Today, in Mentor Monday's post, I'm going through a few of the steps I took to learn more about Lilly Ledbetter (for a imaginary "Women of" profile assignment).
You know never to cite Wikipedia as a source in your bibliography, right? But, Wikipedia is a place to begin for an overview of the subject. A quick read-through and I find that Lilly Ledbetter is the woman who gave her name to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Next I head straight to the bottom of the article for the "References" and "External Links" sections, which are the real starting points.
A simple Google search is all I need to find a ton of explanatory information related to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that was signed by President Obama on Janaury 29, 2009. [I come across a little item of note, that I squirrel away for use as a sidebar if I need it: the Lilly Ledbetter Act was the first major bill that President Obama signed after he took office.]
Generally, I then do a search on one of the book sites, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon, or sometimes I go to the New York Public Library's catalog looking for materials published on the subject. In this case I'm looking for Ledbetter and also the topics of pay discrimination or women in management. I give particular attention to books for children since I will need a "read more about" section at the end of my profile.
Much to my dismay, I find that Ledbetter has an autobiography, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, but it's not due out until the end of February, 2012!
A search of my public library's on-line databases comes next. Never fail to check your local library's offerings. My library has the EBSCO, Newsbank, and Biography in Context databases to explore.
Speaking of libraries, Ledbetter hails from Alabama, so the Alabama State Library and Alabama Department of Archives and History may be good places to explore virtually. I take a quick look, and find nothing! Ledbetter's not in the Alabama Women's History Hall of Fame since she is still living, nor is she in the Alabama Academy of Honor:
To bestow honor and recognition upon living Alabamians for their outstanding accomplishments and services, the Alabama Academy of Honor was created by the State Legislature on October 29, 1965. Each person elected to membership is a distinguished citizen of Alabama, chosen for accomplishment or service greatly benefitting or reflecting great credit on the State.One thing I'd particularly like to mention is videos. Don't overlook YouTube and Internet Archive! And, remember that Google has a search category exclusively for videos. Especially for a living subject, videos are a treat. You get to hear the voice of your subject, see what she looks like, and how she carries herself. A lot can be learned!
Even if your subject is long dead, short videos may be available interpreting her work or role in history. For Lilly Ledbetter, I found a great video from Annenberg Classroom, A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. It explains the process that Ledbetter went through in her struggle with pay discrimation, and how all three branches of the U.S. government became involved.
Here's a video of Ledbetter's appearance at a Congressional hearing in 2007:
Lilly Ledbetter's a woman I'm glad to have explored a little more! If I were to write a real profile, I'd spend a lot of time watching/reading through the sources I uncovered. Then, the real work would begin--condensing all the information into 550 words that are both interesting and provide the key points in a life well-lived.