March 2016: Celebrating Women’s History Month in New Hampshire

Womens history month logoThe March 2016 Women’s History Month Theme (as designated by the National Women’s History Project) is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Their goal is to make women’s historic achievements visible.

My goal is somewhat different. I believe that every woman’s life is interesting and important to history. Views about a person’s historical significance are often shaped by contemporary contexts and are dependent upon the values and interests of individuals or groups considering them.

Today, for example, it would not be thought of as unusual for a women to graduate from college, but even into the late 19th century it was an accomplishment, and not a commonality. In another example, a woman who served as an eclectic physician was, on more than one occasion, left out of a local history that managed to include all the men (because of a bias against both women and the style of medicine).

My grandmother (seated R) with her daughter Anna (bottom step) and son Berwin (the baby being held by unidentified woman).

My grandmother Mattie (Kilborn) Webster (seated R) with her daughter Anna (bottom step) and son Berwin (the baby being held by unidentified woman, is my father).

Even today it seems the trend to omit women from history. It occurs for a variety of reasons– a book publisher’s personal bias, the lack of historical research about women, the absence of requests for such content. Primary evidence may not have been collected and kept about women in various locations or eras, making it more difficult for the herstory researcher, but not impossible.  In 2015 alone my blog included 26 stories about New Hampshire women, from the well-known to the little-known, and I hope to continue this year with at least the same number of new additions.

During March of 2016 I will highlight a variety of New Hampshire women, including some women who served our state in public service and government. But I mostly present women who demonstrated amazing talent in writing, poetry, or singing. Some of my stories highlight women who worked as teachers, and as health educators. Others were preachers, suffragists, club women, businesswomen, merchandisers, nurses and homemakers. Only one of my stories is personal–on St. Patrick’s Day I’ve written a story to honor my maternal grandmother.

I challenge other bloggers and writers to relate at least one woman’s story this month. It can be personal or about a complete stranger. We are all connected, whether it be by DNA or by locality.  We are all cousins. As women, we have a vested interest. Unless we demonstrate the importance of women in history today, we are writing ourselves out of history in the future.

If you have written a story about a women during March of 2016, and let me know about it, I would love to list it here along with a link.

Janice W. Brown

Cow Hampshire Blog: March 2016 Stories about New Hampshire Women (11)

Exeter and North Hampton New Hampshire Poet: Lillian “Lilja” (Hillbom) Rogers (1901-1993)

Manchester New Hampshire Teacher, WW1 Red Cross Nurse, Public Health Nurse, Women’s Rights Advocate, Civic Leader, Club Woman: Elena Mae (Crough) Lockwood (1884-1962)

First Woman and Second Person Named New Hampshire Poet Laureate: Eleanor Winthrop Vinton (1899-1977)

Redstone New Hampshire DAR Chapter & State Regent, National Librarian-General, Mayflower Descendant and Governor: Florence May (Tilton) Crockett (1886-1946)

New Hampshire’s First Woman County Commissioner: Keene New Hampshire’s Grace A. Richardson (1873-1947)

A New Hampshire Éirinn go Brách: Addie (Ryan) Manning (1879-1968)

Chichester New Hampshire Preacher, Educator, Organizer: Anna Merrill (Seavey) Smith (1835-1899)

Nashua NH’s Long-Time Merchandiser, Business and Civil Leader, and Choirist: Gertrude May Batchelder (1891-1974)

New Hampshire’s First Lady, Artist, Author, Trustee: Rachel Leona (White) Adams (1905-1979)

Raymond New Hampshire Businesswoman, Teacher, First Woman Legislative Committee Chairman: Emma Louise (Tucker) Bartlett (1859-1933)

Bristol New Hampshire’s Tailor, Stock and Dairy Farmer, Activist, Suffragist: Mary Ann (Powers) Filley (1821-1910)

2016 Stories  To Date (Jan-Feb)

– Grand-daughter of a New Hampshire Patriot: Hudson’s Dorcas (Wilson) Clement (1798-1865)

The face of Claremont New Hampshire’s Adaline A. (Johnson) Stowell

On FaceBook, I belong to the Genealogy Bloggers group.  Here are some stories written during National Women’s History Month, by some very talented bloggers.

June Stearns Butka of Dame Gussies Genealogy RantsWomen’s History Month:Women of Strength in My Life

Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and TreesMrs. Knight and the Whalehead Club

Darlene Steffens at HomeFolk Tales#5 — Anna Tomina Brekke (1890-1972)

Jaqui Stevens at A Family TapestryTelling Our Stories (this was published in 2014 but have added it here by special request).

Genealogy Jen at Repurposed GenealogyI am 39. I weigh 149 pounds.

Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and TreesMemories of Grandma Jennings

Beth Gatlin of So Many Ancestors had several stories — Matrilineal Monday: Franziska Schäuble | Matrilineal Monday: Maria Anna Albiez | and Matrilineal Monday: Elisabeth Arzner

Nancy H. Vest at “Keeping Grandma Alive ….” – Nettie Pyles, nurse and business partner.

