Blog post for the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, highlighting my new research on a misattributed portrait of Anne Shippen Willing, the mother of Elizabeth Willing Powel. This find was thanks to a commonplace book written by the noted literary bluestocking and poet, Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, in 1789.
Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks
"You are Welcome to Eat at her Table" Elizabeth Willing Powel's World of Philadelphia
Women in George Washington's World
"You are Welcome to Eat at her Table": Elizabeth Willing Powel's World of Philadelphia, is an essay included in the forthcoming edited volume, Women in George Washington's World. The volume will be published in July 2022.
This essay not only looks at the close friendship between the Washington and Powel families, but puts Elizabeth Powel at the front and center. It weaves in Powel's own impact on the city of Philadelphia, where she made her lasting mark throughout her long life.
Mount Vernon Magazine
Featured article in the Winter 2020 magazine issued by George Washington’s Mount Vernon. This article will highlight the importance of a single letter in George Washington’s decision to serve another term as president, written by a politically charged woman named Elizabeth Powel.
A Philadelphia Story
Featured article in the Fall 2020 magazine issued by George Washington’s Mount Vernon. This article looks at the evolution of the yellow fever during the summer of 1793 and how it affected the city of Philadelphia, and George Washington and the rest of the United States Government.
Mount Vernon Magazine
"Observations for my Country Women": Emma Willard's Grand Tour
This digital project traces the Grand Tour of Emma Willard, an American women's education activist and reformer, through her travel narrative Journals and Letters: From France and Great Britain, published in 1833. Willard's narrative includes journal entries, letters to her sister, and letters to her students. Willard desired to published this narrative as a collection of "observations for her countrywomen," giving all literate women the same chance she had to expand their own worldviews. She meticulously documented the similarities and differences between America, Europe, and Great Britain, through studying the social culture, architecture, landscape, and the people she interacted with. Willard continually stressed the importance of transatlantic connections through intellectual, politicial, and economic interactions, believing it to be the best way for America to ultimately prosper in its own way.
Willard's tour only enhanced her belief in the importance of friendly relations between America, Great Britain, and Europe, and that each can benefit from the other through literary, scientific, and religious materials. In studying her journal, it is a snapshot into the transatlantic networks of Americans, Europeans, and Britons, as well as the importance of geographical, scientific, and literary knowledge. Willard’s connections abroad included fellow Americans Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper, as well as a number of English writers. By looking at the monuments she connected with, the landscape she described, and the conversations she documented, we see how women fit themselves into the narrative of education and transatlantic networks.
"A Testimony of Cherished Affection": Establishing Legacy in the Early Republic
A Republic of Knowledge
This digital project analyzes the gift giving practices of Elizabeth Willing Powel, an elite woman in Philadelphia. She was an avid gift giver to individuals both within her family and in her extended networks. She gave tangible gifts of affection, that came attached with a certain moral lesson. Her intentions for giving, and payments for the goods trace throughout her correspondence and financial records.
Her gift giving carried on throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She gave her young family members and the children and grandchildren of early connections various types of gifts. Though these were not her own children, she still was able to use her power to carry forth her legacy within many of the many elite families in the United States.
In looking at these materials, we can see an elite woman's power to establish her legacy within future generations in the Early Republic.