Women’s History Month Is Here!

Well, the month is upon us!  And just in time, Cricket Media has included Maria Mitchell in their March edition of Cobblestone along with several other important women in nineteenth century history.

Another reason to celebrate Maria even more is that 2018 marks her 200th birthday and the MMA will be hosting numerous activities around this milestone event this year.

To start: Please join us at the Atheneum on March 21st when we co-host with the Atheneum a Women in Science Panel at 7PM.   In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mitchell’s birth (August 1, 1818), the Maria Mitchell Association and the Nantucket Atheneum host a discussion with island women scientists who will talk about what drew them to a career in science, what that journey was like, and how we can inspire girls to want to be scientists.

The panel includes: Karen Beattie (Nantucket Conservation Foundation), Sara T. Bois (Linda Loring Nature Foundation), Regina Jorgenson (Maria Mitchell Association), Emily Molden (Land Council) and Tara Riley (Town of Nantucket). The panel will be moderated by Emily Goldstein Murphy (Maria Mitchell Association).

I will also be leading a women’s history walk on March 24th at 10AM.  See our MMA online calendar for more details.  Reservations are necessary!

JNLF

 

Women’s History Month

March is women’s history month (though all months should be women’s history month.)

Maria Mitchell was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Women (AAW), was its president (1875), and founded its Science Committee which she chaired for the remainder of her life.

When the fourth Congress of the AAW met in Philadelphia in October 1876, Julia Ward Howe (also a friend of Maria’s) was serving with Maria on the executive committee.   Maria presented a paper, “The Need for Women in Science.”  In it she stated,

Does anyone suppose that any woman in all the ages has had a fair chance                      to show what she could do in science? . . .  The laws of nature are not                         discovered by accidents; theories do not come by chance, even to the greatest                  minds; they are not born of the hurry and worry of daily toil; they are diligently sought, they are patiently waited for, they are received with cautious reserve, they are accepted with reverence and awe.  And until able women have given their lives to investigation, it is idle to discuss the question of their capacity for original work.

She is not saying that women cannot be scientists – she is saying they need to be given the opportunities.

Maria was incredibly busy with the AAW – it took up a great deal of her time – and at the next meeting in November of that year some aspects of the meeting were wonderful according to her account –“excellent” papers, “newspapers treated us very well.  The institutions opened their doors to us, the Centennial gave us a reception.  But – we didn’t have a good time!”  It appears there was discord among the women.  A few opposed the subject of “Woman Suffrage,” but Lucy Stone was able to present her paper on the subject despite this.  And, some women felt that the West was not well represented and was overshadowed by New England, thus women representing the western states protested the nomination and election of Julia Ward Howe as president of the AAW.  But she won.  Whew!  It was not always easy and controversies constantly abounded with many schisms over time within the women’s rights movement.

I often wonder what Maria might think of the place of women today – how far things have come from her time or would she be surprised that there still is inequality?  What would she think of January’s Women’s March?

In honor of Women’s History Month, please visit the National Women’s History Project website, where you can find a list of this year’s women honorees for “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” Maria and three other women associated with the MMA’s astronomy program – Annie Jump Canon, Margaret Harwood, and Dorrit Hoffleit – were once honored under a different theme.  Bet you can’t guess that theme!  You will also find a list of March birthdays and March highlights in U.S. women’s history.

JNLF

Mitchell House Junior Historians This Summer

lightsclassaug2016

If you have someone in your life aged 7-11 who loves history, crafts, Maria Mitchell, and a fun way to role those all into one then the Mitchell House summer programs are for them!

I post here a short video of our “Keep the Lights Burning” class taken this past August with our fabulous Mitchell House summer intern, Nikki Lohr, leading the class.  The class learns about life before electricity, does a little tinsmithing, and creates a candle for their tin “lantern.”  (This particular class in 2016 turned out to be all girls!  Appropriate for Women’s History Month, no?  Girl power!  We do get plenty of boys if you are wondering.) Classes are twice a week for two hours.  It’s a great way to have your child spend their morning learning while allowing them the freedom of summer to head to the beach in the afternoon.  You can sign your child up for one or for all six.  Classes are in July and repeat in August.  We will also be hosting our ever-popular “Family Sailors’ Valentine” https://www.mariamitchell.org/learn-discover/family-programs

classes again, as well as the new “Mitchell House at Night” https://www.mariamitchell.org/learn-discover/family-programs

class that we held for the first time ever last year.  It was a lot of fun!

