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Author speaks at Newtown Meeting on life of Bucks abolitionist


Author and editor Christina Larocco of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania will speak about the life of Bucks County Quaker educator and feminist Martha Schofield (1839-1916) at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Newtown Friends Meetinghouse, 219 Court St.

The public is invited.

The title of Larocco’s talk will be “Martha Schofield: Radical Educator, Feminist, and Friend.” Larocco is currently writing a biography of the 19th century abolitionist and feminist.

Schofield is perhaps best-known for founding a school for freed slaves in South Carolina during Reconstruction, but she spent the first two and a half decades of her life growing up in a Quaker family in Bucks and Delaware counties, initially as a member of Wrightstown Quaker Meeting and later a member of Darby Friends Meeting.

Her parents were abolitionists and women’s rights supporters, and were involved in temperance and education reforms.

Frequent guests at her parents’ dinner table reportedly included Friends preacher Edward Hicks and abolitionists James and Lucretia Mott. She also called Susan B. Anthony her friend and mentor.

The talk asks how Schofield’s early experiences in a tight-knit family of reformers, during the Civil War, and in friendships with both men and women, prepared her to choose an unconventional life. It also explores some of the challenges of writing biographies of women, whose archives are almost always incomplete.

Larocco received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park, and is editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. She researches, writes, and speaks about the history of social movements in the United States.

Following the presentation, there will be Meeting for Worship at 11 a.m. in the traditional Quaker manner of “expectant silence,” with coffee and snacks served afterwards in the Gathering Room. Child Care is provided, and the public is welcome at all events.