Caroline Healey Dall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Caroline Healey Dall
Portrait of Caroline Wells Healey Dall, ca.1872
Portrait of Caroline Wells Healey Dall, ca.1872
Born Caroline Healey
June 22, 1822
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died December 17, 1912, aged 90
Washington D.C., USA
Nationality American
Other names Caroline Healey Dall
Occupation Writer and Reformer
Known for Participation in the Women's Rights Movement and Transcendentalism

Caroline Wells Healey Dall (June 22, 1822 – December 17, 1912) was an American feminist writer, transcendentalist, and reformer. She was affiliated with the National Women's Rights Convention, the New England Women's Club, and the American Social Science Association. Her associates included Elizabeth Peabody and Margaret Fuller, as well as members of the Transcendentalist movement in Boston.[1][2][3]


Early life and education[edit]

Caroline Healey was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of Mark Healey, a merchant and investor, and Caroline Foster.[4] She lived there off and on during her life.[5] As a young woman, she received a comprehensive education, encouraged by her father to write novels and essays, and to engage in debates about religion, philosophy and politics.[3] In addition to private tutoring, she attended a private school for girls run by educator Joseph Hale Abbot, until the age of fifteen.[6] She married Charles Dall, a Unitarian minister who worked with the poor in Baltimore, in 1844.[6] The two lived in Toronto during the early 1850s, and returned to Boston in 1855.[3] Her children included William Healey Dall, in whose Washington DC home she lived her later years.

Work for women's rights[edit]

Though she continued to write through the early years of her marriage and child-rearing, after her husband moved to Calcutta, India to perform missionary work, Dall became an active participant in the Boston Women's Rights movement.[6] She was soon an active lecturer and writer on the topic, and organized the New England Women's Rights Convention, along with suffragist Paulina Davis.[7] After deciding that she did not like working with groups, Dall turned to writing as her principal means of addressing women's equality. her most prominent works from this time included Historical Pictures Retouched: a Volume of Miscellanies (1861), which highlighted previously ignored women in history, and a collection of lectures entitled The College, the Market, and the Court; or Woman's Relation to Education, Labor, and Law (1867) in which she argued that the modern woman was no longer content to be in the domestic sphere and should be allowed to participate in public life.[7] The New York Evening Post called this collection "the most eloquent and forcible statement of the Woman's Question which has been made."[7]

Later life[edit]

In the late 1860s, Dall retired from the Women's Rights movement and turned her writing attention to such diverse topics as Egypt (Egypt's Place in History 1868) and the Civil War (Patty Gray's Journey, three volumes for children, 1869–70).[3] During this time, she also moved to Washington, D.C., where she became a friend of the current first lady Frances Cleveland.[3] Much of her later work was about the American Renaissance to which she was witness as a young woman.[3] Works from this period include Margaret and Her Friends: Ten Conversations with Margaret Fuller (1895) and Transcendentalism in New England: a Lecture (1897), given to the Society of Philosophical Inquiry at the age of 73. During this time, she also gave the occasional sermon in the Unitarian Church, one of the earliest woman to do so.[8] In the last years of her life, she suffered greatly from arthritis, though she remained active until her death at the age of 90 on December 17, 1912.[3]


Portrait of Caroline Wells Healey Dall, by Alvan Clark, ca.1836


  1. ^ Helen R. Deese (2006), Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-Century Woman, Caroline Healey Dall, Beacon Press, ISBN 0807050350 
  2. ^ "Caroline Wells Healey Dall Papers, 1811-1917: Guide to the Microfilm Edition". Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Deese, Helen (2001). "Caroline Healy Dall". The American Renaissance in New England, Third Series 235: 77–82. 
  4. ^ Lavan, Spencer, and peter Hughes "Caroline Dall" Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography
  5. ^ Boston Directory. 1873. 
  6. ^ a b c "Carolyn Healy Dalls Papers." Accessed on Oct 26 2013. Retrieved from
  7. ^ a b c "Dall, Caroline Wells Healey." In Notable American Women, 1607-1950, Volume I. Harvard University Press, 1971. Retrieved from on Oct 26 2013.
  8. ^ Cooke, George Willis (1902). Unitarianism in America. American Unitarian Association. p. 368. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Helen R. Deese (March 1988), "Alcott's Conversations on the Transcendentalists: The Record of Caroline Dall", American Literature 60: 17–25  (refers to Amos Bronson Alcott)
  • Myerson, Joel, ed. (1978), The American Renaissance in New England, Dictionary of Literary Biography 1, Detroit: Gale Research Co. 
  • Tiffany K. Wayne (2005), Woman Thinking: Feminism and Transcendentalism in Nineteenth-Century America, Lexington Books, ISBN 0739107593 
  • "Dall, Caroline Wells Healey", Notable American Women, 1607-1950, Volume I: A-F (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1971 

External links[edit]