About Us

The Founding

The Worcester Women's History Project was founded in 1994 by a small group of women to raise awareness of the importance of the first National Woman's Rights Convention and to highlight the role of Worcester-- a center of radical abolitionist activity and the site of the first National Woman's Rights Convention in 1850--in the women's rights movement. Their vision was to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1850 convention in 2000, which vision became realized in Women 2000.

In the spirit of the abolitionists who organized the first National Woman's Rights Convention in Worcester in 1850, the WWHP seeks to build a strong foundation of community support by involving women and men from all races, classes and creeds in support of its mission.

The WWHP Today

The WWHP promotes the research of local women's history, offers educational programming, and sponsors public events. The WWHP is also available to provide research assistance, speaking engagements and to collaborate on programs and projects.

The Oral History Project records, collects, and shares the personal and historical memories of women throughout the Worcester community. The Project focuses on the four areas that characterized the foundation and spirit of the first National Woman's Rights Convention that was held in Worcester in 1850. Those areas are work, education, health, and politics. The OHP has entered into a partnership with the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. The Schlesinger Library now serves as the repository for over 300 oral histories of Worcester's women.  Annual Oral History programs are open to the public and training workshops on how to conduct oral histories are also available by arrangement.

In addition, the WWHP has available Yours for Humanity-Abby, a dramatic one-woman play about Abby Kelley Foster.

A 46-page booklet "Worcester Women's History Heritage Trail: Worcester in the Struggle for Equality in the Mid-Nineteenth Century" is available for purchase.  Its contents:

The Places Where Worcester’s Reformers Met

Brinley Hall

Mechanics Hall

Central Exchange Building

Worcester County Kansas League

A.M.E. Zion Church

Worcester Female Employment Society

American Temperance House

Horticultural Hall

The Reform Book Store

Worcester Children’s Friend Society

Oread Institute

Ladies Collegiate Institute

Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital

Worcester Water Cure Institution

Botanic and Clairoyant Institution

Worcester’s Leaders in the National Struggle for Equal Rights

Lucy Stone

Abby Kelley Foster

Stephen S. Foster

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Eli Thayer

Edward Everett Hale

Foot Soldiers and Families Who Worked for Equality

The Hemenway Family

The Rich Family

The Earle Family

The Chase Family

The Davis Family

The Harris Family

The May Family

The Brown Family

Bethan Veney

Isaac Mason

The Stowell Family

William Whitney Rice

Henry Chapin

The Rawson Family

The Speakers' Bureau:  Speakers for local groups and organizations are available through the Worcester Women’s History Project.  These talks are appropriate for women’s clubs, church groups, classrooms, school and civic organizations.  Email info@wwhp.org.

Clara Barton (1821-1912), born in Oxford, Massachusetts, was a teacher, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross.  A general program that focuses on her life and legacy is available as well as special programs that can focus more specifically on her Civil War work or the founding of the American Red Cross.  All programs are roughly one hour in length and include a PowerPoint slideshow.

Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist and Thoroughly Modern Woman.  Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) defied the expectations of both her gender and class by not marrying and having children. Instead, she moved to Paris at age 22 and spent her entire life there painting into old age.  Her legacy is unique as she painted people as opposed to landscapes, which were the subjects of her French Impressionist colleagues.  She is especially remembered for her "Mother and Child" portraits.  Another very important part of Mary Cassatt's legacy was that she was instrumental in bringing Impressionism into America's major museum collections, which we still enjoy today.