4.29.2017

First Women's Rights Activists I

Pioneers in the Fight for Women's Rights

women's education reformer
Activism consists of efforts to promote changes in society, politics, the economy, or the environment. Activism can be expressed through political campaigns, boycotts, confrontational strikes or street marches, or by simply writing letters to newspaper editors.

Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820)

Judith Sargent Murray was light years ahead of her time. Her ideas about women's education were extremely radical for the late 18th century. She believed that the idea that women were intellectually inferior to men stemmed from the way they were raised: boys were encouraged to learn while girls were neglected.

4.05.2017

Amelia Stewart Knight

woman pioneer of the Oregon Trail

Women Settled the West

Starting from Monroe County, Iowa, April 9, 1853 and ending Near Milwaukie, Oregon Territory, September 17, 1853, Amelia Stewart Knight, her husband, and seven children traveled the Oregon Trail searching for a new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Early Years

Amelia Stewart was born in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1817. Her future husband, Joel Knight, had been born in Sussex, England, April 5, 1808. In 1825, he immigrated with his father to the United States, landing in New York, November 7, 1825. Mr. Knight settled in Wayne County, and Joel went to Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York State, where he resided until April 1831. There he learned to make gentlemen's hats and supported himself by that trade. From that date until the spring of 1834, Joel moved around, making himself acquainted with his adopted country. He then moved to Boston where he studied medicine supporting himself meanwhile by working at his trade.

3.05.2017

Anna Murray Douglass

Wife of Former Slave Frederick Douglass


Anna Murray Douglass was an American abolitionist, member of the Underground Railroad, and the first wife of orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Her life illustrates the challenges faced by women who marry famous men.

Image: Anna Murray Douglass

Early Years
Anna Murray was born free to Bambarra and Mary Murray in Denton, Maryland in 1813. Anna was ambitious; by the age of 17 she had moved to Baltimore and established herself as a laundress and housekeeper and was earning a decent income, especially for someone so young.

1.25.2017

The Forten Sisters

The Forten Women of Philadelphia


The Fortens were one of the most prominent black families in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Wealthy sailmaker James Forten and his wife Charlotte Vandine Forten headed the family; their daughters were: Margaretta, Harriet, and Sarah. The Fortens were active abolitionists who took part in founding and financing at least six abolitionist organizations. The Forten sisters were educated in private schools and by private tutors.

Image: Sisters by Keith Mallett

Margaretta Forten (1806-1875)

Margaretta was an African American abolitionist and suffragist. She worked as a teacher for at least thirty years. During the 1840s she taught at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass; in 1850 she opened her own school. Margaretta never married and lived with her parents as an adult. In time, she took on the responsibility of running of her parents' home on Lombard Street in Philadelphia, caring for her elderly mother and bachelor brothers Thomas and William.

1.05.2017

Underground Railroad in Massachusetts

Jackson Homestead
The Jackson homestead is a Federalist-style house at 527 Washington Street in Newton, Massachusetts was built in 1809. William Jackson was an abolitionist who allowed runaway slaves to take shelter there.

Image: The Jackson family in 1846