she once misjudged. There is a particular short story - one I don’t want to mention by name in an effort to not spoil it for those who haven’t read it - that aptly demonstrates the disturbing effect of doing things simply because “this is the way it’s always been.” The story takes very little time to make a loud statement about not questioning practices and mob mentality. Its eerie message is evident to the reader and one might find it difficult to believe that such an absurdity could ever take place. We see it all play out in different ways again and again, however, and The Woman They Could Not Silence exemplifies this horror as a reality back in the 1800s. The value of the historical issue addressed in this book has not depreciated. We need to know this. And we need to recognize how those laws and toxic beliefs continue to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) influence how we behave today. Kate Moore does not shy away from clearly stating how prevalent this issue is still; how quick society is to cast doubt on a woman’s claims with this simple statement: “She’s crazy.” We must all continue to be women they cannot silence. I do not think a single fictional horror story exists that can outdo the things that have happened and will happen in this world. We live the ultimate terror daily. The story detailed in this book is truly a terrifying one and while it’s part of history, it’s something that did happen - something that could happen again in different ways. So, if you really want to read something that will creep you out and make you think twice about turning out the lights, read this book about men with too much power, inhumane laws, and women who are silenced through imprisonment, manipulation, and mutilation. I promise you: This is a scary book. But it’s an important one and it needs to be read. “We are only just beginning to appreciate exactly how a person’s powerlessness may lead to struggles with their mental health.” ~Kate Moore “No human being can be subjected to the process to which you subject them here without being in great danger of becoming insane.” ~Elizabeth Packard I am immensely grateful to Bibliolifestyle & Sourcebooks for my finished copy and Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for my audio review copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Once again Kate Moore has given us an epic to honor a woman who suffered undeservedly, and gone down through history, virtually unknown. Elizabeth Packard, devoted wife to pastor Theophilus Packard for 21 years, and mother of their six children, was committed to an insane asylum by her husband, merely because she disagreed with him in Bible class. In 1860, men could easily commit their wives to asylums for the most innocuous reasons. Ms. Moore includes an historical chart with what was considered, Once again Kate Moore has given us an epic to honor a woman who suffered undeservedly, and gone down through history, virtually unknown. Elizabeth Packard, devoted wife to pastor Theophilus Packard for 21 years, and mother of their six children, was committed to an insane asylum by her husband, merely because she disagreed with him in Bible class. In 1860, men could easily commit their wives to asylums for the most innocuous reasons. Ms. Moore includes an historical chart with what was considered, 'causes of insanity,' such as sunstroke, reading a novel, 'domestic troubles' and such. Elizabeth was torn from her home and six children with no recourse what-so-ever. Doctors of that time were in agreement with the male, head-of-household. However, with her compelling storytelling and exhaustive research, Ms. Moore tells of Elizabeth Packard's perseverance in not only freeing herself, but changing laws for women and the mentally ill, nationwide. Many of these approximately 34 bills do not even mention her name. But she fought until her death for the rights of patients everywhere. I highly recommend this book, written in the same vane as Radium Girls, to learn of the historical battle one woman fought for all. Thank you Edelweiss, and Sourcebooks for the Advanced Readers' Copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Fascinating character! Entirely too long. I also felt there were so many quotation marks it became extremely distracting. I started envisioning a Saturday Night Live character telling the story and constantly using air quotes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carolynn

    Such a well written book. I was angered at the injustices that Elizabeth Packard had to endure because of men who felt threatened by her intellect. I admire Elizabeth so much. Willing to fight for her rights and other unfairly imprisoned women, even to the detriment of her own reputation. She was a force to be reckoned with but not vindictive or vengeful. I HIGHLY recommend this book to any and all. This is a story I never really knew about. I'm thankful for the laws she got passed. Women, past, Such a well written book. I was angered at the injustices that Elizabeth Packard had to endure because of men who felt threatened by her intellect. I admire Elizabeth so much. Willing to fight for her rights and other unfairly imprisoned women, even to the detriment of her own reputation. She was a force to be reckoned with but not vindictive or vengeful. I HIGHLY recommend this book to any and all. This is a story I never really knew about. I'm thankful for the laws she got passed. Women, past, present and future are blessed to have had her fight for them. Kate Morris is a talented author of non fiction. I can't wait to read her other books. Radium Girls is next on my list!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mid-Continent Public Library