Mitchell House classes can be found at: https://www.mariamitchell.org/learn-discover/junior-historians

JNLF

Would Maria Tweet?

It’s Women’s History Month.  Typically, I like to post a certain video about women’s suffrage set to a Lady Gaga song but sadly, they lost the right to use the song!  So, here is another re-blog that I enjoyed thinking about and writing.

Maria in her chair

Really, I am not sure if she would. Maria Mitchell was a fairly private person. While she did keep journals, she kept them close and after the Great Fire of 1846, when she saw all of the papers and other articles blowing about the streets of Town that were not burned up, she destroyed all of her personal letters and journals. That is why most of her papers that we have today are dated after the Great Fire – there is very, very little from before the fire.

Would she Tweet “Discovered a comet tonight!” or “Gold medal from King of Denmark here boy is it heavy!” or maybe a “That Asa Gray, he wrote ‘Sir” on my letter of invite to American Academy of Arts and Sciences and crossed it off – what a slap in the face!” – maybe that was too many characters for a Tweet? But then she could Tweet her students to remind them of late night observing or maybe blog about it. She embraced technology – albeit of the late nineteenth century – and she was constantly learning – even teaching herself Greek at the age of 70.

But if she blogged or Tweeted, I think it would be more about science and education and conversing with her students and other scientists than anything personal. Maybe a Tweet after one of her daily nature walks, “Just back from walk round campus – saw Henery {the groundhog that lived around the Observatory} and Indigo Bunting. Don’t forget observing @ midnight girls!”

JNLF

It’s Women’s History Month – Learn Something New About The Women Who Shaped Our Island Home! Grace Brown Gardner, 1880 – 1973

Grace Brown Gardner.  Photograph courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

Grace Brown Gardner. Photograph courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

Grace Brown Gardner, educated in Nantucket public schools, earned a bachelor’s degree in botany from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Brown University. She taught first in the ’Sconset School, and then in New Bedford, in Fall River, and at Framingham Normal School before returning to the island in 1942 after approximately forty years of teaching. She was an active member and trustee of the Maria Mitchell Association, the Nantucket Atheneum, and the Nantucket Historical Association.

Grace Brown Gardner is renowned for her compilation of scrapbooks chronicling island life, history, and people – a lifelong occupation that began in her father’s newspaper office – and for her love of the island’s natural history. Today, the fifty-two scrapbooks are an important resource for anyone doing Nantucket research; they are housed in the Nantucket Historical Association’s Research Library. Other of her books and some ephemera are located at the Maria Mitchell Association’s Archives and Special Collections. Natural science specimens that she collected for the MMA reside in the MMA’s natural science collections.

She lived in her family home at 33 Milk Street – once known as the Big Shop – and the building that played host to the second anti-slavery meeting on Nantucket.

JNLF

March Is Women’s History Month

Suffrage Statue

And as I stated a few posts ago, every month and everyday should be Women’s History Month.

One way to honor the women who have made our world what it is – and the young girls and women who are following in their footsteps – is to learn something new about a woman in history from your community, your family, or who has contributed nationally or internationally – from big to small contributions – every contribution means something.

And here is another thing to think about when contemplating the role of women in our society – did you know, that of all the monuments on the National Mall in Washington, DC, none has been built exclusively to honor women in our history? The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) has been striving to change that for many years. In December, their bill to form a commission was signed into law – meaning now they can fund, staff, and aid a commission to determine the feasibility of such a museum (it’s a long and tedious process). In the past, such commissions for monuments and museums on the Mall were government funded but this time – and from now on (guess they figured the ones to be the first to fund it privately would be women because WE CAN DO IT!) – it has to all come from private monies. There is one spot left on the Mall for one more museum. In the words of the NWHM, being on the Mall would mean mainstreaming women’s history. Mitchell House is a charter member of the NWHM. This is the same group that raised the funds to bring the sculpture you see here out of the Capitol basement (Yes, the founding mothers of women’s rights were relegated to the basement) and into the Rotunda. Lucretia Coffin Mott – a native Nantucketer, Quaker, and distant cousin of Maria’s – Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are featured in this sculpture.

