Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Catherine Gourley  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: 1950 in Wilkes-Barre, PA

-- Website --
-- Catherine Gourley on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Cathy lived in Chicago where she published her first book, ''The Courtship of Joanna''. While in Chicago, Gourley worked at Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Catherine is an award-winning author of adult and children's books, editor of books and magazines as well as a curriculum advisor. Gourley's adult books are non-fication and many highlight the history of women's issues through the the 20th Century. She was a former ''Weekly Reader'' editor and has also written three books that are part of the hugely popular American Girl nonfiction series - ''Welcome to Felicity's World'', ''Welcome to Samantha's World'' and ''Welcome to Molly's World''. Cathy is the curiculum advisor and national coordinator of ''Letters About Literature'', a national reading and writing promotion sponsored by State Centers for the Book and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in partnership with Target. Gourley is also the curriculum advisor for the ''The Story of Movies''. A nationwide educational project created by The Film Foundation. The programs is geared toward middle school students and exposes them to classic cinema and teaches them about the social, historical and cultural significance of film in a read-the-book, watch-the-movie approach to teaching film and visual literacy.

Published Works

  • The Courtship of Joanna, Graywolf Press, 1988
  • Island in the Creek, Harbour Publishing, 1988
  • Hunting Neptune`s Giants True Stories of American Whaling, Millbrook Press, 1995
  • Sharks, True Stories and Legends, Millbrook Press, 1996
  • Never Turn Back, A Biography of Beryl Markham, Conari, 1997
  • Wheels of Time A Picture Biography of Henry Ford, Millbrook Press, 1997
  • Welcome to Felicity`s World 1774 , Pleasant Company Publications, 1999
  • Welcome to Samantha's World-1904: Growing Up in America's New Century, Pleasant Company Publications, 1999
  • Good Girl Work Factories, Sweatshops and How Women Changed Their Role in the American Workplace, Millbrook Press, 1999
  • Media Wizards A Behind the Scenes Look at Media Manipulations, Twenty First Century Books, 1999
  • Welcome to Molly`s World 1944: Growing Up in World War Two, Pleasant Company Publications, 1999
  • Who is Maria Tallchief, Penguin-Putnam, 2002
  • Society Sisters : Stories of Women Who Fought for Social Justice in America, Twenty-First Century Books, 2003
  • Gibson Girls and Suffragists: Perceptions of Women from 1900 to 1918, Twenty-First Century Books, 2007
  • Flappers and the New American Woman: Perceptions of Women from 1918 Through the 1920's, Twenty-First Century Books, 2007
  • Rosie and Mrs. America: Perceptions of Women in the 1930s and 1940s, Twenty-First Century Books, 2007
  • Gidgets and Women Warriors: Perceptions of Women in the 1950s and 1960s, Twenty-First Century Books, 2007
  • Ms. and the Material Girls: Perceptions of Women from the 1970s Through the 1990s, Twenty-First Century Books, 2007
  • War, Women, and the News: How Female Journalists Won the Battle to Cover World War II, Atheneum, 2007
  • The Horrors of Andersonville: Life and Death Inside a Civil War Camp, Twenty-First Century Books, 2010

Selected Titles At Your Library

Island in the creek :
ISBN: 0920080944. OCLC Number:

Harbour Pub.,. Madeira Park, B.C. :. 1988.

Hunting Neptune's giants :
ISBN: 1562945343. OCLC Number:

Millbrook Press,. Brookfield, Conn. :. ©1995.

An account of American whaling using excerpts from diaries, ships' logs, letters, and other documents written by men and women who participated in the industry during the 19th century.

Sharks! :
ISBN: 0761300015. OCLC Number:

Millbrook Press,. Brookfield, Conn. :. ©1996.

A collection of facts and stories, both historical and traditional, about sharks, their behavior, and their interaction with people.

Beryl Markham :
ISBN: 1573240737. OCLC Number:

. .

Describes the life of the first person, man or woman, to fly across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west, from her childhood in Africa through many difficulties to her aeronautic and literary achievements.

Wheels of time :
ISBN: 076130214X. OCLC Number:

Millbrook Press,. Brookfield, Conn. :. ©1997.

A biography of the engineer and industrialist whose innovative methods enabled his company to build and mass-produce reliable and inexpensive automobiles and whose latter years were devoted to establishing a museum reflecting American life before the advent of machines.

Welcome to Felicity's world, 1774 /
ISBN: 1562477684. OCLC Number:

Pleasant Co. Publications,. Middleton, WI :. ©1999.

Provides an in-depth look at daily life and historical events in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War, including home life, work, medicine, and play.

Welcome to Samantha's world, 1904 :
ISBN: 1562477722. OCLC Number:

Pleasant Co. Publications,. Middleton, WI :. ©1999.

An in-depth look at life for girls and women in America in 1904, discussing city and town life, social reform, new inventions, amusements, and more.

Good girl work :
ISBN: 0761309519. OCLC Number:

Millbrook Press,. Brookfield, Conn. :. ©1999.

Discusses the girls and women in the industrial workforce of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the reforms and movements that changed their working conditions and the nature of the work itself.

Media wizards :
ISBN: 0761309675. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Press,. Brookfield, Conn. :. ©1999.

Explores the various tools advertisers, broadcasters, and others involved in the media use to impart messages to the public, describing both historical and contemporary media events and phenomena.

Welcome to Molly's world, 1944 :
ISBN: 1562477730. OCLC Number:

Pleasant Co. Publications,. Middleton, WI :. ©1999.

Provides an in-depth look at life and historical events in America during World War Two.

Who is Maria Tallchief? /
ISBN: 0448426757. OCLC Number:

Grosset & Dunlap,. New York :. ©2002.

