The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

By Kate Moore
Nonfiction Biography

This book first caught my eye when I was purchasing a copy to add to the library’s collection. I love stories about strong women. This one is riveting. In 1860 Elizabeth Packard, a wife and mother of six children, was committed to an insane asylum by her husband, Theophilus—a minister. Why? Not because she was insane. She openly questioned her husband’s religious beliefs and began sharing her opinions, especially with regards to women’s rights, which were very different from his own. Embarrassed, Theophilus took advantage of his legal right to put her away. Elizabeth consequently spent the next three years in the Jacksonville Insane Asylum in Illinois. While there, she discovered she was not the only sane woman in residence. Elizabeth witnessed firsthand the horrible conditions and abuses. She recorded her experiences writing thousands of pages documenting the inhumane treatment by the doctors and staff. Once released, she made it her own personal mission to help reform laws and improve conditions inside these asylums. While her story may not be widely known today, she was remarkably brave and tireless in her efforts to right these wrongs. This book is definitely a page-turner. I highly recommend it!

Book Review by Tammy Starr, Associate Librarian, Acquisitions