Abby Kelley Foster Portrait

Fletcher Auditorium Portrait 12

Abby Kelley (1811-1887) was in her mid-twenties and a teacher in Lynn, Massachusetts, when she led the five-woman delegation from the Lynn Female Anti-Slavery Society to the first national convention in New York in 1837. One year later she began her new career as full-time abolitionist. In 1845, n Pennsylvania, she married Stephen Foster in a Quaker ceremony – a public declaration between equals, with witnesses but no clergy. Stephen was one of the most radical abolitionists of his time. Having settled in Worcester in 1847, their home on Mower Street became a station on the Underground Railroad. Shortly after the birth of their only child, Alla, Abby resumed her travels around the country in the antislavery cause and Stephen stayed home with the baby. Their commitment to the eradication of slavery influenced future leaders such as Lucy Stone, and helped to make abolition one of the strongest reform movements of their time. 

Abby spoke in 1850 and 1851 at the first and second National Woman’s Rights Conventions at Worcester City Hall. Her talks called for equality of the sexes and urged women to take a more aggressive role in achieving that goal. 

Stephen S. Foster’s portrait hangs next to Abby in the East Stairwell.

Gift of Alla W. Foster