The Power of the Past at the Congregational Library & Archives

Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, MA is my final stop on this leg of my NERFC journey. The founders of Illinois College: John Ellis, Julian Sturtevant, Edward Beecher, Asa Turner, and others, were Congregational ministers and I am here asking the question: as they and other Congregational missionaries went West to establish churches and educationalContinue reading “The Power of the Past at the Congregational Library & Archives”


Pieces of the Puzzle at the Schlesinger Library

This week finds me in at the Schlesinger Library in Cambridge, MA, another glorious repository of women’s history goodness. Walking into an archive, you never know how the day will unfold. Even if you’ve spent hours searching the on-line catalog and exchanged dozens of e-mails with archivists, there’s no telling what the actual sources willContinue reading “Pieces of the Puzzle at the Schlesinger Library”

My Favorite Research Tools: #Evernote

I’ve just returned from seven weeks of research in New England with a suitcase that weighed approximately the same as when I left. Let me explain: back in the old days (2010), the best way to keep track of documents was the good ol’ photocopy. A few daring archives had installed scanners at that time andContinue reading “My Favorite Research Tools: #Evernote”

Women, Slavery, and Politics

I’m still at the Vermont Historical Center this week, working my way through the diary of Augusta Merrill Bickford who, in 1848-1849, attended the Bradford Female Seminary in Bradford, MA. Her richly detailed account of daily life at a women’s school is a rare find, but in this season of presidential primaries, I am especiallyContinue reading “Women, Slavery, and Politics”

Becoming Sorosis

Today I say good-bye to the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. For the past week, I’ve relished exploring their collection of records pertaining to Sorosis, a women’s organization established in New York city in March 1868. Sorosis is significant for American Athena because women in Jacksonville organized the supposed second chapter of Sorosis in November of 1868 afterContinue reading “Becoming Sorosis”

Student Essays ca. 1850

Over the course of my teaching career, I’ve graded thousands of student essays on a variety of topics. In general, college students have a style all their own that is rough (typically due to procrastination), but full of promise. While at the Connecticut Historical Society, I took some time to read essays written by two students,Continue reading “Student Essays ca. 1850”

They Treat Me As a Sister: New England, Day 2

Today I blog live from the Connecticut Historical Society where I am combing through the records of MS 4823 – The National Popular Education Board. During the 1840s and 1850s, this organization based in Hartford, CT trained New England women as teachers and then sent them west to work in small towns. Thanks to theContinue reading “They Treat Me As a Sister: New England, Day 2”

Pious women only

Last month, we looked at the story of Amanda Lucas and her relationship with male merchants/JFA trustees/poor farm administrators/county courts. While espousing the benefits of women’s education, the trustees of the JFA also forced low-income women to work off debts. Since then, I’ve cross checked the names of all the women forced to work at theContinue reading “Pious women only”