Newsletters (in plain text)

The Portfolio
Newsletter of The Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 20 Summer 2016
Editor’s Note
Hello, dear LMAS members. I hope this
message finds you well and experiencing the
beauties of summer. While recent news has
provided us with many surprising events—some
tragic, some strange, and some hopeful—we might
turn for perspective to Alcott, who left a war affected
America in July of 1865 on a trip to
Europe. In her journal, she recorded the thoughts
she presumably had while watching from the decks
of “the China” as “Boston vanished.” Although she
was plagued by the general discomfort of water
travel and a bit of nervousness about her upcoming
trip, she “Enjoyed intervals of quiet & had many
fine glimpses of the sea in its various moods.
Sunsets & sun rises, fogs, icebergs, rain storms &
summer calms” (Journals of LMA 141). It is my
hope that in this eventful time, we all continue to
seek out, find, and appreciate our own summer
calms. ~mdg
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LMAS Business Meeting, 2016
Annual Business Meeting
The annual business meeting of the Louisa
May Alcott Society was held on May 28, 2016 at the
American Literature Association conference in San
Francisco, California. At this meeting the 2015
minutes were approved, and the treasurer and
secretary shared their reports.
In new business, Beverly Lyon Clark of
Wheaton College will join the advisory board for
the term of 2016-2019. The officers and board
wish to thank Leslie Wilson for her term of service
on the board. Sandy Petrulionis handed the
presidency over to Anne Phillips, who thanked
Sandy and all of the LMAS past presidents (listed at
the back of this newsletter) for their dedication and
encouragement.
In preparing for future conferences the Alcott
Society looks forward to hosting a panel on “Alcott
in Concord” in addition to a joint panel with the
Rebecca Harding Davis Society for ALA 2017 in
Boston, Massachusetts. To complement the
collaboration with the Rebecca Harding Davis
Society, a field trip to the Lowell Historical Park will
take place at the conference. Look for more details
on the panels and the “Lowell Expedition!”
Several projects for the future were discussed
at the meeting. These included the possibility of
offering another panel at a Children’s Literature
Association conference, planning an event or panel
in connection with the upcoming sesquicentennial
anniversary of Little Women (2018-19), and
documenting and commemorating the history of
the Louisa May Alcott Society. Another topic of
interest involved ways to support early career
scholars and graduate students. Additional updates
related to these ideas will be shared on the listserv
and in future newsletters.
Officers, Past and Present
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New LMA Books of Interest
Out this year is a new volume on Louisa May
Alcott in Salem Press’s Critical Insights series. Edited
by Society members Gregory Eiselein and Anne
K. Phillips, the volume contains essays by Amy
Harris-Aber, John Matteson, Amy M. Thomas,
Katherine Adams, Kristen B. Proehl,
Christopher Fahy, Emily Waples, A. Waller
Hastings, Monika Elbert, Katie Kornacki,
Marilyn Bloss Koester, Antoinette M. Tadolini,
Mo Li, Christine Doyle, and the editors. The
book puts “students’ interests first and foremost”
(vii) and encourages them to explore Alcott’s body
of work within political, social, biographical,
theoretical, and creative frameworks. It includes
biographical, contextual, and critical essays in
addition to resources for student research, such as a
chronology and bibliography. Several of the essays
position Alcott in conversation with other writers
and artists, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark
Twain, Henry James, Margaret Fuller, and even
punk icon Patti Smith. While essays in the collection
engage with Little Women and its sequels, there is
also ample coverage of Alcott’s other work, from
children’s literature to sensation literature, civil war
literature, and novels for adult readers. The essays
are accessible to new and burgeoning Alcott
scholars, and the focused approaches and diverse
subject matter ensure this collection will be useful
to seasoned Alcott readers as well.
Eiselein, Gregory, and Anne K. Phillips, eds. Critical
Insights: Louisa May Alcott. Ipswich, MA: Salem
Press, 2016.
300 pages. E-book and online database access available.
