Fearless: Wilma Soss and America’s Forgotten Investor Movement





Janice M. Traflet, PhD and Robert E. Wright, PhD


PUBLIUS SPECIAL GUESTS: Janice Traflet, PhD and Robert Wright, PhD are authors of Fearless: Wilma Soss and America’s Forgotten Investor Movement




Shareholder activist Wilma Soss rocketed to fame in the 1950s fighting for the rights of the individual investor. But over the years, her legacy was almost forgotten.


Based on archival documents, Fearless tells the true story of how a disparate group of activist investors—from a PR star to a Holocaust survivor—found each other and became the advocates Fortune 500 management loved to hate.


Soss and her band of activists, including the incomparable Evelyn Y. Davis, leveraged the media to promote the rights of small shareholders. The idea was simple: buy one share of stock to gain access to shareholder meetings and remind management whom they really serve.


These corporate gadflies” were determined to speak their minds, even if it meant bringing their own megaphones or being dragged out of public meetings. But their message was undeniable, and ultimately changed corporate America for the better. Increased opportunities in the workplace, improved shareholder voting rights and greater corporate transparency were just some of the reforms Wilma Soss and her Federation kicked off in the post-war era.


If youre looking for the intellectual heritage of 2021s WallStreetBets phenomenon or the reason Fearless Girl stands as a symbol of American optimism today, look no further than the life, times and efforts of the fearless shareholder activist, Wilma Soss.


PLUG BOOK: Fearless: Wilma Soss and America’s Forgotten Investor Movement


BIO: Business historian Janice M. Traflet (Ph.D., Columbia University) explores in her research many facets of Wall Street history, especially how ordinary citizens have interacted with the securities markets over time. She is the author of the well-acclaimed book A Nation of Small Shareowners (Johns Hopkins), in addition to numerous articles in journals such as Business History, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Cultural Economy and Essays in Economic and Business History. She serves on the Financial History editorial board, in addition to the board of the Economic and Business History Society. She teaches in the Freeman College of Management at Bucknell University.


BIO: Policy historian Robert E. Wright (Ph.D., SUNY Buffalo) has (co)authored 24 books, including The First Wall Street (Chicago 2005), One Nation Under Debt (McGraw Hill 2008), and The Wall Street Journal Guide to the 50 Economic Indicators That Really Matter (HarperCollins 2011). He taught courses in business, economics, and policy at Temple, Virginia, New York, and Augustana universities before joining the American Institute for Economic Research in January 2021. He has appeared on C-SPAN, Fox Business, and other broadcast outlets and been featured in Barrons, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.





I strongly believe that capitalism works, and that it can work for anybody and everybody. Wilma Soss believed it too and advocated for every shareholder. This book captures the rich history of her life and life’s work. It’s a must read for anyone who believes in our market system. The world belongs to risk takers, and Wilma Soss was one of them! – Ken Langone, co-founder, The Home Depot and author of I Love Capitalism