10.30.2016

Frances Fuller Victor

Author of Dime Novels and Oregon History

Frances Fuller Victor was a historian and historical novelist, who became the founding mother of all Oregon history. By the time she arrived in the Beaver State, she was already a well-known writer. Acknowledged by the Portland Oregonian as the Mother of Oregon History, Victor has also been described as 'the first Oregon historian to gain regional and national attention.'

Early Years
Frances Auretta Fuller was born in 1826 in Rome, New York. The Fullers relocated to Wooster, Ohio in 1839, where Frances was educated in a girls' school. Frances and her younger sister Metta started writing and publishing stories and poetry - first in local newspapers like the Cleveland Herald and Sandusky Daily Register and later in the New York Home Journal, a popular literary and arts magazine.

9.28.2016

Black Women Writers of the 19th Century

African-American Women Authors in Antebellum America



Image: Middle-class black women who loved to read did not have many role models.
Credit: Jeffrey Green

Prior to the Civil War, the majority of African-Americans living in the United States were held in bondage. Although law forbade them, many found a way to learn to read and write. More African-Americans than we could have imagined published poetry, biographies, novels and short stories.

3.20.2016

Underground Railroad at The Wayside

Safe House for Authors and Fugitive Slaves

The Wayside, a residence in Concord, Massachusetts, served as a safe house for fugitive slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century. It was also home to three American literary figures: Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney.

Image: The Wayside

Underground Railroad at The Wayside
The Wayside is located on the same road upon which the British advanced and retreated on April 19, 1775 when the colonists began fighting for their liberty from Britain. One of the early occupants, Samuel Whitney, was a muster master for the Concord Minutemen. Whitney had fought bravely for American independence, but he also owned slaves, who yearned for liberty as much as their master. Henry David Thoreau wrote that one of Whitney's slaves fled from the house and volunteered as a soldier in the Revolutionary War, thereby earning his freedom at the end of the war.

2.21.2016

Maria Martin Bachman

She Painted Backgrounds for Audubon's Famous Birds

artist who painted scenery
Maria Martin Bachman was one of the most influential woman in natural history in the nineteenth century. She is best known as a skilled illustrator of flora and fauna who worked in collaboration with the famed naturalist and artist John James Audubon.

Early Years
Maria (pronounced ma-RY-ah) Martin, the youngest of two daughters, was born July 6, 1796 to Rebecca Solars and John Jacob Martin. The widow Rebecca Solar's dower provided generously for the family they would have together, and Martin nurtured it into a fortune. Records of Maria's childhood years were destroyed by General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea in 1864 during the Civil War.

2.11.2016

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.

10.24.2015

Betsey Guppy Chamberlain

American-Native American mill girl

Native American Mill Girl

During the 1830s and 1840s, Betsey Guppy Chamberlain (daughter of an Algonquian woman) worked in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts and wrote stories for two workers' magazines. A brave and pioneering author, Chamberlain wrote the earliest known Native American fiction and some of the earliest nonfiction about the persecution of Native people.

Image: Betsy Guppy Chamberlain, right
With another Lowell Mill girl

Early Years
Betsey Guppy was born December 29, 1797 in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. She was the daughter of William Guppy and Comfort Meserve Guppy. She was of mixed race: American and Algonquian Indian. Betsey married Josiah Chamberlain on June 25, 1820, and they had two children; he died July 19, 1823. Unable to do the work alone, she was forced to sell their farm and work in the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts to support herself and her children. The mills paid good wages, but the hours were long.

8.13.2015

Mary Clemmer Ames

Author and Newspaper Columnist

Ames wrote fiction, nonfiction and poetry
Mary Clemmer Ames gained national notoriety as a Washington correspondent by attacking politics in the Gilded Age (1870s-1900). Despite her success as a journalist, a mostly male occupation, Ames supported the nineteenth century ideal that a woman's proper place was in the home.

Early Years
Born May 6, 1831 in Utica, New York, Mary Clemmer was the eldest of a large family of children of Abraham and Margaret Kneale Clemmer. Her father's ancestors were Alsatian Huguenots and her mother emigrated to Utica from the British Isle of Man. In 1847 the Clemmer family moved to Westfield, Massachusetts where Mary attended the Westfield Academy, but her family's financial woes ended her education.

7.27.2015

Annie Adams Fields

Writer, Philanthropist and Suffragist in Boston

Annie Adams Fields was a poet, philanthropist and social reformer, who wrote dozens of biographies of famous writers who were also her friends. She founded innovative charities to assist the poor residents of Boston and campaigned for the rights of women, particularly the right to vote and to earn a medical degree.

