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Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon Paperback – March 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1891274046 ISBN-10: 189127404X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Book Lode; 1st edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189127404X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891274046
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,563,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An engaging juxtaposition of late 1800s morality and millennial openness. -- Clay Evans, Boulder Daily Camera, March 14, 1999

Pettem has done an excellent job of reconstructing Rippon's secret life and turning it into an absorbing narrative. -- Sandra Dallas, Denver Post, May 9, 1999

This book is highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. A real page-turner. -- Nancy Carter, Colorado Libraries, Winter 1999

From the Author

No other books have been published about Mary Rippon. Separate Lives interweaves her private life with her professional career and tells the whole story for the first time. My purpose is not to tarnish her well-deserved reputation, but rather to uncover the human side of a woman whose circumstances clashed with the mores of her times. Her life was her own, as free as her wildflower garden, an anomaly in an otherwise structured world.
For more info on this book and my other books, see silviapettem.com --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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More About the Author

Silvia Pettem (www.silviapettem.com) is a longtime historical researcher, newspaper columnist, and author of more than a dozen books. After decades of work for individuals, businesses, and governments, her life took a new turn in 1996, when she stumbled upon the gravestone of a Jane Doe--a murder victim from 1954. A few years later, Pettem applied her research skills to both old-fashioned detective work and the power of the internet by entering into a partnership with her local sheriff and with forensic experts of the Vidocq Society to successfully determine the young woman's identity. Pettem chronicled their work in Someone's Daughter: In Search of Justice for Jane Doe.

In 2008, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office gave Pettem a Sheriff's Commendation Award for doing the "lion's share of the research" on the Jane Doe case. Two years later, the Vidocq Society presented her with its Medal of Honor. Pettem is now an associate member of the Vidocq Society, a volunteer in the Detectives Section of the Boulder Police Department, a NamUs Academy graduate, and a NamUs instructor in classes sponsored by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation--expanding her expertise and working with colleagues all over the country. She wrote Cold Case Research: Resources for Unidentified, Missing, and Cold Homicide Cases in order to aid other investigators as they grapple with cold cases of their own.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
Amazing women decades before her time.
Cjson
This biography is well written and well researched.
J. Reich
How much easier my life has been because of her.
Jane H. Bock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jane H. Bock on June 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
Perhaps this is an 'expert review' because I have just retired from thirty years on the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Dr. Sewall showed good sense to hire her in those early days. Who today would teach German, French and mathematics. I weep for her adversity, but I rejoice for her courage. How much easier my life has been because of her.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nancy T. on June 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading "Separate Lives", which was given to me as a present, and I just had to write and say how much I enjoyed the book. Mary Rippon's story is, of course, gripping in itself, but Silvia Pettem's telling of it was a pure delight to read! I could hardly bear to put it down, and I felt like I was right there in the room with those people and couldn't wait to see what they would do next. I work at the University in Boulder, so took extra pleasure in the descriptions of the early days on campus. I think this would make a great book club choice--so much fodder for discussion in all aspects of the story. And now I can't wait to read Ms Pettem's other books. I'm so happy to see there is a good, long list of them!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daisy Daley on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book!! It is very well written and captivating. I couldn't put it down. It amazes me what strides women have made in the workplace over the last 100 years. This is a great book for history lovers, professors and for all women.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J&KN in NC on October 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved hearing the true story of a woman forced to choose between her husband and daughter and her life as a college professor. Discovering what a woman's life in the early 1900's was like made me admire (and sympathize with) Mary Rippon very much. However, I was very frustrated with all the footnotes (about 10 per chapter) which did not add any additional information to the narrative. They were just a list of source documents, like the author was submitting a master's thesis and needed to document all of her sources. In fact, I didn't doubt any of her research, but I often wished there was a more detailed description of items that were footnoted. At first, I spent a lot of time jumping to footnotes that provided no further details at all, and I finally gave up interrupting my reading, but still got frustrated when the footnote numbers relentlessly continued to show up.

Mary Rippon's father died intestate when Mary was only about 3 years old. Oddly, everything went to his only child Mary and not to his wife. Guardians were appointed to manage Mary's "estate" until she turned 18 and could receive her inheritance. This could have been a disaster, but her male guardians not only cared for Mary and her inheritance, they taught her how to manage it well herself. This turned out to be most fortunate for Mary, as she eventually became the sole support of herself, her husband, her daughter, her husband's second wife and their four additional children. Not only that, she often helped students attending the University of Colorado-Boulder where she taught but was always paid less than her fellow male professors. AND, she became beloved by all.

There were some photographs, but unfortunately on the Kindle, they were all about the size of a postage stamp with no ability to enlarge them, which was a real shame. Mary became very real to me and I would have enjoyed the photos if they had been larger. But, overall, I really liked this book and recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Panayoti Kelaidis on February 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Separate lives is something of a tour-de-force: this biography of Mary Rippon's complicated life is based on the slenderest of hints, abbreviations, lacunae and references in Mary's diaries letters (many if not most of which she destroyed before her death), as well as an exhaustive search of public records and information. From this rather slim fare, Pettem and Long have spun a highly plausible, almost novelistic portrait of what had to be an utterly unique and gracious individual: Rippon not only managed to achieve an enviable career as Professor at the brand new University of Colorado at Boulder, she seems to have been an extremely popular and seminal figure for the campus staff and student body, and to the community at large, all the while orchestrating a secret marriage with a husband who lived near at hand, abroad and in several states, all the while providing material support not only for her child, but maintaining myriad friendships and providing great monetary support to several extended families--all on a stipend significantly lower than all her maile colleagues.

Rippon seems to have thrived despite the Manichean dichotomies in her life and the unforgiving constraints of Victorian society. Like a good mystery, the reader is left to imagine how she must have juggled so many contradictions during her lifetime: a professor conceiving a child out of wedlock with a student, and proceeding to maintain a relationship with the father through his whole life, her unknowing daughter following her mother's footsteps with eeirie faithfulness and proximity. Through the prism of this book you can not only glimpse the challenges that Victorian society shackled women (and men) with, but how intellect, art and focussed intelligence provide the means of transcending those constraints.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jan Boney on December 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book promises the story of a nineteenth century woman academic with a lifelong secret. It delivers that. The reader is also given repeated glimpses into American life, particularly in what is now the center of the US.
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