|Born||Eliza Woodson Burhans
November 17, 1815
Rensselaerville, New York
|Died||December 15, 1864
New York City, New York
|Occupation||Novelist, feminist, abolitionist, and activist for prison reform|
|Notable works||Woman and Her Era (1864)|
Her maiden name was Burhans. She was born in Rensselaerville, New York. She moved to Illinois in 1835, and there married Thomas J. Farnham in 1836, but returned to New York in 1841. In 1844, through the influence of Horace Greeley and other reformers, she was appointed matron of the women's ward at Sing Sing Prison. She strongly believed in the use of phrenology to treat prisoners. Farnham was influential in changing the types of reading materials available to women prisoners. The purpose of her choices was not entertainment but improving behavior. Controversy over her choices and beliefs Farnham resigned in 1848. She also advocated using music and kindness in the rehabilitation of female prisoners. She retained the office of matron until 1848, when she moved to Boston, and was for several months connected with the management of the Institution for the Blind.
In 1849 she visited California, and remained there until 1856, when she returned to New York. For the two years following, she devoted herself to the study of medicine, and in 1859 organized a society to assist destitute women in finding homes in the west, taking charge in person of several companies of this class of emigrants. She subsequently returned to California.
- Life in the Prairie Land, 1846 - An account of life on the Illinois prairie near Pekin between 1836 and 1840.
- California, In-doors and Out, 1856 - A chronicle of her experiences and observations on California.
- My Early Days, 1859 - An autobiographical novel.
- Woman and Her Era, 1864 - "Organic, religious, esthetic, and historical" arguments for woman's inherent superiority.
- The Ideal Attained, 1865 - The heroine molds the hero into a worthy mate.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Farnham, Thomas Jefferson". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
- Janet Floyd (2006). "Dislocations of the self: Eliza Farnham at Sing Sing Prison". Journal of American Studies (Cambridge University Press) 40: 311–325. doi:10.1017/S0021875806001393.
- Vogel,Brenda. (2009) The Prison Library Primer. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
- W. David Lewis (1974). "Farnham, Eliza Wood Burhans". In Edward T. James; Janet Wilson James; Paul S. Boyer. Notable american women: 1607-1950: a biographical dictionary. Harvard University Press. pp. 598–600.
- Bakken, G., & Farrington, B. (2003). Encyclopedia of Women in the American West, p. 124. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Link to Google Book Search excerpt
- Levy, Joann. Unsettling the West: Eliza Farnham and Georgiana Bruce Kirby in Frontier California. Santa Clara University: California Legacy Series, 2004.
- Stern, Madeleine (1971). Heads and Headlines: The Phrenological Fowlers. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman.
- Quotations related to Eliza Farnham at Wikiquote