Monthly Archives: March 2016

Women’s History ~ Lillien J Martin


Dr Lillien J Martin


Lillien Jane Martin, psychologist, educator, school administrator, gerontologist and feminist, was born in Olean, New York, on July 7, 1851. She graduated from Vasser in 1880 and earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of Gottingen in Germany in 1898. In 1899, Dr Martin received a telegram from David Starr Jordan, then President of Stanford University, inviting her to join Professor Frank Angell in the psychology faculty at Stanford. She taught at Stanford from 1899 to 1916, quickly gaining a reputation as an extraordinary teacher, very conscientious and personally concerned over the development of her students. Her excellent administrative skills and her well-developed organizational ability led Professor Angell to entrust administrative tasks to her and when Angell made periodic pilgrimages to Germany, Dr Martin was appointed acting head of the department, the first woman to be appointed a department head at Stanford. At her retirement from teaching she went into private practice. At age 78 Dr Martin traveled alone to Russia, later learned to drive and at age 81 made a coast to coast drive across the United States by automobile. She made a six month tour of South America at age 87. Dr Martin died in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1943.


Dr Martin authored a large number of articles and several books. On her life and work, see: Psychologist Unretired: the Life Pattern of Lillien J Martin (1948) by Miriam Allen De Ford; and see generally: Models of Achievement: Reflections of Eminent Women in Psychology (1983) edited by Agnes N O’Connell and Nancy Felipe Russo; Untold Lives: the First Generation of American Women Psychologists (1987) by Elizabeth Scarborough and Laurel Furumoto.

Womens History~ Helen Hunt Jackson


Helen Hunt Jackson


Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson, poet, author, social researcher and advocate for Native Americans, was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 15, 1830. By the time she was 18, she and her sister were orphans. However, their father had provided for their education. On October 28, 1852, she married Lieutenant Edward Hunt, a brother of New York’s Governor Washington Hunt. She bore two sons to Hunt, both of whom died as children. Hunt himself died in an accident in October of 1863. Ms Hunt began her writing career after the death of her husband. She was a life-long friend of the poet Emily Dickinson and became a friend of Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Ralph Waldo Emerson. While traveling in Colorado for her health she met William Jackson, a wealthy Quaker, whom she married on October 22, 1875. With the advantages of her husband’s wealth, Ms Jackson was free to pursue her social and political interests as well as her poetry and fiction writing. A fiery and prolific writer, Ms Jackson engaged in heated exchanges with federal officials over the injustices committed against Native American tribes. Among her special targets was the Secretary of Interior, Carl Schurz, whom she once labeled “the most adroit liar I ever knew,” as she exposed the government’s violation of numerous treaties with the tribes. She documented the corruption and misdealings of Indian agents, military officers, and white settlers stole reserved native lands. Ms Jackson won the support of several newspaper editors who published her reports, including editor William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent, Richard Watson Gilder of the Century Magazine, and publisher Whitelaw Reid of the New York Daily Tribune. Her dramatic and well-documented expose, Century of Dishonor, appeared in 1881 and her romantic novel about the same issues, Ramona, was published in 1884. Helen Hunt Jackson died of cancer on August 12, 1885 in San Francisco, California.


Century of Dishonor continues to be in print and her novels and poems remain available to interested readers. For information about her life, See: Lives of Girls Who Became Famous (1886) by Sarah K Bolton; Report of Mrs Helen Hunt Jackson and Abbot Kinney on the Mission Indians in 1883 (1887); Helen Hunt Jackson (1939) by Ruth Odell; Helen Hunt Jackson (1987) by Rosemary Whitaker; Westward to a High Mountain: the Colorado Writings of Helen Hunt Jackson (1994) edited by Mark I West; She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (1997) edited by Janet Gray; Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Policy (1997) by Valerie Sherer Mathes; The Indian Reform Letters of Helen Hunt Jackson, 1879-1885 (1998) edited by Valerie Sherer Mathes.

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Womens History~ Dr Sarah Stevenson


Dr Sarah Ann Hackett Stevenson


Sarah Ann Hackett Stevenson, physician, educator, author, school administrator, temperance advocate and activist in the Methodist church and Chicago area women’s clubs, was born on February 2, 1841 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She graduated from the State Normal University of Illinois in 1863 and taught school for several years as well as serving as a school principal, Later Ms Stevenson spent a year in London, England, studying under Thomas Huxley. In 1874 she graduated from the Woman’s Hospital Medical College of Chicago with her MD, the valedictorian of her class. Dr Stevenson became the first woman to be a member of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1876. She helped to found the Illinois Training School for Nurses in 1880 and in 1893 Governor John Altgeld appointed her to the Illinois State Board of Health, the first woman to serve on that Board. For many years Dr Stevenson was a close friend of the English woman’s rights activist Emily Faithful. She died in Chicago on August 14, 1909.

