9.08.2016

First Feminists in the United States

First American Feminists

Feminism in the United States is often divided chronologically into first-wave (1848-1920), second-wave (early 1960s to 1980s), and third-wave (1990s-present). As of the most recent Gender Gap Index measurement of countries by the World Economic Forum in 2014, the United States is ranked 20th in gender equality.


Image: Amelia Bloomer (center) introduces Anthony (left) to Stanton.
Bloomer and Stanton are wearing the Bloomer costume (shorter dresses).
Seneca Falls, New York

Anthony and Stanton: Always at the Forefront
In the spring of 1851, William Lloyd Garrison conducted an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls. Susan B. Anthony attended, staying at the home of Amelia Bloomer. They met Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the street and immediately began their historic friendship.

8.28.2016

Mary Ann McClintock

Pioneer of the Women's Rights Movement

Mary Ann McClintock was one five women who met for tea in Waterloo, New York, but the conversation soon turned to women's rights, or rather the lack thereof. The result of this meeting, and another the following day at the McClintock House, was the First Women's Rights Convention, which was held at Seneca Falls on July 19-20, 1848.

Born Mary Ann Wilson in Burlington, New Jersey of Quaker parents, she attended Westtown School in 1814 for one year. She married Thomas McClintock in 1820 and moved with him to 107 South Ninth Street, his store in Philadelphia. They had five children: Elizabeth (1821), Mary Ann (1822), Sarah (1824), Charles (1829) and Julia (1831). They lived in Philadelphia for the first seventeen years of their marriage; there they were active members of the Philadelphia Quaker community and were recognized by their meetings as leaders.

6.29.2015

Kate Field

One of the First American Women Journalists

female journalist and reporter from the United States
Kate Field was one of the first American celebrity journalists. A literary and cultural sensation, she wrote for several prestigious newspapers, such as the Boston Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Herald. She was an intelligent and independent woman, an outspoken advocate for the rights of black Americans and founder of the first woman's club in America.

Early Years
Mary Katherine Kate Field was born October 1, 1838 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of an actor father and a Philadelphia Quaker mother. Kate lived with her millionaire aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Milton H. Sanford, and they financed her education in New England, and then in England. They also traveled throughout Europe - to Paris, Rome and Florence - and supported her lavishly while she became acquainted with the social and cultural elite.

4.26.2015

Betsy Mix Cowles

Educator and women's rights activist 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.

3.29.2015

Sarah Jane Woodson Early

young African American teacher

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.

2.21.2015

Lucy Colman

freethinker, author and women in education

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.

2.02.2015

Charlotte Denman Lozier

pioneer female doctor in New York City

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

Early Years
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.

12.28.2014

Jane Hunt

women's rights activist from New York

An Organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention

Jane and Richard Hunt of Waterloo, New York were philanthropists who supported human rights causes. They hosted the tea party that led to the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848.

Image: Jane Hunt

Jane Clothier Master was born June 26, 1812 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Quakers William and Mary Master. At age thirty-three Jane Master married Richard Hunt in November 1845 and moved to Waterloo, New York, where she became a member of Richard's extended family of Hunts, McClintocks, Mounts, Plants and Pryors. All of these families were Quakers who had migrated to Waterloo from Philadelphia or New York State.

12.22.2014

Women of Brook Farm

main house at Brook Farm commune

A Massachusetts Commune

Image: Farmhouse at Brook Farm

Brook Farm, the most famous utopian community in America, was founded by Unitarian minister and author George Ripley and his wife Sophia in rural West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1841. The Ripleys were interested in a more balanced society where equality was the norm and class distinction and wage discrepancy were not.

The Philosophy
In October 1840, George Ripley announced to the Transcendental Club that he was planning to form a Utopian community. Brook Farm, as it would be called, was based on the ideals of Transcendentalism. Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was the center of the transcendental movement, setting out most of its ideas and values in a little book entitled Nature (1836) which represented at least ten years of intense study in philosophy, religion and literature.

10.22.2013

Amy Kirby Post

radical Quaker abolitionist and feminist

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.

7.06.2013

Sarah Pugh

abolitionist and feminist Sarah Pugh

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.

6.01.2013

Women's Rights After the American Revolution

drawing of the many jobs women performed at home

Status of Women in the New United States

In the American colonies it was not uncommon for women to pursue various occupations, such as printers, innkeepers, merchants and teachers. Women were excluded from political activities, but a few women, like Mercy Otis Warren and Abigail Adams, entered the political arena as public figures. Were women always treated fairly?

Remember the Ladies
On March 31, 1776 Abigail Adams wrote a celebrated letter to husband John, who was in Philadelphia serving in the Continental Congress, which would produce the Declaration of Independence three months later. In an age when women were seen as strictly domestic beings, the letter shows Abigail's boldness and insight as she urged her husband Remember the Ladies, to grant women more rights, as he helped shape the new national government.

3.22.2013

Sarah Grimke

photograph of Sarah Grimke, outspoken activist for the abolionist and women's rights movements in antebellum America
Sarah Grimke helped pioneer the antislavery and women's rights movements in the United States. The daughter of a South Carolina slave-holder, she began as an advocate for the abolition of slavery, but was severely criticized for the public role she assumed in support of the abolitionist movement. In Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman (1838), Grimke defended the right of women to speak in public in defense of a moral cause.

