WWHP Newsletter Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2005

Where’s Abby?

Here is this issue’s mystery photo of Abby Kelley Foster, as portrayed by actress Lynne McKenney Lydick, taken by photographer Cheryl Ordway.

The first reader to spot this photo’s location will win a new WWHP T-shirt. Send your answer to info@wwhp.org or WWHP, 30 Elm Street, Worcester MA 01609; please include name, contact information, and T-shirt size (S, M, L, XL). We’ll announce a winner in the next issue.

To find out where else Abby is going, check our website (wwhp.org) to learn about upcoming performances of Yours for Humanity—Abby.

10th Anniversary Fundraising Celebration HerStory: Bloody Feet, Boardrooms & Beyond on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at union blues in union station was a huge success!

What I learned from Herstory: Bloody Feet, Boardrooms & Beyond

by Kara Wilson

Two of my fondest memories from the year 2000 took place in the city of Worcester: one when I attended Women 2000 and the other when I visited the newly restored Union Station in Washington Square. Both experiences reminded me of all the greatness and beauty Worcester has to offer and all the wonderful events I was likely to experience in the future as renovations at Union Station became finalized and WWHP increased in membership and recognition.

I was reminded of Worcester’s ability to impress me once again when I attended WWHP’s tenth anniversary fundraising celebration, “HerStory: Bloody Feet, Boardrooms & Beyond,” at Union Blues on October 18, 2005. I was thrilled to see Union Blues, which provided all the flavor of the railroad setting, since we were able to see the trains coming into the station. Fortunately, all of the train noise was blocked out, so as not to interfere with the program. I also enjoyed sampling the delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts prepared by Union Station the Restaurant.

However, as wonderful as the food, atmosphere, and music (provided by Triquartro) were, the program itself was the true highlight of the evening. From the moment the five panelists were seated and WWHP President Linda Rosenlund introduced the moderator, Stacey Luster, I knew we were in for an inspirational presentation. Appropriately, the program began with Abby Kelley Foster’s “Bloody Feet” speech—delivered by Lynne McKenney Lydick in character as Abby—which served as a reminder of how far women’s rights have come since it was first presented over 150 years ago. The four panelists that followed were inspiring examples of how women in our own community can achieve success in the important areas of business, education, health, and politics. Hearing stories of the challenges and triumphs experienced by Nancy Sala, Dr. Ogretta McNeil, Dr. Lucy Candib, and Senator Harriette L. Chandler made me aware of the opportunities for success and social change that are available to all women, thanks to these pioneers. This program inspired me, as a Worcester-area woman in my late twenties, to do my part to pave the way for more women to become successful in our community. The possibilities are endless.

Kara Wilson is on WWHP Marketing Committee.


Photo upper left: Linda Cavaioli, Lisa Connelly Cook, co-founders. Upper right: Angela Dorenkamp, Annette Rafferty; Lower left: Elaine Lamoureux, Annette Rafferty

Lower right: Linda Rosenlund, 2004-05 President; Peggy Kocoras, former President and chair of wwhp@10; Nancy Avila, Corresponding Secretary and on wwhp@10.

Worcester women tell their stories of challenge and success as women in a “man’s world.”

Upcoming Events

Women in Print: Worcester County Authors

Thurs., Feb. 16, 5:30pm (snow date March 2) at Worcester Historical Museum. Authors: Eleni Gage, NORTH OF ITHAKA; Amy Belding Brown, Mr. Emerson’s Wife; Stephanie Yuhl, A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston; and Karen Sharpe, Poet, This Late Afternoon. WWHP and WHM members free. Others $5.

Three Women: Pillars of Decency for Working People

Thurs., March 23, 7:00pm at Worcester Public Library, Saxe Room, with Robert J.S. Ross, Ph.D, Professor of Sociology, Director, Inter-national Studies Stream, Adjunct Professor of Community Development at Clark University, who will be speaking about Clara Lemlich, Florence Kelly, and Frances Perkins, who was Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. Free admission.