Her published works include: Boys and Girls in Biology (1875); The Physiology of Women (1880); Wife and Mother: Or, Information for Every Woman (1888).

V0047593 A female doctor takes the pulse of a male patient

V0047593 A female doctor takes the pulse of a male patient Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images A cartoon showing a lady physician attending to a young man in an armchair. The caption suggests he has purposefully caught a cold in order to be seen by the young pretty doctor. Engraving 1865 By: George Du MaurierPublished: 23 December 1865. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

A good biographical profile can be found at “Monstrous Productions or the Best of Womanhood? Progressive-Era Women in Medicine” by Brigid Lusk in Chicago History vol 28 #2 (Fall 1999) pp 4-19; see generally Distinguished Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago (1904); History of Medicine and Surgery and Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago (1922); Medicine in Chicago, 1850–1950 (1957); Send us a Lady Physician: Women Doctors in America, 1835–1920 (1985); Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply (1977).

Women’s History~ Elizabeth Ellet


Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet


Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet, author, historian, editor, public speaker and advocate for the poor, was born at Sodus Point, New York, most likely in October of 1812. One of her teachers, a Quaker woman, aroused Elizabeth’s interest in history. She became the first American writer to emphasize the role of women in the development of the United States, beginning with her two volume Women of the American Revolution, published in 1848, with an additional volume in 1850. Subsequent works followed. Ms Ellet died in New York City on June 3, 1877. Later historians such as Mary Beard and Alice Morse Earle recognized the great contribution by Ms Ellet.


Her other works include: The Characters of Schiller (1839); Joanna of Sicily (1840); Rambles about the Country (1840); Evenings at Woodlawn (1849); Family Pictures from the Bible (1849); Domestic History of the American Revolution (1850); Watching Spirits (1851); Nouvelettes of the Musicians (1851); Pioneer Women of the West (1852); Summer Rambles in the West (1853); The Practical Housekeeper (1857); Women Artists in All Ages and Countries (1859); The Queens of American Society (1867); Court Circles of the Republic (1869).

There is no book length biography; however, a good biographical essay by Alma Lutz can be found in Notable American Women, 1607– 1950: A Biographical Dictionary (1974), volume 1, pp569– 570.

Women’s History ~ Hallie Q Brown


Hallie Q Brown


Hallie Q Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 10, 1850, one of the six children born to her parents who were both former slaves. Ms Brown became an educator, school administrator, lecturer, author, suffragist, temperance advocate, church leader and activist. She graduated from Wilberforce University in 1873, campaigned for woman suffrage and against lynching, taught public speaking to hundreds of young black people, participated in the International Congress of Women in London in 1899, twice had an audience with Queen Victoria, lectured in many parts of Europe about African American life in the United States with a frequent focus on black music and poetry, and was a leader in the formation of women’s clubs for black women. Ms Brown died on September 16, 1949 in Wilberforce, Ohio.

For more about her life and work, see her books: Bits and Odds: a Choice Selection of Recitations (1880); Elocution and Physical Culture (1910); Our Women: Past, Present and Future (1925); Tales My Father Told and Other Stories (1925); Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction (1926); Pen Pictures of Pioneers of Wilberforce (1937).

H Q Brown

In addition, see: Lifting as They Climb (1933) by Elizabeth Lindsay Davis; Reconstructing Womanhood: the Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (1987) by Hazel V Carby; Great African American Women (1999) by Darryl Lyman; Activist Rhetorics and American Higher Education, 1885– 1937 (2001) by Susan Kates; Black Pioneers in Communication Research (2006) by Ronald L Jackson.

