Over one hundred and fifty people jammed the Saxe Room of the Worcester Public Library and others lined up in the hall and doorway to attend the book launch of Voices of Worcester Women: 160 Years after the First National Woman’s Rights Convention on December 6. The book is the work of Charlene L. Martin and Maureen Ryan Doyle, Co- Chairpersons of the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project (WWOHP), and is the result of 18 months of writing and research.
Since its inception in 2005 under the leadership of Linda Burlingame Rosenlund, WWOHP has collected the oral histories of over 250 Worcester area women. Many of the stories that have been recorded and documented are of women whose voices may have been previously omitted from the historical record. The permanent repository for the files is the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. The files are available to historians and researchers from around the world. Many of the oral histories are also available on the Worcester Women’s History Project website, www.wwhp.org. However, Martin and Doyle wanted to make those stories accessible to an even wider audience.
As Co-Chairs of WWOHP as well as friends, they decided to research the histories and excerpt many of them for their work. The book provides a glimpse into the lives of some fascinating Worcester women and is divided into five chapters. Four of those chapters reflect the spirit of the First National Woman’s Rights Convention that was held in Worcester in 1850. Those chapters focus on Education, Work, Health, and Politics/Community Involvement. A fifth chapter is entitled Uniquely Worcester Remembrances . The excerpts in Voices of Worcester Women are from stories of women representing diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. They range in age from 18 to 103. Although each woman’s story is truly her own, readers will find much to appreciate in the sharing of their everyday lives, their goals and dreams, their challenges and successes. Whether reading about the first female professor at a formerly all-male college, a cancer survivor, or a motorcycle-riding nun, these stories are a snapshot of the lives of extraordinary, ordinary women of Worcester.
Voices of Worcester Women: 160 Years after the First National Woman’s Rights Convention is available for purchase at the Worcester Women’s History Project, Worcester Historical Museum, Campus Store at Assumption College, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The authors are available for readings and book signings. You may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You can also learn more at http://voicesofworcesterwomen.blogspot.com.