Thursday, March 9, 2017

Women's History Month: Lydia Maria Child

Women's History MonthLydia Maria Child 

Part II

Lydia Maria (Francis) Child 1802-1880

In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist from Boston, started publishing a newspaper called The Liberator. Maria read it and became a reformer. She joined the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. She wrote anti-slavery papers after that. In 1833 she published

An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans. It made her very unpopular. She had to shut down her children's paper.

That did not stop her writing about slavery. Her next job was editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, a New York paper from 1841-1843. She was upset by the Compromise of 1850 and offered her support to John Brown for his raid at Harper's Ferry. (He didn't want it).

During the Civil War she collected supplies for "contraband" (runaway slaves attached to the Union Army). She wrote a reading book for newly freed slaves called Freedmen's Book. The book had biographies of black leaders, stories of fugitive slaves and practical advice. Maria published it mostly with her own money. The book was sold cheaply so freedmen could afford it. All profits were went into future editions. Maria edited Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs) and helped get it published.

After the Civil War Lydia supported women's suffrage but she thought black men should have the right to vote first. She founded the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. She also continued to support Native Americans. She thought they had the right to keep their own language and religion.

Maria's husband died in 1874. She finally had money of her own and donated it to support her personal causes. Maria continued to write and support charities until she died in 1880. She was very, very famous in her day and had many famous friends and fans like Edgar Allen Poe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and the Alcotts. In your day she is mostly remembered for "Over the River and Through the Woods."

Women's History Month: Lydia Maria Child

Women's History Month

Lydia Maria Child 

Part I

Lydia Maria (Francis) Child 1802-1880
"An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves."

March is Women's History Month. My project is to do an oral report on an important woman in American History. I always choose a Rhode Island woman. This year I chose a woman from Maine and Massachusetts instead.

Lydia Francis was born on February 11, 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts. Lydia was the youngest child in a large family. Her parents were not very nice. They raised her in the severe Puritan way. Young Lydia was different from her family. She was imaginative, bright, headstrong and curious. She studied with her older brother. He went to Harvard when she was 9.

Lydia's mother died when Lydia was young. Then Lydia's favorite sister got married. Lydia's father sent her way up north to Maine. Lydia lived with her married sister. She had to help out with household chores. She wrote to her brother. He helped her learn new things.

In 1819 Lydia took a teaching job in Gardiner, Maine. She changed religions to a nicer one. She was baptized in 1821. After that she used her baptism name Maria (muh-rye-uh) as her first name. Maria's brother was a Unitarian minister. This church helped Maria learn to think about people who were different from her. She became a writer. Her books talked about being nice to Indians and freeing the slaves.

In 1824 Maria published her first book. Hobomok: A Tale of Early Times is the first historical novel published in the United States. It was very scandalous. In the story a white lady married an Indian man and has a son. Then her Indian husband told her she would be better off with her own people. She went back to the white people and married a minister. The book was shocking but popular. It was published anonymously but soon everyone knew who wrote it.

 Lydia became part of the Transcendentalist circle and lifelong friends with Margaret Fuller.

Then she published a magazine for children called The Juvenile Miscellany.


In 1828 Maria married David Child. He was a lawyer and journalist. They agreed on personal beliefs. He did not earn much money so they moved around a lot. Because they were poor, Maria wrote a book called The Frugal Housewife (later the American Frugal Housewife). It was a household manual telling people how to live cheaply. This was the first cookbook that did not assume the reader had servants. Children were supposed to do the work instead. (It was very hard to be a kid back then). You can still buy this book in your time.

 It is too hard to cook from it. Cooking was done over an open fire in a fireplace. The cookbook also assumes you have a farm and you know how to cook weird things like calves' feet. It doesn't have much in the way of directions or any cooking temperatures. Women on the frontier (Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, western New York and western Virginia) liked this book a lot.

This recipe for lobster salad doesn't tell you to cook the lobster or the eggs. It tells you to use chicken instead for chicken salad.

At this time Maria wrote for women and children. Her next manual was for mothers: The Mother's Book. Then she wrote a book for girls The Little Girl's Own Book. In this book she tells middle class mothers how to raise their daughters to be healthy but still feminine. Girls should play active games like skipping rope and game of graces; children should eat simple food, keep clean, stand up straight and lots more maxims for health and gracefulness.

 It also had quizzes and games.

Can you figure this one out? My guardian didn't get it. I told her to think of the line as the word "under" so "I understand you."

In 1844 she wrote the now-famous song (then a poem) "Over the River and Through the Woods.
It was originally called "The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day" in Flowers for Children.