Readers Respond to the March 2020 Issue

Your feedback on our coverage of women’s history, wolverines and Madame C.J. Walker

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Natural Leader

Gene Stratton-Porter is another pioneering woman almost lost to history (“The Legend of Limberlost,” March 2020). She used her wealth and privilege to break barriers and blaze a trail for women in the arts, and her conservation efforts are still bearing fruit. What a remarkable life in an era when women were still underestimated.

— Sarah McPherson | Glennville, Georgia

Kathryn Aalto’s story makes this pioneering naturalist, and the environment she cherished, come vividly to life. In her novel A Girl of the Limberlost, Stratton-Porter gave us Elnora, an ideal model for the wonderful teenagers of today who are fighting so hard to protect our environment. As it happens, I’ve been writing a musical based on the book. So much of Stratton-Porter’s work connects with current issues: her prescience in linking climate change to deforestation; her fierce attitude toward the human greed that now, as then, seeks to destroy the natural wonders of our world; and, incidentally, her charming and ahead-of-her-times remarks about marriage.

— Helen Slayton-Hughes | Los Angeles

The Lady With the Lamp

“Thou Shalt Not Underestimate Florence Nightingale” (March 2020) delivers a balanced view of the controversies over her reputation. In an 1890 audio recording, made on an Edison paraffin wax cylinder (find it on YouTube, among other places), Nightingale says, “When I am no longer even a memory—just a name, I hope my voice may perpetuate the great work of my life. God bless my dear old comrades of Balaklava and bring them safe to shore.” Listening to her voice today touches the heart.

— Frank Felsenstein | Morristown, New Jersey

Nightingale has been, and will continue to be, inspiration to nurses everywhere. No matter what detractors or political revisionists may say, this woman selflessly led us to rethink medicine, hygiene and evidence-based practice. Her influence is still felt worldwide by nurses like me.

— Michelle Humphreys | Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Skunk Bear Fan Club

We may think of the wolverine (“Beasts of the Northern Wild,” March 2020) as a nasty critter, but it’s a survivor among giants. No wonder many high school and college sports teams have adopted the animal as a mascot.

— J. Cunningham | Hatboro, Pennsylvania

Beauty Business

It is inspiring to read about Madame C.J. Walker (“Growth Industry,” March 2020), who started her own business 100 years ago and achieved success. Why haven’t we heard more about this wonderful woman?

— Judy Hinckley | Salt Lake City, Utah

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