This October marks the 15th anniversary of the Boston Women’s Memorial, commemorating the lives of Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, and Lucy Stone.
Dedicated in 2003, the Boston Women’s Memorial is the newest sculpture on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, donated with funds raised by the Boston Women’s Commission. Initially proposed to address Boston’s underrepresentation of women in public statues, the effort began in 1992 when Mayor Thomas M. Menino reserved the Fairfield-Gloucester block as the site for a memorial honoring women. The commission worked for ten years to select the subjects, choose the artist, raise the money, and oversee construction and installation of the memorial. The bronze figures, by New York artist Meredith Bergmann, are at ground level, not on top of pedestals. The women are shown in casual poses, writing and thinking.
The three women honored share a Boston connection, a place in national history, and a passion for social justice. Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of the second president of the United States and mother of the sixth, whose letters established her as a strong voice for women’s advancement. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), an enslaved child brought from Africa to Boston, became a literary prodigy whose poems were the first book published in America by an African writer. Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was an ardent abolitionist and suffragist, a renowned orator, and a leading figure in the struggle for women’s rights, inspiring Susan B. Anthony and others.