    Elizabeth Packard is not a household name, but she should be. When her selfish and cruel husband put her away in the asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, he thought he had taken away her voice. That was just the beginning of Elizabeth's life work and dedication to women's rights. While in the asylum she realized that women like her were not protected from the whims of men who did not want women to use their minds or color outside the lines. She was motivated to get back to her six children and also Elizabeth Packard is not a household name, but she should be. When her selfish and cruel husband put her away in the asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, he thought he had taken away her voice. That was just the beginning of Elizabeth's life work and dedication to women's rights. While in the asylum she realized that women like her were not protected from the whims of men who did not want women to use their minds or color outside the lines. She was motivated to get back to her six children and also to free the women she met inside. Her story is inspiring. While in the asylum she was at all times trying to make conditions better for those with her. She also used her gift for writing to document what she saw and experienced at the time. Later she would use that information in court to be declared sane, then to support herself and help pass laws on behalf of women who were victimized by current statutes. It is encouraging to see that there were men who stepped up to assist Elizabeth in her quest. We owe her a great debt and I hope many will read her story and know her name. Kate Moore did extensive research to write her story and if you loved The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women, you will also want to pick this one up. *Reviewed by Darla from Red Bridge*

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book was infuriating for 90% of the time. It would get me so fired up so I am glad I had another lighter book to trade-off with to give my heart and mind a break. The detail and research were incredibly thorough. I was impressed at all of the information the author was able to gather. It was fun to read this with my sister who told me to add it to my list right away on the recommendation of Sharon McMahon. I am grateful and shocked for what I learned and for what Elizabeth Packard accomplis This book was infuriating for 90% of the time. It would get me so fired up so I am glad I had another lighter book to trade-off with to give my heart and mind a break. The detail and research were incredibly thorough. I was impressed at all of the information the author was able to gather. It was fun to read this with my sister who told me to add it to my list right away on the recommendation of Sharon McMahon. I am grateful and shocked for what I learned and for what Elizabeth Packard accomplished and sacrificed for women. I hope and pray that history never repeats itself on this one!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chrystal

    Inarguably, the subject of this book merits strong interest. Unfortunately, its portrayal, by means of the written and otherwise expressed experiences of a single woman, doesn’t do it justice. The proponent, one Mrs. Packard, is a goody-goody of irritating proportions who, while thinking highly of herself and in particular (and justifiably) her intellectual capacity, yet continues to display ridiculous credulity over a number of years. After her experience with her husband, the townsfolk, the as Inarguably, the subject of this book merits strong interest. Unfortunately, its portrayal, by means of the written and otherwise expressed experiences of a single woman, doesn’t do it justice. The proponent, one Mrs. Packard, is a goody-goody of irritating proportions who, while thinking highly of herself and in particular (and justifiably) her intellectual capacity, yet continues to display ridiculous credulity over a number of years. After her experience with her husband, the townsfolk, the asylum’s superintendent Dr. MacFarland and others, she assumes that rationality will win over. But rationality has nothing to do with it. It shouldn’t have taken over four years shut away in an asylum (and over halfway through the book) for she-of-superior-intellect to conclude that the power structure put in place and maintained by men in aid of controlling and getting rid of inconvenient women, was bloody well not going to crumble so easily. Kate Moore did a phenomenal job with Radium Girls and for that reason, I was expecting something of equal quality with this book. Her research is no less excellent. However, the problem perhaps lies in the fact that the focus here is on one woman's fight for justice, a woman who happens to be bloated with self-regard. While I admire the exposure of the system Packard ultimately accomplished, I simply don't like her and after persevering through 60% of the book, waiting for CONCRETE ADVANCEMENT and still zilch, I couldn't continue. So... DNF.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Grigsby

    A woman committed to an asylum by a husband who hated her. This was an all too common scenario when Elizabeth Packard was committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane. She successfully fought and fought for her rights and the rights of all women. This non fiction about her is superbly written by Kate Moore, the author of Radium Girls.