Karen Geier Hoskins, at Finding MerleWhy Gramma Cried.

40 Australian nonprofit genealogy bloggers offer their Women’s History month stories on Pinterest.

Heather Wilkinson-Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy wrote: Margaret UNKNOWN — Or, how exploring all the branches of my family tree told me more about my Great Grandmother

Ewan Van Minnebruggen in My Family In History, (about his 2nd great-grandmother) Joanna Verelst

Dame Gussie’s Genealogical RantsHonoring Female Ancestors: Hannah Kimball

Bill West at West in New England — (his grandmother) AGGIE

True Lewis at notes to myself7 Daughters of Sam & Queen Miles

Amy Cohen at Brotmanblog, a Family JourneyHonoring Women: Rose Mansbach Schoenthal

Amy Johnson Crow — 5 Tips for Finding Women’s Obituaries.

Lynne Black of Starry Blackness: Time Traveling from Scotland blog — Four strong Cornishwomen, pt 1 | Four strong Cornishwomen: Portugal, Penzance & Scilly – pt 2 – Rosanna Peychott   | -pt 3-

The Accidental Genealogist: Blogging Prompts… to Celebrate National Women’s History Month.

2015: Twenty-Six (26) Stories I wrote About New Hampshire Women

The Face of Alice I. (Page) Roundy of New London and Concord, New Hampshire (1846-1886)
– New Hampshire’s Most Celebrated Artist: Exeter’s Elizabeth Jane (Gardner) Bouguereau (1837-1922)
The Face of Addie G. (Whittemore) Tallant of Pembroke New Hampshire (1850-1875)
– Portsmouth New Hampshire’s First Woman Legislator, Child Welfare Advocate, and Civic Leader: Gertrude Iola (Moran) Caldwell 1881-1964
– A Child of The Civil War: Nettie Dimond of Manchester NH (1864-1916)
The face of Claremont New Hampshire’s Mary Farrar Jones (1789-1879)
– The Nurse from Milton Mills, New Hampshire: Flora N. Runnels (1866-1960)
– A New Hampshire Mother of a President: Eliza (Ballou) Garfield 1801-1888
– New Hampshire’s First Woman Sheriff and Deputy Sheriffs: Helen Kenney of Concord, M. Jennie (Wood) Kendall of Nashua, and Lillian (Christian) Bryant of Conway
– First NH Lady Century Rider of 1893, Bicyclist, Linotypist: Maud L. (Hood) Center 1874-1958
– Manchester, New Hampshire’s Distinguished Artist, Instructor, Director, Civic Leader: Maud Briggs Knowlton (1870-1956)
– Nashua New Hampshire’s First Women Physicians: Ella (Blaylock) Atherton and Katherine E. (Prichard) Hoyt
The Face of Vera Althea Tryon aka Mrs. Harold M. Walker of Manchester NH (1892-1942)
The Face of Oriseville Sarah (Fisher) Frost of Peterborough NH (1848-1929)
“Recollections of Long Ago,” by Hannah Eayrs Barron–Dunstable (Nashua) and Merrimack New Hampshire
Manchester New Hampshire’s Human Rights Champion, Volunteer, Civic and Community Leader: Vanessa Leah Washington-Johnson-Bloemen (1953-2011)
– New Hampshire’s first Female Senator: Bristol’s E. Maude (Fowler) Ferguson (1883-1932)
– New Hampshire’s First Female Banker and Financier: Jane Grace Alexander (1848-1932)
– Illustrator, Lecturer, Social Worker, New Hampshire Politician: Effie Brown (Earll) Slingerland Yantis (1869-1950)
– New Hampshire’s Former First Lady: Constance Rivington (Russell) Winant Eppley Earle (1899-1981)
A New Hampshire Joiner’s Wife: Malinda (Maddox) Knox (1812-1890)
– New Hampshire’s Leading Suffragist, Human Rights Proponent and Philanthropist: Armenia S. (Aldrich) White (1817-1916)
– Philosopher, Educator and A Woman of Vision: Canterbury New Hampshire’s Dr. Mary Mills Patrick (1850-1940)
– First Female County Register of Probate in the U.S.: Marlow New Hampshire’s Ella F. Gee (1853-1937)
– “Christmas Picture,” by New Hampshire Poet: Lydia (Swasey) Obear
– New Durham New Hampshire’s Educator, Lawyer, Suffragist, Humanitarian and Author: Marilla Marks (Young) Ricker (1840-1920)

From 2006-2014: Articles Written (on this blog) About Women’s History Month
New Hampshire Women in History (published 2006, updated 2015) | Celebrating New Hampshire Women Through History (2011) (you are reading this)| Celebrating Women’s History in 2014 | National Women’s History Month: Weaving Stories in Granite (2015) | March 2016: Celebrating National Women’s History Month

