Women of Oberlin College

First College to Admit Women and Blacks The main reason women did not go to college in the early 19th century was because most people believed that, because women became wives, mothers or teachers of young children, they did not need to go to college. But the founders of Oberlin College knew that women could become even better wives, mothers and teachers if they were able to take college classes. Image: Mary Caroline Rudd Allen One of the first American women to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, which she earned at Oberlin College. The Oberlin Four Oberlin College was founded in 1833 in Oberlin, Ohio, and became the first college in the United States to admit women as well…

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Francis and Arabella Barlow

Romantic Legends of the Civil War Arabella Griffith married Francis Barlow the day after he enlisted in the Union Army. Francis was a well-established New York lawyer, while Arabella was 10 years his senior and a member of New York high society. The following year she joined him in service to the Union Army. Image: Arabella Griffith Barlow Arabella Wharton Griffith was a young woman of twenty-two years when she moved from rural New Jersey to New York City to work as a governess, a bold move for a woman of that time. Her vibrant personality soon caught the attention of a group of literary-minded socialites, artists and politicians. Diarist George Templeton Strong wrote that she was, “certainly the most…

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Lydia Folger Fowler

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…

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Caroline Le Count

Leader in the Integration of Philadelphia Streetcars An undertaker’s daughter, Caroline Le Count outscored all the boys in her class, struck up a correspondence with a Union army general, became only the second black woman named principal of a Philadelphia public school, and put her body on the line in the battle to integrate the streetcars. Soon she was noticed on the arm of a fellow activist, Octavius Catto. Image: The streetcar shown here at Sixth and Jackson Street demonstrates how streetcars typically operated with two horses, a driver and a conductor. The first horse-drawn streetcars in Philadelphia began operating January 20, 1858. They moved along a set of steel rails, which provided a smoother ride at faster speeds, regardless…

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Virginia Minor

Women’s Suffrage Leader in Missouri Virginia Minor claimed that as a native-born, free, white citizen of the United States and over the age of 21, the 14th Amendment gave her the right to vote. She attempted to register to vote but was denied because of her gender. Minor filed suit but lost her case – Minor v. Happersett (1874) – in the U.S. Supreme Court. The publicity, however, greatly helped her cause. Virginia Louisa Minor was born March 27, 1824 in Caroline County, Virginia to Warner and Marie Timberlake Minor. Virginia moved with her family to Charlottesville when her father was appointed hotel keeper at the University of Virginia. Virginia was educated at home and for a short time at…

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Women and Civil War Prisons

Civil War Women Prisoners of War Many of the arguments against women fighting in combat is the fear that they will become prisoners of war. Documentation proves that some soldiers who were discovered to be women during the Civil War were briefly imprisoned. Madame Collier was a Union soldier from East Tennessee who was captured and imprisoned at Belle Isle, Virginia. She continued concealing her gender, but another prisoner learned her secret and reported it to Confederate authorities, who sent her North under a flag of truce. Castle Thunder At Castle Thunder in Richmond, Virginia approximately one hundred female inmates were held throughout the war. Although Confederate authorities created a department at the prison specifically for the detention of “depraved…

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Esther Hobart Morris

First Woman Justice of the Peace in America Wyoming can claim many firsts for women: the right to vote, the first woman governor, and the first woman judge in American history, Esther Hobart Morris. At the time of her appointment as Justice of the Peace, Morris was 59 years old. Although widely celebrated as a hero of the early suffragist movement, she spent the first 55 years of her life living quietly in New York state and Illinois. Early Years Esther Hobart was born August 6, 1814 in Tioga County, New York. Orphaned as a young girl, she served as an apprentice to a seamstress and ran a millinery business out of her grandparents’ home. She was a successful businesswoman…

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Hannah Myers Longshore

Pioneer Physician and Professor of Anatomy Hannah Myers Longshore graduated from the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania’s first class in 1851 and became Philadelphia’s first woman doctor with a medical degree to establish a private practice, which she continued for forty years. She also lectured extensively first at the Female Medical College, and later in public speeches about sexual health at a time when there was little public discussion of any kind on the subject. Early Years Hannah Myers was born May 30, 1819 in Sandy Spring, Maryland, where her father taught at a Quaker school. She was the daughter of Samuel and Paulina Myers, Quakers from Bucks County, Pennsylvania who believed in equal education for boys and girls. While…

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Mary Treat

Pioneer Scientist and Author Mary Treat was a naturalist from New Jersey and a major contributor to many scientific developments of the nineteenth century. She is most well known for her extensive work in botany and entomology. Four species of plants and insects were named after her. She also corresponded with Charles Darwin. Treat was a pioneer in several areas of natural sciences. Image: Mary Treat in 1904 Mary Lua Adelia Davis was born September 7, 1830 in Trumansburg, New York. Her parents were Isaac Davis, a Methodist minister, and Eliza (English) Davis and she had one sister, Nellie. In 1839 her family moved to Ohio where she attended public school and, for a short while, a private girls’ academy.

Lydia Leister Farm

Farm on the Gettysburg Battlefield Gettysburg farmer James Leister died in 1859, leaving his wife Lydia Leister and five children, ranging in age from 21 to 3. In March 1861, the widow Leister purchased a nine acre farm on Taneytown Road from Henry Bishop, Sr. for the sum of $900. The property included a modest, wood frame house with a single fireplace, two rooms and a stairway that lead to a small loft. Image: Restored Lydia Leister Farm today Looking north along Taneytown Road After the strong Confederate win at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 CSA General Robert E. Lee effectively argued that the best use of limited Confederate resources was to invade Pennsylvania. In early June he…

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