1961: The origins of 'Ms.'

Sheila Michaels was a member of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and like other feminists was seeking an honorific that didn't disclose her private status. One day a newspaper dropped into her mailbox and she noticed what seemed to be a misprint in the address: Ms. She had never seen it before, but decided that this was what she sought.
There was still difficulty promoting the idea, but in a later radio interview discussing feminism, Michaels suggested that Ms. be adopted, and pronounced Miz as she had heard in her home state of Missouri. A friend of Gloria Steinem's heard the interview, and in 1971 suggested it to Ms. Steinem as the name for a new magazine about to be launched. The first issue of Ms. magazine sold 300,000 copies in one week, and the 'new' honorific started to take hold.

Note: In an email, Ms. Michael says the newspaper arrived in late 1961.

* Article from New York Times Magazine (October 2009): @
* "Missing piece of puzzle in story of 'Ms.' " (from japantimes.co.jp): @
* "Hunting the Elusive First 'Ms.' " (from visualthesaurus.com): @

-- More about Ms. Michaels' work in civil rights
* Entries from Civil Rights Movement Veterans (www.crmvet.org): @ and @
* Televised interview, 2009: @
* Oral history (from the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Oral History & Cultural Heritage): @
* Sheilah Michaels Papers (housed at USM): @

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