Beyond Domesticity: U.S. Women Writers, 1770-1915


Introduction l True Womanhood l New Women l Growing Up Female l Political Women l Suffrage l Abolition l Women and War l Work Outside the Home l Cookery and Fancy-Work l Work Inside the Home l Mothering l Marriage l Marriage and Divorce l Regionalism l Travel l Bestsellers l Highlights l English 437: Students Research Rare Books


English 437: Students Research Rare Books


This electronic version of the Beyond Domesticity exhibit includes supplementary materials contributed by students from Katherine Adams’s fall 2010 undergraduate course, “Nineteenth-Century U.S. Women Writers.” These young scholars researched and designed presentations for twenty additional rare books. You will find their work integrated throughout the original exhibit areas, and also gathered into its own area entitled “English 437: Students Research Rare Books.”

Thanks for your hard work to Darcey Blair, Cecelia Claytor, Lindsey Coffey, Ella Durham, Robert and Timothy Hand, Lindsay Hudepohl, Elizabeth Keniston, Mia Matos, Michelle Metzler, Cynthia Parker, Caroline Porter, Callen Ring, Anna Rogers, Erica Sanders, Allyson Shelton, Lauren Talley, Will Washburn.

Catharine Maria Sedgwick, 1789-1867.

Letters From Abroad to Kindred at Home.
New York: Harper, 1841.
letters from abroad to kindred at home
“No one born and bred in Europe can well imagine how striking the want and beggary of the Old World is to an American eye.”  In this book of letters written during the author's travels through France and Italy, Sedgwick criticizes the vast discrepancy between the upper and lower-classes in Europe. The route the author takes causes her to alternate between descriptions of massive, extravagantly adorned cathedrals and impoverished rustic hovels. She contrasts the idleness and festivity of dwellers in famous cities such as Venice and Milan  to “begging wretches”.
Though it may not be overtly radical, the text strongly encourages its audience to leave their domestic spheres. Sedgwick writes: “I.. wish that my readers may for themselves see the scenes which I have feebly presented”.

Label: Robert Hand.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1860-1935.

The Man-Made World: Or, Our Androcentric Culture.
New York: Charlton, 1911.
man-made world
Gilman explores the various aspects of life that a male-dominated and male- centered society has affected. She explains that society will improve if it is influenced by both males and females and structured to benefit all of humanity. In the Preface, Gilman advises any man whom she offends to “examine the many books that have been written about women”.

Label: Lindsey Hudepohl.

E.D.E.N. Southworth, 1819-1899.

Ishmael, Or, In The Depths.
Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers, 1876.
ishmel or in the depthseden southworth
Southworth was enormously popular. Her story about Ishmael was published in two volumes after a run in magazines. She calls her story the best that she wrote in the preface. Those two books sold over two million copies each.
The story concernsd a man who actually existed, according to the author, but is given a pseudonym and never revealed. Southworth calls this man a “guiding star” for the youth. The passage below describing Ishmael's birth, emphasizes Southworth’s view on woman workers, which is that they are victims of circumstance.
“It was in fact the thinnest, palest, puniest little object that had evercome into this world prematurely, uncalled for, and unwelcome. It did not look at all likely to live. ...Nor could Hannah desire that it should live. It had brought sorrow, death, and disgrace into the hut, and it had nothing but poverty, want, and shame for its portion in this world; and so the sooner it followed its mother the better, thought Hannah--short-sighted mortal.

...Reader, this boy is our hero; a real hero, too, who actually lived and suffered and toiled and triumphed in this land!

“Out of the depths” he came indeed! Out of the depths of poverty, sorrow, and degradation he rose, by God's blessing on his aspirations, to the very zenith of fame, honor, and glory!

He made his name, the only name he was legally entitled to bear--his poor wronged mother’s maiden-name--illustrious in the annals of our nation!
But this is to anticipate."

Label: Timothy Hand

Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888.

