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Unrecognized Historical Figure’s Story Gets Revived

Published on March 11, 2015

Unrecognized Historical Figure’s Story Gets Revived

Award-winning author Susan Campbell came to Eastern Connecticut State University on March 4 to share the story of Isabella Beecher Hooker, an important figure who had been excluded from the pages of history.

As a former columnist for the Hartford Courant, Campbell was assigned the task of digging up facts on Isabella, the unknown, forgotten Beecher sister.  While her co-workers had the privilege of writing about Harriet Beecher Stowe and her sister Catharine, Campbell was landed with the challenge of learning about their sister Isabella, who was largely unknown.

After researching, writing a column, and then publishing a book, Campbell developed a passion for sharing Hooker’s story.  Once it became clear to her just how important this historical figure actually was, it bothered her that Hooker was pushed aside and called crazy.  Campbell not only wrote a book to revive her story, but she also continues to visit many schools and tell it.

Campbell said that Hooker was an excellent writer and a strong advocator for women’s right to vote.  She and her husband presented a property bill to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1870 which would provide married women with property rights, however; the bill was initially rejected.  She continued to reintroduce the bill each year, until it was finally passed in 1877.

Though some of Hooker’s writing could have been published and could have brought her success and notoriety, she wound up doing something that caused her siblings to turn on her.  She stood up for her brother’s wife when she came out with information that he was not an innocent minister or a good husband.  This action caused Hooker’s siblings to call her crazy, and she was viewed as such from then on.

After spending the majority of her life fighting for women’s rights to vote, Hooker died before the 19th amendment was passed and never got the opportunity to vote.

Written by Kathryn Shpak