The site of Elizabeth Peabody’s bookshop where Margaret Fuller held her “Conversations” for Women in Boston near the Common.
It was wonderful to meet with the Margaret Fuller Society this morning for our first session together at the American Literature Association annual conference in Boston. Our first presenter, Rev. Jenny Rankin, shared her personal journey with the Transcendentalists which led to her leading tours to Europe where they visited on their Grand Tours. She specifically talked about her Margaret Fuller tour through Italy. Jenny asked me to read Margaret’s words about her time in London and Paris. I had the privilege of working with Jenny as part of the panel at First Parish of Concord for Margaret’s 200th Anniversary Celebration in 2010.
It was exciting to learn that Sonia Di Loreto from the University of Torino, Italy, with William Bond and Sarah Payne from Northeastern University are working on Margaret Fuller’s Transnational Archive to help scholars readily access primary source materials from various archives online with great interaction and ease. I am particularly eager to see Margaret’s New York Tribune articles available in an easy-to-access-and-read form. Her work as first woman reporter for the New York Tribune is my specialty.
Project Director Jonathan Schwartz shared a short 13-minute film toward a full-length documentary on Margaret Fuller, which looks very promising. He and his partners in production have worked in the past with PBS. All these presentations give us hope for more public recognition for Margaret Fuller’s gifts to us.
Phyllis Cole, President of the MF Society, graciously asked me to share about my work helping the City of Beacon apply for and receive the Pomeroy Foundation historic marker grant for Margaret Fuller at Fishkill Landing, NY. There in fall 1844, Margaret wrote “Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” which was influential in bringing about the first Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. It is now one year that the MF Historical Marker has been placed on the Women’s History Trail in New York State at Beacon, NY to support the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in NYS this year.
This afternoon, Ted and I stopped on West Street near the Boston Common to revisit the bookstore owned by Transcendentalist Elizabeth Peabody where Margaret held her “Conversations” for Women. Peabody was A. Bronson Alcott’s teaching assistant at his Temple School in Boston before Margaret then became his assistant.
To celebrate Margaret’s birthday, Ted and I drove from Boston to Concord where the ebbing marshland along the road and beautiful, lush green landscape welcomed us to town. It was wonderful to be back after seven years ago participating in the 200th Anniversary Birthday Celebration at First Parish of Concord on a panel.
To Ted’s delight, we drove through town right to Old North Bridge where the shot heard ’round the world began the Revolutionary War. Next door is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandparents’ house, the Old Manse, where Margaret enjoyed meeting with Emerson to discuss important Transcendentalist things. One can just feel the peace and beauty present here where Emerson wrote his essay, “Nature,” as father of Transcendentalism.
In Concord Public Library, we viewed the current exhibition showing different photographic portraits of Emerson. He just loved the new photography! We ate homemade squash, corn, and red rice soup with a delicious feta cheese and hummus pita on the welcoming bench outside the bakery on Main Street where we bought the lunch. The cloudy sky had given way to blue skies and sunshine with great warmth.
We visited First Parish of Concord again, then drove down to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House where the lovely Lis Adams, education director, met us for a quick tour of the House and her new office digs next door up the hill through a gorgeous woods path. It was great to be back in Orchard House. It felt very uplifting and light in energy. May’s room was particularly delightful in feeling with all her art and drawings present.
I had spoken on Margaret emphasizing her deep friendship with A. Bronson Alcott, Louisa’s father, at the Summer Conversational Series of the Concord School of Philosophy at Orchard House in 2010. It was wonderful to be with Lis again as she offers such beautiful hospitality. Lis grew up near us in Boyertown, Berks County, PA. She has an endearing and caring quality of relationship, which she brings to her teaching and educational programming.
Lis helped us get directions to Mount Auburn Cemetery where we discovered the fresh birthday red rose placed on Margaret’s memorial erected by her grieving family over her drowning with her husband and baby son in a shipwreck off on Fire Island, NY on July 19, 1850. Ted and I took photographs and honored her great work and inspiration for us all in living the sacred marriage within. Happy Birthday, Beloved Margaret Fuller Ossoli!
It was an incredible journey this day driving from Lederach, PA to Boston, MA through the mostly rainy day. As I was driving, I felt as through I was moving through another landscape and seeing through another lens. It was a preparation leaving my old everyday world and heading into a transformative week celebrating Margaret Fuller.
The fabulous greens along the major highways were thriving in the pouring rains and misting drizzle and dancing winds. I could barely see at times as the windshield wipers were working double-duty to clear my vision. The fog and graying mists were playing into my excursion into the mystery and unknown, concepts which Margaret would surely be exploring as she rambled in the Boston and Concord countrysides with her Transcendentalist companions.
After a weary yet exciting day driving and anticipating the joy being back in Boston and environs after seven years away, I feel blessed to be able to partake of the Margaret Fuller Society meeting and Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House celebration of Margaret’s 207th birthday and its devoted years of service as a settlement house for the community. But first, tomorrow, Margaret’s actual birthdate, going to her monument at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Margaret’s birthday is also my dad’s 92nd birthday.
Margaret Fuller is included in the list of Historic New York Suffragists on the New York State website: http://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-womens-suffrage-commission
The 100th Anniversary Celebration has begun at the State Capitol in Albany with Women’s History Month including Marguerite Kearn’s grandmother’s Suffrage Wagon from Long Island.
Information on the upcoming exhibition, Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial, opening November 4, 2017 through May 13, 2018 at the NY State Museum in Albany is at http://www.nysm.nysed.gov.
I hope that you can take part in and enjoy these historic events.
For Women’s History Month, I have the privilege of writing an article on Margaret Fuller highlighting the recent MF historic marker at Beacon, NY in American Spirit, the magazine of the Daughters of the American Revolution, for its March/April 2017 issue.
We are considering and preparing the programming for the New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network’s Women’s Suffrage History Conference scheduled for Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the State Museum in Albany. It is an exciting time as NYS celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote this year and plans programs and events. All of this is working toward the National Celebration in 2020.
This same day, the NY State Museum is planning the opening reception of the 100th Anniversary Women’s Suffrage exhibition that evening. I will keep you all posted about these events.
The four historic sites of Margaret Fuller in New York State have been added to the Network’s Women’s History Trail Sites at http://www.nywomenshistory.com.