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University of Michigan Press

The Press congratulates Sara Fitzgerald, whose Elly Peterson: “Mother” of the Moderates just received a 2012 State History Award in the category of Publications: University and Commercial Press. The award was presented at the Historical Society of Michigan’s 138th Annual Meeting and State History Conference, which was held Sept. 28-30 in Monroe, Michigan.

As described by the Historical Society of Michigan, “Fitzgerald drew upon several sources to tell the story of the first woman in Michigan’s history to chair a major political party. Fitzgerald provides a missing chapter in the political history of Michigan and the United States….and also sheds light on the evolution of the Republican party in the last half of the 20th century.”

The multiple award-winning biography tells the story of Elly Peterson, who was one of the highest ranking women in the Republican Party. In 1964 Peterson ran for a Michigan seat in the U.S. Senate and became the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. During the 1960s she grew disenchanted with the increasing conservatism of her party, united with other feminists to push for the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive choice, battled Phyllis Schlafly to prevent her from gaining control of the National Federation of Republican Women, and became an independent.

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