Abigail May Alcott
Abigail (Abba) May Alcott (1800-1887)
Activist, social worker, mother
With prominent jurists and ministers on both sides of her family, it’s not surprising that Abigail May received more education than many girls of her era. Trained in languages, history and sciences, she became a teacher in the progressive Temple School in Boston. She later married Amos Bronson Alcott, the unconventional and free-thinking educator who’d started the Temple School.
Abigail and Amos had four daughters. She worked on behalf of women’s suffrage and temperance, and was a staunch abolitionist, one of the founders of the Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society. The Alcott house was one of the stops on the Underground Railroad. Abigail later became one of the first paid social workers in Massachusetts, working in Boston in 1848 on behalf of poor and indigent people.
Enduring financial limitations, the failed Utopian community of Fruitlands, many of the ideas of her husband, and the untimely death of one of her children, Abigail May Alcott worked tirelessly to keep her family together even as she worked on behalf of others in all of the myriad causes with which she was involved. A collection of her personal writings was finally published in 2012, edited by her great-niece, Eve LaPlante.