I'm a retired journalist and an award-winning author of both non-fiction and fiction. (Note: If you found your way here through a search engine, I am not the Sara Fitzgerald who is currently writing genre romances, nor the leading character in Jody Picoult's My Sister's Keeper.) I have been drawn to the stories of little-known women since I majored in history and journalism at the University of Michigan and wrote my senior history thesis on the flapper phenomenon. In 1972, I became the first woman to hold the title of editor in chief of The Michigan Daily.
I spent the bulk of my professional career as an editor and reporter, including 15 years at The Washington Post, and stints at what was then The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, The Miami Herald, the Akron Beacon-Journal, and National Journal magazine. At The Post, I served as editor of its first electronic edition in 1980, thus qualifying myself for membership in the Facebook group "I Was Online Before You Were Born." Those experiences led me to work for a trade association serving the online industry. and later, I was a founder of a consulting firm that helped schools and libraries take advantage of a federal program to help them get connected to the Internet.
I have loved writing since childhood, when I contributed poems and stories to The Flint Journal's Wide Awake Club page. My women's fiction has included Rumors, published by Warner Books in 1992. Set in Washington, DC, in the first half of the 20th-century, it told the story of a woman' quest for love--and revenge against the men who nearly ruined her reputation early in her legal career.
After I retired in 2005, I decided to write a biography of a childhood heroine, Elly Peterson, one of the few women playing on the national political stage in mid-20th-century America. My subsequent biography, "Elly Peterson: 'Mother' of the Moderates," was chosen as a 2012 Notable Book of the Year by the Library of Michigan and recognized with a State History Award by the Historical Society of Michigan.
My love of writing, historical research and telling the stories of little-known women then drew me to the life of Emily Hale. In anticipation of the release in January 2020 of the more than one thousand letters that her youthful love, T. S. Eliot, wrote her over the course of their lifetimes, I decided I wanted to bring her to life in a novel that would be released when the letters were opened for scholarly research.
In July 2020, the University of Michigan Press published Conquering Heroines: How Women Fought Sex Bias at Michigan and Paved the Way for Title IX. The book chronicled the 1970 sex discrimination complaint that women filed against the University of Michigan. Their success--in the years immediately before the passage of Title IX--provided the model that overnight changed academic hiring practices across the country. Again, I hope to share the struggles and successes of a previous generation of women, stories that inspired my own life.
--Photo Credit: Karen Kasmauski
"Members Share Their Experiences of the Pandemic"
Newsletter of Biographers International Organization
January 2022, Volume 16, Number 11