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

March 10 - March 16

Women of the Week

Poet Ina Donna Coolbrith and artist Clara L. Brown Dyer 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.

Ina Donna Coolbrith (2).jpg

COOLBRITH, Mrs. Ina Donna

March 10, 1841


Nauvoo,  IL

p. 204-205

Ina Donna Coolbrith, who was born in Nauvoo, Illinois, on March 10, 1841, grew up in California and became its Poet Laureate.

During her prolific writing career, Ina contributed to Overland Monthly and later ran it with Bret Harte and Charles Warren Stoddard.  She also contributed to CalifornianCentury, GalaxyHarper's Magazine, and Scribner's Magazine.

Also a librarian, she played a positive role in the lives of many young readers, including Jack London.  A 1919 New York Sun article about Coolbrith quotes London's recollections about Ina:

"No woman has affected me to the extent you did.  I was only a little lad, I knew nothing about you, yet in all the years that have passed, I have met no woman so 'noble' as you.  I have never seen you since those library days, yet the memory picture I retain of you is as vivid as any I possess."

Ina passed away in Berkeley, California on February 29, 1928.  She was buried in Oakland, California's Mountain View Cemetery.

Clara L. Brown Dyer (2).jpg

DYER, Mrs. Clara L. Brown

March 13, 1849


Cape Elizabeth, ME

p. 268

Clara L. Brown Dyer, who was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, on March 13, 1849, came from a family with a long history in New England.  Her relatives served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.  One ancestor (Job Tyler) was reputed to have been the first settler of Andover, Massachusetts, and the Tyler Family Association dedicated a monument in North Andover to his memory in 1901.

As a child, Clara often accompanied her father, a master mariner, on his voyages.  One can only surmise that she inherited his love of the outdoors, because Clara distinguished herself as a landscape artist.  A resident of Portland, Maine, Clara made many fine sketches of the scenery around Casco Bay as well as in the Sierras and Yosemite Valley.  Her work appeared at the Boston Art Club for four successive years, in all the Portland Society of Art exhibitions, and the San Francisco Midwinter Fair exhibition.  Having mastered her craft, she also decided to teach drawing and painting at the Westbrook Seminary in Portland, Maine.  

In addition to her artistic pursuits, Clara also became a power in Portland's club work.  She was notably the organizer and President of the National Society of United States Daughters of 1812, State of Maine, and Third Vice-President of the National Society.   Clara also served as one of the directors of the Woman's Literary Union and as a member of the Committee on Resolutions for Portland's Mutual Improvement Club.

Clara passed away on March 1, 1931, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine.