Rare Book Profile: James Parton’s Eminent Women of the Age; being narratives of the lives and deeds of the most prominent women of the present generation

 

CoverEminent Women of the Age: Being Narratives of the Lives and Deeds of the Most Prominent Women of the Present Generation (Hartford, Conn.: S.M. Betts & Co., 1868) was compiled by popular biographer James Parton. In the preface, he explained that while many works dealt with the lives and deeds of men, “in respect to eminent women of our age, there is not in existence, so far as the publishers are aware, any work, or series of works, which supplies the information contained in this volume.” The biographical sketches in the volume were written by Parton and his wife Sara (a popular novelist who used the pen-name Fanny Fern), and sixteen others, including Horace Greeley and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Grace Greenwod. Stanton Fern, and Greenwood were also among the biographees.

James Parton (1822-1891) was a popular American biographer best known for books on the lives of prominent men, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Greeley, General Benjamin Butler, and Voltaire, biographical collections, such as Captains of Industry (1884) and Revolutionary Heroes (1890), and nonfiction works on a variety of topics ranging from taxation of churches to humorous poetry. He was born in Canterbury, England, but came to the United States with his family at the age of 5. After completing his education in New York City and White Plains, New York, he taught school, first in Philadelphia and later in New York City. In 1875, three years after his wife’s death, he moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he lived until he died in 1891.

Most of the biographees are American, with some notable exceptions, such as Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, and Empress Eugenie, and a number of artists and actresses. A section devoted to women as physicians was written by Henry Bond Elliot, a Congregational minister. It begins with an historical overview of medical education for women, especially in the United States, followed by biographical sketches of five American physicians: Clemence S. Lozier (Syracuse Eclectic College, 1853), Elizabeth Blackwell (Geneva Medical College, 1849), Harriot Kezia Hunt (studied privately with Dr. Richard Dixon Mott and his wife), Hannah E. Myers Longshore (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850), and Ann Preston (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1866). The only subject whose portrait is included is Dr. Lozier.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy of Eminent Women of the Age was recased in its original publisher’s green cloth with gilt-stamped spine and upper board by Frank B. Roger, M.D. It is illustrated with steel-engraved portraits.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]