Flower Fables.
Boston: Briggs & Co., 1855.
Joel Myerson Collection of Nineteenth Century American Literature.
flower fablesearth and air seemed filled with beauty
Written when Alcott was sixteen and originally told to Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Flower Fables was not published until six years later in 1854. The publisher included an erroneous publication date of 1855, which was never corrected. This was Alcott’s first published book.
Written as a form of ‘conduct manual’ for young girls, the stories of fairy fantasy in Flower Fables instructed girls in the virtues of love, humility, charity, compassion, and contentment.
While most of the stories emphasize the rewards of being virtuous and kind, “Lily-Bell and Thistledown” focuses primarily on the suffering inflicted by selfish individuals and the pain they eventually experience as the cost of their actions.
The University’s copy is inscribed on the front page with the name of its owner, “Lizzie L Freeman, Jonesville, 1867”. 

Label: Cynthia Parker.

Lydia Howard Sigourney, 1791-1865.

Select Poems.
Philadelphia: E. C. Biddle, 1841.
select poems
The title, Select Poems, essentially sums up this varied collection. Lydia H. Sigourney was the only child of parents who strongly embedded religious principles in their daughter starting at a very young age. Her religious upbringing is evident in the 4th Edition of this poetry collection. In addition to very strong religious tones in her poetry, Sigourney incorporates “advice” for her female audience. The table of contents provides the titles of her various types of poems. Motherly concerns are expressed throughout the book; she also writes about the struggles of being a housewife. Sigourney’s style of writing demonstrates turning to religion as a means of dealing with hardships. It is evident that Sigourney’s intent with her writing was to do good, and to inspire others to do good, by heeding to the virtuous examples set by wives and mothers of the era.

Label: Darcey Blair.

Caroline Wells Healey Dall, 1822-1912.

The Romance of the Association; Or, One Last Glimpse of Charlotte Temple and Eliza Wharton.  A Curiosity of Literature and Life. 
Cambridge: J. Wilson and Son, 1875.
the romance of the association
The Romance of the Association
was written to examine the life of Elizabeth Whitman in contrast to the fictional life of Eliza Wharton in The Coquette by Hannah W. Foster. Caroline Wells Healey Dall attempts to unveil the mystery behind the pregnancy, disappearance, and death of Elizabeth Whitman. This specific excerpt portrays that had Eliza Wharton simply “minded her mother” she would not have gotten into the trouble that she did. In contrast to the True Woman moral of her book, Dall herself was in many ways an early example of New Womanhood. She lectured, organized conventions, wrote for and edited a women’s journal, circulated petitions, and published books on the women’s movement. The appearance in 1867 of her culminating work, The College, the Market, and the Court: or Woman’s Relation to Education, Labor, and Law, was generally reckoned as a major event in the fledgling women’s movement of nineteenth-century America.

Label: Caitlin Korb.



Abigail Mott, 1766-1851.

Biographical Sketches and Interesting Anecdotes of Persons of Colour: To Which is Added, A Selection of Pieces in Poetry.
New York: Lindley Murray, 1838.
biographical sketches and interesting anecdotes of persons of colour
Part of this abolitionist book, published in 1838, showcases poems highlighting the perils of African American captivity. The lines on the right, originally from an English publication, are said to have been written by an African prince. All of the poems in this collection have deeply embedded religious themes, intended to sway Christian readers to reevaluate their own actions and ideas about oppressed peoples and the institution of slavery.

Label: Elizabeth Keniston.

Women and War

Mary Cunningham Logan, 1838-1923.

Reminiscences of a Soldier’s Wife: An Autobiography.
New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913.
reminiscences of a soldier's wifemrs john a logan
The “Women and War” exhibit includes many bibliographic texts about women who, despite little to no recognition, work to improve other’s lives. Reminiscences of a Soldier’s Wife: An Autobiography details the life of Mary Cunningham Logan (born 1838) who spent her entire life in a military family. Her father was a Captain who introduced her to her famous Union General husband, John Logan. After they were married, Mary followed him to many Civil War battles and was an impromptu nurse to injured soldiers. After the war, John Logan was elected to Congress and Mary Logan contributed to his successes. Later, she helped found the Grand Army of the Republic and the Woman’s Relief Corps to support the loyal Union soldiers and their families. After her husband’s death, she established herself as a writer and editor before her passing in 1923. This copy includes an inscription from Logan herself. 

