The Forten Sisters

The Forten Women of Philadelphia The Fortens were one of the most prominent black families in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Wealthy sailmaker James Forten and his wife Charlotte Vandine Forten headed the family; their daughters were: Margaretta, Harriet, and Sarah. The Fortens were active abolitionists who took part in founding and financing at least six abolitionist organizations. The Forten sisters were educated in private schools and by private tutors. Image: Sisters by Keith Mallett Margaretta Forten (1806-1875) Margaretta was an African American abolitionist and suffragist. She worked as a teacher for at least thirty years. During the 1840s she taught at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass; in 1850 she opened her own school. Margaretta never married and lived with her…

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Rebecca Pennell

Pioneer for Women’s Equal Rights Rebecca Pennell in early years Early Years When Rebecca Pennell, born in 1821, was four years old, her father died and her mother moved back to her childhood home in Franklin, Massachusetts. Rebecca’s mother was the sister of the prominent educational reformer Horace Mann and had a strong relationship with him. Mann took a particular interest in the education of his nieces and nephew after their father’s death, and provided them with financial support. Rebecca remembered Mann as a loving figure during her childhood years, someone she and her siblings admired. Women’s Education in the 19th Century The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were a time of great change in terms of the evolving…

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Underground Railroad in Massachusetts

Jackson Homestead The Jackson homestead is a Federalist-style house at 527 Washington Street in Newton, Massachusetts was built in 1809. William Jackson was an abolitionist who allowed runaway slaves to take shelter there. Image: The Jackson family in 1846

Civil War Nurses in the South

Nurses for the Confederacy Augusta Jane Evans One of the most popular American novelists of the nineteenth century, Augusta Jane Evans (1835-1909) became the first female author in the United States to earn more than $100,000 for her work. Although Evans’ first novel was a failure, her second, Beulah (1859), was a resounding success; it sold 22,000 copies in the first nine months and received high praise from reviewers. With her literary success, Evans was able to support her family. She purchased a house, Georgia Cottage, which still stands on Springhill Avenue in Mobile, Alabama, where she spent the remainder of her life. During the American Civil War, Evans devoted herself to the Confederate cause as a volunteer nurse and…

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Sara Plummer Lemmon

Women in Science: California Botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon After marrying botanist and Civil War veteran John Lemmon, Sara sold her library in Santa Barbara, California and traveled to Arizona for their honeymoon. Before returning home to California, Sara discovered and cataloged for the first time a variety of species native to the mountains and surrounding areas. Image: Sara Plummer opened the Lending Library and Stationery Depot in March 1871. Credit: Santa Barbara Independent Early Years Sara Plummer was born in New Gloucester, Maine, on September 3, 1836. She attended teachers college in Worcester, Massachusetts, and then moved to New York City, where she taught art at Grammar School No. 14 and studied at the Cooper Union. Miss Plummer also served…

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Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts

Mustering In The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was the first volunteer black regiment raised in the North. The ranks were filled with former slaves and free blacks. The 54th was initially formed at Readville, Massachusetts in late February 1863 and then were mustered into service from March 30, 1863 through May 13, 1863. On May 28, 1863, their commander Colonel Robert Gould Shaw led the 54th in a triumphant parade through Boston to the docks, and then the regiment departed on the steamer De Molay for Hilton Head, South Carolina on May 28, arriving there June 3. Col. Robert Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts by Mort Kunstler Assault on Fort Wagner Initially assigned to manual labor details, the 54th did…

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Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu

First Female Lighthouse Keeper in Florida A lighthouse is a tower that emits a flashing beam of light from a system of lamps and lenses. They mark dangerous coastlines, shoals, or reefs, and guide pilots at sea into safe harbors. In the 19th century, they were vital lifelines to maintaining safety at sea. Image: St. Augustine Lighthouse, home of Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu Built in 1700; aided mariners for 162 years. Image shows the various stages of the lighthouse structure. Photograph courtesy National Archives Backstory Don Juan Ponce de Leon discovered La Florida, the Land of Flowers, in 1513. Approximately fifty years later, Spain attempted to colonize Florida by dispatching Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles to the area….

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Sallie Chapman Gordon Law

Civil War Nurse and Humanatarian Sallie Chapman Gordon Law was the first recorded Confederate nurse in the American Civil War. She was the president of the Southern Mothers’ Association, a group of women from the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. She gave of herself without compensation or reimbursement of expenses. The great naval Battle of Memphis, June 6, 1862 Early Years Sallie Chapman Gordon was born August 27, 1805 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Nothing is known of her early education, but she often exhibited evidence that it was thorough. On June 28, 1825 she married Dr. John Sandiford Law in Eatonton, Georgia, and they made their home in Forsyth, Georgia, where Law practiced medicine until 1834. They had…

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Eleanor Creesy, Navigator

Female Navigator of the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship Eleanor Creesy was the navigator of Flying Cloud, a clipper ship that set the world’s sailing record for the fastest passage between New York and San Francisco in 1851. She and her husband – Josiah Perkins Creesy, skipper – beat their own record two years later, and it was not broken until 1989. Image: Clipper ship Flying Cloud by Currier and Ives Flying Cloud, a Gold Rush era clipper ship, was commanded by Captain Josiah Creesy from 1851-1855. Eleanor Creesy sailed with her husband and served as his navigator throughout his career. Early Years Eleanor Prentiss was born on September 21, 1814, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Her father was a master mariner, and…

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Civil War Beaufort SC

The U.S. Navy Attacks the South Carolina Coast The Battle of Port Royal on November 7, 1861 was the beginning of the end of the Old South. Beaufort was the first southern city captured by Union forces, remaining in their hands throughout the war. The town had been completely abandoned by its white citizens by the time Federal forces arrived there. Freedmen and their teachers (lower right) Beaufort Public Library was not damaged in the Battle of Port Royal After the battle, the freedmen flocked there, hoping to find an education. Beaufort, South Carolina Beaufort lies 10 miles inland along the Beaufort River which leads to the Port Royal Sound and empties into Atlantic Ocean midway between Charleston and Savannah,…

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