Second edition published by the University of Iowa Press in 2014

Cora Keck, a western girl from a scandalous family background, was sent east to Vassar College in the fall of 1884 to elevate her family’s social status. Her improbable educational opportunity at “the first great educational institution for womankind” turned into an enthralling journey of self-discovery as she struggled to meet the high standards in Vassar’s School of Music while trying to shed her reputation as the daughter of a notorious quack and self-made millionaire.

The most subversive thing of all: the “quack” was her mother. Mrs. Dr. Rebecca J. Keck was second only to Lydia Pinkham as 19th century America’s most successful self-made female patent medicine entrepreneur.

“Readers hit the jackpot… Cora and her friends defy the Victorian stereotype…”
Kate Kelly, The Huffington Post

“a deliciously detailed saga of scandal and redemption”
A’Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

“A complex and superbly written book”
Professor Emeritus Elizabeth A. Daniels, Vassar College Historian

“The Quack’s Daughter is good medicine!”
Charity Nebbe, Iowa Public Radio

Raised in the gritty Mississippi River town of Davenport, Iowa, Cora could have walked straight out of a Susan Glaspell story, except that everything in this entertaining and amazing tale is true. In 2007, Cora’s great-granddaughter, Greta Nettleton, rescued a 19th century Saratoga trunk on its way to the landfill and discovered a trove of photo albums, diaries, sheet music, and scrapbooks preserved inside.


Author Reading at Prairie Lights, June 21, 2014

Set in an era of surging wealth torn by political controversy over inequality, women’s rights, and widespread panic about domestic terrorists, The Quack’s Daughter is illustrated with hundreds of original images and photographs that illuminate the life of a spirited and charming heroine who ultimately faced a stark life and death crisis that would force her to re-examine her doubts about her mother’s medical integrity. Learn more

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