Childhood and Early Years
Sarah Moore Grimke was born on November 26, 1792, in Charleston, South Carolina. She was the eighth of fourteen children and the second daughter of Mary and John Faucheraud Grimke, a wealthy plantation owner who was also an attorney and a judge. The Grimkes lived alternately between a fashionable townhouse in Charleston and the sprawling Beaufort plantation in the country.

2.08.2013

Maria Stewart

First African American Woman to Lecture in Public

Maria Stewart was an essayist, lecturer, abolitionist and women's rights activist. She was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. Stewart is known for four powerful speeches she delivered in Boston in the early 1830s - a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform.

Childhood and Early Years
She was born free as Maria Miller in 1803 in Hartford, Connecticut. All that is known about her parents is their surname, Miller. At the age of five, she lost both her parents and was forced to become a servant in the household of a white clergyman. She lived with this family for ten years.

1.01.2013

Lucretia Mott

Quaker Feminist and Social Activist

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a Quaker minister, abolitionist and social reformer who dedicated her life to the goal of human equality. Mott was a major figure in the reform movements of the nineteenth-century: abolition, women's rights, school and prison reform, temperance, peace and religious tolerance.

Childhood and Early Years
Lucretia Coffin was born on January 3, 1793 on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, the second of eight children born to Thomas and Anna Folger Coffin. At the age of thirteen, Lucretia was sent to the Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in Millbrook, New York. There she learned of the horrors of slavery from visiting lecturers such as Elias Hicks, a well-known Quaker abolitionist.

10.17.2012

Elizabeth Smith Miller

suffragist and feminist Elizabeth Smith Miller with her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller

Feminist, Philanthropist and Social Reformer

Image: Elizabeth Smith Miller (right)
with daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller

Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822–1911 ) was a lifelong advocate and financial supporter of the women's rights movement. Miller was well known for her hospitality and often opened her home to raise money for the women's suffrage campaign. She is best known as a dress reformer, developing the practical knee-length skirt over pantaloons that became known as bloomers after activist Amelia Bloomer popularized them in her periodical The Lily.

5.31.2012

Margaret Fuller

American writer, editor, social reformer and feminist

America's First True Feminist

Author, editor, and journalist, Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) holds a distinctive place in the cultural life of the American Renaissance. Literary critic, editor, author, political activist and women's rights advocate - she was also the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. Her death at sea was a tragedy for her family and colleagues, and the loss of her many talents to womankind, then and now, is immeasurable.

Childhood and Early Years
On May 23, 1810, Sarah Margaret Fuller was the first-born child of Margarett Crane and Timothy Fuller, Jr. of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. A lawyer and a Republican in Federalist New England, Timothy Fuller was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1813 and in 1818 began the first of four terms in the United States Congress, finally retiring to write. Eight daughters and sons were born to the couple, and six grew to adulthood.

5.10.2012

Amelia Bloomer

19th century editor, publisher, suffragist and social reformer

Feminist, Suffragist, Newspaper Publisher and Social Reformer

Amelia Bloomer (1818–1894) was a feminist, social reformer and women's rights activist. Amelia Bloomer owned, edited and published the first newspaper for women, The Lily, in which she promoted abolition, temperance, women's suffrage, higher education for women and marriage law reform. Although she did not create the women's clothing style known as Bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy.

Early Years
Amelia Jenks was born May 27, 1818 into a family of modest means in Homer, New York. Although she received only a few years of formal schooling, Amelia was thought to be remarkably intelligent by her peers. She became a teacher, at first in the public schools and afterward as a private tutor.

4.19.2012

Susanna Rowson

best-selling author of plays, poetry, songs, novels and textbooks and pioneer educator

Early American Educator, Novelist and Actress

Susanna Rowson's novel Charlotte Temple became the first bestseller in America when it was published in 1794 by Matthew Carey of Philadelphia. Rowson (1762–1824) was a British-American novelist, poet, textbook author, playwright and actress. She was also a pioneer in female education, opening the Academy for Young Ladies in Boston in 1797, offering an advanced curriculum to young ladies, and operating the school until her retirement in 1822.

Childhood and Early Years
Susanna Haswell was born in 1762 in Portsmouth, England to Royal Navy Lieutenant William Haswell and Susanna Musgrave Haswell, who soon died from complications of childbirth, an event that surely influenced Rowson's fiction. Her father left Susanna in England in the care of relatives and went to Massachusetts, where he was stationed in Boston as a customs officer for the British Royal Navy.

1.12.2012

Frances Wright

Scottish-born American writer, abolitionist, founder of the Nashoba commune and social reformer

Abolitionist, Writer and Social Reformer

Frances Wright (1795–1852) was a Scottish-born lecturer, writer, feminist, abolitionist and social reformer who became a U.S. citizen in 1825. That year she founded the Nashoba Commune in Tennessee as a Utopian community to prepare slaves for emancipation, but it lasted only three years. Her Views of Society and Manners in America (1821) brought her the most attention as a critique of the new nation.

Childhood
Frances Wright was born September 6, 1795, one of three children born in Dundee, Scotland to Camilla Campbell and James Wright, a wealthy linen manufacturer and political radical. Both of her parents died young, and Fanny (as she was called as a child) was orphaned at the age of three, but left with a substantial inheritance.