Romantic Friendship

Women Living Happily With Women

A romantic friendship is a very close but non-sexual relationship between same-sex friends who often shared a degree of physical closeness like kissing, hugging, holding hands, and sharing a bed. Such friendships offered emotional support and companionship in a society where women had few freedoms. Many of these women later left the romantic friendship and married men.

Women in romantic friendships usually lived together, in a world where women had few choices as to where they must live. As long as they remained single and had no other arrangements, they were forced to live with a male family member – father, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin. As they aged, they were often shuttled from household to household, never feeling welcome anywhere.

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Mary Peabody Mann

Activist, Educator, and Wife of Horace Mann

Mary Peabody Mann was a teacher, author, and wife of education reformer Horace Mann. Mary carried a passion for education, especially of young children, in her breast from her youngest days. She was well educated by her mother and role model Eliza Palmer Peabody, who ran a school from their home and was an early advocate of women’s rights.

Early Years
Mary Tyler Peabody was born November 16, 1806 in Cambridge and grew up in Salem, both in Massachusetts. Her parents, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Peabody were schoolteachers when they married; after the wedding, they reserved one room in their home as a classroom.

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Tabitha Moffatt Brown

Pioneer, Educator and Founder of Early Oregon Schools

Tabitha Moffatt Brown was an early pioneer on a treachorus journey by wagon train along the Oregon Trail in 1846. She settled with her family in Oregon Country, where she and two reverends founded Tualatin Academy in 1849, and eventually Pacific University in Forest Grove in 1854. In the Oregon State Capitol, 158 names are inscribed in the legislative chambers; only six are women. One of those is Tabitha Moffat Brown.

Early Years
Tabitha Moffatt was born May 1, 1780 in Brimfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dr. Joseph Moffatt and Lois Haynes Moffatt. Nothing is known of her childhood. Tabitha married Reverend Clark Brown December 1, 1799, and they had four children – three sons and a daughter: Orus, Manthano, John Mattocks and Pherne (pronounced Ferny). John Mattocks died as a youngster, but the other children survived to adulthood. Reverend Brown died in 1817 and Tabitha taught school to support her family.

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Mary Easton Sibley

Pioneer in Education in Early Missouri

Mary Easton Sibley was an early American pioneer and educator. In 1830, she and her husband founded a girls’ school in St. Charles, Missouri that would become the Lindenwood College for Women, the first women’s college west of the Mississippi River. Today, Lindenwood University is a major coeducational institution that continues to honor Sibley and her dedication to education for women.

Image: Map of the Louisiana Purchase
Including exploration routes of the early 1800s

Early life
Mary Easton was born January 24, 1800 in Rome New York, the first of eleven children born to Rufus Easton and Alby Smith Easton. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Rufus Easton territorial judge of the Louisiana Territory, and the family moved to St. Louis. Rufus Easton became a prominent St. Louis attorney and Missouri’s second Attorney General.

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Betsy Mix Cowles

Abolitionist and Educator from Ohio

Betsey Mix Cowles was an educator, and an early leader in the abolitionist and women’s rights movement in the pre-Civil War era, advocating women’s access to education, equal rights, and independence. She dedicated her life to fighting slavery and improving the status of women. Her circle of friends included like-minded individuals like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Abby Kelley.

Early Years
Betsy Mix Cowles was born February 9, 1810 in Bristol, Connecticut, the eighth child of Giles Hooker Cowles and Sally White Cowles. In 1811, the Cowles family settled in the town of Austinburg in Ashtabula, the most northeastern county in Ohio, where her father was a minister and where Betsy began her teaching career.

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Charlotte Digges Moon

Southern Baptist Missionary to China

Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (1840–1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly forty years living and working there. As a teacher and evangelist, she made many trips into China’s interior to share the gospel with women and girls.

Image: Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (1840–1912)

Early Years
Charlotte Digges Moon was born December 12, 1840 to affluent parents who were staunch Baptists, Anna Maria Barclay and Edward Harris Moon. She was fourth in a family of five girls and two boys. She grew up on her family’s 1,500-acre tobacco plantation called Viewmont, near Scottsville, Virginia. When Moon was thirteen, her father died in a riverboat accident.

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Sarah Jane Woodson Early

Pioneer in Education for African American Women

Sarah Jane Woodson Early was an African American educator, author and feminist. For 30 years Early was a teacher and school principal in Ohio, and in the South after the Civil War. In 1866 she became the first African American woman professor when she was hired by Wilberforce University to teach Latin and English.

Image: Young Sarah Woodson

Early Years
Sarah Jane Woodson, fifth daughter and youngest child of eleven of Jemima (Riddle) and Thomas Woodson (1790–1879), was born free in Chillicothe, Ohio November 15, 1825. Her parents had moved to the free state of Ohio about 1821 from Virginia, where they had been freed from slavery. They lived for some years in Chillicothe, and founded the first black Methodist church west of the Alleghenies.

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Jane Stanford

A Founder of Stanford University

Jane Lathrop Stanford, together with her husband Leland, founded Stanford University in 1891. The university was created as a memorial to their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who died of typhoid fever at age 15. After her husband’s death in 1893, she operated the university until her death in 1905.

Image: Leland, Jane and Leland, Jr. in 1880

Early Years
Jane Elizabeth Lathrop was born August 25, 1828 in Albany, New York, to Dyer and Jane Ann Shields Lathrop, the third of six children. She was educated at home, and briefly attended the Albany Female Academy. Jane married lawyer Leland Stanford September 30, 1850, and moved to Port Washington, Wisconsin, where Leland had established a law practice.

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Lucy Colman

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.

Early Years
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.

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Delia Webster

Conductor on the Underground Railroad

Delia Webster was a teacher and abolitionist in Kentucky, where she was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tried and convicted for helping runaway slaves in their escape to freedom, she was the first woman imprisoned for assisting fugitive slaves. Webster was also an artist, writer, and an independent woman, unusual for her time.

Image: Delia (front left) with her sisters, clockwise Martha, Mary Jane, and Betsey

Delia Ann Webster was born December 17, 1817, one of four daughters born to Benejah and Esther Bostwick Webster in Vergennes, Vermont. She attended the Vergennes Classical School, and began teaching school at 12 years of age. She then attended Oberlin College in Ohio, the first college in the United States to accept women and African American students. The town of Oberlin was called a “hotbed of abolitionism.”

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