Sheila Michaels, Feminist Who Coined ‘Ms.’, Dies At 78 by the Forward

Sheila Michaels, Feminist Who Coined ‘Ms.’, Dies At 78

Sheila Michaels, an iconic feminist activist who was credited with coining the title “Ms.,” has died, the New York Times reported Thursday. She was 78 and had been battling leukemia.

“A giant has left us,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, where Michaels was an active member, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light newspaper.

Michaels, a St. Louis native who was a lifelong stalwart in women’s and civil rights movements, died on June 22.

She came up with the honorific in the early ’60s for women who did not want to be defined by their relationship to men.

The term gained widespread popularity in 1971 when Gloria Steinem decided to use it as the name of her trailblazing feminist magazine.

Michaels lived in New York’s lower East Side for decades.


Dave Goldiner

Dave Goldiner

Dave Goldiner is the Forward’s director of digital media. Dave is a veteran journalist who has spent two decades working at newspapers in the United States and Africa. A native New Yorker, Goldiner wrote for the New York Daily News, where he covered some of the biggest stories of our time, including the attacks of September 11, along with thousands of stories of hope and heartbreak. He also studied and worked in Southern Africa and has written for publications in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He holds masters degrees in journalism and public administration from Columbia University. Dave can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter @davegoldiner

Sheila Michaels, Feminist Who Coined ‘Ms.’, Dies At 78

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Sheila Michaels, Feminist Who Coined ‘Ms.’, Dies At 78

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