March is National Women’s History Month and we are excited to participate in Salem Women’s History Day on March 27. The House of the Seven Gables board member Robin Woodman is presenting a lecture titled “The Women of The House of the Seven Gables and their Community.” Woodman’s lecture will focus on the Turner women who occupied the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion from 1668 until 1782 when the house was purchased by Captain Samuel Ingersoll. She will also touch on the Ingersoll women and The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association founder Caroline Emmerton. All of these women played a significant role in the Salem community and witnessed many important moments in history.
Woodman is a local historian who grew up on Forrester Street in Salem. She attended after-school programs at The Gables Settlement Association. After getting an undergraduate history degree at Lesley University, Woodman went on to obtain a master’s degree at Harvard University. She returned to the Salem area with a drive to give back to the community. Woodman has extensively researched the lives of women at The Gables. “I became fascinated when Allan Collechico, then curator of The Gables, asked me to speak on Susanna Ingersoll, whose life spanned from just after the Revolution to just before Lincoln’s presidency,” says Woodman. “I then went further back to study the Turner women. Their lives were harrowing and interesting, and I am excited to share their stories in this lecture.”
The Turner women are often overlooked. The way history has been researched and taught over the years has perpetuated the idea that women rarely, if ever, left their houses or had much interaction with the greater community. While there were restrictions placed on women historically, they often lived richer lives than is taught in history class. “I became interested in the women of the house because very few, if any, historians were researching them,” says Woodman. “Researching women’s history, especially in a place like Salem where the men are well researched and famous in their own right, is very difficult. You have to spend a lot of time chasing circles around the women to get at them.”
We hope you will join us virtually on March 27 at 6PM to explore the complex lives of the women of The House of the Seven Gables.