Mary Gove Nichols

Author and Leader in the Health Reform Movement Though little known today, Mary Gove Nichols was once one of the most influential women in America, a radical social reformer and pioneering feminist who preached equality in marriage, free love, spiritualism, the health risks of corsets and masturbation, the benefits of the water cure and the importance of happiness. Image: Mary Gove Nichols, as drawn by her daughter Elma Gove, 1853 Mary Neal was born on August 10, 1810 in Goffstown, New Hampshire. In 1822 her favorite older sister died and the family moved to Craftsbury, Vermont. Mary’s education came in spurts in various small town schools, but she was a voracious reader and by her teens she was writing stories…

Read Article

Myra Bradwell

A Pioneer in American Law Myra Bradwell, a publisher and political activist, almost became the first woman lawyer in Illinois. Though she never practiced law, she became one of the most influential people in the legal profession, and paved the way for future women lawyers. Through her publication, the Chicago Legal News, she initiated many important legal and social reforms. Early Years Myra Colby was born on February 12, 1831 in Manchester, Vermont, the youngest of five children of Eben and Abigail Willey Colby. Shortly after Myra’s birth, the family moved to Portage in western New York, where they lived until 1843. They then moved to Shaumberg, Illinois, near Chicago. She attended finishing school in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and completed her…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

Gettysburg Nurses

Gettysburg’s Own Angels of the Battlefield The importance of the humanitarian effort voluntarily undertaken by the women of Gettysburg to the thousands of men who lay searing in the July sun cannot be overstated. They dedicated themselves to the care of the wounded from both armies beginning in the mid morning hours of July 1, 1863, long before military medical personnel arrived. Backstory Throughout the month of June 1863 there had been repeated alarms in Gettysburg: “The Rebels are coming.” Suddenly on Friday June 26 a contingent of General Robert E. Lee‘s army galloped up Chambersburg Street firing their pistols into the air while citizens scrambled to the safety of their homes. They plundered and ate everything within their reach…

Read Article

Sarah Knox Taylor

Daughter of President Zachary Taylor Sarah Knox Taylor was the daughter of Zachary Taylor, a career military officer and future U.S. president (1849-4850). She met future Confederate president Jefferson Davis while living with her family at Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. They wed in 1835, but the marriage was short-lived. Childhood Sarah Knox Taylor was born on March 6, 1814 Margaret Smith Taylor and future president Zachary Taylor. Her middle name and her nickname Knoxie originated from Fort Knox II in Vincennes, Indiana, where she was born. She had three sisters and a brother, and grew up in various military installations, receiving most of her education from her mother.

Clara Barton in the Civil War

Clara Barton in the Civil War

Civil War Nurse and Humanitarian Most people remember Clara Barton as the founder of the American Red Cross and an independent Civil War nurse. During the war she maintained a home in Washington, DC, but traveled with the Union Army, providing care and relief services to the wounded on many battlefields. The significance of the work she performed during and immediately after the war cannot be overstated. Patent Office Clerk Born in Massachusetts in 1821, Clara Barton moved to Washington, DC in 1854. There she worked as a clerk in the U. S. Patent Office from 1854 to 1857, the first woman to receive a substantial clerkship in the federal government. Her $1,400 annual salary was the same as that…

Read Article

Jane Pierce

15th First Lady of the United States Jane Pierce (1806–1863), wife of 14th President Franklin Pierce, was First Lady of the United States from 1853 to 1857. She hated public life and society, but married a man whose passion was politics. She was refined, well-educated and religious, but her life is generally remembered as a series of tragedies. Image: Jane Pierce and her beloved son Benny Jane Appleton was born on March 12, 1806 in Hampton, New Hampshire, the daughter of Elizabeth Means Appleton and Reverend Jesse Appleton, a Congregationalist minister. Jane was a petite, frail, shy and melancholy figure. After the death of her father, who had served as president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Jane moved into…

Read Article

Rose Farm

The Battle for the Wheatfield at the Rose Farm The Pride of Erin by Dale Gallon At less than fifty yards, the men of Colonel Pat Kelly’s famed Irish Brigade prepare to fire their first volley into General Joseph Kershaw’s South Carolinians in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg. The farm of George and Dorothy Rose is south of Gettysburg on the eastern side of Emmitsburg Road. The farmhouse dates back to 1811 and was completed in its present form in 1824. The barn was built in 1812. George Rose was a butcher from Germantown, Pennsylvania, who had recently purchased the farm from Jacob Benner for over $8,000. The Farm was at the center of some of the fiercest fighting on the…

Read Article

History of American Women Abolitionists

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…

Read Article

Civil War Women Soldiers

Women Who Fought in the Civil War They were determined to fight, no matter the cost. They dressed in men’s clothing and assumed masculine names; bound their breasts; rubbed dirt on their faces to simulate whiskers; learned to talk, walk, chew and smoke like men; and hid in every conceivable way that they were female. They were soldiers in the Civil War. Both the Union and Confederate Armies forbade the enlistment of women, but historians have estimated that some 400 women went to war (there were probably more), some without anyone ever discovering their gender. Because they passed as men, it is impossible to judge how many women soldiers served in the Civil War. Some joined the army out of…

Read Article