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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
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]

The Littlest Victims
Linda Hixon
October 5, 2018

Photo by Linda Hixon

All of the victims of the influenza pandemic of 1918 were innocent – this was the flu, not the war, and this pandemic killed people simply living their everyday lives.  But this week in Hopedale history, a truly innocent victim was taken by this flu. On October 5, 1918, a baby was stillborn.  Hazel Barbour Davenport, the mother of the unnamed boy, was suffering from influenza and died of Broncho pneumonia on October 13, just eight days after her son.  The local newspaper at the time appears to have gotten the facts of this tragedy wrong.  The Milford Gazette noted Hazel’s death – she was 27, the wife of George Albert Davenport, and “had been married about three years and leaves besides her husband and mother, two small daughters, one only a few days old.” But the death records are… [continue reading]

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