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A Woman of the Century:   A Crowdsourcing Project of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

August 6 - August 12

Women of the Week

Reformer Zerelda Gray Wallace, who was born on August 6, 1817, army nurse Sarah Graham Young, who was born on August 9, 1830, and journalist Mary Agnes Dalrymple Bishop, who was born on August 12, 1857, 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.

Zarelda Gray Wallace (2).jpg


WALLACE, Mrs. Zerelda Gray

August 6, 1817


Millersburg, Bourbon County, KY

p. 742-743

Zerelda Gray Wallace was born in Millersburg, Bourbon County, Kentucky on August 6, 1817.  She was a temperance reformer, a woman suffragist, a public speaker, and an author.

Zerelda spent her youth in Millersburg and her teenage years in New Castle, Kentucky and Indianapolis, Indiana.  At age nineteen, she married Indiana's Lieutenant Governor, David Wallace, and became stepmother to his sons.  One of those sons was Lew Wallace, who wrote Ben Hur and used Zerelda as the model for the mother in the book.  David was elected to Congress the next year, and Zerelda spent some time in Washington, DC.

She was a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, as well as the first President of Indiana's chapter, and Zerelda spoke frequently about the cause.  Also very involved in the suffrage movement, Zerelda was an active participant in the Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis.  Zerelda participated in many conventions, including the National Woman Suffrage Convention in 1880, the first International Convention of Women, the Suffrage Convention in 1887, and the Women's Council in 1888.  She also lectured about women's rights.  In addition, Zerelda was involved in missionary work for her church, the Central Christian Church.  Her publications included A Whole Humanity (1887), Mrs. Wallace on Equal Suffrage (1890), and Suggestions of a Line of Study: For Woman Suffrage Leagues and Good Citizenship Clubs (1891).

Zerelda embarked on a lengthy lecture tour in 1891.  After she became seriously ill during a lecture, Susan B. Anthony and Frances E. Willard were just two of many friends who inquired about her health. Fortunately, Zerelda recovered from this illness, as well as another in 1896. 

During her later years, Zerelda lived with family members in Cataract, Indiana.  She passed away on March 19, 1901.

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YOUNG, Mrs. Sarah Graham

August 9, 1830

army nurse

Tompkins County, NY

p. 810

Sarah Graham Young, an army nurse, was born near Ithaca, NY on August 9, 1830.   She married her first husband, Abel O. Palmer, in 1849 and had two children.  

By the time the Civil War started, Sarah was a widow.  Leaving her children with family members, Sarah worked as an army nurse.  She lived in Laurel, MD and Falls Church, VA.  Dorothea Lynde Dix was one of her colleagues during the war.  Sarah was nickmaned "Aunt Becky" by the soldiers and later wrote a book, The Story of Aunt Becky's Army-Life, about her Civil War experiences. 

In 1867, Sarah married David C. Young and moved to Des Moines, IA.  At the time of the Spanish-American War, Sarah was a founder of the Iowa Sanitary Commission.  

She passed away on April 6, 1908.

Mary Agnes Dalrymple Bishop larger.jpg

BISHOP, Mrs. Mary Agnes Dalrymple

August 12, 1857


Springfield, MA

p. 86

Mary Agnes Dalyrmple Bishop was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 12, 1857.  Her family moved to Grafton, Massachusetts when she was less than two years old.  Mary Agnes began writing for local papers at age eleven and was editor of The Grafton Herald when she was just sixteen. 

After graduating from high school, she taught in the public schools of Grafton and Sutton, Massachusetts  for many years  Mary Agnes also lectured frequently in her area and acted in home dramas, often as Lady Macbeth  She continued writing and was a frequent contributorm although often an anonymous one, to Youth’s Companion and other periodicals

Mary Agnes was one of the earliest members of the  New England Woman’s Press Association , attending meetings since 1886, and she served on its Executive Committee.  Writing of her career at the time that the New England Woman's Press Association began, she noted that she was a ""regular correspondent of the Boston Globe and with the Associated Press" (Lord, 23). Some of her colleagues in the New England Woman's Press Association were Estelle M. Hatch, Sallie Joy White, Kate Tannatt Woods, Alice Stone Blackwell, Cora Stuart Wheeler, Helen Maria Winslow, and Lavinia Stella Goodwin, Esther T. Housh, Maud Howe Elliott, and Lucy Stone.

In 1887, Mary Agnes became editor on the Massachusetts Ploughman.  As her A Woman of the Century profile notes:

“The position offered her had never been taken by a woman, and, indeed, the work that she did was never attempted previously, for she had the charge of almost the entire journal from the first.  A few months after she accepted the position, the proprietor died, and the entire paper was in her hands for six months.” (A Woman of the Century, p. 86)

Mary Agnes married Frederick Herbert Bishop, a Boston businessman, in 1889, and the couple lived in Wollaston Heights, Massachusetts.  She continued her editorial work and was a practical reportorial stenographer.  In addition, Mary Agnes still found time to pursue her literary career.

She served as "toastmistress" at a New England Press Association tribute to journalist Mary Boyle O'Reilly in 1917.  Helen Maria Winslow introduced O'Reilly, who spoke about her journalistic activities during World War I at this Hotel Bellevue event.  The next year, she represented the New England Woman's Press Association at a woman's conference in Arkansas.