Boston Women's Memorial
The memorial recognizes a set of remarkable Massachusetts women and through them celebrates the place of women in American history. The women are Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone. All three of them sought education and achieved it to a level not only remarkable for women but for anyone of their times. All three women became writers and are now known to us through their writings. Sculptor Meredith Bergmann represents each woman by placing her statue beside inscriptions of her work.
Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of John Adams, second president of the United States. The couple exchanged hundreds of letters in which Abigail argued for a woman’s right to be educated, to own and manage her own property, and to be a participant in the making of any law affecting women. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) began her life in America as a slave. She was taken from her home in Gambia, Senegal, at the age of seven, and was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston to be a lady’s maid. The family taught her to read and write and gave her access to the family library. Wheatley became a poet, and in 1773 she became the first African-American writer to be published. Lucy Stone (1818-1893)was the first Massachusetts woman to graduate from college—Oberlin in 1847. She was an able public speaker and pioneered in resisting the convention that women should not be allowed to address audiences that contained men. She began her career as a lecturer for the abolition of slavery, but soon saw that the rights of women needed as much defending as the rights of slaves. When slavery was abolished, Stone continued her career by speaking and writing on behalf of women’s rights. Stone and her husband, Henry Blackwell, showed their dedication to a married woman’s retaining her rights to her person and her property, by incorporating a “Marriage Protest” in their wedding ceremony, a document that was given wide circulation. Once married, Stone fought for a married woman’s right to maintain her own identity, by regularly insisting that she be known as “Lucy Stone” rather than “Mrs. Blackwell,” an insistence that led to regular clashes with public officials.
The Women’s Memorial was commissioned by the City of Boston, and dedicated in 2003.