Eileen Hunt Botting, an associate professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science, and one of her former Ph.D. students, Sarah L. Houser, recently won the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Edition Award for their book Hannah Mather Crocker’s Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston.
The triennial prize recognizes excellence in the recovery of American women writers. Readers for the award praised the interdisciplinary scope of the book, its collaborative nature, and the way it brings American women’s voices to a larger audience.
“This award is especially meaningful because it comes from a scholarly organization that exists to recognize the voices and stories of women in the American literary and political tradition,” Botting says.
Hannah Mather Crocker, a Bostonian and active supporter of the American Revolution, was the first person in America to publish a book on women’s rights—Observations on the Real Rights of Women (1818). She was the great-granddaughter and granddaughter of influential Puritan ministers and the niece of Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson.
Houser, who is currently teaching at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, discovered Crocker’s handwritten manuscript for Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston in the archives of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 2002, while conducting research for a paper she co-authored with Botting.
With the help of four undergraduate assistant editors—Courtney Smotherman, Michael DesJardins, Katie Mastrucci, and John Minser, who are all Class of 2010—Botting and Houser transcribed and published an annotated version of Crocker’s manuscript, which is one of the few major histories of the American Revolution written by a woman.
The resulting book includes Crocker’s first-hand accounts of events leading up to the Revolution and the Siege of Boston, as well as a chronicle of Puritan law, the establishment of Boston churches, the city’s economic growth, and interactions with the British, French and Native Americans.
“Hannah Mather Crocker is one of the most important stateswomen and political philosophers of the early national era,” Botting says. “Her history of Boston aims to educate the ‘rising generation’ to feel pride in their local democratic political practices and inspire the youth to follow the example of their ‘venerable ancestors’ in participating in free and vibrant discussion, dissent, protest, and even rebellion in the public sphere.
“I am thrilled that the Society for the Study of American Women Writers has recognized the first scholarly edition of Crocker’s Reminiscences, for it underscores the historical and political importance of the nearly 200-year-old manuscript we have preserved and shared with future generations, as she wished.”