The author even features River Club's Mona Jain as a historical figure.
As Dr. Mona Jain sits in her River Club home, she proudly clutches a blue-covered, 560-page hardbound history of women in Florida.
Jain may not have authored the book — that was completed by longtime friend and Florida author Doris Weatherford, of Seffner — but the project is one Jain has held closely since 2007, when she and a group of women on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation first envisioned it.
“This is important because a comprehensive book has never been published,” said Jain, who undertook the project with Floridian Carrie Estevez Lee. “I think it’s a great piece of history.”
The book tells the history of women’s lifestyles and achievements in Florida in the context of what was happening nationally. It also showcases women who played significant roles in the state’s history, including the first midwife, first woman doctor and first woman teacher.
“The main thing is it’s not only the past,” Jain said, noting the book even highlights the accomplishments of an 11-year-old girl who is doing international work.
Weatherford, who has been publishing books on American women since 1986, said “They Dared to Dream” is not a cluster of individual biographies, but rather a history of Florida that emphasizes women.
And, it may be the first book in the world, she said, to point out that there were women in all six exploration missions to Florida between Ponce de Leon in 1513 and the permanent settlement in St. Augustine in 1565.
Weatherford began working on the book in 2007, but paused after receiving two other book deals.
Jain said she is happy “They Dared to Dream” is complete and ready for the public to enjoy.
And, she can’t help but smile as she points to pages 450 and 451 in the book. There, Weatherford has included Jain’s own immigration story.
A native of India, Jain arrived in Sarasota in 1964 to teach biology as a Fulbright exchange teacher. She was just one of 100 immigrants allowed from India that year. She earned her master’s degree from Florida State University in 1971 and added a doctorate in educational leadership and a medical degree over the next decade.
“I was not supposed to be in here, and see what she did?” Jain said. “It was a big surprise. You can only say you are honored and touched and humbled. I was not expecting it.”
Weatherford said including Jain seemed appropriate.
“She’s a pioneer in immigration,” she said. “If I ever do another book, it would be a history of modern immigrants.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].