November 26 - December 2
Women of the Week
Caroline Lathrop Post, an author and poet, Lillian Blanche Fearing, a lawyer and poet, Ellen M. Carpenter, an artist, and Louisa May Alcott, an author, are this week's Women of the Week
To learn about them by viewing their items, please click on their images.
To read their biographical sketches in A Woman of the Century, please click on the highlighted page numbers to the left of their images.
POST, Mrs. Caroline Lathrop
November 27, 1824
author and poet
Caroline Lathrop Post was born in Ashford, Connecticut, on November 27, 1824, and began her writing career at an early age. Her family later moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
She married Abner L. Parsons on March 27, 1844, and gave birth to Clarence Lathrop Parsons, but she lost both her husband and her young son in 1849. After returning to her family in Hartford, Carrie moved to Springfield, Illinois, in 1851 and met Charles Rollin Post, a friend of her brother's. She returned to Hartford the next year and continued to correspond with Charles. They were married on October 10, 1853, and resided in Springfield (Major, 286). Over time, Caroline gave birth to Charles William, Aurelian, and Carroll. She and her family were members of the First Congregational Church. When the boys were growing up, Carrie "guided her boys in the arts, music, and literature" (Major, 290). She also found time to contribute to several publications, including Chicago Advance, Life and Light, Golden Rule, and Floral World.
In 1886, Caroline's family moved to Fort Worth, Texas. She continued to write both poetry and prose and was involved with the Woman's Board of Missions. The Magazine of Poetry from 1892 published both a short biographical sketch and six of her poems. The October 1907 volume of Mission Studies included her poem "The Message of Christ and His Angel to Woman." She published them in Aunt Carrie's Poems, in 1909.
During the 1890s, her son, Charles William (C.W.) Post, became a millionaire through his inventions in the cereal industry. Since his parents were devoted churchgoers and needed a new church, C.W. donated the money for the First Congregational Church of Fort Worth in 1903 (Major, 292). That same year, Charles Rollin and Caroline celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, a milestone that was mentioned in Margaret E. Sangster's "Around the Hearth" page in The Christian Herald.
When he was ill in 1914, C.W. committed suicide. In his eulogy, C.W.'s cousin, Rev. Roswell C. Post, paid tribute to Carrie and Rollin, as well as to Charlie. When she heard of her son's death, ninety-year-old Carrie wrote a poem to him. A few months later, on October 17, 1914, Carrie passed away in Fort Worth. She was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.
FEARING, Miss Lillian Blanche
November 27, 1863
lawyer and poet
Author and lawyer Lillian Blanche Fearing was born in Davenport, Iowa, on November 27, 1863. Despite being blind from birth, Lillian achieved much during her lifetime. Lillian's obituary in the Rock Island Argus notes, in part:
"At the age of 8 she published her first poem, and by the time she was 12 years old her verses were appearing regularly in the Boston Transcript. Personal letters commending her work were sent her by Oliver Wendell Holmes, John G. Whittier, and Edmund Clarence Stedman."
When she was taking courses at Union College of Law in Chicago, Lillian's mother "was her constant companion and read books to her" (The Comet). When she graduated, Lillian was the only woman in her class and one of four scholarship recipients (Watertown Republican).
Well regarded by her peers, Lillian was one of the people feated in literary critic William Morton Payne's "Literary Chicago" in the February 1893 edition of New England Magazine. The article mentioned many men and women, including Eliza Allen Starr, Olive Thorne Miller, Amanda T. Jones, Harriet Monroe, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Payne praised Fearing's work as "remarkable" and, speaking of her poem "In The City By The Lake," he noted: "A note of song stronger and more sustained has hardly been sounded by any other American woman" (696). Readers of New England Magazine would have known of Lillian, since she had published "The Bivouac of Sherman's Army" in that periodical's August 1890 issue.
In 1894, Lillian wrote a piece for Chicago Woman's Times about the need for a different title than Miss for adult single women. She noted that males are called master and then Mr., but that females are addressed as Miss until they are married. She was perturbed that it took marriage to allow a woman to have a mature adult title. Lillian's words were reprinted in the March 10, 1894 edition of The Caldwell Tribune (Idaho Territory), giving her thoughts an even larger audience.