***************************************************
Deanna Stover, Anne Boyd Rioux, Daniel Shealy, Krissie
West, and Azelina Flint presented on the “Representations
of Teaching and Learning in Alcott” panel.
Alcott at ALA
by Bradley Nelson and Marlowe Daly-Galeano
The LMAS organized two panels at this year’s
ALA. The first, “Representations of Teaching and
Learning in Alcott,” was chaired by Krissie West.
In her paper, “Little Women, In and Out of School,”
Anne Boyd Rioux began with the question, “Who
does Little Women belong to, and who is it for?”
Rioux surveyed the novel’s appearance in school
curriculum lists, finding that while Little Women was
historically a popular young adult read, its current
appearance on reading lists is miniscule. With its
inclusion on the Common Core list of “exemplar
texts,” the novel has experienced a slight bump, but
it remains underutilized in educational settings. The
novel’s poor recent showings may stem from its
characterization as a book “for girls,” or from the
fact that some critics have deemed it a “private
book” as opposed to a selection for the classroom,
public, or big read.
Daniel Shealy recovered and shared
Alcott’s 1887 critique of a ballet in a paper titled
“Allurements of the Flesh: Louisa Alcott on
Popular Culture and the Education of Youth.”
What is most intriguing about Alcott’s assessment
of the Kiralfy brothers’ ballet, The Ratcatcher; or the
Pied Piper of Hamelin, is that Alcott, a long-time
supporter of the theater and of socially progressive
thinking, objected to the “immodest clothing” worn
by the performance’s “pink ladies.” Shealy
attributed Alcott’s negative reaction in part to her
failing health and theorized that her response
reflected a deeply held belief that boys or men
should not be pardoned for bad behavior, as
exemplified by their inappropriate reactions to the
“pink ladies.” Boys need not be excused simply for
being boys, but rather they should be taught to be
accountable—by girls, women, and parents—to a
higher standard or progressive ideal.
In “‘Here are the Model Children!’
Resisting a Transcendental Education: Abigail
Alcott’s Practical Philosophy as Applied to the
‘Plumfield’ Community of Little Men and Jo’s Boys,”
Azelina Flint analyzed the educational philosophies
of both Bronson Alcott and Abigail Alcott as
applied to Plumfield. Flint argued that Plumfield
both defends and augments Bronson’s controversial
educational methods. While Bronson Alcott
criticized Abigail for “sympathizing too much” with
their daughters, the Plumfield model combines
Bronson’s philosophical methods with Abigail’s
matrilineal and family-centered educational
approaches. In the end, Flint suggests that the
Plumfield model values Abigail’s “practical”
philosophy over Bronson’s transcendental
approach.
Deanna Stover’s paper, “American
Woman: Feminine Speech and the Reformation of
National Identity in Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-
Fashioned Girl,” examined didactic practices within
the novel, suggesting that Alcott emphasizes the
power of female speech and the use of language as a
tool for self-improvement and social reform.
Through the character of Polly, who refuses to
distort herself or her language to conform to
fashionable ideals, Stover contends that An Old-
Fashioned Girl presents self-improvement as a
national and nationalist project.
Marlowe Daly-Galeano chaired the
second panel, “Alcott for Grown-ups.” In the
paper “Sensational Realism: Alcott’s ‘A Long Fatal
Love Chase,’” Christine Doyle connected
sensationalism and realism in Alcott's novel A Long
Fatal Love Chase. Often received as purely
“sensational,” Alcott’s novel, Doyle argued, aligns
itself with realist concerns surrounding
contemporary social issues, specifically the British
system of “coverture,” in which a woman could be
granted a divorce only through an act of Parliament.
Doyle uncovered this concern in the character of
Rosamond, whose inability to marry due to being
“owned” by her grandfather highlights the
encumbrances of marriage and child custody on
women’s lives. In Doyle’s words, Alcott’s novel
finds that sometimes “real life is more sensational
than fiction.”
