The Life and Times of a ‘Dangerous Woman’ – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

The Life and Times of a ‘Dangerous Woman’

Descendant of Martha Wright puts this women's rights activist in the spotlight once again

(Sept. 28, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.—Martha Coffin Wright of Auburn, N.Y., was considered a “very dangerous woman” by her conservative neighbors because of her work in the women's rights and abolition movements. Drawing inspiration from Wright's writings, her great-great-grandson, James D. Livingston, presents “Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women's Rights” at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, in The Fisher Center, 212 Demarest Hall. The talk is free and the public is invited to attend.

Joining Livingston at the podium is his wife and collaborator, Sherry H. Penney, director of the Center for Collaborative Leadership at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Wright and her sister, Lucretia Mott, were among the five women who, in 1848, organized the world's first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls. Wright worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in championing the cause, presiding at numerous women’s rights conventions. She was also very active in the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad, and was a close friend and supporter of Harriet Tubman.

Wright remained a prominent figure in the women's movement until her death in 1875, when she was president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Her many letters and diaries reveal her engaging wit and an unequaled insider's view of 19th-century reform and family life.

Livingston studied engineering physics at Cornell University, and received a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Harvard University. Since retiring from General Electric after a lengthy career as a research physicist, he has been teaching in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. Although a physicist by profession, he has long had a strong interest in American history. He is the author of several popular-science books and, with Penney, three publications about Wright. Their biography “A Very Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women’s Rights” was published in June.

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