Throughout her life, Lillian received praise in the press for her work as a lawyer, her writing, and her phenomenal work ethic. The Irish Standard's characterization of her serves as a fine example of the admiration Lillian's contemporaries had for her:
"Miss Blanche Fearing is a graduate of the Chicago Law School and surely finding her way to a successful legal career. She is a poet, also, but her verses do not begin with 'whereases' or 'know all men,' etc., but are marked by the true poetic quality. Miss Fearing's profession means a livelihood to her. Her literary work is the overflow of her life. When it is known that Miss Fearing is entirely blind, the courage, enthusiasm, and perseverance that her work in these two lines exhibits fill one with admiration for the beauty and strength of character that so triumph over untoward circumstances and make life so noble, useful and sweet."
She was very fortunate to have a supportive family. According to the Republican News Item, Lillian's mother and sister played the crucial role of reading legal documents to her.
Lillian's image and a discussion about her were included in "Women Lawyers of America," a lengthy December 13, 1896, article in The San Francisco Call. Others noted included local lawyer Clara Shortridge Foltz, Myra Bradwell, Ellen A. Martin, Kate Pier, Ada Miser Kepley, Ella Humphrey Haddock, and Cornelia Hood.
On March 21, 1900, The Western News dedicated an article, "Blind From Infancy: This Girl is Now Widely Known as a Writer and Lawyer." While the use of the word "girl" must not have pleased Lillian, she must have been happy to hear that the paper had written about her and called her "a dual success in her dual professions of author and lawyer."
Unfortunately, Lillian passed away in Eureka Heights, Illinois, later that year. When she died on August 13, 1900, this courageous woman was just thirty-six years old.
CARPENTER, Miss Ellen M.
November 28, 1836
Ellen M. Carpenter was born in Killingly, Connecticut, on November 28, 1836.
During her career as an artist, she studied in Worcester, Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts, Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany. For her work, Ellen traveled throughout Europe. She made her home in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ellen spent the summer of 1904 at the Dirigo House in Long Island, Maine. The Casco Bay Breeze of July 28 noted:
"Miss E. M. Carpenter, one of Boston's celebrated artists with the brush, who is here at the house for the summer conducted a sale and exhibition in the parlors Monday last. Several beautiful views were noticed."
Ellen passed away in Boston on July 1, 1908.
ALCOTT, Miss Louisa May
November 29, 1832
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women and several other books, was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on November 29, 1832, but she spent most of her life in Concord, Massachusetts.
Alcott lived in Boston, Massachusetts, with her family during her youth and moved with them to Harvard, Massachusetts, where her father, transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott, had formed the Fruitlands community. Later, the family moved back to Concord. During the Civil War, Louisa worked as a nurse in Washington, D.C. While an illness halted her service shortly after it had started, the experience was the inspiration for Hospital Sketches (1863). James Redpath, her publisher, also published her On Picket Duty, and Other Tales the next year.
During her career, Louisa wrote numerous books under her own name and several thrillers under her pseudonym, A. M. Barnard. Her most famous book was Little Women published by Roberts Brothers in 1868. This book was illustrated by her sister May Alcott Nieriker, an artist whose profile is in A Woman of the Century. Louisa also edited Merry's Museum from 1868 to 1879 and wrote pieces for periodicals such as The Atlantic Monthly and The Independent.
Louisa's extensive social network included authors Ednah Dow Cheney, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Powell Bond, Henry David Thoreau, and her uncle, reformer Samuel Joseph May.
By 1883, Louisa was living in Concord and caring for both her elderly father and her niece Lu, whose mother May had passed away shortly after her birth. The Indianapolis Journal reprinted Louisa's letter to Lucy Stone about how she was interested in woman's suffrage, but her family obligations prevented her from attending the Woman's Suffrage National Convention. Louisa also expressed her frustration at the lack of interest in the topic by many of Concord's women and hoped that the women at the Convention could help to provide motivation for "these slothful sisters." Later that year, Louisa was one of ten women who sent a joint letter to the Massachusetts and Republican State Central Committees. As The Greenville Times notes, "They believe that the establishment of political rights for women is essential to the highest good of the state." The other women were Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Mary G. Ames, Mary A. Livermore, Mary F. Eastman, Ednah Dow Cheney, Mary C. Shannon, Mary Shannon, and Susan E. B. Channing. Louisa continued to support the cause during the 1880s.
She passed away on March 6, 1888, at age fifty-five and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetry in Concord, Massachusetts.