In “Bridging the Adult/Child Divide:
‘Transcendental Wild Oats’,” Alicia Beeson found
a bridge between child and adult readers in Alcott’s
satirical “Transcendental Wild Oats,” the story that
emerged from Alcott’s childhood experience at
Fruitlands. Beeson argued that through its
representation of children doing the tasks that
adults have forgotten to do, Alcott’s satire of the
high ideals of transcendentalism would have gone
over children’s heads. Beeson also discussed the
pedagogical opportunity that this text presents in
teaching feminist and dystopian literary themes.
In the paper “Diana and Persis and
Roderick and Roland: Alcott, James, and the Roman
Künstlerroman,” Sarah Wadsworth connected the
representations of artistic development in the work
of Alcott and Henry James. Wadsworth suggested
that in spite of Henry James’s critiques of Alcott,
Alcott and James found inspiration in each other’s
writing. She argued that the representation of
artistic development in James’s Roderick Hudson
demonstrates a system of exchange and
dependence, whereas in Alcott’s Diana and Persis
artistic development reveals a state of independence
and a communal collaboration for female artists. As
respondent, Daly-Galeano discussed the ways in
which Alcott’s “adult” texts represent thematic
bridges between literary styles, modes of reception,
and gendered artistic development, ending with the
question, “In Alcott’s world, to become a grown-up,
must one also become a feminist?”
Sarah Wadsworth, Alicia Beeson, Chris Doyle, and Marlowe
Daly-Galeano on the “Alcott for Grown-ups” panel.
***************************************************
Louisa May Alcott on the Conference Loop
In addition to the panels presented by the
Alcott Society at ALA, the “Year in Conferences”
writers have covered a few additional Alcott
conference presentations over the course of the
year. At MLA in Austin last January, Heather
Wayne examined India’s presence in Little Women.
From the cabinets full of Indian goods to the sisters’
sheet hemming, she argued that material objects
lend themselves to an imperialistic imaginary, and
these imperial registers infuse domestic practices
that connect the East and West. Though Alcott’s
novel critiques Orientalist discourses, it nonetheless
perpetuates common stereotypes concerning the
racial “other.”
In an MLA panel in which presenters chose
Civil War artifacts that exemplified difficulties in
describing the war’s literary history, Jane Schultz
considered Hospital Sketches as an artifact to suggest
that Alcott initiated the hospital narrative genre,
which captured the social dimensions of wartime
experience, particularly the fantasy of women caring
for soldiers.
At an ALA panel called “Obligations and
Audiences,” Amy M. Thomas argued that applying
closer attention to the unique characteristics of
American periodicals opens up new readings of the
authors who published in them. Thomas noted the
Christian Union's religious mission as outlined by its
editor, Henry Ward Beecher. She emphasized the
periodical’s lack of content classification along lines
of genre, gender, and age and suggested it
challenges us to revise our sense of Alcott – who
published frequently in the paper – as a religiouslyneutral
writer of stories for young girls.
Beverly Lyon Clark presented a paper at
ChLA titled “Trains, Bikes, and Automobiles:
Animating the Illustrations of Little Women” in
which she investigated more than 132 illustrated
English-language editions of the novel. Clark
focused on the gendering of illustrators' depictions
of modes of transportation, especially the ways in
which some artists have given women and
girls mobility and agency.
If you’ve presented on Alcott at a conference
and would like to be included in this feature in a
future newsletter, let us know! We are grateful to
the graduate student writers on the “Year in
Conferences” MLA and ALA teams who
contributed to this feature: Alexandra Blair, Kenyon
Gradert, Clare Mullaney, Eric Morel, Bradley
Nelson, Alexandra Reznick, Kylan Rice, Valerie
Sirenko, Christine Walsh, and James Van Wyck.
