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Mary Hallock Foote is not known for progressive gender politics. Quite the opposite. As her biographer Darlis Miller observes, Foote and her longtime friend Helena DeKay Gilder agreed that woman’s most important work lay in the home, and suffrage would distract her from her primary duties. But Foote did not always practice her belief in the separate spheres of men and women perfectly. Not only did necessity compel her for a time to support her family, but an 1887 letter also shows that in her professional life, Foote did not always think of her work as feminine or separate from the work of men.


Ken Winkleman played a vital role in research on this project by helping the author to rule out her first theories about the context of the Foote letter and providing information about the suffrage movement in Idaho. Thanks also to Reprints Editor Jennifer Adkison for overseeing peer review of this article and to the anonymous reviewers for their comments.