Image: Young Annie Adams Fields

Annie Adams was born June 6, 1834, the sixth of seven children of a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents believed in progressive education for young women; as a girl, she attended a school in Boston that emphasized the classics and literature, which was run by George Emerson.

5.26.2015

Alice Cunningham Fletcher

woman scientist who studied the American Indian

Ethnologist, Anthropologist and Social Scientist

Alice Cunningham Fletcher was a pioneer in the science of ethnology, living among American Indians while studying and documenting their culture. Fletcher was a leader in the movement to bring Native Americans into the mainstream of white society, but some of her ideas proved to be detrimental to the Indians.

Early Years
Alice Cunningham Fletcher was born in Havana, Cuba March 15, 1838 after her family traveled there in an effort to improve her father's health. Both of her parents were from wealthy New England families - her father was a New York lawyer and her mother came from a prominent Boston business family. Little documentation of her early life remains. After her father died in 1839, the family moved to Brooklyn Heights, her mother enrolled Alice in the Brooklyn Female Academy, an exclusive school for daughters of the elite.

10.25.2014

Maria Ruiz de Burton

Maria Ruiz de Burton, Mexican American author

First Female Mexican American Author to Write in English

Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton is among the best remembered authors of nineteenth-century Mexican American literature. Fully bilingual, de Burton was the first female Mexican American to write novels in English: Who Would Have Thought It? and The Squatter and the Don.

Early Years
Though records are sparse, Maria Amparo Ruiz was born into an aristocratic Latino family in Loreto on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. Her grandfather, Don Jose Manuel Ruiz, was sent to the frontier to assist in the founding of missions in Baja.

Heading a large force of men, Ruiz left Loreto in 1780, and several missions were soon founded. For this, Ruiz was awarded a large grant of land, "...48,884 acres was conferred upon Lieutenant Jose Manuel Ruiz of the Spanish Army, July 10, 1804 for gallant services." As granddaughter of Ruiz, Maria would one day inherit the vast Rancho Ensenada de Todos Santos established on those lands by her grandfather.

10.17.2014

Mary Virginia Terhune

19th century author of novels and numeroud nonfiction works

Novelist and Author of Domestic Manuals

Mary Virginia Terhune (1830–1922) was an American author of novels, short stories, biographies, travel narratives, cookbooks and domestic manuals whose career stretched across seven decades. She began her career writing articles at the age of 14, using various pen names, until 1853 when she settled on Marion Harland. Her first novel Alone sold more than 100,000 copies.

Born December 21, 1830 in Dennisville, Virginia, Mary Virginia Hawes was the third of nine children born to Samuel Pierce and Judith Anna Smith Hawes. Terhune was home schooled until 1844, when her family moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she attended a girl's seminary school for two years of formal education.

5.14.2014

Susan Shelby Magoffin

monument to Santa Fe Trail pioneer Susan Shelby Magoffin

Pioneer Woman on the Santa Fe Trail

Susan Shelby Magoffin was the young wife of a trader from the United States who traveled on the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1840s. She recorded her experiences in a diary - Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847 (1926) - which has been used extensively as a source for that period in history.

Image: 7-foot tall statue sculpted by Ethan Houser
Keystone Heritage Park
El Paso, Texas

Early Years
Susan Shelby was born into a wealthy family on July 30, 1827 on their plantation near Danville, Kentucky. She was the granddaughter of Isaac Shelby, a hero of the American Revolution and the first governor of Kentucky. She grew up with servants and received a proper education.

5.03.2014

Grace Greenwood

First Woman Correspondent for the New York Times

first woman newspaper reporter and correspondent
Sara Jane Lippincott (1823–1904) was an author, journalist and activist, better known by the pseudonym Grace Greenwood. One of the first women to gain access to the Congressional press galleries, she used the opportunity to advocate for social reform and women's rights, while creating a path for future women correspondents.

Throughout a career that lasted over half a century, Greenwood most often worked as a journalist. She and her writing were praised in many journals, including Female Prose Writers of America (1852), Female Poets of America (1859) and Eminent Women of the Age (1869), but she was often disliked for her strong opinions on women's rights and the abolition of slavery.

1.14.2014

Elizabeth Ellet

Author of The Women of the American Revolution

author of the first book about women's contribution to the American Revolution
Elizabeth Ellet was an author and historian. She was the first writer to record the lives of women who had made significant contributions during the American Revolution. Ellet not only recovered the history of women of that era; she recognized the importance of preserving these stories, which had been ignored by other American historians.