***************************************************
A New Letter
by Daniel Shealy
On 15 June 2016, Lion Heart Autographs
auctioned a previously unrecorded Louisa May
Alcott letter in a sale conducted online by
Invaluable.com. The manuscript, written on three
sides of a single folded sheet, sold for $2,750 to an
unidentified buyer. The letter, dated 9 November
[1882] and written to a Mr. Williams, briefly
describes Bronson Alcott’s condition after suffering
a paralytic stroke just over two weeks earlier on 24
October 1882.
Louisa noted her father’s stroke in her journal
for November 1882: “Poor father, dumb &
helpless! Feeble mind slowly coming back. He
knows us but lies asleep most of the time. Get a
nurse & wait to see if he will rally. It is sad to see
the change one moment made, turning the hale
handsome old man into this pathetic wreck”
(Journals of LMA 236). Just two days before Alcott
wrote to Mr. Williams, she had confided to Mary
Preston Stearns, her father’s old friend: “Dr.
Wesselhoeft came up yesterday, and said it was only
a question of time, weeks perhaps, but days he feared.
So we make ready, & enjoy each hour in spite of the
sad eclipse that already seems to part us in a
measure” (Selected Letters 262).
The recipient of the letter remains uncertain.
However, in the first line, Alcott thanks Mr.
Williams for a book sent to her father. It is possible
that the work she refers to is Bronson Alcott’s Ralph
Waldo Emerson: An Estimate of His Character and
Genius in Prose and Verse published in late 1882 by A.
Williams and Company. The book perhaps was an
advance copy for its author. Alexander Williams
(1818-1900) was one of Boston’s oldest and most
well known booksellers and publishers. For many
years, he conducted business at No. 100
Washington Street, but in 1869, he re-located his
company to the Old Corner Bookstore, the former
location of Ticknor and Fields, at the corner of
Washington and School Streets. He had retired
from the business by early 1883. However, in her
last line, Alcott refers to Mrs. Williams and the
“little people.” Williams’ wife, Elizabeth Collier
Williams, died in 1880 and the couple’s children
were adults by then, making it unlikely that
Alexander Williams was the intended recipient. It
is possible that the book may have been sent by one
of his two surviving sons, Alexander S. or Charles
E. Williams. Despite the unknown identity of the
intended recipient, the letter gives us an early
glimpse into Alcott’s thoughts on her father’s
stroke.
***
Nov. 9th
Dear Mr Williams,
Many thanks for the book.
Father cannot yet acknowledge your kindness himself
as he is still speechless, paralyzed on the right side, &
too feeble in mind to understand much beyond his
wants.
The doctors give us little hope of recovery, though he
may linger for some time.
He does not suffer, but he’s serenely waiting for the
end, a philosopher now as always.
I am closely confined to his room as he prefers me to
the nurse who does the lifting, so I have no time or
thought for anything but this duty. With love to Mrs
W. & the little people I am,
yours truly,
L.M. Alcott
***************************************************
Summer Conversation Series at Orchard House
Several LMAS members are part of the line-up
for the Summer Conversation Series at Orchard
House. This year’s series, “‘Finding Beauty in the
Humblest Things’: Louisa May Alcott’s Literary
Vision,” will be held July 10-14. In addition to
coffee hours, lunches, conversations, and teacher
institute sessions, the event will feature the
following presentations:
Sunday, July 10
w2:30 pm Ernesto Estrella, Anne-Laure François, and
Henrik Otterberg: “Turning the Ordinary into the
Extraordinary: How Alcott and Thoreau
Revolutionized Education”
Monday, July 11
w9:30 am Cathlin Davis: “Bringing Beauty to the
World: Youthful Reformers in Louisa May Alcott’s
Juvenile Fiction”
w11:00 am Elise Hooper: “Extraordinary Beauty in an
Ordinary World: May Alcott and Women’s Painting
during the 19th Century”
w1:00 pm Anne-Laure François: “A Lesson in the
True Necessities and Means of Life: Louisa’s
Children as Wise Seers of the Sublime in Everyday
Life”
Tuesday, July 12
w9:30 am Jamie Burgess: “Farmer’s Drudge:
Agricultural Philosophy in the Works
of Louisa May Alcott”
w11:00 am Maria McKelvey: “Housework: Making
Memories from the Mundane”
w1:00 pm Mary Kelleher: “When the Whole Land is a
Garden: Louisa May Alcott and the Virtues of
Cultivation”
Wednesday, July 13
w9:30 am Maura D’Amore: “‘You May Laugh If You
Want To; It is Funny, I Know’: The Perversity of
Bric-a-Brac in Little Women”
w11:00 am Kristi Lynn Martin: “The Sacred
Domestic, Memorialization, and Literary
Imagination in the Alcott Sisters’ Sphere”
w1:00 pm Gabrielle Donnelly: “Castles in the Air
Versus Two Inches of Ivory: A Comparison of
Louisa May Alcott’s March Sisters and Jane
Austen’s Bennetts”
Thursday, July 14
w9:30 am John Matteson: “Five at Fredericksburg:
Revising What We Know about the Battle that
Transformed American Culture.”
