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Cornelia Grinnell

Abolitionist, women’s rights advocate and women’s club founder, Cornelia Grinnell Willis (1825-1904) advocated for and secured Harriet Jacobs’ freedom, making it possible for Harriet to write and publish what became an edifying “slave narrative.”

Mary Ann Flanagan Hayden

A “second mother to many South End boys” in New Bedford, Mary Ann Flanagan Hayden (1873-1946) founded the Donaghy Boys Club, becoming the first female director of a Boys Club in America.

Jennie Horne

The War on Poverty initiatives of the 1960s had a dedicated New Bedford foot soldier in Jennie Horne (1920-1998).

Rachel Howland

Peace, love, and understanding were hallmarks of Rachel Howland (1816-1902).

Harriet Jacobs

Writer, abolitionist and educator, Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897) is the only African American woman known to have left writing documenting her enslavement.

Mary J. “Polly” Johnson

Confectioner and abolitionist Polly Johnson (1784-1871) specialized in sweets and provided safe lodging to freedom seekers in New Bedford along the Underground Railroad.

Ellen Kempton

New Bedford’s Ellen Kempton (1840-1865) lost her life while in South Carolina to educate and assist formerly enslaved people.
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Rita Lopes

From Wareham’s cranberry bogs to New Bedford’s Aerovox assembly line, Rita Alice Lopes (1915?-1999) emerged as a community activist who advocated for children, the elderly and Cape Verdeans.

Mary Hudson Onley

Pioneering educator and community activist Mary Hudson Onley (1889-1980) was one of the first African American graduates of Bridgewater State Normal School in 1912.

Amelia Piper

Abolitionist Amelia Piper (1796-1856), as one of the managers of the New Bedford Female Union Society, organized one of the first anti-slavery fairs in New Bedford held on January 1, 1840.
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