Lexington is known as the “Birthplace of American Liberty,” and you certainly can’t have a Founding Birth without a Founding Mother.
If you take a look around Lexington Green, you’ll notice an abundance of monuments and plaques: the iconic statue of Captain Parker, eternally waiting for the next coming of the redcoats from Boston, the obelisk dedicated to the fallen of the Battle of Lexington, where they are also buried, another monument to Parker’s speech before the battle, a monument to the entire company of Lexington militia, and plaques with trees in memory of Lexington’s World War I casualties. The men who fought for freedom across the ages in town were heroes, but there were others quietly – and at times not so quietly – fought in their own way and kept society running during both war and peace, who have not received such recognition.
Lexington Historical Society has been working with a local group called LexSeeHer, which is dedicated to researching Lexington’s historical women, bringing their stories to the public, and establishing a monument in the town center in their memory. In addition to this project, LexSeeHer has been offering virtual lectures, working with the local Girl Scouts, who designed beautiful banners honoring four centuries of Lexington women (that you can now see hanging from the lightposts downtown!), and planning for future living history events where visitors can interact with some of these historical women in person.
As part of the long pre-planning for these events, as well as doing extensive research to create the most accurate images possible for the upcoming statue, the LexSeeHer research team has been meeting weekly to discuss the variety of female heroes in town throughout the centuries, new findings from historical documents, and the clothing that would have been worn by these women during the most formative parts of their stories. Recently the group was able to meet for the first time in person to look over some of the 18th century clothing its members have already crafted for themselves, and to plan the design and construction of historical clothing for Margaret Tulip, an enslaved woman who successfully sued for her freedom in 1768, and Julia Robbins, an active abolitionist in the 1850s.
LexSeeHer has many ideas for projects and events moving forward, and its next endeavor will be a recognition of Lexington’s revolutionary spinning protest of 1769. Forty-five women gathered with spinning wheels at the home of Anna Harrington on August 31, 1769, to spin cotton and flax into thread that could be made into homespun clothing. Operating in defiance of British import taxes, these women were able to make a strong political statement in the open, as well as offering a practical solution to the problem at hand. This year, on the 252nd anniversary of the event, LexSeeHer members will gather at the former site of the Harrington House on Harrington Road to demonstrate just how much of an impact a group of forty-five women would have made on our landscape.
Be sure to join us at 3 Harrington Road at 6:00 PM on August 31st to view LexSeeHer's tableau, learn more about our founding mothers, and view the proposed spot for the new women's history monument!
- Sarah McDonough, Programs Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.