For more information on the series and Orchard
House’s additional summer programming, see
http://www.louisamayalcott.org/.
***************************************************
Books that Shape American Life
Little Women makes an appearance as part of a
recent Library of Congress exhibit, which includes a
list of the sixty-five most influential books by
American authors. The list, as Tracy Mumford
notes, “is by no means comprehensive” and was
formed from random sampling and public votes via
the internet. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that
the list includes almost no representation of nonwhite
authors. Other nineteenth-century texts on
the list are Moby-Dick, Leaves of Grass, The Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Walden, and
Nature. In spite of the limitations of the list, Alcott
is in good company. The full list is included at
http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/the-booksthat-
have-shaped-american-life-how-manyhave/
article_4f097a26-8241-5a03-aa45-
3c80c10e19a5.html?utm_medium=social&utm_sou
rce=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share.
***************************************************
Announcements from LMAS Members
Susan Bailey is extending her blog into the
airwaves! Beginning in June, Louisa May Alcott is My
Passion added a monthly podcast. Approximately 30
minutes in length, the podcast will feature news and
events, readings of Alcott's works, interviews with
fascinating guests and even visits from the old girl
herself (through the magic of Jan Turnquist). The
first two episodes focus on the Summer
Conversational Series, beginning with an interview
with Lis Adams, Education Director of Orchard
House. Susan will be looking for guests. If you
would like to be interviewed for the podcast
regarding a book or journal article you've written (it
doesn't have to be new), a presentation you've given,
or a panel you've participated on, contact her at
louisamayalcottismypassion@gmail.com.
Anne Boyd Rioux publishes a newsletter
called "The Bluestocking Bulletin," in which she
shares a profile of a lesser-known woman writer and
other news, including what is going on with
research for her book on Little Women. In the June
issue, which you can read at
http://tinyletter.com/abrioux/letters/thebluestocking-
bulletin-june-2016), she discusses
many items that should be of interest: the recent
ALA, the Alcott Society, and Elaine Showalter's
biography of Julia Ward Howe.
Beverly Lyon Clark has a forthcoming article
on the unique insights of Alcott’s four main
contemporary illustrators and their depictions of Jo
March’s genius for writing. “The Writer, the Family,
or the House? Visualizing Jo March’s Genius in the
Nineteenth Century” will appear in Story Time:
Essays on the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Collection of American
Children’s Literature, ed. Timothy Young (New
Haven: Beinecke Library/Yale UP, 2016), 22-39.
Marlowe Daly-Galeano has a chapter on
Alcott and the aging (and staging!) of women in
Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys called “Louisa
May Alcott’s Theater of Time.” The chapter
appears in Girls’ Series Fiction and American Popular
Culture, edited by LuElla D’Amico, out this year
from Lexington Books.
Daniela Daniele has recently published three
articles on Alcott: “Toward a Genealogy of Jo
March: Charlotte Cushman as a Crossdressed Icon
of the Victorian Stage,” in Julia Nitz, Sandra H.
