Abolitionist, Suffragist and Philanthropist
Elizabeth Buffum Chace was a tireless life-long activist in the Anti-Slavery, Women’s Rights, and Prison Reform movements of the mid-to-late 19th century. Following in the footsteps of her father, the first president of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, Chace helped found the Fall River Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1835.
She was born Elizabeth Buffum in Smithfield, Rhode Island on December 9, 1806 to Arnold Buffum and Rebecca Gould Buffum, whose families were among the oldest in New England. Elizabeth grew up in a household of anti-slavery Quakers and she spent a year studying at the Friends’ Boarding School in Providence in 1822.
Abolitionist, Botanist, Genealogist, and Suffragist
Eliza Starbuck Barney was an ardent Quaker who championed abolition, temperance, and women’s rights. Her massive genealogical work contains vital information about more than 40,000 Nantucketers; it is the most reliable genealogy for Nantucket’s families for the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The Barney Record is now the foundation of the genealogical collection and database at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Research Library.
Eliza was born April 9, 1802 to Quakers Joseph and Sally Gardner Starbuck on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Joseph Starbuck, the island’s most successful businessman, made a fortune in whale oil. Local schools offered girls equal opportunities for education with those of their brothers. During her studies, Eliza developed an enduring interest in the natural sciences, agriculture, and history.
Woman Who Stitched the Star Spangled Banner
Mary Young Pickersgill stitched the Star-Spangled Banner, the large flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. When he saw the flag still flying above the embattled fort the next morning, the sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would become the national anthem of the United States of America.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania February 12, 1776, Mary Young was the youngest of six children born to William Young and Rebecca Flower Young. Mary’s father died when she was two years old. To support her family, Rebecca opened a flag shop in Philadelphia. Beginning in 1875, she made the Grand Union Flag, also called the Continental Colors, for the Continental Army. The Grand Union Flag preceded the Betsy Ross flag and is considered the first American flag. Young later moved her family to Baltimore, Maryland, where she taught Mary the craft of flag making from a very young age.
Educator, Writer and Freethinker
Lucy Colman was an educator, writer and prolific social reformer who was actively involved in the abolitionist, women’s suffrage and Freethought movements. She also worked for racial justice and for the education of African Americans, accompanied Sojourner Truth on a visit to President Abraham Lincoln.
Lucy Newhall Danforth was born July 26, 1817 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden [link] on her mother’s side. In her autobiography, she reported that from an early age, about six, she was horrified to learn of the existence of slavery, and bothered her mother with many questions about it. In 1824, Lucy’s mother died, and her mother’s sister Lois took over mothering tasks. Lois married Lucy’s father in 1833.
Doctor, Feminist and Social Reformer
Charlotte Denman Lozier, physician, lecturer and professor at the New York Medical College for Women. A feminist, she campaigned for Women’s Suffrage and Workingwomen’s Associations as well as other progressive and charitable organizations.
Image: Dr. Charlotte Denman Lozier
Charlotte Denman was born March 15, 1844 to Selina and Jacob Denman in Milburn, New Jersey. Eventually a brother and sister were added to the family. Jacob had a strong desire to explore the frontier. When Charlotte was six, the family headed west. The 1850 Census reported them living in Napoleon, Michigan where her brother Robert was born. The family then moved on to Galena, Illinois.
At the time of their next journey to the West, Selina was pregnant again and after several weeks on the trail, she was showing signs of nervous strain as their lifestyle became more strenuous. Charlotte was a great help to her mother during these trying times.
Pioneer Doctor and Women’s Rights Activist
Dr. Lydia Folger Fowler was a pioneering American physician, the second woman in America to earn a medical degree, the first American-born woman to receive an American medical degree and and the first woman professor at an American medical school. Her many-faceted career was spent in medicine, lecturing, writing, and activist for women’s rights.
Lydia Folger was born on Nantucket, Massachusetts May 5, 1822 to Gideon and Eunice Macy Folger, a historic Massachusetts family descended from Benjamin Franklin, and her famous cousins – women’s rights activist Lucretia Mott and astronomer Maria Mitchell. Lydia grew up on Nantucket and was educated in the local schools, and Wheaton Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts, where she taught from 1842 to 1844.
First Woman to Preside Over a Public Meeting
Abigail Norton Bush was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist who served as president of the second women’s rights convention in Rochester, New York in 1848 immediately following the Seneca Falls Convention, and thus became the first American woman to serve as president of a women’s rights convention.
Abigail Norton Bush was born in Cambridge, Washington County, New York on March 19, 1810. When she was very young, her family moved to the upstate New York town of Rochester in upstate New York, which was the home of many early social reformers in the early and mid 1800s. In the 1830s, Bush worked for the Rochester Female Charitable Society, an organization devoted to the care of the poor and the ill.
Abolitionist and Feminist in New York
In her own day, Amy Post was well known as a radical Quaker abolitionist and feminist. In the late 1960s, feminists began searching for heroines, women whose lives could provide guidance and inspiration to a new generation of female activists. Many women who were first rediscovered as models of strength, self-reliance and ingenuity were residents of western New York, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Blackwell.
Yet what made this region of New York, and Rochester in particular, a seedbed of female achievement was not only the few nationally renowned women who made a home there but also the dozens of women who day by day struggled to lead exemplary lives and to improve the lives of those around them. Amy Post was one of those women.
19th Century Abolitionist and Feminist
Sarah Pugh (1800-1884) was a dedicated teacher who founded her own school and devoted her life to the abolition of slavery and advancing the rights of women. She was co-founder and leader of the influential Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, a women’s group open to all races.
Born in Virginia in 1800, Sarah Pugh moved to Philadelphia at the age of three when her father died, and spent her life in that city. She attended Westtown boarding school for two years, and in 1821 began teaching at the Friends School of the 12th Street Meeting. When the Quakers split the Hicksite and Orthodox factions, Sarah resigned and started her own school, which she ran for most of her life.
19th Century Anti-Slavery Activists
Image: The Underground Railroad, 1891 painting by Charles Webber, depicts Catharine and Levi Coffin leading a group of fugitive slaves to freedom on a winter morning. The setting of the painting may be the Coffin farm in Cincinnati.
White Women Abolitionists
The increase in religious revivals known as the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s and 1830s led abolitionists to see slavery as a sin against humanity. By the 1830s, thousands of American women were involved in the movement to abolish slavery, and some became prominent leaders in the abolition movement. They wrote articles for abolitionist papers, circulated pamphlets and delivered petitions to Congress calling for abolition.
Since the days of William Penn, Quaker practice had allowed women to take public stances on social issues and granted women the right to speak openly at public meetings. Licensed as a Quaker minister in 1821, Lucretia Mott was soon speaking out against slavery in Quaker meetings. After disagreements about slavery split the Quakers into two groups in 1827, Mott became active in the abolition movement in Pennsylvania.