Abigail May Alcott, 1800 - 1877

Abigail May Alcott was a social reformer, abolitionist, and strong advocate of women's rights.  Always a relentless critic of the ills of society, she was very aware of the needs of the poor and of the class struggles existing under what was supposedly a democratic government.  In 1848 she became a full-time, paid social worker in Boston, Massachusetts--one of the first, if not the first, in that city.  Like her husband, Amos Bronson Alcott, she consistently practiced what she preached with regard to temperance, cleanliness, and diet.  In an 1851 letter to her brother, the Reverend Samuel J. May, she expressed her commitment to reform: "My life is one of daily protest against the oppression and abuses of Society.  I find selfishness, meanness, among people who fill high places in church and state."
Though immortalized as the kind and generous "Marmee" of her daughter Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Abigail May Alcott was all that and much more.  Louisa noted once in her journal that Bronson was not the only philosopher in the family: "All the philosophy in our house is not in the study; a good deal is in the kitchen, where a fine old lady thinks high thoughts and does kind deeds while she cooks and scrubs."