Petrulionis, and Theresa Schön’s Intercontinental
Crosscurrents. Women’s Networks Across Europe and the
Americas, Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2016, 11-32;
“Domestic Wounds: Nursing in Louisa May
Alcott’s War Tales,” in “Waging Health: Women in
Nineteenth-Century American Wars,” ed. Carmen
Birkle and Justine Tally, European Journal of American
Studies, Special Issue on Women in the USA, 10.1
(2015); and “Private Theatricals and Feminist
Abolitionism: Jo’s and Meg’s Sensation Plays,”
Iperstoria 5 (2015): 112-123. Additionally, she is
planning a special session on Alcott’s work for the
Seminar of the European Group on 19th-century
American Literature. Stay tuned for additional
information about the event.
Sandy Petrulionis announces that LMAS
members will soon be receiving the new Louisa May
Alcott Society bookmarks in the mail. If yours
hasn’t arrived, it should be coming shortly.
The Officers of the LMAS encourage anyone
who is interested in becoming the new LMAS
website editor to contact us. This could be an
excellent opportunity for graduate student
involvement.
***********************************************
Now in its twelfth year, The Louisa May Alcott
Society is an organization dedicated to providing an
“opportunity for Alcott scholars and other
interested persons to share in the study and
appreciation of the life and works of a major
American author.”
Current Officers:
Anne Phillips, President
Marlowe Daly-Galeano, Secretary
Melissa Pennell, Treasurer
Advisory Board Members:
Beverly Lyon Clark, Wheaton College
John Matteson, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Wesley Mott, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Past Presidents:
Sandy Petrulionis (2014-2016)
Mary Shelden (2012-2014)
Daniel Shealy (2010-2012)
Larry Carlson (2008-2010)
Joel Myerson (2005-2008)
Our Website: www.louisamayalcottsociety.org
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The
Portfolio, is published in January and July. Please
send Alcott-related news to LMAS Secretary and
Portfolio Editor, Marlowe Daly-Galeano:
hmdalygaleano@lcsc.edu.
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library.The Portfolio


Newsletter of The Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 19 Winter 2016
Dancing in a New Year
Happy New Year! 2015 brought many
developments in Alcott studies, and 2016 promises
to be an eventful year as well. As we enter into the
next annum, I am struck by how much can change
in a year’s time. We might consider the negative
excitement of Alcott’s new year reflections of 1863,
written from the Union Hotel Hospital of
Georgetown:
I never began the year in a stranger place than this;
five hundred miles from home, alone among
strangers, doing painful duties all day long, &
leading a life of constant excitement in this
greathouse surrounded by 3 or 4 hundred men in all
stages of suffering, disease & death. (Journals, ed.
Myerson, Shealy, and Stern 113)
A year later her reflections were marked by a
tranquil yet more optimistic sentiment:
New Year’s Day was a very quiet one. Nan &
Freddy were here, & in the evening we went to a
dance at the hall. A merry time, for all the town
was there as it was for the Soldier’s Aid Society, &
everyone wanted to help. Nan & I sat in the gallery
& watched the young people dance the old year
out, the new year in as the clock struck twelve.
(Journals 127)
As a spectator to the dances of the “young people,”
Alcott’s own dance was perhaps more metaphorical.
She had recovered from debilitating illness and
obtained more success as a writer in the course of
the year. Her greatest dances—as an author, at
least—were still to come.
***************************************************
Calls for Papers
The Louisa May Alcott Society will sponsor two
panels at the American Literature Association
Annual meeting to be held in San Francisco May
26-29, 2016. Be advised that the deadlines for
submissions are fast approaching.