A biography of the Osage Indian ballerina whose love of dance took her from a life on a reservation to a career on the stage.

Society's sisters :
ISBN: 0761328653. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Brookfield, Conn. :. ©2003.

Profiles nineteenth-century women who overcame the disadvantage of being female in order to change the society in which they lived, by promoting temperance, child labor laws, health care, and other causes.

Gibson girls and suffragists :
ISBN: 0822571501. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Minneapolis, MN :. ©2008.

From the turn of the twentieth century through the end of World War I, the Gibson Girl and the suffragist were icons of American womanhood. Gibson Girls were flirtatious and feisty. They drove motor cars and donned bloomers to play a new game called basketball. Some were ladies of polite society, while others were immigrants who did their best to be fashionable on their paltry earnings. The Suffragists, on the other hand, were more concerned with social justice than fashion. They fought for the right to vote for all American women, demanded safer work conditions and better wages for working women, and called for better living conditions for impoverished families. Magazines, sheet music, and celebrities idealized femininity and fashion; while the Gibson Girls paid attention, the Suffragists were busy marching into the world to make changes.--From publisher description.

Flappers and the new American woman :
ISBN: 0822560607. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Minneapolis, MN :. ©2008.

After the end of World War I in 1918, the Flapper shocked society by flagrantly defying the traditional passive and gentile image of femininity. She danced the Charleston, with bared knees, bobbed hair--and without a corset! The New American Woman also danced--though to a more sedate tune. She represented Mrs. Consumer, more aware of her decision-making ability and her purchasing power than her mother had ever been. And she was, for the first time ever, a fully enfranchised citizen who cast her vote in the polling booth. The media of the times influenced women's paths: magazine advertisements showed them how to dress and how to look younger to please their husbands; books advised them on proper etiquette and how to be truly beautiful; and movies offered entree to exotic new worlds. Many, however, looked beyond the stereotypes, using their new-found power and abilities to fight for a variety of causes.--From publisher description.

Rosie and Mrs. America :
ISBN: 0822568047. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Minneapolis, MN :. ©2008.

The jubilance of the Roaring Twenties was silenced by the stock market crash of 1929. Now the Great Depression challenged women in their homes, as Mrs. America had to learn how to "make do" with less. And as men left for battle fronts, World War II propelled women to take their place in factories, becoming Rosie the Riveter. As girls and women of the 1930s and 1940s searched for their own identities, the media of the times tried to influence their paths. Magazine advertisements and mail-order catalogs showed women how to be both fashionable and frugal. Screwball comedies on the movie screen and the romantic soap operas on the radio portrayed women who took life lightly. But many women ignored these stereotypes and forged paths that women had never pursued before, in careers as pilots, foreign correspondents, musicians, and social activists.--From publisher description.

Gidgets and women warriors :
ISBN: 0822568055. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Minneapolis, MN :. ©2008.

During the 1950s and 1960s, popular media was doing everything possible to undo the strong, work-oriented Rosie the Riveter image of the 1940s and bring women back into the domestic fold. The young, blonde Gidget image offered young girls a role model for carefree living before they settled down to fulfill their patriotic duty as wives and mothers. Yet many women weren't buying the images that advised them on how to catch husbands and become dutiful wives and mothers. Instead, they pursued the Woman Warrior persona to emerge as astronauts, peace activists, and women who challenged bigotry and racism.--From publisher description.

Ms. and the material girls :
ISBN: 0822568063. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Minneapolis, MN :. ©2008.

Who were the women who called themselves "Ms." and who were the Material Girls? They weren't specific individuals, but rather symbols that defined perceptions of women during the 1970s through the 1990s. The term Ms. was adopted by feminists--women who believed in equal pay for equal work, freedom from sexual harassment, and equal employment opportunities. The Material Girls wanted all this, but they also wanted to be wild, sexy, and outrageously fashionable--a modern version of the flappers of the 1920s. And they wanted control over their own lives--the kind of control that could only be achieved through money and power. Ms. and the Material Girls walked different paths but together brought about major changes for women. Media provided great influence: magazines, television, and movies stressed women's liberation while still promoting femininity and fashions; rock music mocked society's materialistic ways; and newscasts showed women speaking out and taking control.--From publisher description.

War, women, and the news :
ISBN: 0689877528. OCLC Number:

Atheneum Books for Young Readers,. New York :. ©2007.

The personal stories of women journalists who fought to be allowed to cover World War II.

The horrors of Andersonville :
ISBN: 0761342125. OCLC Number:

Twenty-First Century Books,. Minneapolis :. ©2010.

This fact-based book documents Andersonville, a Civil War prison camp in Georgia, where thousands of Union prisoners died in the last fourteen months of the war. The text contains profanity and graphic descriptions of violence.


  • The Courtship of Joanna

    was nominated for the Carl Sandburg Award through the Chicago Public Library and was a finalist for the Jefferson Cup for excellence in historical fiction.

  • Wheels of Time

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    , to schedule an author appearance or program--writing workshop or interactive discussion on the topics listed below, contact Cathy Gourley at or call 570-675-3305. Programs include

  • Real Ladies Don't Do That!

    An overview of women's images and issues throughout the 20th century. Focus Popular culture & womens history, media literacy.

  • Blondie, Betty Boop, and Brenda Starr Pen and Ink Perceptions of Women

    Focus Popular culture & womens history, media literacy.

  • The Three As of Femininity Social Stereotypes of the 50s & 60s

    Focus Popular culture & womens history, media literacy.

  • Seeing vs. Watching An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Film in the Classroom

    Focus Visual literacy.

  • Reader Response, the Other R in Reading Strategies for Prompting Reflective Writing

    Focus The reading-writing process.

  • The Story of the Movies

    programs include

    To Kill A Mockingbird


    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


    The Day the Earth Stood Still