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Helen Andelin

Born Helen Lucille Berry
May 22, 1920(1920-05-22)
Mesa, Arizona
Died June 7, 2009 (aged 89)
Pierce City, Missouri
Alma mater Brigham Young University (home economics)
University of Utah
Genres Self-help
Subjects Feminine enchantment
Notable work(s) Fascinating Womanhood, 1963
Spouse(s) Aubrey Passey Andelin (1918–1999, m. 1942)
Official website

Helen Berry Andelin (May 22, 1920 – June 7, 2009)[1] is the founder of the Fascinating Womanhood Movement, beginning with the women's marriage classes she taught in the early 1960s. Controversial among feminists for its advice toward women's fulfilling traditional marriage roles, her writings are still supported by a thriving community of women, with classes still being taught on-line and in seminars.




Early life

The year 1920 saw the birth of daughter Helen to Dr. Herbert and Mrs. Anna May Berry of Mesa, Arizona. Helen was the youngest of seven children in this Latter-day Saint (LDS) household. In her teens, Helen worked in a malt shop and at her parents' hotel. She graduated from Phoenix Union High School and attended Brigham Young University, where she majored in Home Economics.[2]

Love and marriage

At Brigham Young University, she met and married Aubrey Passey Andelin, son of Aubrey Olof and Gladys Passey Andelin.[3] Aubrey graduated from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and practiced dentistry in Central California for many years. Dr. and Mrs. Andelin became the parents of eight children, four sons and four daughters. Their children include several well-known individuals in their own fields: Dr. Lane Andelin (psychologist and marriage enhancement teacher); Dr. John Andelin (pathologist and sculptor); and Merilee Saunders (nurse and cookbook author).

Fascinating Womanhood

Helen Berry Andelin authored the book Fascinating Womanhood in 1963 to correspond with marriage enrichment classes that she taught in Central California. Mrs. Andelin sold 400,000 copies from her garage through a publishing firm she and her husband founded, Pacific Press. She based the classes and her book on a set of pamphlets that were published in the 1920s and 1930s, "The Secrets of Fascinating Womanhood." The classes started with an enrollment of eight women and grew to the point that many hundreds of women taught Fascinating Womanhood classes.

Fascinating Womanhood spawned a grassroots movement. Going against the "second wave" feminist tide of the 1960s and beyond, the classes and book focused on women being traditional wives and mothers. The classes continue to this day, being held in several countries, including the United States, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and the Philippines. The first online Fascinating Womanhood class was held in 2000-2001[4] by a woman from Kansas, Mrs. Franky. Additional online teachers have served over the years. Discussion groups exist on the Internet and in live venues.

Eventually being reissued in several editions, Fascinating Womanhood (also known as 'The Book the Feminists Love to Hate') has sold over two million copies and has been translated into Spanish, French, Indonesian, and Japanese. Random House issued the latest edition of the book in February 2007.[5] Mrs. Andelin currently hosts a website where she continues to give advice on marriage and motherhood.[6]

Other books by Mrs. Andelin include The Fascinating Girl, a book addressed to single women, which was originally published in 1969 and remains in print in 2007, and All About Raising Children, published in 1980. Mrs. Andelin also designed The Domestic Goddess Planning Notebook to help women keep their busy lives organized.

Mrs. Andelin made many media appearances over the years. She has been interviewed by Michael Douglas, Larry King, Phil Donohue, Hugh Downs, and Barbara Walters. She appeared in the March 10, 1975, issue of Time magazine, in an article called "Total Fascination".[7]


Although many women perceive that Fascinating Womanhood helped their lives, the book's teachings remain controversial. The book emphasizes traditional femininity and a wife's conditional obedience to her husband. In addition, the book teaches women to embrace girlish appearance and mannerisms, which some feel is strange behavior for an adult woman. Certain conservative Christian groups reject the book's teachings based on disagreement with Mrs. Andelin's devout observance of her faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other conservative Christians who generally support Mrs. Andelin's teachings disagree with her ideas concerning sexuality in marriage and the behavior of wives. Finally, more than one author has indicated that Mrs. Andelin wrote her book in response to Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.[8][9]

Later life

Mrs. Andelin entered the World Wide Web in 1998. Her website has now received over a quarter of a million visits. Dr. Andelin's death in 1999 took its toll on her spirit. However, Mrs. Andelin returned to the world of Fascinating Womanhood about a year later, convinced of the necessity of her message.

In the early 2000s, Mrs. Andelin worked with research historian Julie Neuffer, who chose the Fascinating Womanhood Movement as the subject of her Ph.D. dissertation. In 2006, the Helen B. Andelin Papers were donated to the University of Utah, where they remain housed in the Marriott Library Special Collections.[2]

Mrs. Andelin died on June 7, 2009, in Missouri. She is survived by 8 children, 61 grandchildren, and 101 great-grandchildren.[10]


External links


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