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July 17, 1989: Yiddish Book Rescuer Wins Genius Grant

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Crowd Gathers to Hear Writer Mary Antin: December 8, 1912
On this day in 1912, over 1,000 people gathered at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to hear Boston writer Mary Antin. She had come to make a plea...

Charles Dickens Begins Second American Tour: December 2, 1867
On this day in 1867, Charles Dickens began his second American reading tour at Boston's Tremont Temple. An enthusiastic audience, which included...

Longfellow's Wife Dies: November 29, 1835
On this day in 1835, 28-year-old Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was devastated by the death of his beloved young wife, Mary. The couple had been traveling...

Eric Carle Museum Opens in Amherst: November 22, 2002
On this day in 2002, the nation's first museum of picture book art opened in Amherst. A decade earlier, children's book author and illustrator...

Whaleship Essex Sinks: November 20, 1820
On this day in 1820, an enormous sperm whale rammed and sank the Nantucket whaleship Essex in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. The first mate described...

Edward Everett Gives Gettysburg Address: November 19, 1863
On this day in 1863, Edward Everett spoke at the dedication of Gettysburg's National Cemetery, giving what is remembered today as the other Gettysburg...

Mercy Otis Marries James Warren: November 14, 1754
On this day in 1754, Mercy Otis of Barnstable and James Warren of Plymouth began their remarkable 54-year partnership. When she married into a family...

First Issue of The Atlantic Monthly Published: November 1, 1857
On this day in 1857, the first issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine was published in Boston. Although none of the articles was signed, most readers...

Lydia Maria Child Dies: October 20, 1880
On this day in 1880, Lydia Maria Child, whom abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison called "the first woman in the Republic," was buried...

Indian Rights Activist Born in Amherst: October 15, 1830
On this day in 1830, an Amherst College professor and his wife rejoiced at the safe delivery of their second child, Helen Maria Fiske. A lifelong friend...

Utopians Purchase Brook Farm: October 11, 1841
On this day in 1841, a group of Boston-area utopians purchased Brook Farm in West Roxbury. The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne spent six months there and later...

First Merriam-Webster Dictionary Published in Springfield: September 24, 1847
On this day in 1847, Charles and George Merriam of Springfield published the first edition of The American Dictionary of the English Language. Four years...

Mabel Todd First Describes Emily Dickinson: September 15, 1882
On this day in 1882, Mabel Loomis Todd first recorded her impressions of her mysterious Amherst neighbor. Emily Dickinson always wore white and had her...

Memorial to Anne Bradstreet Dedicated: September 12, 2000
On this day in 2000, several North Shore communities were celebrating "Anne Bradstreet Week" to mark the 350th anniversary of the poet's...

John Greenleaf Whittier Dies: September 7, 1892
On this day in 1892, the poet John Greenleaf Whittier died at the age of 85. He had come a long way from his Quaker boyhood on a struggling farm in Haverhill....

Oliver Wendell Holmes Born in Cambridge: August 29, 1809
On this day in 1809, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge. The man who coined the phrase "Boston Brahmin," he was a true member...

Lucy Terry Prince Composes Poem: August 28, 1748
On this day in 1746, Lucy Terry Prince was among the residents of Deerfield traumatized by an Abenaki raid on the village. Lucy, an enslaved woman, described...

Oak Bluffs Writer Dorothy West Dies: August 16, 1998
On this day in 1998, Dorothy West died on Martha's Vineyard. The Boston-born writer was the last living member of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement...

Frederick Douglass First Addresses White Audience: August 11, 1841
On this day in 1841, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave, addressed a white audience for the first time when he spoke to a gathering of abolitionists...

Hawthorne and Melville Meet for the First Time: August 5, 1850
On this day in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville were among a small group who climbed to the top of Monument Mountain in the Berkshires for...

Henry David Thoreau Spends Night in Jail: July 23, 1846
On this day in 1846, Henry David Thoreau left his cabin at Walden Pond for a brief walk into town and ended up in the Concord jail for refusing to pay...

Hemingway Room Dedicated at JFK Library: July 18, 1980
On this day in 1980, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Ernest Hemingway's son Patrick dedicated the Hemingway Room at the recently opened John F. Kennedy...

Yiddish Book Rescuer Wins Genius Grant: July 17, 1989
On this day in 1989, an Amherst man who had spent more than a decade scrounging in dumpsters, basements, and attics was awarded a MacArthur Foundation...

America's First Black Poet Purchased as a Slave: July 11, 1761
On this day in 1761, John Wheatley, a successful merchant, purchased a frail little black girl off a slave ship in Boston. The Wheatleys named her Phillis,...

