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Women of Historic New England

In honor of Women’s History Month, Historic New England celebrates history-making women

Sara Baro Colcher

Discover the stories of women who lived and worked at Historic New England sites, the authors and the artists represented in our collection, and the women who took on preserving our historic properties, helped revitalize our landscapes and interiors, and those who now work in our museums, tend our gardens, preserve our buildings, and teach our students.

Scroll through the gallery of programs, tours, and articles to discover the women of Historic New England.

 

The stories we tell

Suffragists in Boston 1919

Suffragists with a protest banner during President Wilson's visit to Boston, Mass., Feb. 1919. Learn More

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  • Suffragists in Boston 1919

    Suffragists with a protest banner during President Wilson's visit to Boston, Mass., Feb. 1919. Learn More

  • Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields

    Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) was thirty-eight when she and her sister Mary inherited their grandparents’ house. By this time, Jewett was a successful author, at the center of a group of New England artists. She spent at least half the year at the Boston home of, or traveling with, her life partner Annie Adams Fields. The Jewett-Fields relationship was one that allowed them both to pursue their careers while being fulfilling and mutually supportive. Learn More

  • Hazel Sinclair and Rock Rest

    Hazel Sinclair was the proprietor of Rock Rest, a summer guest house that welcomed African-American tourists in Kittery, Maine. Rock Rest provided a safe haven from the racial discrimination faced by African-American travelers on vacation. Visit our online exhibition on the topic. Learn More

  • Ladies in the Field: The Victorian Pastimes of Botany and Gardening

    Last fall, Historic New England invited botanist and author Judith Sumner to discuss the botanical pursuits of nineteenth-century women, from fanciful lore and home decor to scholarship, study, and design. Learn how botany and horticulture co-mingled as appropriate pastimes for the young and old alike by watching our recorded program on the topic. Learn More

  • Celia Thaxter's Hand-Painted Porcelain

    Celia Thaxter's creative output as author, poet, and artist represents the sort of life gifted New England women could lead during the second half of the nineteenth century. Learn More

  • Ise and Walter Gropius

    Listen to Ise Gropius talk about the Bauhaus. The clips come from an interview recorded by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Montreal) in 1977. Learn More

  • Sara Baro Colcher

    Sara Baro Colcher was born in Africa between 1835 and 1840 and was captured by slave dealer Don de Mer when she was a child. By 1860, Colcher was living in Boston, employed as a domestic worker. Learn More

  • Mary H. Northend Photography

    Mary Harrod Northend took or commissioned thousands of photographs to illustrate her books and articles. She also ran a successful business selling images. Historic New England has more than 6,000 of her glass-plate negatives in its collection. Learn More

  • Deborah Sampson's Wedding Dress

    Historic New England has more than 900 dresses in its collection, including Deborah Sampson's wedding dress. Sampson gained notoriety by dressing as a man and joining the Massachusetts militia in 1782. Learn More

  • Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal Collection

    Nina Heald Webber's Cape Cod Canal collection includes photographs, ephemera, publications, maps, and memorabilia from 1827 to 2015. Learn More

  • Historic New England's Eleanor Raymond Photographic Collection highlights her architectural work in the region.

    The Raymond House in Belmont, Mass., was built for her sister in 1931 and demolished in 2006. Discover this building and more in the collection. Learn More

Women’s history is central to the stories told at many Historic New England sites

quincy house exterior

Eliza Susan Quincy and the Quincy family home

The Quincy family has deep ties to the history of the region. This house often bustled with visitors from the political, military, and artistic spheres. In 2014, using Eliza Susan Quincy’s 1879 “Memorandum Relative to Pictures, China, and Furniture etc., etc., etc.,” Historic New England introduced a new focus to the story told at Quincy House. Eliza Susan’s entries provided many detailed descriptions of furniture and often documented how and when items came to the house. Using her document as a road map and photographs taken in the 1880s, we refurnished Quincy House to recreate the interiors of the 1870 and 1880s. When the house reopens for tours, stop by and discover Eliza Susan Quincy’s work to document the significance of her family’s home.

 

Phillips House Kitchen

Phillips House Kitchen; Photo taken by Rob Reynolds of LightShed Photography of Salem

Keeping the household together

Bridget Durgin, the cook for the Phillips family, spent a considerable amount of time in this kitchen. She, first-floor maid Delia Cawley, and nursemaid Catherine Shaunessy, were the three live-in servants who helped Anna Wheatland Phillips with the running of the house. Phillps House is scheduled to reopen this summer. Visit to learn more about the family and the role the servants played in their lives.

 

 

Two staff members tell their story at Casey Farm

Since 1955, Historic New England has been operating Casey Farm as a working farm, preserving the land and teaching visitors about agriculture and preservation in Rhode Island. The farm is part of a vibrant community of school children, summer campers, volunteers, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members. Listen to what staff members Jane Hennedy and Sheila Nixon have to say about Casey Farm. What they enjoy about the farm, how the current farming practices mesh with the old, and what Casey Farm means to them and our visitors. Stop by when Casey Farm opens for tours and programs this spring or during the Coastal Growers Market on Saturdays starting in May.

 

Castle Tucker exterior

Jane Tucker comes to the rescue

After a successful career, Jane Standen Tucker moved into Castle Tucker in Wiscasset, Maine, in 1965. She began to preserve and record her family’s history and the history of the house. Over the years, she worked with Historic New England and others to undertake repairs and restorations. In 1997 she gave the house and its contents, including a collection of family letters and documents, to Historic New England. Learn more about Jane and the other residents of Castle Tucker when the property opens this summer.

Suffrage Flag

Women’s suffrage protest flag

Women's History Programs

Four Centuries of Salem Women

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A Taste of Country Life

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All That Glitters is Not Gold

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