Dear Ms. Michaels

The word ‘Ms.’ did not enter mainstream use until the late 1960s and is considered to have become popularized by Sheila Michaels.

Michaels launched the term on a New York radio broadcast in 1969 and it began to be widely disseminated at the time of the Women’s Strike for Equality in August 1970, which also marked the 50th Anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Michaels believed that there was a strong need for a word to describe a woman who neither belonged to her father nor husband. “No one wanted to claim me, and I didn’t want to be owned,” Michaels told the Guardian.

The word ‘Ms.’ continued to gain traction and was adopted as the name of the feminist publication ‘Ms. Magazine’ in 1972. The magazine was co-founded by Gloria Steinmen who is recognized as the leader of the American feminist movement during this time.

Michaels recently passed on June 22, 2017 of acute leukemia. “In the end, then, Ms. Michaels leaves a legacy both minute and momentous: two consonants and a small dot — three characters that forever changed English discourse,” the New York Times wrote.

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