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Living under a system of coverture, Elizabeth Packard lost her freedom when her husband decided she should be admitted to an asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois. Her clergyman husband's views on religious matters differed from her own. The "unorthodox" views led to her being called insane. Once admitted, the system pretty much assured that a woman who denied her insanity was viewed as insane. Elizabeth saw abusiveness in dealing with patients firsthand and tried to do something about it. Her effort Living under a system of coverture, Elizabeth Packard lost her freedom when her husband decided she should be admitted to an asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois. Her clergyman husband's views on religious matters differed from her own. The "unorthodox" views led to her being called insane. Once admitted, the system pretty much assured that a woman who denied her insanity was viewed as insane. Elizabeth saw abusiveness in dealing with patients firsthand and tried to do something about it. Her efforts led to her being sent to less favorable hospital wards or to solitary confinement at times. Hospital staff turnover occurred at a high rate, and those staff members who seemed to side with patients often did not stay long. Elizabeth saw other women in similar predicaments to her own--sane but placed there by domineering husbands. Letters never found their way to inmates, and censorship often prevented outgoing mail from reaching its destination. Elizabeth's determination to be heard achieved results. I don't want to blow the story for those unfamiliar with it. The story kept me spellbound as I wanted to see the reforms Elizabeth's efforts achieved. The book reads like a work of fiction although true. Conversations came from Elizabeth's writings or trial transcripts. The author included modern day politics in her epilogue, and I came close to knocking a half star off the rating because it was a cheap political shot. I detest blind end notes which this book includes, but I understand why they were used when the work read more like a novel. The author's careful research is documented through the bibliography and blind end notes.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Krisette Spangler

    Elizabeth Packard has an opinion, which is a very dangerous thing for a woman to have in the 1860's. Her husband doesn't like her independent thoughts on religion, so he decides to have her declared insane. Poor Elizabeth is torn away from her children and taken to an asylum, where she will spend the next 3 years of her life witnessing the horrors of the inmates. Elizabeth refuses to let herself be silenced by her treatment and begins a lifelong campaign to reform the rights of married women. He Elizabeth Packard has an opinion, which is a very dangerous thing for a woman to have in the 1860's. Her husband doesn't like her independent thoughts on religion, so he decides to have her declared insane. Poor Elizabeth is torn away from her children and taken to an asylum, where she will spend the next 3 years of her life witnessing the horrors of the inmates. Elizabeth refuses to let herself be silenced by her treatment and begins a lifelong campaign to reform the rights of married women. Her efforts pioneer the way for women's rights in the United States.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    “I, though a woman, have just as good a right to my opinion, as my husband has to his.” The Woman They Could Not Silence is the remarkable and inspiring story of Elizabeth Packard’s fight to be recognised as more than her husband’s property, and against the laws that allowed it, by Kate Moore. In June of 1860, Elizabeth Packard, a wife of 21 years, and a mother of 6, was forcibly committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville, Illinois by her husband, Theophilus Packard, a “I, though a woman, have just as good a right to my opinion, as my husband has to his.” The Woman They Could Not Silence is the remarkable and inspiring story of Elizabeth Packard’s fight to be recognised as more than her husband’s property, and against the laws that allowed it, by Kate Moore. In June of 1860, Elizabeth Packard, a wife of 21 years, and a mother of 6, was forcibly committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville, Illinois by her husband, Theophilus Packard, a Presbyterian preacher. In recent months 43 year old Elizabeth had begun to object to being silenced by her husband whenever she dared to venture a thought or opinion of her own, behaviour “so different from her former conduct,” that Theophilus claimed she was suffering an “attack of derangement….the result of a diseased brain.” Furious with “his newly outspoken wife, with her independent mind and her independent spirit”, he made plans, as was his right by law, “to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement”, arranging for Elizabeth to be committed to an asylum for the insane. No doubt Theophilus expected Elizabeth would quickly repent and return home throughly chastened and made docile, but instead her incarceration became the catalyst for a life long campaign for the rights of women, and the mentally ill. “It shall be one of the highest aspirations of my earth-life, to expose these evils for the purpose of remedying them,” she announced. “It shall be said of me, ‘She hath done what she could.’” Drawing upon varied resources, including Elizabeth’s journals written on, “tissue paper, brown paper, and even scraps of cotton cloth”, during her time at the asylum, correspondence, reports, court documents, and news articles, Moore details Elizabeth’s revolutionary challenge of a society permitted to declare women insane upon the whims of their husbands or fathers. She provides insight into the operations of asylums in the late nineteenth century, the understanding of and treatment (or more accurately the lack of) for mental health conditions, and how Elizabeth not only survived but thrived in an environment designed to break her. “It is hereby ordered that Mrs. Elizabeth P. W. Packard be relieved of all restraint incompatible with her condition as a sane woman.” By the time of her death in 1897 Elizabeth could claim responsibility for the passage of at least thirty-four bills in forty-four legislatures across twenty-four states resulting in law reform, and widespread, long-lasting change, related to the operation of Insane Asylums, including granting married women the right of jury trial before being commitment. Her legacy should not be underestimated nor forgotten, especially as the battle is still far from won given outspoken women are still labeled ‘crazy’ in an effort to silence them. Meticulously researched with a readable narrative, The Woman They Could Not Silence is a fascinating expose of history and powerful biography of a courageous, noteworthy woman.