Tour of Lowell National Historic Park

Saturday, June 3, 2005 Including Boott Cotton Mills Museum, “Mill Girls and Immigrants” Exhibit Museum. More information later.

WWHP’S Annual Meeting

By Nancy Avila

WWHP held its annual meeting on Thursday, November 3, at Briarwood Continuing Care Retirement Community. Officers elected were Heather-Lyn Haley, President; Maria Florez, Vice President; and Karen Folkes, Clerk. Steering Committee members elected for new or renewed terms were Carolyn K. Dik, Lisa Cohane, Judy Finkel, Patricia Fletcher, Maria Florez, Karen Folkes, Audrey Klein-Leach, Deirdre Morrissey, and Sharon Smith Viles. Continuing members of the Steering Committee are Nancy Avila (Corresponding Secretary), Linda Barringer (Treasurer), Marjorie Connelly, Melanie Demarais, Heather-Lyn Haley, Laura Howie, Ellen Laverdure, Linda Miller, Linda Rosenlund, and Susan Elizabeth Sweeney. Annual reports from the clerk and the treasurer were accepted. Three amendments to the Bylaws were approved: one, changing the annual meeting from September to November or as otherwise decided by members of the Steering Committee; the second, adding a section describing the Executive Committee and its duties; and the third, changing the terms of the treasurer, clerk, and other officers from three years to two years.

During the meeting, outgoing president Linda Rosenlund reviewed WWHP’s accomplishments over the past year and thanked the many volunteers who helped make them possible, while incoming president Heather-Lyn Haley spoke about plans for the future. Linda Miller, outgoing vice-president, presented Linda Rosenlund with words of appreciation and gifts in honor of her outstanding leadership the last two years.

At the Crossroads of the Past, Present and Future – Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer for the City of Worcester, was guest speaker following the annual meeting. Also, Worcester State College professor Lisa Krissoff Boehm and her students presented excerpts from their oral history interviews with women of the community. Nancy Avila is WWHP’s Corresponding Secretary.

2005 Events Recap

Complete information at http://www.wwhp.org/About/events.html

A Woman’s View of Boston

By Jean Bolz

A soft rain was falling in Worcester as 45 members and friends of WWHP boarded a bus at the YWCA on the morning of April 30. The drizzle continued for most of the day, but it did not dampen our spirits as we explored the history of Boston’s women. The morning was spent taking in as much as we could in a couple of hours on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, and the afternoon in visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Our tour began at the Boston Women’s Memorial on Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Here is a tableau of three women important to Boston and, indeed, to all American women: Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone. The exquisite sculptures, created by artist Meredith Bergman, were installed in 2003, and the “Herstory Trail” was designed to honor these women who contributed so much to the cause of women’s equality through their progressive ideas and inspirational writings.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of our second president and mother of our sixth. Her letters to her husband and to her contemporaries reveal how perceptively she observed the revolutionary times in which she lived. As she stands, upright and determined, we can almost hear her say to John Adams the words on her pedestal: “. . . and by the way in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire that you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.”

Phillis Wheatley (ca. 1753-1784) was born in West Africa. She was brought to our shores in 1761, sold as a slave to the Wheatley family, and educated by them when they realized her intellectual ability. At first people doubted that she had composed her poems herself. How could a slave girl write such beautiful lines! The skeptics proved wrong, however; and the Wheatleys arranged for publication in England of her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, and freed her from slavery. Her words on the monument show how much she valued liberty: “. . . in every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for deliverance . . . the same Principle lives in us.”

As we in Central Massachusetts know, Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was not born in Boston but in West Brookfield. She did, however, live in Boston with her husband, Henry Blackwell, and her daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, from 1879 until her death. Stone worked tirelessly for abolition and woman suffrage. She founded and edited The Women’s Journal, the most influential publication on woman suffrage in its era. An outstanding orator, Stone petitioned the legislature annually for this basic right and spoke at the Woman’s Rights Convention in Worcester in 1850. Words from her last published statement appear on her pedestal: “I believe the world grows better, because I believe that in the eternal order there is always a movement, swift or slow, toward what is right and true.”