Early Years
Elizabeth Fries Lummis was born October 18, 1818 in Sodus Point, New York. Her mother was Sarah Maxwell Lummis, daughter of Revolutionary War captain John Maxwell, who was lieutenant of the first company raised in Sussex County, New Jersey. He later joined the army of General George Washington as captain of a company of 100 volunteers known as Maxwell's Company.

1.04.2014

Anne Lynch Botta

author and sculptor Anne Lynch Botta

Poet and Literary Salon Hostess

Anne Lynch Botta was a poet, sculptor and salon hostess in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The most well-known writers, actors and artists of the era were among the creative people who attended the gatherings Botta held at her home in New York City. Edgar Allan Poe read his early drafts of 'The Raven' there, while Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson discussed transcendentalism.

Early life
She was born Anne Charlotte Lynch in Bennington, Vermont to Patrick Lynch and Charlotte Gray Lynch. Her father took part in the United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798 in Dublin, for which he was imprisoned and then banished from Ireland. He came to the United States at the age of 18, eventually making his way to Bennington where he set up a dry goods business.

12.23.2013

Susan Fenimore Cooper

writer and daughter of James Fenimore Cooper

Author and Daughter of James Fenimore Cooper

Susan Fenimore Cooper was a writer and amateur naturalist, who is best known for Rural Hours, her nature diary of Cooperstown, New York. She also wrote a novel, short stories, children's stories, and dozens of magazine articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Early Years
Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper was born on April 17, 1813 in Scarsdale, New York, the daughter of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper and Susan De Lancey Cooper. She was their second child, and the eldest to survive childhood. In the summer of 1813 the Coopers traveled to Cooperstown, New York, the settlement founded by James' father, Judge William Cooper. Along the way they stopped to rest and Susan's older sister Elizabeth ate some over-ripe strawberries and she died soon after from food poisoning.

10.10.2013

Catherine Beecher

Catherine Beecher, advocate of the education of women

A Pioneer in Women's Education

American author and educator, Catherine Beecher believed that a woman's role as educator and moral guide for her family was the basis of a well-ordered society. While she might have balked at being called a feminist (she did not support suffrage), her new theories about a woman's place contributed to a growing feminist attitude that a woman did not have to be weak and passive, but could be a strong and important member of her community.

Early Years
Catherine Beecher (also spelled Catharine) was born September 6, 1800 in East Hampton, New York to the prominent Beecher family, who greatly influenced American culture and politics during the late nineteenth century. Catherine was the eldest of 13 children born to Presbyterian minister Dr. Lyman Beecher and Roxana Foote Beecher, eight of whom survived infancy. Her parents had a strong influence on the values she held as an adult.

9.27.2013

Harriet Beecher Stowe

American author and abolitionist

Abolitionist and Author of Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe published more than 30 books, but it was her best-selling antislavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin that brought her worldwide fame and a very secure place in history. She also wrote biographies, children's text books, and advice books on homemaking and childrearing. The informal style of her writing enabled her to reach audiences that more scholarly works would not.

Early Years
Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut to the Rev. Lyman Beecher and Roxanna Foote Beecher; the sixth of 11 children. She was called Hattie by her brothers and sisters. Roxanna Beecher died when Harriet was only five years old, and her oldest sister Catharine became an important maternal influence.

9.16.2013

Frances Sargent Osgood

Frances Sargent Osgood was one of the most popular women writers and poets of the mid-nineteenth century. Though some critics berated her writing as overly sentimental, Osgood achieved a wide readership and her fame was based on her success as an author, not merely for her connection to Edgar Allan Poe.

woman author and poet Fanny OsgoodEdgar Allan Poe, author of The Raven
Image: Frances Sargent Osgood and Edgar Allan Poe (painting of Poe by Fanny's husband)

Early Life
Frances Sargent Locke was born on June 18, 1811 in Boston, Massachusetts to Joseph Locke, a wealthy merchant, and his second wife Mary. Fanny, as she was known, spent her early years in Hingham, Massachusetts, and probably received her formal education at home by private tutors, but she also attended the Boston Lyceum for Young Ladies in 1828. Her poetry was first published when she was fourteen in a children's magazine called Juvenile Miscellany by editor Lydia Maria Child.

9.07.2013

Matilda Hoffman

drawing of Washington Irving's fiancee, Matilda Hoffman

Washington Irving's One and Only Love

Though she died very young, Matilda Hoffman made such a deep impression on the young American author Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) that he mourned her passing for the rest of his life. Decades later, the mere mention of her name left him speechless.

Sarah Matilda Hoffman was born in 1791, daughter of Josiah Ogden and Mary Colden Hoffman. Matilda, as she was known, grew up in Manhattan and Albany, New York. Her mother died when she was six years old and her father married Maria Fenno five years later and began a second family. Maria was only ten years older than Matilda.