Lucy Stone

One of the First Feminists in the United States Lucy Stone (1818–1893) was a prominent American abolitionist and suffragist, and a tireless advocate of rights for women. She began her career in social reform by speaking out against slavery at a time when women were discouraged and prevented from public speaking. She was a pioneer in the women’s rights movement, addressing several legislative bodies and urging them to pass laws giving more rights to women. Stone was also the first recorded American woman to keep her maiden name after marriage. Lucy Stone was born near West Brookfield, Massachusetts, on August 13, 1818. As a young girl, Lucy noticed that her mother was totally dependent on her father, even having to…

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Women’s Rights Before the Civil War

The Struggle for Women’s Rights Begins In Colonial America and the first few decades of the new United States, individual women often fought for equal rights for themselves, such as assuming business interests of a husband after his death. During the war for independence women did their part by supporting the Patriots in numerous ways, including organizing boycotts of British goods. In the 18th and 19th centuries, American law was based upon English common law and the doctrine of coverture, which stated that a woman’s legal rights were incorporated into those of her husband when she married, and she was not recognized as having rights and obligations distinct from those of her husband. One of the few legal advantages of…

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Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell, first American woman doctor

Elizabeth Blackwell

First Woman Doctor in the United States Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, and a social reformer in both the US and in England. By the time of Blackwell’s death in 1910, the number of female doctors in the United States had risen to over 7,000. Childhood and Early Years Elizabeth Blackwell was born near Bristol, England February 3, 1821, the third daughter among nine children of sugar refiner Samuel Blackwell and Hannah (Lane) Blackwell. Every member of the Blackwell family was involved in social reform movements. They believed in free and equal education for both sexes, which was radical thinking for that time period. Four maiden aunts also lived…

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