Factory girl, philanthropist–Liz (my name for her) was co-featured in an article in the Journal Tribune Weekend edition for November 24/25, 2007. Come check it out at the library!
While gathering information for the JT folks, I began to think about Liz and the concieved improbability of her actions. Who was she? How did she end up in Biddeford, and why was she alone? Where was her family, or did she have any? Where did that huge portrait of her hanging in the library come from? I can’t imagine she would have had that hanging in her room at her boarding house…was it a likeness made after her death just for the purpose of hanging in “her” reading room?
It makes me wonder whether women like Liz were anomolies, or just the opposite? I am convinced that there were lots of independent women out there, quietly impacting the world in amazing ways. It is difficult for us to know, since so few women were regarded as important enough to include in the many local histories written during the turn of the 19th century. So where’s the proof? Little clues like diaries, family stories, and newspaper blurbs can help us piece together the contributions women made in their communities. I’m glad that the interest in women’s history (and of other historically ignored segments of society) continues to grow, and as it does we can continue working to present a more holistic view of our past.