Boston Women's History Trail
This tour includes numerous historic landmarks, markers, and monuments that preserve and share the history of Boston women including their experiences and contributions.
This 19th-century Cambridge duplex was home to Maria Baldwin when she served as the first female African African-American female principal in a Massachusetts school. The home was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and remains a private family home. Baldwin lived here from 1892 to 1922. From 1916 to her death in 1922, she supervised an all-white teaching staff and a student population that was 98% white when she served as the headmaster of the Agassiz Grammar School. Her contributions were so significant that she is commonly referred to as the most distinguished educator of African descent in the early 20th century.
This historic house was constructed in 1807 by Timothy Fuller. His daughter Margaret Fuller, author of Woman in the Nineteenth Century was born at the house four years later and it became her home until the age of 16. The Fullers owned the house until 1844, but it became a tenement int he last half of the 19th cenutry. In 1902, the Cambridge YWCA turned it into one of the first settlement houses in the United States. At that time, the staff of the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House organization worked to help women who had recently arrived in the United States with a variety of services. The organization began working to preserve the home in the 1940's. Today, the historic home is still operating programs that fulfill the vision of Progressive reformers with an emphasis on education and social services.
Established in 1888 as a training school for kindergarten teachers by Lucy Wheelock, this school was known as Wheelock College between 1939 and 2018 when it merged with Boston University. Wheelock was a key figure in the kindergarten movement in America. Wheelock taught in kindergartens, toured internationally to lecture on the topic of early childhood education, and established a school that trained tens of thousands of teachers well after her death in 1946. Wheelock served on many committees including in the League of Nations through the years as well. Her legacy lives on as the namesake of Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Boston University's school of education.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum houses an impressive collection of fine and decorative art with over 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, manuscripts, and much more. The building itself is three stories tall and modeled after a 15th-century Venetian-style palace with a central courtyard. The museum features many works by famous artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Degas, and Sargent on display and also houses works by contemporary artists, musicians, and scholars. The museum’s art is the personal collection of Isabella Gardner, a prominent past Pennsylvania resident, art collector, and supporter of fine arts, music, literature, and dance. Gardner was a friend to many leading artists of the day including John Singer Steward and Henry James. The Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum was the site of the largest, still unsolved, art heist in history. Taking place in 1990, the theft has been viewed as a wide-spread tragedy for the loss of cultural heritage, as well as the potential damage done to the still-missing paintings done over the course of the robbery. The robbery caused security overhauls both in the Gardener Museum, but also nation-wide. The paintings, which weren’t insured at the time of the robbery, are estimated to be worth $500 Million, and a $10 Million reward has been issued for the paintings’ safe return.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library gives visitors the opportunity to “explore the life, ideas, and achievements of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), a remarkable nineteenth-century New England woman who overcame adversity to write a groundbreaking book on religion, health, and spirituality: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (“About”). Eddy was a pioneer in several different fields, including “business, education, publishing, and founded The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts” (“About”); she was an author, teacher, and religious leader. The library offers several educational programs and exhibits; current feature exhibitions include Mapparium, Hall of Ideas, Quest Gallery, and Portraits of Global Caring. The library’s Research and Reference Services is one of the largest collections that is both by and about an American woman.
Harriet Tubman was a runaway slave, born in 1820. During the Civil War, she was one of the leading abolitionists in the Underground Railroad, saving more than 300 slaves. Originally from Maryland, she moved to Auburn, New York after the war where she published her biography and aided newly freed slaves in beginning their lives. The statue depicts Tubman with a bible in her left hand leading freed slaves. It is located in the South End of Boston and was created in 1999 by Fern Cunningham, a graduate from Boston University. Boston proudly commemorates both the Union and women with this statue. On the reverse side of the monument is a vertical slab that tracks the route that Tubman took when accompanying passengers on the Underground Railroad.
Dedicated in 2003, this memorial celebrates the lives of three of the most historically significant women in American history: Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of the tree women honored by the memorial faced threats and opposition but were committed to social change. The authors of poetry, essays and books, each of these three women offered contributions that demonstrate the intellectual roots of the movements against slavery and for the civil and political rights of women. Each of the three women honored are shown in poses that reflect the use of their language as writers, essayists, and poets.
The Nichols House Museum serves to educate visitors about the lives of women during the 19th and early 20th centuries and the history of the Beacon Hill district of Boston. Located in a townhouse that was built in the early 1800s and was home to Rose Standish Nichols from 1885 until 1960. Rose Standish Nichols was a suffragist and pacifist, as well as an accomplished landscape architect. The museum is open year round and offers an abundance of lectures, programs, special events, and tours.
From 1821 until his death in 1861, the influential textile manufacturer and politician Nathan Appleton lived at this residence-a pair of nearly identical three-story brick townhouses. For most of the 20th century, these townhouses served as the headquarters for the Women's City Club, a social and civic organization that promoted charitable causes, mutual aid, and education.
On April 1, 1979, a crowd of between 500 and 1500 met at the Boston Common to protest a recent string of murders that left seven Black women dead in the Roxbury-Dorchester area. As the crowd memorialized the seven victims, news arrived that there was an eighth victim. The protesters updated their signs and marched from the Common to the state house. Within two months, the total number of women who had been murdered in a two-block radius had risen to thirteen, with all but one of the victims being African American. The Combahee River Collective, a pioneering Black feminist group formed in 1974, later circulated pamphlets that challenged readers to think about the ways that perceptions of race and gender made Black women more vulnerable to violence. The pamphlet, along with letters from Audre Lorde and other radical feminists, asked whether the police would respond to the murder of white women or men in the same manner. The protests challenged many of the assumptions about the protection of women. For example, the Combahee River Collective suggested that many of society's ideas about the protection of women were not only misogynistic, but self-defeating. For example, the idea that men were the protectors of women failed to account for the fact that the men who stopped physical and verbal assaults against women were nearly always stopping an act perpetrated by another man. If men stopped devaluing women, especially Black women, the assumptions and conditions that led to assaults would no longer exist.
This stone sculpture depicts the Quaker martyr Mary Dyer who was hung for her religious beliefs in June, 1660. The sculpture was ordered by a bill of the General Court of Massachusetts and was created by the well-known Quaker artist Sylvia Shaw Judson. It was dedicated in 1959 and stands at the corner of Beacon Street and Bowdoin Street in front of the Massachusetts State House.
This building was home to Julia Harrington Duff and her husband, Dr. John Duff's and is part of the Boston Women's Heritage Trail in Charlestown, Massachusetts in recognition of Julia Duff's accomplishments in education. Duff advocated for immigrants, especially Irish-Americans women who wanted to be given the opportunity to teach at the Public Schools in Boston. Duff also became the first Irish-American Catholic woman to serve as a community leader on the Boston School Committee. She served in this role from 1901 to 1905 and pushed for equal rights for women and equal opportunity for children of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.