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

May 12 - May 18

Woman of the Week

Amanda L. Aikens, an editor and philanthropist from North Adams, MA, is this week's Woman of the Week.   

  • To learn about her by viewing her item, please click on her image.  

  • To read her biographical sketch in A Woman of the Century, please click on the highlighted page numbers to the left of her image.

Amanda L. Aikens (2).jpg

AIKENS, Mrs. Amanda L.

May 12, 1833

editor and philanthropist

North Adams, MA

p. 10-11

Amanda L. Aikens was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, on May 12, 1833, and later lived in Pittsfield.  She met Andrew J. Aikens, editor of a weekly North Adams newspaper, and the couple moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin after their 1854 marriage.  Amanda devoted her life to raising their three daughters, editing the "Woman's World" department of the Evening Wisconsin, her husband's paper, and participating in numerous activities.

A member of the Association for the Advancement of Women, Amanda was a strong advocate for women's education.  In 1876, she took two of their daughters to Europe.  As The Lake County Star noted, "They sail to Europe, and will remain abroad some time, Mrs. Aikens intending to educate her daughters, giving them the full benefit of French and German study."  Eight years later, she made another trip there with Stella and Minnie, since Minnie was going to be attending school in Paris. The St. Paul Daily Globe reported that Amanda would "remain with her while she is receiving her education."

Interested in educating all women, Amanda was involved with the establishment of the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls, later serving as its vice president. She also supported the Johns Hopkins Medical School to ensure that it would accept female students.

Amanda's profile in A Woman of the Century goes into detail about her work with another women's organization:

"She has been identified for fifteen years as an officer or director with the Art Science Class, a literary organization for the purpose of developing a taste in architecture, painting, sculpture, and science.  One-hundred-fifty ladies belong to this class, and it has done more for the direct education of women in the arts and sciences than any other society in the State" (11).

Amanda's extensive charity work included being a state delegate to the National Conference of Charities, as well as serving with Ella A. Giles and others on the Committee On Charitable Work by Women of the Wisconsin Conference of Charities.

Also interested in politics, Amanda was a founder of the Woman's Republican Club of Wisconsin.

She continued her work with the Association for the Advancement of Women, meeting with Julia Ward Howe, Ednah Dow Cheney, Martha H. Mowry, and many other colleagues in Grand Rapids, Michigan in October of 1891, and being elected the Wisconsin officer.

After being ill for several months, Amanda passed away at her Milwaukee home on May 20, 1892.