Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Lives of the Past Informing the Future - Page 19

sweet auburn | 2019 volume ii many of whom are buried at Mount Auburn, such as Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910), Lot 4987 Spruce Avenue, and Ednah Dow Cheney (1814–1904), remembered in a cenotaph on Lot 953 Fir Avenue. Both were revered and honored, celebrated in their day and remembered in ours. Harriot Kezia Hunt Harriot Kezia Hunt was born into a nurturing and supportive family of modest means in Boston’s North End. She began practicing medicine at an early age, in 1835, making her a first for women in medicine in America. Her approach, according to recent medical articles, was “exceedingly contemporary,” stressing good nutrition, exercise, and hygiene. She listened to women’s stories of their “heart histories” and then prescribed treatment based on that knowledge. She twice petitioned to attend lectures at Harvard Medical School and was rejected because of her sex, but she was rewarded with an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Female Medical College in Philadelphia. She was an important figure in Boston on three fronts: as a woman in medicine; as a powerhouse in the abolition and suffrage movements; and as an organizer of the first New England Woman’s Rights Convention in 1850 in Worcester. To celebrate her life, Harriot commissioned the sculptor Edmonia Lewis to create a life-sized statue in marble of the Goddess of Health, Hygeia, for her lot at Mount Auburn (pictured left). Lewis delivered the statue in 1872; Harriot died three years later. On Harriot’s monument nearby is written: Harriot Kezia Hunt daughter of Joab and Kezia Hunt Nov, 9, 1805 Jan 2, 1875 Aged 69 years For forty years a Physician in Boston She has done what she could. Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was born into an affluent mixed-race family. Her mother was English and white; her father, who came from Martinique, was a prosperous clothes dealer and a founder of a Boston Zion Church. Josephine knew segregation early: as a young child, she was unable to enroll in a Boston Public School because of her race. She married George Lewis Ruffin, also from an affluent African American Boston family. The Ruffins were prominent among the ranks of Boston Abolitionists, taking an early role in recruiting for the Massachusetts 54 th and 55 th Colored Volunteer Regiments during the Civil War. The road to African American women’s rights and equality, like the woman suffrage movement itself, was long and wide, encompassing the African American woman’s right to vote and raising awareness of her competence. Josephine Ruffin’s name was widely connected to nineteenth-century efforts to bring this about. She was many times a “first.” She was the first African American woman to be invited to the New England Women’s Club, founded in 1868 (she joined in 1890). Shortly thereafter, she started The Woman’s Era, the first newspaper for African American women to be published by an African American. Then she founded the Woman’s Era Club to support African American women in society. With the help of her daughter, Florida Ruffin Ridley, the indefatigable Ruffin convened the National Federation of Afro-Am Club Women, and in 1910 being a charter member of the Boston Chapter of the NAACP. Mount Auburn Cemetery is “a place of comfort and inspiration for the living and a natural setting to commemorate the dead.” These remarkable women, buried here, transformed the lives of others in the process of transforming their own lives. They lived authentically and inspiringly, lifting up a vision that would make this world a better and fairer place. It is fitting for us to honor them with our words and to follow with our deeds. Harriot published her autobiography, Glances and Glimpses, in 1856. More than a 160 years later, historian Myra C. Glenn wrote a much-deserved biography of Harriot: Dr. Harriot Kezia Hunt: 19th Century Physician and Woman’s Rights Advocate. 17