  28. 4 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    Giving up on the audio very early on. The author is the narrator and has a nice enough voice but is almost impossible to understand. This being over 500 pgs, I probably won't seek out the book to read. That's why I was excited for the audiobook. Some authors should not attempt narration. Giving up on the audio very early on. The author is the narrator and has a nice enough voice but is almost impossible to understand. This being over 500 pgs, I probably won't seek out the book to read. That's why I was excited for the audiobook. Some authors should not attempt narration.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    The chilling story of Elizabeth Packard, American housewife and mother, who dared to voice her own opinions about religion, thus incurring the wrath of her husband who had her committed to an asylum for the insane, the Illinois State Hospital, where she was incarcerated against her will, an experience that was as devastating as you might imagine. Conditions were appalling, the treatment of the women abysmal, and not one of them had any rights. But Elizabeth refused to be silenced. She fought bac The chilling story of Elizabeth Packard, American housewife and mother, who dared to voice her own opinions about religion, thus incurring the wrath of her husband who had her committed to an asylum for the insane, the Illinois State Hospital, where she was incarcerated against her will, an experience that was as devastating as you might imagine. Conditions were appalling, the treatment of the women abysmal, and not one of them had any rights. But Elizabeth refused to be silenced. She fought back with any means at her disposal against this barbaric practice of legally locking women up sometimes for simply being inconvenient or just not the docile creatures their menfolk wanted them to be. She didn’t want any other woman to suffer like she had. This is narrative non-fiction at its best. The book is wonderfully, indeed grippingly written, meticulously researched, and historically accurate. A truly compelling and often even nerve-wracking read. Excellent.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    I have waited fifty years for this full-length biography of Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard, and Kate Moore’s The Woman They Could Not Silence is simply magnificent. It reads like a suspense novel: one is on the edge of her seat at all times; one cannot believe what happens next — and then after that. History comes alive as does the tragedy of women who were falsely judged ‘mad’ and then incarcerated and tortured in 19th century American Insane Asylums. Moore’s research is impeccable. She tells u I have waited fifty years for this full-length biography of Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard, and Kate Moore’s The Woman They Could Not Silence is simply magnificent. It reads like a suspense novel: one is on the edge of her seat at all times; one cannot believe what happens next — and then after that. History comes alive as does the tragedy of women who were falsely judged ‘mad’ and then incarcerated and tortured in 19th century American Insane Asylums. Moore’s research is impeccable. She tells us the whole terrifying and thrilling story: the cost of battle, the triumph of cruel and corrupt misogynists, the nature of feminist victory. It is a complicated story and one brilliantly told. This book reads like a movie and it should be made into one. Phyllis Chesler, Bestselling Author and Feminist Leader With path-breaking research and electric prose, Kate Moore reveals just how crazy marriage laws once were — and one unbeaten heroine helped make them sane. Elizabeth Cobbs, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers What a story — and what a telling! Kate Moore has hit another one out of the park. In the best tradition of The Radium Girls, Moore recounts the stunning true account of a woman who fought back against a tyrannical husband, a complicit doctor, and 19th-century laws that gave men shocking power to silence and confine their wives. By challenging these norms, Elizabeth Packard became a heroine on the scale of the suffragists. In Moore’s expert hands, this beautifully-written tale unspools with drama and power, and puts Elizabeth Packard on the map at the most relevant moment imaginable. You will be riveted — and inspired. Bravo! Liza Mundy, New York Times Bestselling Author of Code Girls The Woman They Could Not Silence tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Packard, a forgotten heroine whose harrowing ordeal in an insane asylum seems straight from the mind of Stephen King — except every word is true. Blending impeccable research with novelistic flair, Kate Moore brings the indomitable Packard to brilliant life, and proves she belongs among our most celebrated women leaders. Abbott Kahler, Author (As Karen Abbott) of The Ghosts of Eden Park What an incredible narrative about a singular historical woman. In The Woman They Could Not Silence, Kate Moore once again utilises her astonishing talent in discovering the important, forgotten women of history. In bringing to life the account of Elizabeth Packard, wife and mother of six, Moore shares the stories of many sane women committed to insane asylums simply because they did not abide by the societal expectations about women and the one woman who successfully challenged these practices. Through these pages, Moore enthralls as she ensures that such women will be silent no more. Marie Benedict, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie This book will fill you with rage, despair, and determination. Moore has written a masterpiece of nonfiction, giving voice to the life of Elizabeth Packard, a crusader of humanity, who countless men tried to subdue. With elegant prose, and an epilogue that will leave you reeling, The Woman They Could Not Silence will linger long after the last page is read. Nathalia Holt, New York Times Bestselling Author of Rise of the Rocket Girls Heartbreaking and devastatingly important — Kate Moore has a rare gift for combining impeccable research and brilliantly mesmerising storytelling. The Woman They Could Not Silence yanks back the curtain on the tragic and once-hidden injustices that ruined women's lives — and gives even more power to the one brave and undaunted voice that refused to be silent. You will cry, and then you will cheer, and then your life will be changed forever. Hank Phillippi ryan, USA Today Bestselling Author of The First to Lie and Her Perfect Life Told with the urgency and passion of a novel, Kate Moore's deeply researched and thrilling study of Elizabeth Packard’s fight against the power of psychiatric patriarchy in 19th century America will keep you up at night and illuminate women’s ongoing battles for authority and respect. Elaine Showalter, Literary Critic, Professor Emerita at Princeton University, and Author of The Female Malady The Woman They Could Not Silence is a remarkable story of perseverance in an unjust and hostile world. This book is rich with detail, powerful, and expertly researched, as Kate Moore describes the near-unbelievable nightmare of an ‘inconvenient’ woman’s commitment to a mental hospital and her subsequent fight for freedom against all odds. This book may take place 160 years ago, but it has so much to teach us about gender, misogyny, and medicine today. Thanks to Kate Moore’s powerful work, Elizabeth Packard’s name will live on in the minds of a new generation of readers. Susannah Cahalan, New York Times Bestselling Author of Brain on Fire and The Great Pretender Long overdue and completely worth the wait … This unnerving and inspirational saga from the 19th century still resonates with palpable urgency in the 21st. All credit to Kate Moore’s keen research eye and narrative gifts for bringing this ever-relevant story to piercing light, one perfectly suited to this moment in our history. Denise Kiernan, New York Times Bestselling Author of We Gather Together Moore’s expert research and impassioned storytelling combine to create an absolutely unputdownable account of Packard's harrowing experience. Readers will be shocked, horrified, and inspired. A veritable tour de force about how far women’s rights have come and how far we still have to go … Put this book in the hands of every young feminist. STARRED REVIEW Booklist As this country waged war against slavery, a quiet heroine fought for the rights of women. A must read for all! Fran Ziegle, Titcomb's Bookshop [A]n inspiring portrait of someone who fought the system and won.’ Petra Mayer, NPR Books Kate Moore's book is an important one, that deserves to be widely read. Penelope Cottier, The Canberra Times

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