Strong Women, Proud Women

This week’s library Author Talk features a book about a local suffragist; Louisa May Alcott has tea in Japan; and a local mom sees her son’s work lauded.


Good morning and welcome to the first full week of December – a month full of holiday cheer, unbridled present-buying, and copious nog. I have no doubt you’re all chomping at the bit to get out there and do your part to keep the economy moving.

But first, a little bit on local going global.

Jan Turnquist, the executive director over at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, recently had the opportunity to bring Louisa May and Little Women over to Japan. She spent three and a half weeks in several Japanese cities, including Concord’s sister city Nanae-Cho. Believe it or not, Little Women is very popular in Japan, and in fact is a huge favorite of Empress Michiko – so much so, that she and her husband actually visited Orchard House when they were here in 1987.

So of course, when she heard that Jan was coming to Japan, she just had to invite her to her intimate birthday tea in the Imperial Palace. How lucky is Jan?? And how lucky for the people of Japan, to be able to get up close and personal with Louisa May Alcott. Very cool all around.

By the way, Orchard House hosts an excellent holiday program the next two weekends; for all the details, check out here. And go get your own living history lesson.

Author Talk at the Main Library

As well, you may want to check out this week’s Author Talk over at the Main Library.

Here’s the thing about living in the historical town that we do: We get to hear the cool stories of the famous people who lived here before us and made it the town it is today. People like the Minutemen, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, to name a few. But I think it’s even cooler to hear the stories of the regular folk, people who might have been your next-door neighbor if you lived here in another era, and that you might not have thought twice about.

Mary Keenan found one of them, and then wrote a book about it. Mary, who lives in Belmont andtaught history in Lexington for 35 years, so she comes by this curiosity honestly. While poking around the papers of a prominent bygone Lexington woman, she came across the diary of this woman’s aunt, a woman named Julia Robbins Barrett. This remarkable woman lived in the 19th century, but worked on abolitionist issues and women’s voting rights – very forward thinking. She also married a Concord farmer, and lived here, making this a very interesting story about a Concord woman you’ve probably never heard of.

It always makes me grateful to learn about the strong and brave women who came before me, and paved a piece of the path I get to walk today.

Keenan’s book is called In Haste, Julia; 1819-1900, Julia Robbins Barrett: Abolitionist, Artist, Suffragist, and she’ll tell you all about it at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 6, in the periodicals room. These events are always free and open to everyone, so head over to the library for a fun evening of history.

Proud mama

Concord resident Joyce Weissman is one proud mama, and she has every right to be. See, her son Rob coaches a Beep Ball team, which is baseball for people with low or no vision.

And as wonderful as that is, what she’s REALLY proud of is the documentary a former Chronicle producer and her dad made about it, which recently got a First Place Award in the SNOB (Somewhere North of Boston) film festival. To see the promo for this film, go here and then click on the video. It’s really amazing to see how people who can’t really see the bases, never mind a tiny white sphere hurtling through the air, get to participate in the great American pastime. I’d be proud too, if I were Joyce.


Do you have something you would like to share? Contact me at stefanieac@comcast.net and I will be happy to help you spread the good news. And follow me on Twitter: @stefanie3131.


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