Once upon a time, at the end of the last century, there were three women trained as historians and teachers. All three had spent lengthy periods of their careers working in the museum field. At times, beginning in 1981, two of the three or even all three, had worked together at the same museum or on the same research project. After more than a decade of this historical and intellectual interaction, discussion among the three friends often turned toward history as a career. The trio often wondered if it was possible to pursue a career path in history that went in a slightly different direction from the traditional museum field or the classroom, but would, in some way, nevertheless allow them to draw upon their skills in those fields. “It was possible,” they theorized.
In 1995, an opportunity arose to test their theory when they were asked to research, write, and publish a book about the 250-year history of a local church. Thus was born a historical publishing company specializing in local history of all sorts. But, they asked, “What to call the fledgling group?”
As they cast about for a name, one of the three suggested “Lot’s Wife Publishing.” Why? Those of you who are familiar with the Old Testament Bible story will remember that God told a man named Lot and his family to flee the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and never look back. Sadly for the family, the wife of Lot “looked back.” Of course she was subsequently turned into a pillar of salt. The three friends and now business partners felt that this woman, whose name is never given in the pages of the Bible, must be regarded as the world’s first documented female historian because she simply had “to look back.”
Historians spend their lives looking back. Katharine Brown, Sue Simmons, and Nancy Sorrells felt that because they were three women historians, it was only fitting that they memorialize that first woman who looked back. Very quickly, the three began to refer to themselves as “The Wives.” And what about that first book that was the catalyst for launching the company? Why, it is dedicated to “The Husbands of the Wives, Madison, Claude, and Randy!” Within a few years, the lives of The Wives became so full of history projects and editorial demands that they had to take another wife. That is, they asked Dorothy Boyd-Bragg to join the “family.” No stranger to the Wives, Dorothy was a logical addition. As graduate school dean and history professor at the university where Nancy and Sue attended graduate school, she became both a mentor and a friend.
Ten years and twenty-three books later, the Wives are no pillars of salt. They are on the move and going strong.