In honor of Women's History Month, I thought I'd talk about Lucy Stone.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
A pioneer for women's rights, she is credited as being the first woman to keep her maiden name after marrying (helping pave the way for me to do the same lo these 13+ years ago), and argued vociferiously on the topics of suffrage and abolition.
But, did you know that Ms. Stone grew up here in Massachusetts as a Congregationalist in the West Brookfield Church?** She was baptised in 1819, just shy of her first birthday:
She joined the church in 1839, listed along with Francis and Sarah:
If you follow the Wikipedia article*** about Ms. Stone, you will note that there was some strong disagreement in the West Brookfield community regarding the issue of slavery, women's participation in the public discussion, and the role of religious leaders in the debate. When Stone's unwavering and vocal opposition to slavery joined the public debate, her church responded by determining that Stone "engaged in a course of life evedently inconsistent with her covenant." In the same meeting, the church "voted that she no longer considered a member a member with us."
In the face of opposition, Lucy Stone fought harder. In her lifetime, she saw a sea change in society where slavery was abolished and free speech finally started to include women. Sadly, she died a few decades short of women's suffrage. We salute you, Lucy Stone, who did not give up in the face of adversity.
** The West Brookfield collection spans from 1757 through to 1929 and is open to the public for research.
***Just to prove the point you can't believe everything you read on Wikipedia, they claim that Stone's dismissal from the West Brookfield Church was 1838, which was actually the year before she joined the church. The break came in 1851.