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"Public Women, Private Lives' Exhibition Opens at Boston Public Library

March 3, 2014

Boston Public Library

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The exhibition Public Women, Private Lives opens at the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square location on Friday, March 7, and runs through May 30 this year. March is Women’s History Month and the exhibition celebrates distinguished female writers from the 17th century onward whose works influence the tastes and perceptions of generations of readers. The feelings and daily lives of these women are brought to life through exploration of their published text and personal correspondence with friends and family.

“The women featured in the exhibition reveal much about their personalities through their writing and give a glimpse not only into their lives, but provide context for a time that brought forth pioneers in the literature field,” said curator Kimberly Reynolds.

American women have been writing and publishing novels, poetry, essays, children’s literature, biographies, histories, and short stories since the 17th century. The majority of the writers represented in the exhibition came from or lived in Boston and surrounding areas and established a strong literary tradition in the area. The books and manuscripts illustrate the lives of reputed writers such as Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, and Julia Ward Howe, as well as those of lesser-known authors such as Hannah Adams, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Annie Fields. The breadth of topics range from Anne Bradstreet’s poems concerning religious and domestic themes to Sarah Orne Jewett’s stories about country life.

The exhibition materials are part of Boston Public Library’s rich collection of 17 th-19 th century books and manuscripts written by women. The Emily Dickinson manuscripts are a feature of the Galatea Collection, comprised of books by and about women donated by Thomas Wentworth Higginson in 1896. Additional items come from the Longfellow Memorial Collection (Artz Collection) and contain literary works from American authors, including first edition works.

The Rare Books Lobby is located on the third floor of the McKim Building at the Central Library in Copley Square. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more at

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit