Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution – Written by Laurie Halse Anderson and Illustrated by Matt Faulkner

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution, Written by Laurie Halse Anderson and Illustrated by Matt Faulkner, 2008, New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 9780689858086.

Age Range: 6-10 years.

Awards: Amelia Bloomer Project: 2009.

Author Website:

Illustrator Website:

Media Used: The illustrations for this book are rendered in watercolor and pen and ink. (Information from copyright page in book.)

Annotation:  Learn all about the unsung heroes of the American Revolution: women old and young.  This picture book highlights contributions and exploits of the women of the American Revolution as well as giving a timeline about the war.

Personal Reaction:  I never really stopped to think about the role that women played during the American Revolution.  As a historian myself, I guess I always knew that women had to have played a part, no matter or small or seemingly insignificant.  However, I never knew the real impact that many women and girls had on the outcome of the war.

With everything from dressing up and pretending to be a man so they could fight in the war, to secretly passing on messages and British information, these women really did a lot! 

What is great about this book is that it not only teaches about the overall picture of women helping, but it also gives specific examples to really connect the readers to what was going on during this time in our American history.  Also, along the bottom of the pages, there is a detailed timeline giving readers a play-by-play about the war itself.  All of this culminates into a well-rounded learning experience for readers.

Anderson has done a great job with providing as much information as this book can possibly hold.  With three or four women per page in the main part of the book, an endnote page with more women as well, and even a part about other Americans that played a role like African Americans and Native Americans.  Anderson has really done a great job to highlight all those that are commonly left out of the history books.  She also has made a detailed index with the names of all the women in the book for quick access. 

Her bibliography speaks for itself too showcasing more than 20 referenced resources.  It is easy to tell that she was passionate about this topic and did her best to show all that she could.

Curricular Connection:  This book fulfills the California Department of Education Standards for the History and Social Science Content Standards for the fifth grade as follows:

5.5 Students explain the causes of the American Revolution.

  1. Understand how political, religious, and economic ideas and interests brought about the Revolution (e.g., resistance to imperial policy, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, taxes on tea, Coercive Acts).

5.6  Students understand the course and consequences of the American Revolution.

3.  Identify the different roles women played during the Revolution (e.g., Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Molly Pitcher, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren).

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