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Hopedale Women
The official site of the Hopedale Women's History Project


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About Us

In 1848, the women of Hopedale began a group – and a tradition. They started sewing to raise money for abolitionism. Later, they used their needles to help their neighbors. They sewed for the less advantaged or sold their work to raise money for causes close to their hearts – widows, orphans, even the Contrabands, those slaves who escaped their masters during the Civil War to the safety of the Union lines.
That tradition continued. Hopedale has an almost unbroken 150 year record of women sewing and raising money for beneficent causes, helping the needy both within and outside their community.
The Hopedale Women’s History Project seeks to unlock that record and follow the voices of these strong, benevolent women. Our goal is to tell the story of Hopedale through the eyes – and words – of its women. It’s a story that is ready to be told filled with voices that need to be heard.
Latest posts
A Mother’s Pain
Linda Hixon
December 14, 2018

The fact that Sewing Circle member Mary Burnham’s son died in World War I was a sad story.  But a trip to the Massachusetts National Guard archive turned the story into a tragedy. On December 14, 1918, Second Lieutenant Edward Clifton “Clif” Burnham, Jr., died during “rifle practice” at Camp Hancock, Georgia.  All three of Mary’s sons, Clif, Malcolm, and Kenneth, enlisted to fight in the Great War.  Ken was in the thick of it in the trenches of France, but it was younger brother Clif who died. The worst part of the story, the part that wasn’t shared with the public, is that the military records show there is more to this sad tale.  Clif’s record reads “gunshot wound (Suicide).” The military cards for World War I were created several years after the war, and although these are official… [continue reading]

The Small State of Hopedale
Linda Hixon
October 27, 2018

On October 23, 1850, Abby Hills Price came to Brinley Hall in Worcester to give a speech at the first National Woman’s Rights Convention.  She stood before the crowd of 1,000 to talk about equality – not for herself, but for her daughters.  Abby wanted them to have the same opportunities as her sons, and she was not afraid to use the P-word to make her point – prostitution.  Even that made Elizabeth Cady Stanton take notice.  “She thought the speediest solution of the vexed problem of prostitution was profitable work for the rising generation of girls,” Elizabeth noted about the speech.  For Abby, this wasn’t about shock-value – she simply wanted her daughters to be able to work in the world.  “Human beings cannot attain true dignity or happiness except by true usefulness.  This is true of women as… [continue reading]

Death is my neighbor now
Linda Hixon
October 9, 2018

As the second week of October, 1918, began, the saying “Death is my neighbor now” could not have been more apt. By this time 100 years ago, Hopedale had seen its fifth confirmed influenza death, plus two more deaths that could be attributed to the flu.  Three of the seven deaths were workers from Draper Corporation. But the adjacent town of Milford was reeling from the pandemic.  By October 9, 1918, Milford, a town roughly five times the size of Hopedale, had seen 57 confirmed influenza deaths, plus another eight deaths to pneumonia which was often the end result of “the grip,” and three stillborn babies.  Five of these deaths were men who worked at Drapers, along with three employees of the Hopedale Manufacturing Company.  All but one of these Hopedale workers lived in Prospect Heights in Milford. Hopedale and… [continue reading]

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