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Hopedale Women
The official site of the Hopedale Women's History Project
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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
Where are their voices?
Linda Hixon
June 13, 2019

Anna Bancroft grew up in Hopedale.  Born in 1853, she was college educated and active in town, serving on boards and taking part in local women’s groups.  Yet none of her personal letters can be found. In fact, we’ve only found the group records of women with last names like Draper, Dutcher, Northrop, and Osgood, and we’re starting to wonder why? The Hopedale Women’s History Project is looking for the personal writings of women from all walks of life who lived or worked in Hopedale.  We don’t care if the words are a century old or written a decade ago, all women’s voices are important.  Please contact hopedalewomen@gmail.com or like us on Facebook at Hopedale Women. Here’s a list of names that repeat in the Sewing Circle records for generations, and these are just a few of the surnames of… [continue reading]

A highly appreciated utility
Linda Hixon
May 15, 2019

With summer heat approaching, the women of Hopedale decided to take matters into their own hands.  The town had built a new bath house on the edge of Hopedale Pond in 1904 “for the use of men and boys.”  But the ladies of town wanted a cooling dip, too, and needed a safe place to dress.  So in 1905, they demanded access. Bathing – what today would be called swimming – became a hit during the Victorian era.  Many early beaches were separated by sex, and few people could actually swim.  That’s probably for the best as swimming costumes covered much of the body and were made out of wool.  Females in Hopedale wanted a chance to dunk themselves in the cooling waters of the pond, but without a place to change enjoying that summer pastime was impossible. The bath… [continue reading]

“There is but a step between me and death”
Linda Hixon
February 8, 2019

Hopedale was heartbroken.  The Community’s favorite son, Adin Augustus Ballou, was dead. In the early 1850s, young Augustus was well on his way to his future.  He graduated from the Bridgewater “Normal” School – a training school for teachers of the time – and began working there as an instructor, honing his skills.  The hopes of his father, esteemed minister Adin Ballou, hinged on Augustus finishing his training and taking over the Hopedale Home School, a private facility created to help the Community raise much-needed funds. In January 1852, Augustus was making that dream a reality, but like many young people he took on too much.  The hard work taxed the 18-year-old, and he wrote about the joy of a day off.  “You say you see me in your dreams, and that I appear to look tired,” Augustus wrote to… [continue reading]

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