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Making It Up: The Vassar Class of ‘65 on the Cusp of Change, by Selby McPhee

Making It Up: The Vassar Class of ’65 on the Cusp of Change examines the lives of a collection of girls born in wartime, raised in the 1950s to be good wives and mothers, who graduated from Vassar College in 1965 to find a world turning upside down with social revolution. How did those young women on the cusp of social change redefine themselves, without role models, to meet a new age of opportunity for women?

In Making It Up, Selby McPhee tells the stories of classmates who followed their own curiosity and nascent ambitions through doors suddenly cracking open to them, while figuring out how to manage domestic responsibilities without any of the social support that exists now. She tells, for example, of Debbie, who in a stellar academic career gave women tools to negotiate workplaces slow to adapt to their presence; Elizabeth, who fell in love with computers and helped define a brand new field; Sylvia, who used a law degree to fight for health equity. All of them were midwives to change.

The revolutions of the 1960s are now a part of contemporary history. But change keeps happening, and the work to adapt to it is never done. New generations will find inspirational models of ingenuity, flexibility and just plain guts in these women who figured out how to thrive when the very definition of what it was to be a woman was tossed into the air.

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