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  Stone, Lucy
NameLucy Stone
, Massachusetts , United States
Born August 13, 1818
DiedOctober 19, 1893 (75 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedThomas Walker
Nov 20, 2007 10:01am
InfoLucy Stone (August 13, 1818 – October 19, 1893) was a prominent American suffragist. She was the wife of abolitionist Henry Brown Blackwell (1825-1909) (the brother of Elizabeth Blackwell) and the mother of Alice Stone Blackwell, another prominent suffragette, journalist and human rights defender. Stone was best known for being the first recorded American woman to keep her own last name upon marriage and being the first woman in Massachusetts to receive a college degree.

Lucy Stone was born on the 13th of August, 1818, on her family's farm in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. She was the eighth of nine children, and as she grew up, she watched as her father ruled the household and his wife by "divine right." Disturbed when her mother had to beg her father for money, she was also unhappy with the lack of support in her family for her education. She was faster at learning than her brother — but he was to be educated, she was not.

She was inspired in her reading by the Grimké sisters, abolitionists but also proponents of women's rights. When the Bible was quoted to her, defending the positions of men and women, she declared that when she grew up, she'd learn Greek and Hebrew so she could correct the mistranslation that she was confident lay behind such verses.

Her father would not support her education, and so she alternated her own education with teaching, to earn enough to continue. She attended several institutions, including Mount Holyoke College (then Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in 1839. By age 25 (1843), she had saved enough to fund her first year at Oberlin College in Ohio, the country's first college to admit both women and African-Americans.

After four years of study at Oberlin College, all the while teaching and doing housework to pay for the costs, Lucy Stone graduated (1847). She was asked to write a commencement speech for her class but refused because someone else would have had to read her speech as women were not allowed, even at Oberlin, to give a public address.

And so, shortly after Stone returned to Massachusetts, the first woman in that state to receive a college degree, she gave her first public speech: on women's rights. She delivered the speech from the pulpit of her brother's Congregational Church in Gardner, Massachusetts. Stone became a leader of the women's suffrage movement, lecturing extensively on both suffrage and abolition. In 1870 she founded, in Boston, the Woman's Journal, the publication of the American Woman Suffrage Association, and she continued to edit it for the rest of her life, assisted by her husband and their daughter. That daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell (1857-1950), wrote her biography, Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman's Rights (ISBN 0-8139-1990-8), which was published in 1930 and again in 1971 (2nd edition).

Lucy Stone and her husband moved to Pope's Hill in Dorchester, MA around 1870, relocating from New Jersey due to their work in organizing the New England Woman Suffrage Association. In several ways, Dorchester was a fitting site for Stone's crusade, as many of the town's women had been active in the Dorchester Female Anti-Slavery Society and as, by 1870, a number of local women were bona fide suffragettes. There she spent the last 23 years of her life. Stone was diagnosed as suffering from a stomach tumor. Having "prepared for death with serenity and an unwavering concern for the women's cause," Lucy Stone passed away on October 18, 1893, at the age of 75.

Lucy Stone's refusal to take husband's name, as an assertion of her own rights, was controversial then and is what she is remembered for today. Women who continue to use their birth names after marriage are still occasionally known as "Lucy Stoners" in the U.S. In 1921, the Lucy Stone League was founded in New York City. It was reborn in 1997.

On her passing in 1893, Lucy Stone was interred in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

In 1968, the U.S. Postal Service honored Lucy Stone with a 50 cent postage stamp.

In 2000, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls included a song entitled "LucyStoners" on her first solo recording, Stag.

An administration building in Livingston College at Rutgers University in New Jersey is named for Lucy Stone.

The birthplace of Lucy Stone can be seen on the top of Coy Hill in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.

Lucy Stone Park is located in Warren, Massachusetts, along the Quaboag River.



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