1. Representations of Teaching and Learning in
Alcott
As attested to by her essay, “Recollections of my
Childhood,” Alcott’s ideas of education were always
caught between the innovative techniques but
formal structure of “my father’s school” and the
more liberal approach of “my wise mother” who
“let me run wild, learning of nature what no books
can teach.” This panel seeks to examine education
in all its guises as constructed through Alcott’s
works, whether that education takes place in the
schoolroom or in the wider world, via a teacher or
through the lessons of nature or religion, and
encompassing both children and adults in the
lifelong process of learning that characterizes many
of Alcott’s texts. Possible topics might include:
• Books within books: influential texts within
Alcott’s works
• The gender divide
• Home schooling
• A religious education
• The class divide
• “Learning of nature what no books can teach”
• A Transcendental education
• Bronson Alcott’s conversations with children
• Pupil and teacher
• Keeping journals: an educational tool
• What is a teacher?
• “Moral pap for the young”
• A European education: learning through travel
• The school-room
• Marriage: a sentimental education
• “My beloved Master”: learning from Emerson
Please send 250-word abstracts to Krissie West
at K.J.West@pgr.reading.ac.uk by 20 January 2016.
2. Alcott for Grown-ups
While Louisa May Alcott notoriously complained
about her role as a chief provider of “moral pap for
the young,” after the widespread success of Little
Women, her identity as “the children’s friend” was
firmly sealed. Turning away from this unilateral
understanding of Alcott and her work, this panel
seeks to examine the ways Alcott’s identity and
body of work engages with or problematizes grownup-
ness. We welcome papers that analyze Alcott’s
writing for adults as well as those that complicate
the study of Alcott’s work as children’s literature
within the development of American Realism.
Possible topics might include:
• Alcott’s fiction and nonfiction for adults
• Negotiation of audience
• Alcott and American Realism
• Alcott’s relationships to her peer authors
(writing for children or adults)
• Depictions of grown-up questions/issues
• Sex and sexuality
• Suicide
• Drug and alcohol use
• Marriage, fidelity, and infidelity
• Crime and the law
• Alcott and political economy
• Identity formation
• Sensational and anti-sensational literature
• Post-bildungsroman
• Representations of childhood and/or adulthood
• Reading children’s literature as adult literature
• Age and aging
• Constructions of “adult,” “child,” “woman,”
“girl,” etc.
Please send 250-word abstracts or questions to
Marlowe Daly-Galeano at hmdalygaleano@lcsc.edu
by 20 January 2016.
Watch the listserv for updates about the conference
including details about the annual LMAS meeting.
The Legacy of Little Women:
New Books of Interest
Little Women’s fans and critics alike will find
new ways to interrogate, explore, and appreciate the
novel in two books published this year. Norton’s
annotated edition of Little Women, came out earlier
this fall. With comprehensive annotations and an
introduction by John Matteson, this new volume
features 233 color images including book
illustrations, film stills, and historic and new
photographs. Matteson’s treatment of Little Women
adds depth and nuance to studies of both the novel
and its author. Genevieve Valentine of NPR takes
great pleasure in the complex authorial portrait
offered here, writing, “The harsher, more prickly
Alcott that emerges from these margins is this
book’s most illuminating discovery” (NPR Book
Review, October 28, 2015) while Susan Bailey
comments on its thoroughness and novelty,
observing that “Just when [we] think there can’t be
anything more revealed about the Alcotts,
something new and wonderful comes our way.”
(Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, October 26, 2015)
Another volume offers opportunities for scholars
and students to engage in research and the history
of criticism related to Little Women. Designed to
provide in-depth critical exploration of the novel
for high school and undergraduate scholars, Salem
Press’s Critical Insights: Little Women, edited by
Gregory Eiselein and Anne K. Phillips, includes a
helpful overview of Little Women, a biographical
essay, a chronology, and a bibliography. Daniel
Shealy, Beverly Lyon Clark, Bruce Ronda, and
Christine Doyle provide essays offering varying
critical contexts that range from the lens of
secularization to transatlanticism. A set of critical
readings by Anne K. Phillips, Theresa Strouth
Gaul, Marlowe Daly-Galeano, R. Eric Tippin,
Sandra Burr, Lorinda B. Cohoon, Sarah
Wadsworth, Elise Barker, and Lauren Rizzuto
round out the exploration of Alcott’s novel by
offering a variety of perspectives for study of Little
Women.
