NPR

Sheila Michaels, Who Helped Bring Honorific 'Ms.' To The Masses, Dies At 78

Michaels did not coin "Ms.," but she played a key role in its adoption. She was inspired by a letter to her roommate Mary Hamilton — who, separately, won a battle for the right to be called "Miss."

Sheila Michaels, who played a key role in bringing the title "Ms." from obscurity into mainstream use, has died at 78, according to the New York Times.

Michaels' lasting impression on the English language was inspired by a letter to Mary Hamilton — a woman who, separately, made legal history by successfully demanding to be called "Miss."

They were roommates and lifelong friends: The black woman who fought to be called "Miss" instead of condescended to as "Mary," and the white woman who pushed to be called "Ms." because it was nobody's business if she was married.

Michaels passed away on June 22 from leukemia, according to the Times. Hamilton died in 2002 of ovarian cancer.

Ms, Miss, Neither

Ms. Sheila Michaels was born in St. Louis. She didn't know her

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
'Rigoletto' In Vegas And The Pleasures Of The Metropolitan Opera
A recent Pop Culture Happy Hour trip to New York took the team to see Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera. A jester in a rat pack? We saw it.
NPR3 min read
Roger Stone Barred From Using Social Media As Judge Tightens Gag Order
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the political consultant not to post, like, retweet or forward following what she ruled was a breach of a gag order from earlier in his case.
NPR4 min read
Seeing Apollo Through The Eyes Of Astronauts
Five former NASA astronauts who flew on space missions reflect on some of the awe-inspiring photos from Apollo 11, the first lunar landing flight.