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Photo of the Week


"How shall we know it is us without our past?"
- John Steinbeck

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Librarian

Mary Louise Booth (1831-1889) of Yaphank was an accomplished writer and translator who was most well-known for her anti-slavery work, but she was also strongly involved in the early suffrage movement. Descended on her father's side from John Booth, who came to America about 1649, Mary was born in Millville (present-day Yaphank) as the eldest of four children to Nancy Monsell and William Chatfield Booth. Her father owned and operated a wooden mill and dye house in Yaphank, and in the winter he served as schoolmaster for the children of Yaphank.

Booth was a child prodigy. She was reading at the age of two, and reading classic literature before age five. She was fluent in both English and French (her mother’s family had fled France during the French Revolution), and she taught herself German, Italian, and Spanish. She taught school for a time, as her father believed teaching was the only suitable career for a woman, but Mary aspired to a literary career. She left home and moved to Manhattan, where she wrote articles for various literary magazines and landed her first paying job as a writer, for the New York Times.

Gaining national attention and recognition for her translations of French anti-slavery books during the Civil War, including a personal thank-you from President Lincoln for her role in supporting the Union cause, Mary Louise Booth also published books, including her History of the City of New York (1859), and served as Harper’s Bazaar’s first editor, a position she held for over twenty years.

Booth served as a delegate to the New York State Teachers Association Convention in 1857, and it was here that she met Susan B. Anthony and joined the women’s rights movement. After the Civil War, Booth joined the National Woman Suffrage Association. Although Booth was not a militant feminist, she exemplified the modern woman: She was productive and well paid, and her accomplishments found their way into the American consciousness.

Suggested Readings: Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement by Antonia Petrash; Women in Long Island's Past by Natalie Naylor; and Long Island Women Activists and Innovators, edited by Natalie Naylor and Maureen Murphy.

MARCH IS WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH...      Join us on Saturday, March 18 at 1:00 pm for a Book & Bottle talk by Antonia Petrash on Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement. Members Free; Non-Members $5. Includes light refreshments, museum admission, and book sale & signing. RSVP: 631-727-2881 x100.


The Suffolk County Historical Society’s PHOTO OF THE WEEK Series is created by librarian Wendy Polhemus-Annibell using historic primary source materials from our local history library’s extensive archives. To subscribe, visit our website or send an email request to Wendy at wannibell@schs-museum.org.

Interested in seeing more historical photos from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society? Spend an afternoon at our Local History Library perusing our extensive archival photography collections. We're open Weds. - Sat., 12:30 - 4:30 PM.

If you've been enjoying our Photo of the Week, please consider becoming a member of SCHS.

From the Civil War to civil rights, revolutions to restorations, spies to Suffragettes, boatbuilders to bootleggers, and whalers to wineries, Long Island's history comes alive at the Suffolk County Historical Society!

The Suffolk County Historical Society, founded in 1886, collects and preserves the rich history of Suffolk County and beyond. We offer a history museum, art galleries, a research library and archives, and a multitude of exhibits, programs, and educational lectures and workshops year-round. Our unique collections reflect more than three centuries of Long Island history. Click here to learn about Member Benefits!


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The Suffolk County Historical Society is a private non-profit organization and an Authorized Agency of Suffolk County.  Public funding provided by Suffolk County.