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Women’s History~ Mary C Wheelwright

Young Mary wheelwright-web

Mary C Wheelwright, c.1905


Mary Cabot Wheelwright, anthropologist, philanthropist and museum founder, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 2, 1878. She was her parents’ only child, born when her father Andrew was 51 and her mother Sarah was 42. Mary’s mother Sarah was a close friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and raised Mary in the religious liberalism of the Transcendentalists and the Unitarian Church. The family had substantial wealth from its Yankee trading origins. Although Andrew and Sarah took their daughter traveling through Europe, Egypt, and California, they were extremely protective. Mary had little formal education but read widely in things which interested her, including music and history. Although obliged to “knuckle under and do just what she was told,” she developed and held to her own strong opinions. She involved herself in social projects such as helping to develop a music school at a Boston settlement house. Her father died in 1908 and her mother in 1917, leaving Mary a small fortune in trust and the freedom to live the life she chose. In 1918, shortly before her 40th birthday, Mary Wheelwright arrived in the town of Alcalde, New Mexico, with her cousin, Evelyn Sears. Soon she was an enthusiastic Westerner, devoted to trail riding, camping, and convincing cowboys “that it was possible to be a good sport and also drink tea.” After becoming friends with Hasteen Klah, an esteemed Navaho “singer”, that is a traditional healer, she committed herself to the preservation of New Mexico’s historic and cultural Navaho legacies. In addition to founding the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art in 1936-37 (now the Wheelwright Museum), Mary Wheelwright made significant contributions to the Indian Arts Fund, the New Mexico Historical Society, and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. She bought a cottage on Sutton’s Island where she lived when not traveling in Europe, India or the western United States. When a book of ballads collected in Maine was about to be published without the tunes, she brought a musicologist to gather the music and thereby enriched the publication at her own expense. Becoming friends with Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, she helped to fund Ms Eckstorm’s work in the preservation of history and culture of Native American people in Maine. Ms Wheelwright died at Sutton’s Island on July 19, 1958.


Wheelwright Museum


For more information about her, see: Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Six, 1956– 1960 (1980) pp 687-88; her own incomplete draft of an autobiography entitled “Journey Towards Understanding” can be found in A Quilt of Words: Letters & Original Accounts of Life in the Southwest, 1860– 1960 (1988) compiled by Sharon Niederman. No book length biography has yet been written. Her papers can be found at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Women’s History~ Emily Greene Balch


Emily Greene Balch


Emily Greene Balch, peace advocate, feminist, social reformer, economist, educator, social worker, researcher, author, internationalist, journalist and Nobel Laureate, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts on January 8, 1867. She graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1889 and studied political science at the Sorbonne during 1890 to 1891 and taught at Wellesley College from 1896 to 1918. A friend and colleague of women such as Jane Addams and Vida Scudder, she was active in the Woman’s Peace Party and was one of the founders of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) where she served for some years as one of the executive officers. Out of deeply-held personal convictions she became a Quaker in 1921. In 1926 she investigated conditions in Haiti and published an expose of problems there, many caused by repeated interventions by the United States. Always politically astute, Ms Balch encouraged the United States in 1939 to accept a large number of refugees fleeing conditions in Germany. During the Second World War she opposed the internment of Japanese Americans and advocated for fair treatment. In 1955 she reached out to the people of China via a poem addressed to them. A co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946, she said in her acceptance, “I am hoping that 1946 will mark a turning point in the age-old effort to rid the world of war, to national disarmament, to renunciation of power politics, and to development of international trusteeship, not only for dependent peoples, but for regions and interests which are essentially supranational in character, such as the Polar regions and the main waterways of the world . . .” She donated her prize money to the WILPF.


In her Nobel Lecture which she delivered on April 7, 1948, Ms Balch declared, “As the world community develops in peace, it will open up great untapped reservoirs in human nature. Like a spring released from pressure would be the response of a generation of young men and women growing up in an atmosphere of friendliness and security, in a world demanding their service, offering them comradeship, calling to all adventurous and forward reaching natures. We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the comer. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it becomes practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.”

Zurich Congress Session, 1919

Zurich Congress Session, 1919

Emily Greene Balch died in Cambridge Massachusetts, on January 9, 1961, a day after her 94th birthday. On her life and work, see: Emily Greene Balch: the Long Road to Internationalism (2010) by Kristen E Gwinn; Champions for Peace: Women Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize (2006) by Judith Hicks Stiehm; Vote and Voice: Women’s Organizations and Political Literacy, 1915– 1930 (2004) by Wendy B Sharer; Pioneers for Peace: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915– 1965 (2nd ed. 1980) by Gertrude Bussey and Margaret Tims; Beyond Nationalism: the Social Thought of Emily Greene Balch (1972) edited by Mercedes M Randall; For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914– 1941 (1971) by Charles Chatfield; Improper Bostonian: Emily Greene Balch (1964) by Mercedes M Randall; The Miracle of Living (1941) by Emily Greene Balch; Women at the Hague: the International Congress of Women and its Results (1915) by Jane Addams, Emily Greene Balch and Alice Hamilton


Balch, circa 1899

Women’s History~ Crystal Bird Fauset


Crystal Bird Fauset


Crystal Bird Fauset, African American educator, public speaker, civil rights activist, internationalist, and Pennsylvania state legislator, was born in Princess Ann, Maryland, on June 27, 1893. She graduated from Teachers College of Columbia University, served as field secretary for the YWCA from 1918 to 1927, in the Interracial Section of the American Friends Service Committee, helped create the Institute of Race Relations at Swarthmore College, was active in the WPA during the 1930s and was elected to Pennsylvania state legislature, the first black woman in Pennsylvania to serve there and most likely the first black woman to so serve in any state legislature. She was a co-founder of what became the World Affairs Council and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 28, 1965.


Fauset with E.R.


There is no biography of her life and work but information can be found in Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (1983) by Nancy J Weiss and “The Limits of Persuasion: Race Reformers and the Department Store Campaign in Philadelphia, 1945– 1948.” by Patricia Cooper in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography , volume 126, #1 (January 2002) pp 97– 126.

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Women’s History~Myrtilla Miner


Myrtilla Miner


Myrtilla Miner, educator, feminist and abolitionist, was born near Brookfield, New York on March 4, 1815. Active in the struggle against slavery, she was a friend of Frederick Douglass, William Henry Channing, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. In December of 1851 she opened a school in Washington, D.C., for young black women in order to train them as teachers. The school closed in 1860 as the Civil War approached and she died in Washington on December 17, 1864. Douglass described her as “slender, wiry, pale . . . [and] singularly motivated.

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For details on her life and work, see: Myrtilla Miner: a Memoir (1885) by Ellen M O’Connor; Three Who Dared: Prudence Crandall, Margaret Douglass, Myrtilla Miner– Champions of Antebellum Black Education (1984) by Philip S Foner and Josephine F Pacheco.

Women’s History~Lucy Maynard Salmon


Lucy Maynard Salmon


Lucy Maynard Salmon, historian, researcher, author, educator, advocate of civil service reform, pacifist, internationalist, supporter of the League of Nations, suffragist and founding member of the American Historical Association, was born in Fulton, New York, on July 27, 1853. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1876 and a master’s degree from the same institution in 1883.

In 1887 Vassar College hired her to establish its history department and serve as Associate Professor of History. At the end of her second year she received a full professorship and remained there for the rest of her career until forced into retirement at age 70. Dr Salmon was a prolific writer, producing over a dozen books and over a hundred essays and public lectures. She rejected the traditional method of teaching history which emphasized mere memorization and recollection of facts about prominent figures and noted events. As a member of the new social history school, she believed that such methods overemphasized political histories, while dismissing other important aspects of the past. Instead, Dr Salmon encouraged scholarly independence by training her students to compare and criticize several interpretations before formulating their own conclusion and to consult primary source material in addition to secondary scholarship. Her courses were designed less to convey historical facts than to train students in the process of historical investigation. She taught her students how to judge and analyze sources and to produce independent work. Her courses emphasized the continuity and unity of history, insisting that “in weighing the merits of different fields of history as a subject of study the element of time in and of itself is the least important.” She and her friend Adelaide Underhill built extensive history holdings in the college library.

salmon with her class-a1dd575

Salmon with her students


An active and concerned citizen, every year Dr Salmon attempted to purchase a ticket for the public dinner of the Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce and every year they denied her because she was a woman. She served as regent of the Poughkeepsie chapter of the Daughters of the American Republic, opening the first Poughkeepsie playground in 1909. Her success finally prompted the Chamber of Commerce to appoint her to a committee to “Clean up Poughkeepsie”. She served on the National College Equal Suffrage League and on the Executive Advisory Council of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, leading the suffrage movement at Vassar, despite the disapproval of the trustees and of the college’s male president Not until 1914 did the faculty grant students permission to form an on-campus suffrage club. Dr Salmon died in Poughkeepsie on February 14, 1927.

early vassar campus-view

For more information about her, in addition to her own voluminous work, see, Go to the Sources: Lucy Maynard Salmon and the Teaching of History (2004) by Chara Haeussler Bohan; Bridges to the World: Henry Noble MacCracken and Vassar College (1994) by Elizabeth A. Daniels; Apostle of Democracy: the Life of Lucy Maynard Salmon (1943) by Louise Fargo Brown; Addresses at the Memorial Service for Lucy Maynard Salmon (1927) by Vassar College.