We've come a long way. As a woman growing up in Lexington, I learned a lot about Paul Revere, Sam Adams, John Hancock, and the militia men on the Battle Green at dawn on April 19th. I did not learn a single thing about Ruth Buckman or Mary Munroe Sanderson or Dinah, an enslaved girl at the Hancock-Clarke House.
The stories we tell about our local history are important - they help citizens relate to their town and understand their world. In many towns, especially a town like Lexington with a strong Revolutionary War heritage, male soldiers, politicians, and historians provided a strongly male narrative slant to the town's history.
But Lexington women have been here all along and their lives are as vital to understanding Lexington history as the lives of the Minute Men. Early female members of the Historical Society began the process by looking at their own ancestors, such as this charming article, "A Few Words for Our Grandmothers of 1775. Read by Miss Elizabeth W. Harrington, Dec. 14, 1887."
A decade or more ago, history teacher and longtime LHS member Mary Keenan delved into the archives seeking women's stories and was not disappointed (you can find a copy of Mary's monograph on Julia Robbins Barrett in our online shop).
In 2021, we recognize how incomplete Lexington history is without a full picture of the diverse citizens who have called it home. The Historical Society has recently reopened its exhibit Something Must Be Done: Bold Women of Lexington. Our current CVS pharmacy exhibit, on view from November 2020-May 2021, looks at the women of suffrage. And we're working hand in hand with LexSeeHer (and other history initiatives, such as this one by State Representative Michelle Ciccolo) to make women more visible in Lexington.
We've come a long way. And we are looking forward to the journey ahead!
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.