Salem’s mayor, Kimberley Driscoll, states in her Women’s History Day proclamation that the city has benefitted from women’s contributions for more than four centuries, beginning with the Native American women who lived in the village of Naumkeag. Over the centuries, women took action on hard issues like slavery, voting rights, education, immigration, children’s health and safety and much more.
If it weren’t for Caroline Emmerton, who purchased the Turner-Ingersoll mansion, restored it and renamed it The House of the Seven Gables in order to support a Settlement program, says coordinator of this city-wide event and Community Engagement Director at The House of the Seven Gables, who knows what 115 Derby Street would look like today?
Women’s History Day in Salem is officially Sunday, March 28. To underscore and call attention to women’s contributions to Salem and the region, a number of cultural organizations are offering compelling presentations detailing accomplishments of these notable women. The virtual events listed here are free of charge and staggered throughout the days surrounding March 28. Click here for the link that lists all the events and provides information about how to access to each of them. Read on for brief descriptions of each of the offerings.
Program of events
The House of the Seven Gables
MARY HARROD NORTHEND: THE TIRELESS TRADITIONALIST
Presentation available on YouTube throughout the month of March.
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ1Pypkk02Y&t=18s
Those interested may access this encore presentation by Dr. Donna Seger, professor of history at Salem State University and founder of the popular “Streets of Salem” blog. Mary Harrod Northend (1850–1926) was a bestselling writer from prominent New England families. According to Dr. Seger, Northend was “an amazing promoter of Salem” at a time when Salem was experiencing an exponential rise in tourism. Unlike those interested in the darker side of Salem, she called attention to the artistry and craftsmanship, the maritime history and a way of life that was “quieter, prettier and calmer.” Dr. Seger is a lively presenter who connects well with her audience and provides plenty of illustrated slides to accompany her discussion.
Witch House/Pioneer Village
SALEM’S INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S
Noon, Sunday, March 28
Members of the Massachusett Tribe will describe aspects of women’s lives among Salem’s Indigenous culture. This talk will be shared virtually on the Witch House and Pioneer Village websites at noon on Salem Women’s History Day.
History Alive, Inc.
THE MARBLE FLOCK
An illustrated audio performance created by Kristina Wacome Stevick
All episodes available on the History Alive Facebook page on Sunday, March 28.
It’s 1858. Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne and their three children reach Rome intent on restoring health and inspiration. A year of anticipated rest and creative output is turned upside down when discord strikes the Hawthornes and their close artist friends gathered with them, many from Salem. At the heart of this drama is Hawthorne himself, who poses for what turns out to be a rather surprising and unusual rendering made by sculptor and close friend Louisa Lander, also from Hawthorne’s hometown of Salem. The bust at the heart of the discord is now on display at the Concord library, though it has been altered. Watch “The Marble Flock” to find out more about the controversy that pitted friends against each other and may have even injured artistic reputations. History Alive would like to thank the Salem Cultural Council for its support.
Historic New England’s Phillips House
FOUR CENTURIES OF SALEM WOMEN
Wednesday, March 31, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Register on the website to receive the Zoom link.
Join Dr. Donna A. Seger, professor of medieval and early modern history at Salem State University and author of the popular and acclaimed “Streets of Salem” blog, for a sweeping virtual program on four centuries of women’s history in Salem. The presentation is live and illustrated. From the stereotypes of the “prim Puritans and besieged witches” of the seventeenth century to the activists, reformers and suffragists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Salem’s women played key roles in the development and leadership of the city. Find out more on March 31 from Dr. Seger, known to be an engaging and passionate chronicler of Salem’s history. She spent the last year writing primarily about women’s history in honor of the 100th anniversary of the women’s vote.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Essex Heritage
UNSUNG HEROES: BLACK WOMEN IN ESSEX COUNTY
Sunday, March 28, 1 p.m.
Get access by visiting the Salem Maritime National Historic Site website event page
Dr. Kabria Baumgartner, associate professor of American studies, faculty fellow for equity and inclusion at the University of New Hampshire, and Dr. Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello , chair and professor, department of interdisciplinary studies and coordinator of American studies at Salem State University, have spent the past two years visiting historic repositories throughout Essex County to collect, compile, and catalog the rich history of African Americans in this area. Hear a sampling of the stories and accounts of Black women in these collections and repositories. While there is no singular Black woman’s story, those in attendance will discover a great richness and diversity in the lives they lived.
Black women built lives, careers, and families; fought for change; survived and resisted oppression in a myriad of ways; and spoke out boldly for themselves and others. In this virtual presentation, learn about the impetus behind the project, what the professors have learned, and how local residents, organizations and institutions can honor the stories of Black women in Essex County.
About The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association
The mission of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to be a welcoming, thriving, historic site and community resource that engages people of all backgrounds in our inclusive American story. For more information visit www.7gables.org.
Stories are at the core of what we do at The House of the Seven Gables. They are not just a part of our past, but also our present and future. In 2021, we look forward to exploring the lore of our historic site and surrounding community with a special series of lectures, programs and events.