Label: Allyson Shelton.


Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, 1856-1923.

The Birds' Christmas Carol.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, and Co., 1893.
the bird's christmas carolthe birds' christma carol
This book was initially written to raise money for the Silver Street Kindergarten, a cause that Wiggin greatly supported, being trained as a kindergarten teacher. The publication was very limited. Once sent to the editor of Houghton Mifflin and read to his children he published it with his company. By 1888 when the book was published by Houghton Mifflin, this book, was one of 88,000, an astounding number for the time.

Label: Meagan VanO'Linda.

Lydia Howard Sigourney, 1791-1865.

Margaret and Henrietta.
New York: American Tract Society, 1842.
margaret and henrietta
Lydia Howard Sigourney’s Margaret and Henrietta strongly supports True Womanhood, an ideology which arose in the nineteenth century. Sigourney’s book serves as an instructive guide to True Womanhood for young female readers. Sigourney stresses the importance of piety and separate spheres for the sexes, and encourages her young female readers to be both domestic and submissive.

Label: Caroline Porter.

How the Liberty Bell Toll for Abolishing Slavery Was Heard ‘Round the World.

Maria Weston Chapman, 1806-1885.

The Liberty Bell.
Boston: National Anti-Slavery Bazaar, 1847.
liberty bell
The Liberty Bell
, which was first serialized by Maria Weston Chapman in the Boston Anti-Slavery Bazaar in 1838, is a rare collection of various reform pieces arguing against slavery in America. Including excerpts of famous speeches from prominent abolitionists not even native to the United States, The Liberty Bell was a transformative work that gave the global perspective on American slavery laws. The passage showcased, “An English Child’s Notion”, is testament to how perceptions of race are molded from an early age and of just how simple the injustice of slavery is— a statement that Chapman prided herself in delivering in much of her reform writing. Also, notice how the cover of the book details a golden bell with the figures of Liberty, a shackled slave, and a freed slave across the bell’s facing. The words, “Proclaim Liberty” can be read across the apex of the bell and represent the overall message of both Chapman’s work and the Abolitionist Movement.

Label: Lauren Talley.




Woman’s Conduct Manual of the 19th Century

Eliza Ware Rotch Farrar, 1791-1870.

A Young Lady’s Friend: A Manual of Practical Advice and Instruction to Young Females on Their Entering upon the Duties of Life after Quitting School.
Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1836.
a young lady's friend
Of the conduct manual genre, A Young Lady’s Friend was Farrar’s most popular work. For this particular book, Farrar used the anonymous author name “A Lady.” Shown here is an inscription from a mother to her daughters. This copy was a gift given as a handbook for guiding young girls on entering society as women upholding the ideal of true womanhood.

Label: Lindsey Coffey.




Mary Hallock Foote, 1847-1938.

The Led-Horse Claim: A Romance of a Mining Camp.
Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., c1911.
the led-horse claim
In a time when the landscape of the American West was the main character in many novels, Mary Hallock Foote focused on the people populating that picturesque landscape. Drawing on her personal experiences in mining camps of Leadville, Colorado, she wrote realistically about the miners and engineers who made these camps functional.  In this novel—her first—a dispute over territorial rights is the backdrop against which the story of two star-crossed lovers unfolds.  Foote was also a well-known illustrator and illustrated this work.  This illustration depicts both the landscape of the American West that was so famous, and also the people that Foote so realistically wrote.

Label: Cecilia Claytor.


Women and War

Mrs. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.

The Black Gauntlet: A Tale of Plantation Life in South Carolina.
Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1860.
the black gauntlet
This book was written in the mid nineteenth century. Its author wrote it for her husband and her home state as a counter to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This book is associated with women and war because she is fighting the war to keep slavery.

Label: Mia Matos.


Women and War

Margaret Burton Davis.

