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Sarah Rotch Arnold

Nineteenth-century New Bedford’s Sarah Rotch Arnold (1786-1860) was dedicated to her community, social reform, religious tolerance, and horticultural beauty.

Sister Aurora Helena Avelar

New Bedford’s Mother Teresa, Sister Aurora Helena Avelar (1903-1999) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to the underserved. Her work extended beyond the classroom to the streets of New Bedford, where she networked for those in need. In 1996, the Sister Aurora Helena Avelar Community Center at Crapo and Thompson Streets was named in her honor.

Emily Howland Bourne

Emily Howland Bourne (1835-1922) showed the same careful planning in her inspired philanthropy as her father Jonathan showed as one of New Bedford’s most successful whaling merchants.

Martha Bailey Briggs

Born in 1838 to Black abolitionists, Martha Bailey Briggs (1838-1889) realized at a young age that education was essential to ending slavery.

Rosalind Poll Brooker

Rosalind Poll Brooker (1928-2016) was a trailblazer for women in the fields of law and politics.

Lydia Grinnell Brown

New Bedford’s Lydia Grinnell Brown (1895-1945) became the first African American graduate of Simmons College in Boston.

Maria (Maja) Capek

Unitarian church leader Maja Capek (1888-1966) served New Bedford’s North Unitarian Church, where daughters of immigrant mill workers from Central Europe could meet for games and classes in sewing, millinery, and cooking.

Theodosia Chase

Photographer and artist Theodosia Chase (1875-1972) was a librarian at the old stone Southworth Library in Padanaram, where she sold her photo postcards of residences, children and animals.

Rosetta Douglass

Abolitionist and social reformer Rosetta Douglass (1839-1906) continued a family legacy of activism that began in New Bedford with her father, Frederick Douglass.
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