Author, Feminist and Social Reformer

Frances Ellen Watkins was born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland in 1825. She was not yet three years old when her mother died, and she was raised by her uncle, Reverend William Watkins, a teacher and radical advocate for civil rights who founded the William Watkins Academy for free African American children for Negro Youth ( where Frances was educated). The education she received there, and her uncle's civil rights activism greatly influenced her …Read More...

Writer and Plantation Mistress in the Civil War Era

Louisa Susanna McCord, political theorist, essayist, poet and book reviewer, was almost unique among antebellum southern women. Her published works fill two volumes and deal with subjects hardly touched by her female contemporaries. At the same time, she ran a plantation, supported her family and was the hard-hitting superintendent of an army hospital during the Civil War. She was in many ways an emancipated woman.

Childhood and Early Years
On …Read More...

Editor, Journalist and Newspaper Publisher

Jane Grey Swisshelm (1815–1884) was a journalist, publisher, abolitionist and women's rights advocate. She was active as a writer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and as a publisher and editor in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where she founded a string of newspapers and regularly wrote for them.

Jane Grey Cannon was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 6, 1815, the daughter of a Scotch-Irish chair maker. When her father died in 1827, her mother Mary was left with …Read More...

Novelist and Short Story Writer

Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was an American author of short stories and novels. Though her writing career began more than two decades after the Civil War ended, her writing was greatly influenced by the aftermath of the war and the time she spent living in Louisiana. Chopin wrote two novels: At Fault (1890) and The Awakening (1899), which are set in New Orleans and Grand Isle, respectively. Most of her fiction focuses on the lives of …Read More...

Dressmaker and Confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln

Elizabeth Keckley was a former slave who became a successful seamstress and author in Washington, DC, after buying her freedom in St. Louis. She created an independent business with clients who were the wives of the government elite: Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, Mary Randolph Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee, and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in 1818 in Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia. Her biological …Read More...

Novelist, Poet and Magazine Editor

Caroline Gilman was one of the most popular women writers of the nineteenth century. Despite her northern origins, Caroline Gilman's loyalties gradually shifted toward the South, and she became known as an important southern woman writer during the 1830s and 1840s. Her books promoted domestic tranquility as a solution not only for her heroines' ills but also for those of the nation.

Caroline Howard was born in Boston on October 1, 1794. Her parents were …Read More...