Our next stop was the Boston Public Library. Here we saw Nine Notable Women, a wonderful mural (which features Wheatley and Stone among the nine) by Ellen Lanyon. The work was commissioned in 1980 and, after a number of moves, found a home in the library. In the handsome Bates Reading Room are busts of Lucy Stone and her daughter. The bust of Lucy was done in 1892 by Anne Whitney for the Columbia Exposition in Chicago, and presented to the library in 1904; that of Alice was sculpted by Frances Rich and given to the library by the Boston League of Women Voters.

Our bus next took us to the State Capitol building. As we approached this magnificent structure, we noted the statues of two martyrs from the colonial period: Anne Hutchinson, who was banned from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because her religious views differed from the Puritans’; and Mary Dyer, who was twice banished for being a Quaker and then, when she returned a third time to spread her beliefs, hanged on Boston Common. From the Capitol, we walked down Park Street, past the site where Stone published The Women’s Journal. Nearby is the Old South Meeting House, where Wheatley became a member in 1771; the historic church became a museum in 1878, and now boasts a fine exhibit honoring Wheatley and displaying her book of poems. Then it was on past Faneuil Hall—the scene of many protests, including those for woman’s rights, throughout its history—to end our morning with lunch at the Quincy Market.

We spent the afternoon at the Gardner Museum. With her husband, Isabella Stewart Gardner amassed an extensive collection of mostly European art works. After his death, she set about designing a museum in which to display her collection. Rather than a typical museum, she envisioned a grand house where a family might live surrounded by its treasures. Thus, she strove for an intimate, informal, idiosyncratic, and comprehensive arrangement of art rather than a more traditional display. The collection numbers over 2000 items, including renowned paintings—especially from the Italian Renaissance—as well as sculpture, glass, and ceramics. When Gardner died in 1924, she left an endowment to maintain the collection and stipulated that the galleries remain exactly as she had arranged them. The result is a jewel of a museum, so permeated by its founder’s vision and taste that one still feels her presence.

Jean Bolz is a member of WWHP’s Events Committee.

In Search Of...

Hot Flashes

Karen Board Moran as Lucy Phelps, suffragette and first woman to vote in Sutton, is shown at the Women at Work Museum, Attleboro. Karen brought her usual vitality and created a historic moment as she spoke as a suffragette and thanked Col. Jill Morgenthaler for her work today on behalf of suffrage around the world. Along with her responsibilities as Public Affairs Officer in Iraq, Col. Jill Morgenthaler works on behalf of the women in Iraq who have gained suffrage and are learning the skills necessary to vote and lead in their country.

Lucy Stone Exhibit

An exhibit to honor Lucy Stone was held at the Gardner Museum this fall which included a display of panels designed by Carolyn Howe for WWHP. Stone, a suffragist, abolitionist, and organizer of the first National Woman's Rights Convention, which was held in Worcester in 1850, gave her first public speech on women's rights in 1847 in Gardner. She was often a visitor at the home of her sister Sarah Lawrence, in Gardner. A granite marker has been placed in front of the house at 186 Elm Street and another at the edge of the Old Burial Ground, Green Street, near the church where she spoke.

Suffrage Images

The Library of Congress has extensive and varied resources related to the campaign for wo-man suffrage in the United States, including portraits of suffragists, photographs of par-ades and pickets, and cartoons mocking the movement. Check out these images in the Library’s “By Popular Demand” series at memory.loc.gov/ammem/vfwhtml/vfwhome.html.

Thanks to Hanna Solska and Catherine Paszkowska for re-commending them to us!

WWHP Strikes Again!