-Other Women’s History Links of Interest-

Women’s History Month at the Library of Congress

Seacoast Women’s List

NH Women’s Heritage Trail


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17 Responses to March 2016: Celebrating Women’s History Month in New Hampshire

  1. Amy says:

    (If my first comment went through, it did so before I was ready. Please delete. 🙂 )

    This is a great idea. But are you limiting yourself to women who did something notable outside of being mothers and wives? I have found it very hard to fill in the lives of so many of my female ancestors because all the work they did was inside their homes. For example, my cousin Hettie who I am writing about now didn’t do anything terribly notable in the public arena, but she lived an interesting life and raised two children.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Amy, if you look at my blog post, you will see the 11 women who I researched and will post their story. I guess your question really is how I selected them. My answer, they were interesting to me, or I had obtained a photograph and wanted to know their story. The first woman, Lilja Rogers, for example was a woman who wrote one of my favorite poems, but every time I tried to research her I hit a dead end (until this time when I had help). Eleanor Winthrop Vinton, poet laureate, I learned about while watching a video presentation where she was not really spoken of in glowing terms. So I researched her poetry. Her only flaw was apparently she was not an ivy league college graduate, and her poetry was somewhat rustic, but I think lovely. So I was determined to write about who she was, put a face on her story and show how she more than earned her title.

      I keep an ongoing notecard with tidbits of women’s history. Whenever I learn of someone who is (to me) amazing in her own right, I add her to this list. Usually she is not famous, and often nothing is to be found on the internet. From that list I hunt, and in many cases for more than 2 years, before I feel I have enough information to write about them.

      I never limit myself. I early on set my focus to write about New Hampshire women, either born here, or lived here or had some strong connection with my home state. And yes, I commiserate. Women are more difficult to research than men. And sometimes they are wives and mothers with no other interests. In those cases I look a little deeper. Lets say the woman has 8 children and they all live to adulthood. That tends to tell me she was devoted to them. Photographs help tell the story too. Did she dress nicely, or simply. What sort of history influences affected her.

      Your story about Hettie was wonderful. She DID lead an interesting life, and that is the point. Men’s lives seem to be focused on their occupations, while women are more focused on the relationships. So write about the relationships 🙂 Sorry if I am long winded today.


  2. balinagra says:

    Hi Janice … My mother’s cousin was the First Woman Mayor of Portsmouth, Mary Carey Dondero in 1944. Her daughter Eileen Dondero Foley was also the Mayor of Portsmouth. On my dad’s side we have Ella Shannon Bowles who wrote books about NH and also Cook Books. I came from a good stock of woman! I enjoy reading your Blogs, Marilyn Bowles

    • Janice Brown says:

      I have Mary Carey Dondero on my list already of women to research, along with her daughter Eileen. I always like to include some good photographs, which means I either find a way to buy them, as in the era you mention they are mostly under copyright. I was not aware of Ella Shannon Bowles, but I will add her now for future research. Thank you for mentioning them. And indeed you came from good stock, so we need to let the world know about the women’s side of our family tree!. I also appreciate your kind words about enjoying my blog.


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  5. I wrote the story of Margaret UNKNOWN for your NH women’s history series. In trying to research more about her, I discovered that her multiple marriages and many children were the real story- even though I don’t know anything super interesting about her life, nor even do I know her maiden name!

    • Janice Brown says:

      Thank you Heather. I just now added the post to the list 🙂 I really like that you wrote about a woman whose last name you don’t know. It helps people to understand that every woman has a story, even if we don’t know their surnames. Hoping you discover it some day.

  6. karenlee says:

    Thank you, Janice, for the mention of my post Why Grandma Cried. I mentioned briefly in a separate post Gratefully Swamped that I stumbled across more letters in our family documentation, letters written from Ironwood, MI in the late 1880s. The “new” letters were written by the parents of the woman I’ve been researching (her letters were written in Tacoma, WA in the 40s and 50s). Oh, my! What a gift! I am beyond overwhelmed, but now think maybe I should re-examine it all and think about a book. It will take a while, but I appreciate the “boost.” Thanks again.

  7. Dame Gussie says:

    Thank you for including my “Women of Strength” blog post here.

  8. Janice, thank you for mentioning my two contributions to Women’s History Month. One small correction. Tangled Roots and Trees is a blog written by me, Schalene Dagutis and I wrote Mrs. Knight and the Whalehead Club, not Amy Cohen.

    • Janice Brown says:

      A big oops and an apology Schalene. That will teach me to try to do much in the middle of the night 🙂 I now have your blog and story correctly attributed to you!

  9. Sharlee says:

    Janice, I stumbled across your wonderful blog while looking for additional information about Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852-1932). Mary Lemist Titcomb is credited with being the inventor of the bookmobile in America. I am currently under contract to write her biography for a New York publishing house. Though Mary lived and worked as a librarian in Maryland when she came up with her idea for a horse-drawn carriage that would take books to outlying farmhouses, she was born in Farmington, N.H. and grew up in Exeter. I would love to correspond with you about this project! Thank you for all you do.

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