Celebrating Women’s History Month

All of the Alcotts shared an intense desire to reform society for the better.  From revising educational theory through abolition of slavery and equal rights for women, each member of the family contributed a legacy of respect, encouragement, and hope to these causes.  In honor of Women's History Month, we celebrate the ideas and ideals of the Alcotts with respect to the status of women, and note that change -- albeit slow -- did indeed come.

"Don't shut yourself up in a bandbox because you are a woman, but understand what is going on, and educate yourself to take your part in the world's work, for it all affects you and yours."

~"Marmee" in Little Women, 1868


womenshistorysm.jpg (11646 bytes)"Wherever I turn I see the yoke on woman in some form or other.  On some it sits easy, for they are but beasts of burden.  On others, pride hushes them to silence; no complaint is made, for they scorn pity or sympathy.  On some it galls and chafes; they feel assured by every instinct of their nature that they were designed for a higher, nobler calling than to 'drag life's lengthening chain along.'"

~Journal of Mrs. Alcott, 1843

 


" [Women] must help make the laws, be educated as jurists, doctors, divines, artists, bankers.  It will occupy and give dignity to their minds and lives."

~Mrs. Alcott, letter to her brother, 1846

"As a poor, proud, struggling girl I held on to the belief that if I deserved success it would surely come so long as my ambition was not for selfish ends but for my dear family, & it did come, far more fully than I ever hoped or dreamed tho youth, health & many hopes went to earn it. ...

Women need a religion of their own, for they are called upon to lead a quiet self sacrificing life with peculiar trails, needs, & joys, & it seems to me that a very simple one is fitted to us whose hearts are usually more alive than heads, & whose hands are tied in many ways. ...

Food, fire & shelter are not all that women need, & the noble discontent that asks for more should not be condemned but helped if possible."

~Louisa May Alcott, letter to Maggie Lukens, 1884


Dear Mrs. Stone: -- One should be especially inspired this Centennial year before venturing to speak or write.  I am not so blest, and find myself so busy trying to get ready for the good time that is surely coming, I can only in a very humble way, help on the cause all women should have at heart.

     As reports are in order, I should like to say a word for the girls, on whom in a great measure, depends the success of the next generation.

     My lines fell in pleasant places last year, and I looked well about me as I went among the young people, who unconsciously gave me some very cheering facts in return for very poor fictions.

     I was both surprised and delighted with the nerve and courage, the high aims and patient persistence which appeared, not only among the laborious young women whose teacher is necessity, but among tenderly nurtured girls who cherished the noblest ambitions and had learned to earn the happiness no wealth could buy them.

     Having great faith in young America, it gave me infinite satisfaction to find such eager interest in all good things, and to see how irresistibly the spirit of our new revolution, stirring in the hearts of sisters and daughters, was converting the fathers and brothers who loved them.  One shrewd, business man said, when talking of Woman Suffrage, 'How can I help believing in it, when I've a wife and six girls who are bound to have it?'

     And many a grateful brother declared he could not be mean enough to shut any door in the face of the sister who had made him what he was.

     So I close this hasty note by proposing three cheers for the girls of 1876 -- and the hope that they will prove themselves worthy descendants of the mothers of this Revolution, remembering that

                  'Earth's fanatics make, Too often Heaven's saints.'"

~Louisa May Alcott, letter to Lucy Stone, 1876


 

More Wit and Wisdom from the Alcotts

January The New Year
February Valentine's Day
Black History Month
March Women's History Month
April The Promise of Spring
May / June Wedding Blessings, Wedded Bliss
July / August Nature and Gardens
September Education and Schools
October The Wisdom of Little Women
November Birthdays
December Christmas
 

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