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Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-century Woman, Caroline Healey Dall

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442050357
ISBN-10: 0807050350
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Personal diaries can be vital keys to history, and Caroline Healey Dall's writings will become a keystone to our understanding of 19th-century New England. Dall, the daughter of an upper-class merchant family, kept a diary of 45 volumes—filled with personal anecdote, social observations and astute analysis—from the age of 16 in 1838, to her death in 1912. Dall's involvement with a broad range of social change movements, including Transcendentalism, abolition and women's suffrage, placed her at the center of the most important public debates over America's political, religious, intellectual and social future. This volume, edited by Deese, the Dall editor for the Massachusetts Historical Society, concentrates on the years 1838–1865. While Dall's political and literary observations are vital to an understanding of her time (she is intrigued by Whitman's Leaves of Grass but notes that the sexual content had "the slime of the serpent" on it), the best parts of the book are her comments on individuals, such as snide remarks about Elizabeth Peabody, the noted publisher and education reformer. Equally good are the deftly written details of Dall's personal life, which include her husband's desertion and her pain at receiving a "cool note" from a woman who had been a friend. The Dall diaries, even in this excerpted form, are a true historical find. B&w photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Deese's selections from the journals reveal Dall's brilliant mind, her ready wit, and her deep understanding of the currents of change that swept the country during its first century of nationhood.--Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters

"Caroline Healey Dall's writings will become a keystone to our understanding of nineteenth-century New England . . . a true historical find."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Daughter of Boston provides a fascinating glimpse into a woman's life in nineteenth-century New England."--Anne E. Stein, Chicago Tribune

"Daughter of Boston is a major act of recovery, an important and even a timely work, restoring to us the full and satisfying presence of an extraordinary, active, strong and controversial woman of letters."--Robert D. Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire

"Anyone who has contemplated the conundrum of the glass ceiling that challenges contemporary women would do well to read this excerpted diary of social reformer Caroline Healey Dall for its reflection upon the conflicts that women faced a century and a half ago . . . An illuminating record of the controversies that continue to rankle American society today."-Nancy Rubin Stuart, ForeWord Magazine
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (September 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807050350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807050354
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on November 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Caroline Healey Dall's (1822-1912) diary, written over 75 years, encompasses 45 volumes and most of the prominent people and ideas - Transcendentalism, slavery, women's rights - of the 19th century. As editor, Helen Deese has focused on the years from 1838 to 1865, distilling Caroline's output into one volume, well annotated and footnoted with a general introduction and summary prefaces to each new section.

The late 1830s and 40s were heady times for a young, devout, affluent, intellectual Unitarian like Caroline. Most of Boston's elite were Unitarians and the Transcendentalist movement, with its rejection of hard-line Calvinism, was blossoming. By the age of 18 Caroline was hobnobbing with the likes of Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Peabody (sister to Nathaniel Hawthorne's new wife) at Peabody's bookshop. She knew Emerson and Theodore Parker, the Unitarian minister whose denial of Biblical miracles and the divinity of Jesus created a furor. Always ardent, Dall was swayed by Parker and passionate in her defense of him. The Transcendental idea of finding God in everyone and every natural thing had a profound effect on her whole life.

Her early years were sheltered by class and family, leaving Caroline free to pursue a life of the mind. She had a strong will and intellectual self-confidence to match, though these were frequently undercut by her demanding father, for whom her efforts were never enough, and her exasperated mother who found her domestic skills wanting. Fuller and Peabody, as well, were sometimes critical of her vocal participation in meetings of her elders. The reader will sometimes share their impatience, though her parents do seem rather cold and erratic.

But when Caroline entered her 20s circumstances changed drastically.
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Format: Hardcover
Helen Deese has masterfully edited the diary of a highly unusual woman, Caroline Healey Dall, who lived in 18th century Boston. Dall was "extraordinary," as the book title suggest.

Dr. Deese has painstakingly researched and recreated this diary, which is of major historical significance to anyone studying the course of the women's movement in American history.

Dall was an active participant in the Boston Women's Rights movement. She lectured publicly and wrote tirelessly about a woman's right to have a life outside the home.

An intellectual, she was respected by major historical figures of her time and was a friend of many famous people mentioned in her diary.

She fought public against slavery to her own personal detriment, causing a rift between herself and her wealthy father.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though I am a bit biased because of a family connection to this woman,
I found that the details of life from a woman's point of view during
the 19th century to be extremely interesting. You may not care to
read every entry but the author/editor has done an excellent job of
introducing and summarizing particular time periods. A good way to
learn about history, transcendentalism, and Unitarian belief, as written
by an intelligent and driven woman, whose son becomes a founding father
of the National Geographic Society!
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This is such an interesting book. I felt like Helen Deese took on a monumental task in trying to put a selection of Dall's journal entries into a readable format. She did a pretty good job, although there were times when I wanted to know more about Dall's life at that moment and there was no more information available. Very interesting read about a very interesting lady.
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