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Rebecca L.H. Taber

The Millicent Library

Artist, philanthropist, and anti-suffragist Rebecca L. H. Taber (1854-1940) was born in Fairhaven to whaling ship master John S. Taber and Mary Ann (Spooner) Taber. A lifelong resident of Fairhaven, Rebecca’s paintings were exhibited locally at the Colonial Club at the Coggeshall House, a private club for women. One of her paintings is in Fairhaven’s Millicent Library.

Artist Rebecca L. H. Taber (1854-1940) was born in Fairhaven to John S. Taber and Mary Ann (Spooner) Taber on May 9, 1854. Rebecca’s father was the master of the whaling ship Good Return that sailed to the Pacific and Indian Oceans from October 1841 to May 1844. Rebecca had two surviving siblings, Edgar and Jane.

Rebecca was a lifelong resident of Fairhaven. She graduated in 1871 from the State Normal School in Bridgewater. Rebecca’s paintings were exhibited locally at the Colonial Club at the Coggeshall House, a private club for women. One of her paintings is in Fairhaven’s Millicent Library.

Rebecca was civic-minded and a great philanthropist throughout her life. She bequeathed money to the Fairhaven Benevolent Society, an organization that she was long associated with and for which she served as president. The association was formed “to give help to whom help is necessary” for the relief of the poor, and for general charitable and religious purposes. Rebecca was also a benefactor of the Fairhaven King’s Daughters Home for the Aged, on Center Street. She was a director for three years at the Colonial Club at the Coggeshall House, a women’s organization that awarded grants annually for the benefit of local women. Rebecca was a member of the Unitarian Church and part of the pastoral committee.

In the early 1900s, Rebecca was involved with the anti-suffrage movement. As anti-suffrage groups rose nationwide, prominent conservative Fairhaven women, including Rebecca, became “conscientious objectors.” These Fairhaven women formed a branch of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage for Women. Rebecca was one of the officers of the Fairhaven anti-suffrage branch. The anti-suffrage movement arose in part from fear that voting women would neglect their families and that the divorce rate would increase while the birth rate decreased.

Rebecca died in February of 1940 and funeral services were held from her residence at 5 William Street in Fairhaven. She was buried in the Taber family plot at Riverside Cemetery in Fairhaven.

Jo-Ann Beaulieu

Information from

The Fairhaven Star, http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/APA/MillicentLibrary/#panel=home.

Knipe, Mabel Hoyle. Some Fairhaven Women: Their Concerns, Conceits and Contributions Circa 1700-1900. 1985.

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