Stuff in the ‘Theresa Kaminski’ Category

17 May, 2022

QUEEN OF THE WEST: The Life and Times of Dale Evans, Theresa Kaminski

The first full-length biography of mid-twentieth century multi-faceted star Dale Evans, follows her career from small-town girl and radio singer to movie stardom with her life and screen partner Roy Rogers. Dale was an accomplished master of image and reinventing herself as the landscape changed under her. She began her career, trying to fit in, and was convinced to hide her early marriage and her son. She didn’t quite have the looks to make it as a bombshell, but musical westerns were the key. And when she partnered up with Roy Rogers, their on-screen chemistry transformed her into Queen of the West. Eventually the two married and Dale became one of the most famous working Moms in America as she blended family and work in the public eye.

Once married, Dale acknowledged her son Tommy while Roy had three children already. They had a child together who had Downs Syndrome and died before her 2nd birthday. They went on to adopt 4 additional children, becoming early advocates to change the perceptions of the developmentally disabled and for adoption. In her career, Dale continually reinvented herself. She began singing in small- and big-town radio stations in the 1920s, when this medium was still in its infancy. By the 1930s she had enough experience to move into a bigger market, and she appeared at glamourous Chicago nightclubs and toured major cities with a big band. Dale’s voice attracted the attention of a Hollywood agent in the early 1940s so off she went to California where she became a B-movie star. The following decade, she transitioned to television and co-starred in one of the most popular shows of the 1950s. Dale got in on the rapid spread of cable in the late 1970s and early 1980s, too. Charismatic Christian ministers like Pat Robertson and Jim Bakker launched religiously-themed stations that took off with cable viewers. In 1985, Dale began a talk show on the Trinity Broadcast Network that ran until 2001, the year she died.

Drawing from never-before-seen sources (especially business records and fan mail) at the newly-opened Roy Rogers-Dale Evans collections at the Autry Museum of the American West, Kaminski deftly charts the broad sweep of change in women’s lives over the twentieth century, against a backdrop comprised of the glitter of country music, the glamour of Hollywood, and the grit of the early television industry.

“Drawing from archival interviews and correspondences, Kaminski provides engrossing glimpses into the obstacles Evans faced on her road to fame—from her two left feet (“Frankly, I can’t even do a time step,” she admitted during one audition) to her fraught home life, which was especially painful during the brief life of her daughter Robin, who died of encephalitis as a toddler. The deeply humanizing result restores an oft-overlooked yet influential 20th-century celebrity to her rightful place in music history.” — Publishers Weekly


1 June, 2020

Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War: One Woman’s Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women’s Rights, Theresa Kaminski, Ph.D.

“History has long neglected the inspiring and incredible tale of Dr. Mary Walker, a pioneering Civil War surgeon who overcame rampant prejudice to save countless soldiers’ lives. In Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War, Theresa Kaminski has finally given this American hero her due. With impeccable research and engaging prose, Kaminski captures Walker’s outsized bravery and delicious swagger. The result is a vivid, eloquent portrait sure to thrill history buffs and anyone fascinated by the lives of audacious, before-their-time women.” — Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park

“I will always be somebody.”  This assertion, a startling one from a nineteenth-century woman, drove the life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only American woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor and the subject of Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War (Lyons Press). President Andrew Johnson issued the award in 1865 in recognition of the incomparable medical service Walker rendered during the Civil War. Yet few people today know anything about the woman so well-known–even notorious–in her own lifetime. Theresa Kaminski shares a different way of looking at the Civil War, through the eyes of a woman confident she could make a contribution equal to that of any man. She takes readers into the political cauldron of the nation’s capital in wartime, where Walker was a familiar if notorious figure. Mary Walker’s relentless pursuit of gender and racial equality is key to understanding her commitment to a Union victory in the Civil War. Her role in the women’s suffrage movement became controversial and the US Army stripped Walker of her medal, only to have the medal reinstated posthumously in 1977.

“Dr. Mary Walker, once spurned as “the famous man-woman” for her insistence on wearing pants in public, is a heroine not just of the Civil War, when her service as a doctor made her the first and only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, but of the unfinished revolution for equal rights and fair treatment women are still waging today. Theresa Kaminski’s compelling narrative, thoughtfully contextualized and filled with vibrant characters, brings a complicated reformer and nearly a century of movement history back into the light.”— Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast

“Dr. Mary Walker is primarily remembered for one thing, when she is remembered at all: her work as a surgeon in the Civil War. In Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War, Theresa Kaminski gives us an engaging and impeccably researched portrait of Walker as a whole person: devotion to reform, prickly personality, and all. She also demonstrates how easily an important woman can be erased from history during her own lifetime. If you’re interested in Civil War medicine, the history of women’s rights or kick-ass historical women, you’ll want to read Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War.” – Pamela D. Toler, author of Women Warriors

“Theresa Kaminski tells Dr. Mary Walker’s incredible story with an easy to read style and impeccable research. A must read for those interested in not only the Civil War, but also medical history and the history of women’s rights.” — Lori Handeland, New York Times bestselling author


3 November, 2015

Kaminski

Theresa Kaminski, an academically trained historian with a Ph.D., published Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War in June 2020 with Lyons Press. Dr. Walker is the only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor, and for decades she worked for gender equality, especially women’s suffrage. The book is the most recent culmination of her fascination with ordinary but scrappy women in history, an interest sparked years ago by watching the Masterpiece Theatre drama, A Town Like Alice. Theresa’s interest in telling the stories of little-known American women to illuminate major themes in American history led her to write three books about the American women caught in the Pacific theater during World War II: Prisoners in Paradise (2000), Citizen of Empire (2011), and Angels of the Underground (2015).

She thought she was finished writing about war. But not long after signing a contract with Lyons Press for the first full-length biography of America’s favorite cowgirl, Dale Evans, another Lyons editor approached her to write a book about Mary Walker. The goal, which was met with months to spare, was to have it out in time for the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. With Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War completed, Theresa has returned to the Dale Evans book, which she hopes will be released into a COVID-19-free world.

Theresa continues to seek out stories of scrappy and tenacious American women to provide readers with unusual, fascinating glimpses into under-examined corners of history. In her spare time, she helps moderate the popular Nonfiction Fans group she co-founded on Facebook, streams lots of shows and movies, reads novels, goes for walks, and contemplates playing the piano again. Theresa lives in a small town outside of Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband–and within easy driving distance of her grandson and his parents.

You can also check out her blog on her website theresakaminski.com and follow her on Twitter @KaminskiTheresa and Instagram @hers_torian.

 


15 March, 2015

Where I Write: Theresa Kaminski

Theresa KaminskiThis edition of “Where I Write,” our series in which authors share their favorite writing spots, is from historian Theresa Kaminski.

“While I was growing up, this secretary was in the corner of my parents’ dining room, and my father used it as his home office.  With six people crowded into a small ranch house, it was the only available space.  I have the secretary now and it is in the corner of my dining room, which I have chosen as my work space because it is open and airy, with great window views of the neighborhood.  The secretary reminds me every day of my father, who went to the Philippines with the U.S. army after World War II, and passed along his interest in the islands to me.” — Theresa Kaminski

Theresa’s latest book Angels of the Underground about American women who were active in the resistance against the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during WWII will be published by Oxford University Press in Spring of 2015.

Follow Theresa on Twitter to learn more about her and her work.