This is a group well-worth the support of all of us. It’s high time our government and all of us, “remembered the ladies.”

JNLF

Women’s Suffrage and Lady Gaga

Image courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

Image courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

I have posted this during Women’s History Month before but because it is March and again Women’s History Month, I think it’s worth repeating. It’s clever and helps to tell an important story in women’s history while giving it a bit of a 21st century twist. It comes via the National Women’s History Project.

http://soomopublishing.com/suffrage/

JNLF

Women’s History Month – Alice Paul

This link for a blog came to me last week from the Mitchell House’s 2013 summer intern, Sarah Scott, who is a 2012 graduate of Vassar College.

Alice Paul was a Quaker suffragist who was born in 1885. She most likely knew of Maria Mitchell but she was born just a few years before Maria passed away. Quite a remarkable woman, Paul often faced controversy in how she went about making her point. Take a look at these links to learn more about her.

Blog Post forwarded from Sarah on Alice Paul: http://officialnj350.com/joining-alice-paul-on-the-picket-line-a-century-later/

Alice Paul Institute: http://www.alicepaul.org/alicepaul.htm

JNLF

Women’s History Month

MM Dassel Portrait Yes!! It is Women’s History Month for the ENTIRE month of March. I encourage you to learn one fact about an important woman in your community. Here is one for you – did you know that the first American born female to receive a medical degree was born and raised on Nantucket? Her name: Lydia Folger Fowler (1822 – 1879) and she specialized in gynecology and working with women and children. Just four years younger than Maria Mitchell, I am sure they knew one another, possibly went to school with one another, and Lydia may have even attended William Mitchell’s school, but that is just a guess as we have no records from his private school.

For the past eight months or so, I have been writing for “Nantucket Chronicle,” an online magazine – http://www.nantucketchronicle.com/soundings/nantucket-nation-nantucket . My column is called “The Nation of Nantucket” and there you will find several articles on island women called “Daring Daughters.” Take a look.

JNLF

Women’s History Month

Maria Mitchell, ca. 1865

Maria Mitchell, ca. 1865

March is women’s history month (though all months should be women’s history month.) At the end of March, I will be hosting a Nantucket women’s history walk so please check our calendar if you are interested in registering.

Maria Mitchell was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Women (AAW), was its president (1875), and founded its Science Committee which she chaired for the remainder of her life.

When the fourth Congress of the AAW met in Philadelphia in October 1876, Julia Ward Howe (also a friend of Maria’s) was serving with Maria on the executive committee. Maria presented a paper, “The Need for Women in Science.” In it she stated,

Does anyone suppose that any woman in all the ages has had a fair chance to show what she could do in science? . . . The laws of nature are not discovered by accidents; theories do not come by chance, even to the greatest minds; they are not born of the hurry and worry of daily toil; they are diligently sought, they are patiently waited for, they are received with cautious reserve, they are accepted with reverence and awe. And until able women have given their lives to investigation, it is idle to discuss the question of their capacity for original work.

She is not saying that women cannot be scientists – she is saying they need to be given the opportunities.

Maria was incredibly busy with the AAW – it took up a great deal of her time – and at the next meeting in November of that year some aspects of the meeting were wonderful according to her account –“excellent” papers, “newspapers treated us very well. The institutions opened their doors to us, the Centennial gave us a reception. But – we didn’t have a good time!” It appears there was discord among the women. A few opposed the subject of “Woman Suffrage,” but Lucy Stone was able to present her paper on the subject despite this. And, some women felt that the West was not well represented and was overshadowed by New England thus women representing the western states protested the nomination and election of Julia Ward Howe as president of the AAW. But she won. Whew! It was not always easy and controversies constantly abounded with many schisms over time within the women’s rights movement.

I often wonder what Maria might think of the place of women today – how far things have come from her time or would she be surprised that there still can be inequality?

In honor of Women’s History Month, please visit the National Women’s History Project website (http://www.nwhp.org), where you can find a list of this year’s women honorees and nominees for “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination” – which includes Maria and three other women associated with the MMA’s astronomy program – Annie Jump Canon, Margaret Harwood, and Dorrit Hoffleit – Harwood and Hoffleit being MMA astronomers and directors of the observatory. You will also find a list of March birthdays and March highlights in U.S. women’s history.

JNLF