The Woman Who Battled for the Boys in Blue. Mother Bickerdyke; Her Life and Labors For the Relief of our Soldiers…
San Francisco: A. T. Dewey, 1886.
the woman who battled for the boys in blue
The “Women and War” exhibit examines the multiple spheres of life that women were activein before and during the Civil War, exploring how life changed for women in the time leading up to the war. In the book displayed above, Margaret B. Davis provides a look into the way one woman, Mary Ann Bickerdyke (1817-1901), gets directly involved in the war effort on behalf of the Union soldiers. Sales of this book were meant to support “Mother” Bickerdyke in her old age, and the content outlines the enormous influence Bickerdyke had while providing medical aid for wounded and dying Union soldiers.

Label: Will Washburn.




Maria Jane McIntosh, 1803-1878.

Woman in America: Her Work and Her Reward.
New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1850.
woman in america
McIntosh was a true domestic fiction writer; this is her only nonfiction book which was written to combat the suffrage movement of the time and preach the Christian model of what a true American woman was in the 1800s. Though she believed in women having power she warned against going too far in exercising it. This arose from her own experience struggling to live without a man. In this passage from chapter six titled, “Social Evils-Woman their Reformer”, McIntosh paints two distinct sides of the suffrage movement. Flirtilla, the woman who married for money and lives for pleasure (often away from her husband), is presented as the reformer while Egeria (which is also the name of a famous nun) is the perfect Christian Republican Mother figure: always gracious, kind, pleasant to others, and fiercely protectective of her children. Flirtilla’s fate is what McIntosh saw as the rightful end for all reformers and gives insight into the anti-suffrage movement which isn’t given much study in today’s time.

Label: Michelle Metzler.



Susan Warner, 1819-1885.

New York: Williams Co., 1871.
Susan Warner’s novels carried both political and religious messages. Her dedication toopportunitiesreligion is seen not only in her life-long dedication to teaching others about Christianity, but through her writings. This particular novel would have been a tool to guide young women on a proper religious path as well as a way to address hypocrisy and fraudulent Christians. Warner’s writing also reveals unease with the idea of “women’s work” and women being solely confined to duties within the home. She seems to believe that while women should strive to be good wives and/or mothers, a woman’s true work is outside the home, bettering the lives of others.  Her writing expresses a desire for greater women’s rights as well as compassion for the less fortunate. Both were extremely risky concepts to print without societal retributions, which makes Susan Warner a pioneer of her age.

Label: Ella Durham.



Annie G. Porritt and Frances M. Bjorkman, eds.

Woman Suffrage: History, Arguments, Results.
New York: National Woman Suffrage Publ. Co., Inc., 1917.
woman suffrage
"Women are too emotional to vote.”
“Women will turn into men if granted suffrage.”

These statements are just a few of the ludicrous arguments that were used to keep women away from the ballots in the early 20th century. This book dismantles such fallacies, along with any other possible argument against woman suffrage. It includes a brief but thorough, history of the suffrage movement, several letters and essays written by prominent suffragists, and a complete study of suffrage states and their successes before the federal amendment in 1920. In short, this is the suffrage “bible,” and was meant to convert all, from the simply uninformed to avid anti-suffragists.

Label: Anna Rogers.


Voices of Freedom.

Julia Griffiths, ed.

New York: Worthington Co., 1854.
voices of freedom
Julia Griffiths, founder of the Ladies Anti-Slavery voices of freedomAssociation,worked along with Fredrick Douglass to provide freedom to slaves throughout the country. Griffiths is known for her passion and dedication to the abolitionist movement. Her book provides an exceptional collection of anti-slavery testimonies.

Label: Erica Sanders.

Stella Scott Gilman.

Mothers in Council.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1884.
mothers in council
morhers in councilOne of two books written by Stella Gilman concerning the role of women, this work gives an example of an advice book of the time period. Gilman attended a mothers’ club and wrote about the discussions which had occurred throughout these meetings about different domestic duties.  She discusses the importance of experience over education in the role of a mother in an attempt to give advice to other women, and covers topics from child obedience to bathing a family, as in this example.

Label: Callen Ring.







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