From the Underground Railroad to the Water-Cure: David Ruggles

(This post originally appeared as a guest post on Linda Bennett Pennell’s blog, History Imagined.) In researching my historical novels set in nineteenth-century America, I have come across a number of people, now obscure, who deserve to be remembered for their heroism. One is David Ruggles, a black abolitionist. Born in Lyme, Connecticut, on March …

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Ernestine Rose’s English Lodgings

I recently visited England (my first visit in way too many years), partly to track down some residences associated with Ernestine Rose, the heroine of my forthcoming novel, The Queen of the Platform. Although Ernestine spent many years in New York City, none of her homes there have survived modern development, so it was a …

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An Unlikely Escort: The Dentist Who (Maybe) Helped Mary Lincoln Out of Frankfurt

In 1870, the widowed Mary Lincoln and her son Tad, who had already been in one war zone in Washington, D.C., found themselves in another as France and Prussia faced off. After her husband’s assassination, Mary refused to return to Springfield, Illinois.[1] Although the Lincolns owned a home at Eighth and Jackson Streets there, and …

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The Bloomer Movement

In 1851, a new word entered the fashion lexicon: the “Bloomer.” It referred not to undergarments but to what had been known previously by such names as the “reform dress” and the “Turkish dress”: essentially, a short dress paired with pantaloons, in place of the constricting women’s garments of the day. It would become associated …

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Stanton and Anthony Caught Up in the Draft Riots

In July 1863, the infamous “draft riots” roiled New York. Among those caught up in the violence were the two people most associated with the nineteenth-century women’s rights movement: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s husband, Henry Stanton, had been appointed Deputy Collector of the New York Custom House in 1861. …

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Within the Golden Ball of St. Paul’s

In nineteenth-century London (and apparently into the 1960s), it was possible for the venturesome to climb all the way to the interior of the golden ball surmounting St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (right below the cross). One of those who made the effort was the intrepid feminist Ernestine Rose, who along with her husband was …

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Mother Knows Best

Ernestine Rose, the subject of my novel-in-progress, was a contemporary of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ernestine was much closer to Susan B. Anthony, who accompanied Ernestine to Washington, D.C., in 1854, defended Ernestine against those who would have kept her off the platform because of her open atheism, and visited Ernestine, a …

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Moving Day: New York Style

Early feminist Ernestine Rose, the heroine of my novel-in-progress, and her husband William changed residences multiple times during the more than 30 years they resided in New York City, which means that they frequently had to cope with what was known as Moving Day. Until well into the 20th century, most residential leases in New …

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