Margaret Fuller, 1846

Happy Birthday to Margaret Fuller, born on May 23, 1810.

Our collective gifts to Margaret are the projects, books, articles, and events in her name and spirit.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton say in their book, History of Woman Suffrage, that Margaret Fuller, “possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.”

The Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House

Since 1902, the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House has been operating at 71 Cherry Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the house that was Margaret’s childhood home.

Although primarily known as a women’s rights activist, Margaret Fuller tirelessly advocated for social reform of all kinds. While living in New York City writing for the New York Tribune, Margaret visited prisons, insane asylums and alms houses and was very vocal in her call that these institutions be improved and social ills be addressed. She called for ALL people to be treated humanely and fairly and believed ours was a country that could and should do better.

The Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, which has gone through many transformations during its 117 years of existence, has consistently provided opportunities and supported efforts to make life better for those who need a boost, from immigrants to the indigent, all the while fostering literacy and community.

According to their website:

“The Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House was founded in 1902 as a settlement House providing information and services to help immigrants assimilate into American culture. For over a century, the organization has maintained a grassroots approach to services on a limited budget.

Today we provide programs for all ages—from infants to elders. We have a busy food pantry, an out of school time program for children, summer camp, outreach to young adults at risk, programs for seniors and men of color, community organizing, and an open computer center.

We host community-wide events, financial, exercise, poetry writing, drumming and other classes and welcome the Port community to meetings and local gatherings.”

Last winter while in Cambridge, I made a mini-pilgrimage to Margaret’s childhood home on Cherry St. Her house, instead of a museum-type preservation with roped-off rooms, is a living, breathing entity. True, the big yellow house looks a little tired, but it still beats with the heart of Margaret who said, If you have knowledge, let others light their candle in it.

71 Cherry Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts

On that frigid February day, I felt her spirit and I know her candle continues to light that of others through the vital programming offered to those who need it most.

The Fuller Project

Margaret Fuller, among other things, was a journalist. She moved from Boston/Cambridge to New York City to write for Horace Greeley’s New-York Tribune. While in Europe she continued her columns, eventually covering the Roman Revolution of 1848-1849, one of Italy’s early fights for unification and liberation.

As such, she was the first female foreign news correspondent and  foreign war correspondent.

The Fuller Project, launched in 2015 and named in her honor “is the global newsroom dedicated to groundbreaking reporting that catalyzes positive change for women.”

The Fuller Project’s reporting is like no other in its depth and urgency. The Project has garnered numerous awards and over their almost 10 years in existence, have positioned themselves to make a difference in the lives of women around the world.  They share this about their namesake:

“In 1848, Fuller broke barriers as the first woman war correspondent. Her literary work, which sought to dismantle gender norms and advance women as full citizens in society, is considered to be one of the first major feminist works in the United States. Fuller’s trailblazing career, incisive writing, and progressive activism undoubtedly laid the groundwork for feminist movements to come.”

Books on Margaret Fuller

There are numerous biographies on Margaret Fuller. An all-time favorite is Megan Marshall’s Pulitzer Prize winning Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, from 2014.

Recently released is Finding Margaret Fuller written by historical novelist Allison Pataki, currently in my stack of next reads. Thank you for shining additional light on Margaret!

In my book, The Light Above: A Memoir with Margaret Fuller, I write about her birthday in May:

“Oh, that time of year when you can leave the windows open a bit, let the young spring air waft in and hear the birds in a springtime frenzy. My birthday being the twenty-third of May made for a bright occasion most years.”

Read some of our other posts on Margaret Fuller:

Margaret Fuller’s Manifesto

Margaret Fuller’s Cenotaph: “A Well-Worn Path”

The Eventual Friendship of Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Margaret Fuller is a Nasty Woman Writer.

© Maria Dintino 2024