I have a soft spot for historical characters who push society’s boundaries and make them bend.* People who sit where they aren’t supposed to sit, speak up when the world wants them to be quiet, and study things people tell them they can’t study. ** People who find their voice or kick open doors. People who challenge empires and win. People who rise up from poverty to found empires. (I’m looking at you Genghis Khan.) Women who disguise themselves as men and join the army. In short, shin-kickers.

But in looking over the last two years of posts here on History in the Margins, I see that stories about people who kick their way out of society’s margins and onto the page are in short supply. That’s going to change. In the coming months, I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite shin-kicker. But I’d also like to introduce some of yours.

Who are your favorite Shin-Kickers From History? Give me a name, a link, a sentence, a story. I’ll take it from there.

*This will not come as a surprise to those of you who know me in real life.

**Sometimes the pursuit of knowledge is rebellion in its purest form.

Image credit: iamsania / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. Gina Conkle on July 31, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Pam,

    Here’s 3 for you:
    1) Abraham Lincoln. What was his turning point?
    2) Ethan Allen. Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn but I want to know more.
    3) Lagertha Lothbrok. I feel like there’s a lot of “nothing” and here say out there about her: Will the real Lagertha Lothbrok stand up?

    Would love to read you blog about these three.


    • pamela on July 31, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Hey Gina: I knew you were going to give me a Viking. Thanks for weighing in.

  2. Bart Ingraldi on August 1, 2013 at 12:04 am

    The first name to come to mind is Helga Estby. She was a Norwegian immigrant mother of 8 in dire need of money. She accepted a bet to WALK across the U.S. in 1896. You can read her amazing story in “Bold Spirit” by Linda Lawrence Hunt.

    • pamela on August 1, 2013 at 1:41 am

      Good lord!The first question I have is whether the children came with her.

  3. Bart Ingraldi on August 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    One daughter did. The rest were left with their father, not always with the best results.

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