This introductory chapter provides an overview of the life and accomplishments of Anna Howard Shaw (1847–1919) as well as the author's account of how she became interested in Shaw. It then sets out the book's primary purpose, which is to provide a much-needed biography of a major figure in U.S. women's history. The book is also a historiographic mystery. How and why have so few historians taken an in-depth look at Anna Howard Shaw? Why is there no discussion of the fact that she was the first and only salaried president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association? And certainly the core question remains: how important was Shaw to the woman's suffrage movement? The chapter urges two core changes to Shaw scholarship. First we must consider what the sources actually tell us. The second is to open up the analyses and consider the possibility of other views of Shaw.
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