Thursday, November 12, 2020, 7:00pm
Attend live on Zoom at
Speaker Susan Wilson

Enterprising Women in Boston:1862-1914 with Susan Wilson

In the six decades between the Civil War and World War I — an era before women earned the right to vote — Boston women proved to be an unusually enterprising group. During a time when ladies were supposed to work quietly in the “domestic sphere” and to avoid the all-male “public sphere,” outspoken Boston women of all races and classes established schools, settlement houses, journals, associations, and businesses and even created a world-class museum, a world religion, and a hospital by and for women. Learn who these women were, and what it was that caused such a radical group of talented and determined females to flower, long before they had won the right to vote in federal elections.

In this lecture, photographer and public historian Susan Wilson traces the origins and development of several of Boston’s most enterprising women and the theories behind their unique strengths and accomplishments. The women presented include suffrage journalist Lucy Stone, composer Amy Beach, author Louisa May Alcott, culinary entrepreneur Fannie Farmer, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” lyricist Julia Ward Howe, Swan Boat owner Julia Paget, and Doctors Marie Zakrzewska and Susan Dimock, of the New England Hospital for Women and Children.

Speaker Susan Wilson is a resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, which serves as a hub of interdisciplinary exchange between scholars and artists, faculty and students, who conduct innovative research and create art with a focus on gender issues and women’s lives.



In 2020, the Old Schwamb Mill recognizes 50 years of preservation at the historic mill that was saved from demolition in 1970. A new exhibition titled She Did It: Women Saving History honors Patricia C. Fitzmaurice, a foresighted community leader and historic preservation advocate, who rallied friends and funds to purchase and save the 19th century mill.

Her dream was to convert the oval picture frame factory into a living history museum, where frames are still made today using original tools and traditional woodworking practices. She envisioned a community art center as a place where working artists could rent studios and art and craft classes would be offered for all ages.

Pat did it all. She networked with friends and fellow Arlington residents to raise funds establishing the Schwamb Mill Preservation Trust; she reached out to artists and others to rent space in the mill to help pay the mortgage and utility bills; she gave guided tours and even learned how to make oval wooden frames herself, so she could give demonstrations on the historic machines she had saved. 

The Old Schwamb Mill sponsors a wide variety of programs and events for both adults and children, including Music at the Mill performances, arts and crafts for kids, open houses, lecture, and much more.