According to News & Letters (May-June 2005), there is another WWHP that has also just celebrated an anniversary. The Working Women's History Project of Chicago (WWHP) held its Eighth Annual Gala in April, giving its Mother Jones award to Sharon Williams, a 10-year member of the union Unite Here. That union represents the Congress Hotel workers in Chicago, who have been on strike for nearly two years. For more information, see www.newsandletters.org/Issues/2005/May-June/WWHP_May-June_05.htm

Abby Kelley Foster: Almost Famous?

WWHP has nominated Abby Kelley Foster for the National Women’s Hall of Fame, where other women from Worcester County (Clara Barton, Dorothea Lynde Dix, and Lucy Stone), as well as many other women who were first mentored by Abby, already have a place of honor.

Equality Marches On

Tara Opalinski devised a thoughtful, interesting project on Lucy Stone’s contributions to history, under the guidance of WWHP member Sylvia Buck, which was displayed at the Warren, MA, public library. Tara’s family lives in a home once occupied by Katherine A. Adams, wife of Samuel H. Adams, who had been a member of the Brimfield Equal Suffrage League before her death on February 10, 1914.

WWHP Newsletter Help Needed

The WWHP Newsletter is shaping up for the future! After this issue, the Newsletter will have a new editorial staff and may take a different form, perhaps with smaller issues that arrive more often. Let us know if you would like to help make these changes happen. We always welcome suggestions, announcements, and interesting tidbits. If you would like to contribute occasional stories or to help plan, edit, layout, and proofread the Newsletter, we would like to hear from you! Please contact us at info@wwhp.org or (508) 767-1852.

Many individual volunteers chipped in to produce this issue. Jean Bolz, Karen Board Moran, and Kara Wilson wrote stories. Heather-Lyn Haley, Nancy Avila and Linda Miller worked on production, design, and proofreading. Thank you!


Worcester Women in Print in Past Generations

According to the Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States, ed. Euguen Erhlich and Gorton Carruth (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 65), one of Worcester’s most influential writers was biographer and historian Eva March Tappan. Tappan taught English at English High School, where she became head of the English department in 1897. She remained there until 1905, when she began devoting herself more fully to writing fairy tales, children’s stories, and especially historical books for young readers such as Our Country’s Story (1902) and The Story of Our Constitution (1922). Tappan lived at various addresses in Worcester, including 15 Monadnock Road, where she lived from 1911 until her death on January 29, 1930.

Meanwhile, the second volume of John Nelson’s Worcester County: A Narrative History (New York: American Historical Society, 1924), lists Tappan along with several other important female historians and creative writers. Nelson cites Miss Harriet E. Henshaw, of Leicester, as an historian of distinction during the Revolutionary period. He adds that New England historians “would be without much valuable town and county material were it not for the numerous local histories compiled by or sponsored by women,” and names some of their contributions in particular: Mrs. Harriet E. Henshaw’s studies of Westborough and of “New England Diaries”; Alice Morse Earle’s account of the Puritan Sabbath; and her sister Frances Cary Morse’s survey of colonial New England furniture. Nelson mentions Mrs. Jane Goodwin Austen, of Worcester—who wrote Standish of Standish, Betty Alden, and other novels—as one of America’s finest authors of historical fiction. He then lists several novelists, storytellers, and poets from Worcester County: “Martha Downe Tolman of Fitchburg; Mrs. Olive Higgins Prouty; the Misses E.T. Dillingham and A. B. Emerson; Mrs. Marvin M. Perry; Mrs. Claire M. Coburn Swift; Mrs. Homer P. Lewis; Mrs. Chetwood Smith; Fannie Sterns Davis Gifford, are some of Worcester County’s novelists and poetesses. Caroline Atherton Mason of Fitchburg was a gifted writer of prose and poetry.” (p. 677)

Question for our readers: Would any devoted fans of women’s literature be interested in tracking down, reading, and reporting on any of these authors’ works for the Newsletter? Meanwhile, plan on attending the next installment of WWHP’s WOMEN IN PRINT program (see below) and learning more about the latest generation of female writers from Worcester County!

