It’s a salve. A salve for the burn I feel each time someone says they’ve never heard of Margaret Fuller (1810-1850). It’s feels good to focus on this active community center while work continues to raise awareness of this woman who, according to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in their book, History of Woman Suffrage, is said to have, “possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.”
Since 1902, the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House has been operating at 71 Cherry Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the house that was her 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 visiting our son, we stayed in Cambridge and 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.
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.
Read the original NWW post about Margaret Fuller here.
(The featured image at the top of this page is a sketch by Sarah Freeman Clarke, one of Margaret’s friends and travel companions. Sarah provided all the artwork for Margaret’s book Summer on the Lakes, 1843.)