VFA Recommended Books


Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream: How One Woman Changed the Face of Modern Business
by Jane R. Plitt

Published by Syracuse University Press

Jane Plitt's E-Mail
: bruen2@att.net

Martha Matilda Harper is a forgotten international business visionary who defied her destiny as a servant girl to launch America's first business format franchising system in 1891.

Inspired by Susan B. Anthony and her Christian Science faith, Harper's new business model became her revolutionary tool to transform poor women into business owners. The result was a worldwide empire of over 500 Harper Method health-conscious hair and skin salons and a team of thousands of women known as Harperites. Using Harper's floor-length hair as an advertising tool, this image of her became identified with the Harper distinctiveness.

Delighted customers included suffragists, government leaders, and actresses, such as Susan B. Anthony, Presidents Wilson and Coolidge, First Ladies Coolidge, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Johnson, and Helen Hayes.

To learn more about Harper, the mother of business format franchising, you can order her biography or hear Harper biographer Jane Plitt speak.

The Martha Matilda Harper Story 
As a Visiting Scholar at the University of Rochester, Jane Plitt is the definitive biographer of Harper. She lectures widely on Harper, women, and business. She will be speaking:

To book Jane for your organization's program:


Note: A portion of the book's royalties fund The Women's Foundation of Genesee Valley's entrepreneurial projects to support poor women.

A click on the author’s name will bring up a description/review in some cases a picture of the cover of the book.
Many will be available in your local library. If not, ask the librarian to order.
For purchase, try Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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