Transcendentalists Publish The Dial: June 30, 1830
On this day in 1840 the first issue of the Transcendentalist magazine "The Dial" was published in Boston. The moving force behind this...

David Walker Found Dead: June 28, 1830
On this day in 1830, David Walker, a prominent and outspoken black man, was found dead in his Boston home. The year before he had written David Walker's...

Writer Edith Wharton Builds in Lenox: June 7, 1902
On this day in 1902, the writer Edith Wharton wrote to a friend about a visit to the site of her new home, The Mount, under construction in Lenox: "Lenox...

Paper Publishes First Installment of Uncle Tom's Cabin: June 5, 1851
On this day in 1851 an abolitionist newspaper published the first installment of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The following March,...

Alcott Family Arrives at Fruitlands: June 1, 1843
On this day in 1843, a group of three adults and five children made its way from Concord to the town of Harvard. Their destination was an old and dilapidated...

Springfield Dedicates Memorial to Dr. Seuss: May 31, 2002
On this day in 2002, Springfield celebrated the completion of a memorial to a hometown hero, Dr. Seuss. Located in the Library and Museum Quadrangle is...

Writer Margaret Fuller Born: May 23, 1810
On this day in 1810, Margaret Fuller was born in Cambridge. Teacher, author, critic, philosopher, journalist, she is remembered today as a woman with...

Ceremony Honors Early Indian Students: May 3, 1997
On this day in 1997, over 300 people gathered in Harvard Yard to commemorate a long forgotten part of the college's history. A plaque was unveiled...

Poet Anne Sexton Publishes First Book: April 22, 1960
On this day in 1960, Massachusetts poet Anne Sexton had her first collection of poems published, To Bedlam and Part Way Back. Just before the manuscript...

"Mill Girl" Writer Lucy Larcom Dies: April 17, 1893
On this day in 1893, Lucy Larcom died. A popular poet during her lifetime, she would be forgotten today except for a work of prose that she wrote in 1889....

Reading Launches Favorite Poem Project: April 8, 1998
On this day in 1998, 25 Bostonians, including the president of the Massachusetts Senate, a homeless man, and a fifth grade student, recited their favorite...

H.L. Mencken Arrested in Boston: April 5, 1926
On this day in 1926, reporter and literary critic H.L. Mencken was arrested on Boston Common for selling a magazine that had been banned by the New England...

John Updike Elected to National Institute of Arts and Letters: April 1, 1964
On this day in 1964, John Updike was at 32 the youngest person elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Updike wrote more than 60 books...

Concord Women Cast First Votes: March 29, 1880
On this day in 1880, Louisa May Alcott and 19 other women attended the Concord Town Meeting. The year before, the Massachusetts legislature had made it...

Kerouac Writes First Novel: March 23, 1948
On this day in 1948, Lowell native Jack Kerouac happily noted in his diary that he had written 2500 words. If he could keep up this pace, he would finish...

Jonathan Edwards Ordained: February 5, 1727
On this day in 1727, Jonathan Edwards was ordained in Northampton. Two years later, he succeeded his grandfather as minister of what was then the largest...

Native American Writer Born: January 31, 1798
On this day in 1798, a Pequot Indian named William Apess was born in Colrain, a village in western Massachusetts. Although his childhood was marked by...

Robert Frost Dies: January 29, 1963
On this day in 1963, Robert Frost died, the most popular and renowned American poet of the twentieth century. But his success was a long time in coming....

Julia Ward Howe Elected to American Academy of Arts: January 28, 1908
On this day in 1908, 89-year-old Julia Ward Howe became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Howe lived most of her long...

The Crucible Opens on Broadway: January 22, 1953
On this day in 1953, Arthur Miller's play The Crucible opened on Broadway. Four years after winning the Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman, Miller...

Isaiah Thomas Born: January 19, 1749
On this day in 1749, the Patriot printer Isaiah Thomas was born. In 1770, Thomas established the Massachusetts Spy, the first newspaper aimed at middle-class...

Robert Cormier Born: January 17, 1925
On this day in 1925, author Robert Cormier was born into Leominster's tight-knit French-Canadian neighborhood, and he remained there for the rest...

Horatio Alger Born: January 13, 1832
On this day in 1834*, Horatio Alger was born in Revere. The author of the rags-to-riches stories that captured the imagination of generations of American...

Herman Melville Sails from New Bedford: January 3, 1841
On this day in 1841, Herman Melville boarded the whaleship Acushnet and sailed out of New Bedford, the whaling capital of the world. As he later wrote...

Isaac Asimov Born: January 2, 1920
On this day in 1920, Isaac Asimov was born. He grew up in New York, but it was during his two decades in Boston that he made his name as a master of science...

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