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.)
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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,
"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