3rd Annual Women in Print: Worcester County Authors

Thurs., Feb. 16, 5:30pm (snow date March 2) Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm St., Worcester


WWHP Visits Author Dorothy Sterling

By Karen Board Moran

At 91, historian and biographer Dorothy Sterling remarked that a recent visit by Lynne McKenney Lydick, Carolyn Howe, Karen Board Moran, and Linda Rosenlund made her "feel alive." The WWHP delegation was equally energized by the visit to Sterling's home in Wellfleet, MA, on April 15, 2005. Ahead of Her Time: Abby Kelley Foster and The Politics of Antislavery (1991) has been WWHP's guidebook for both producing the one woman play Yours for Humanity—Abby and searching for Foster’s correspondence. At the end of the visit, Lynne performed a brief segment of the play and WWHP presented Dorothy with an Abby afghan from Abby's House.

"I was early in writing about women," Sterling explained. “Abby was in ‘my mental file’ after I had studied Quaker and New England women. There weren't many biographies of women, and with my daughter Anne living in Providence, RI, the time was right to pursue Abby Kelley Foster.” Sterling was concerned that books for young people were not always historically accurate, but felt an adult biography was needed about Abby. "I always go for strong women,” she remarked. “I like to think I'm a strong woman." And she certainly is!

Indeed, Dorothy Sterling continued Abby's work against racism within her own sphere of influence as researcher and writer. She is most proud of her book Tender Warriors (1958), written to "make people of good will understand the rightness of the children's crusade [for integration] and the three hundred years of injustice that underlay it." She shared stories about her experiences conducting research in the South during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s, commenting that "we didn't quite risk our lives, but it was scary…. I felt in touch with history."

WWHP was delighted to find Dorothy Sterling still healthy and curious about the world around her. Even though she's now blind and hard of hearing, she keeps "her cane handy to use on anyone who might try to move her." Sterling’s own autobiography, Close to My Heart (2005) is testimony that an ordinary person can make an ex-traordinary difference in reforming the world.

Photos of Herstory: Bloody Feet, Boardrooms & Beyond

Union Station, Worcester, MA

Nancy Avila, Linda Barringer, Heather-Lyn Haley, Linda Rosenlund, Linda Miller, Marjorie Connelly, Dotty Goldsberry

Triquartro - Deborah Sedgwick, Piano; Johnetta Smith, Clarinet; Catherine Tibbitts, Oboe; Rebecca Makara, Flute

Peggy Kocoras, Kara Wilson, Wendy Innis, and Linda Miller speaking to Laura Howie

New Members


Highlights Over the Last 10 Years













Presidents’ Corner

Linda Rosenlund, President 2003-2005

Our Tenth Year Anniversary has now passed. I thank each one of you who has helped our organization—especially our steadfast volunteers—thrive and succeed.

Our goal is as clear as it was when we began: to bring attention to the first National Woman’s Rights Convention, held in Worcester in 1850, and to spread awareness of the contributions of Worcester area women. Our newest initiative, the Oral History Project, will further celebrate the connections among Worcester women’s stories and explore women’s distinct histories, common experiences, and future concerns.

Serving as president for the last two years has been a privilege. I look forward to continued involvement in our dynamic organization as we remember our past so we may better shape our future.

Heather-Lyn Haley, President 2005-2006

Thank you, Linda, for all you have done to promote the work of the Worcester Women’s History Project. I will do my best to continue the forward strides you have made.

To our members and friends, I will be calling on you for help. We have a wonderful supporting Steering Committee with new energy. This fall we participated in a two-day retreat to take a good look at the path that brought WWHP to its tenth year and where that path may take us. Come with me!

WWHP Vision Statement

The Worcester Women’s History Project will celebrate and document women’s contributions to the history, social fabric, and culture of Worcester and beyond.