Nancy Hanks Lincoln

Mother of Abraham Lincoln Judging from this painting of Nancy Hanks Lincoln by Lloyd Ostendorf, Lincoln did resemble his mother, who was described as being slender and about 5 foot 7 inches tall. Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818) was the mother of Abraham Lincoln (the 16th President of the United States) through her marriage to Thomas Lincoln. After more than ten years of marriage, the family moved from Kentucky to Spencer County, Indiana. When Abraham was nine years old, Nancy Lincoln died of milk sickness at the Little Pigeon Creek settlement. Actor, producer, writer and director Tom Hanks is her third cousin four times removed. Childhood and Early Years Nancy Hanks was born on February 5, 1784 in Campbell County, Virginia,…

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Arabella Mansfield

First Woman Lawyer in the United States Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911) became America’s first woman lawyer when she was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869. She was allowed to take the bar exam and passed with high scores, despite a state law restricting applicants to white males over the age of 21. Mansfield also became one of the first female college professors and administrators in the United States. She was born Belle Aurelia Babb on May 23, 1846 on a family farm in Burlington, Iowa, the second child of Mary Moyer and Miles Babb. Her older brother Washington Irving Babb was Arabella’s lifelong friend. While she was still young, her father Miles Babb left for California and the Gold Rush….

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Ann Stephens

Writer and Magazine Editor in the Civil War Era During the mid-nineteenth century, Ann Stephens (1810-1886) enjoyed a long, lucrative career as one of America’s best known and most respected women writers. In addition to serving as editor for six popular magazines for more than twenty-six years, she wrote some forty-five works of fiction and manuals on the domestic arts. Stephens was one of the first generation of women to assert themselves as professional writers, entering the literary field for the sake of earning a living. Childhood and Early Years Ann Sophia Winterbotham was born on March 30, 1810 in Humphreysville, Connecticut, the daughter of Ann and John Winterbotham, manager of a woolen mill. Ann’s mother died when Ann was…

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Margaret Fuller

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…

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Hannah Watson

One of America’s Earliest Female Publishers In 1777 a fledgling nation of United States was emerging, and its patriots looked to their newspapers to keep them informed about the Revolutionary War. Boston papers had been shut down by the British, and in New York only Tory papers were being published. After her husband’s death Hannah Watson (1749-1807) assumed responsibility for publishing the Connecticut Courant, the oldest and largest newspaper in the colonies, becoming one of the first female publishers in Ameica.

Alice Cary

Poet and Novelist in the Civil War Era Alice Cary (1820-1871) was a poet and author, and the sister of poet Phoebe Cary (1824–1871), who would become Alice’s lifelong companion. Alice Cary’s strong desire to be independent and to forge her own literary career prompted her to move alone to New York City at age 30. Cary was a most unusual 19th century woman who earned her own money, owned her own home and ran her own life – a true pioneer on many levels. A prolific writer, she ruined her health by the constant need to express herself. Alice Cary was born on April 26, 1820 on a farm in Hamilton County, Ohio, eight miles north of Cincinnati. This…

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Louisa Lane

Stage Actress and Theater Manager Louisa Lane (1820-1897) was an actress and theater manager of British birth, who commanded great respect as the first female manager of a major American theater. Known for her skill as a character actor and comedian, Louisa Lane was a stage star who ultimately became the matriarch of one of the greatest acting families of all time: the Barrymores. Her legacy lives on in her descendants, including her great-great-granddaughter Drew Barrymore. Louisa Lane was born January 10, 1820 in London, England, the daughter of actress and singer Eliza Trenter and actor and stage manager Thomas Frederick Lane. Her father died during her infancy, and Louisa’s first experience on the stage occurred when she was only…

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The Mayflower

Women on the Mayflower Image: The Ship Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor By William Halsall The passengers on the ship Mayflower were the earliest permanent European settlers in New England. They were referred to as the “First Comers” and they lived in perilous times. With their religion oppressed by the British government and the Church of England, the small party of Separatists who comprised almost half of the passengers on the ship sought a life where they could practice their religion freely. Freedom We Seek On September 6, 1620, the ship Mayflower set off from Plymouth, England on its journey to the New World. There were 102 passengers, which included 41 English Separatists (who would become known as the Pilgrims), who…

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The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Women at Plymouth Colony The Pilgrim Maiden Statue Sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson Brewster Gardens, Plymouth, Massachusetts Dedicated in 1924 to “those intrepid English women whose courage, fortitude and devotion brought a new nation into being.” In the first years of the 17th century, small numbers of English Puritans broke away from the Church of England and committed themselves to a life based on the Bible. Most of these Separatists were farmers, poorly educated and without social or political standing. The Separatists were persecuted in England, and many fled to Holland where their religious views were tolerated. They remained there for almost 12 years.

Amelia Bloomer

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…

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