Friday, September 18, 2020

Novel dedicated to Clinton County women

Anastasia Pratt has been an academic since early childhood.

Her favorite Christmas gifts growing up were books. Her mother, Gloria Pratt, recalls her sulking one year when she thought Santa Claus did not bring her what she asked for: books.

Now, after completing her undergraduate degree at Plattsburgh State and her master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, Pratt herself has written four books.

Most recently, the Clinton County historian compiled a book featuring nearly 60 influential women from the area titled “Remarkable Women of Clinton County.”

Though women’s history has always been important to Pratt, she was awakened to the idea in 2009 while working on a mosaic project.

The project allowed seventh grade students from across the county to research the history of the area and draw pictures relating to what they had found. These pictures were then translated into mosaic tiles to be placed on the government center wall.

Pratt realized that there weren’t many women being incorporated into the project.

Her desire to explore the history of women came to even more of a head when the artists proposed to a series of cameos around a map of the county, which were meant to represent founders of the county.

Again, Pratt realized there were no women. Rather, the proposed list featured over 40 white men.

“This was supposed to be a history of our county and our county, first, was never only populated by white people,” Pratt said. “But, second, it was never only populated by men.”

Pratt then gave the artists a list of names better representing the county’s history. When she came back, there were a couple cameos of black men, but there were still no women. A compromise was reached in which a larger cameo was added honoring the unnamed women who helped found Clinton County.

From that time, Pratt has been thinking actively about how to correct the historical record, ensuring that future generations not only get to learn about famous white men of this county but learning about all of the people from Clinton County.

Pratt started the research for Remarkable Women of Clinton County and proposed the publication last February.

She reviewed local history books, letters, obituaries and all that the Clinton County Historian’s Office had on file. After researching and beginning the writing process, Pratt negotiated for 10,000 more words for the book.

While conducting research, Pratt looked for the roles that women played as well as for common themes in which to organize the book, which is divided into six sections: life at home, working, school days, serving a loved community, belief, and arts and culture.

“It was important to me that it wasn’t just a book about famous people,” Pratt said. “I wanted to have a representative sample.”
Pratt’s favorite woman featured in the book is her mother, to whom the book is dedicated.

“It was a beautiful surprise at the time when I found out (the book was dedicated to me),” Gloria said. “I enjoyed the book very much. I’ve read it four times already.”

Her mother is featured in the “serving a loved community” chapter for her work with the local Girl Scouts.

With a background in genealogy, Gloria said that she loves how the book gives women, who used to be known as the name of their husbands with a Mrs. stamped at the beginning — the recognition they deserve.

“Anastasia is currently working on a book about my hometown of Winooski, Vermont, which is a big thing in my heart, but not even that could beat this book,” Gloria said.

Email Tawnee Bradham at

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