***************************************************
Louisa May Alcott on the Conference Loop
Louisa May Alcott was the subject of a number of
conference papers and presentations this year. Our
last newsletter included descriptions of the LMASsponsored
panels at ALA in Boston last May, in
which Christine Doyle and Phyllis Cole chaired
panels and Katie Kornacki, Marielena James,
Helen Deese, Beverly Lyon Clark, Ellen
Campbell, and Charlene Avallone presented
papers. Summaries of those panels will also be
included in the annual feature “The Year in
Conferences” published in the first (62.1) issue of
ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American
Literature and Culture.
“The Year in Conferences” is a collaborativelywritten
report that covers key conferences in
nineteenth-century American literary studies. This
year’s teams of graduate student writers attended
panels at MLA, ALA, ASLE, and SSAWW. The
SSAWW team has shared their coverage with The
Portfolio, from which I draw the following highlights
that should be of interest to Alcott scholars.
On a panel on “The Liminal Child in Law and
Literature,” Nancy Sweet of California State
University-Sacramento examined one of Alcott’s
understudied works in her paper, “‘Rosamund made
a charming boy’: Androgyny, Childhood, and Louisa
May Alcott’s A Long Fatal Love Chase.” Sweet
suggested that the teenage Rosamund experiences a
liminal state of vulnerability and freedom. She
argued that Alcott’s narrative explores gender
fluidity by explicating intimate bonds between
youthful figures and adults.
On the panel “Women Writing the Civil War,”
Melissa J. Strong of Northeastern State University
compared Alcott’s Hospital Sketches, Mary A.
Livermore’s My Story of War and Julia Ward Howe’s
The Hermaphrodite in her paper titled “Vivandiéres
and Gender Hybridity in Women’s War Work and
Writing.” Strong argued that these texts all use
vivandières—uniformed women who traveled with
troops—to blur gender boundaries.
Christine Wooley of St. Mary’s College of
Maryland participated in the “The Personal
Economics of Sympathy” panel, pointing out that
several nineteenth-century writers emphasize
sympathy’s minimal risks and the conrasting
rewards intended to offset material deficit. In her
paper “Making Sympathy Pay: Southworth, Alcott,
and the Material Costs of Feeling Right,” Wooley
suggested that Beth’s death in Little Women
questions charity’s costs, thereby making a case
against utopian views of sympathy and complicating
an established economic system.
University of Pittsburgh scholar Kirsten Paine
linked Alcott’s Hospital Sketches to Sarah Emma
Edmonds’ Nurse and Spy in the Union Army as part of
the discussion on the “Ways of Telling the Civil
War” panel. In her paper, “The [In]Visible Female
Soldier: Sarah Emma Edmonds and Louisa May
Alcott’s Access to Military Bodies,” Paine
demonstrated that Edmonds borrowed passages
from Alcott’s narrative.
Another of Alcott’s lesser known works was the
subject of Stephanie Metz’s paper, “The
Temptation of Agency: Louisa May Alcott and
Gothic Naturalism.” As a participant in the panel
“Authorial and Fictional Empowerments,” Metz, of
the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, considered
how Alcott fashions female agency in Thrice Tempted.
Metz reasoned that the work refutes female
passivity in its constant vacillation between passivity
and action. On the same panel, Montana State
University’s Amy Thomas offered a tour de force,
fast-paced overview of Alcott’s two hundred pieces
published in forty periodicals. She called for a new
examination of Alcott’s under-theorized works,
especially those published in periodicals.
Did you present an Alcott paper at a conference?
Let us know, and we’ll include it in future
newsletters. It is exciting to see such a variety in the
texts and approaches to Alcott scholarship, and this
write-up captures only a portion of the new work
on Alcott being shared prior to publication.
With many thanks to the “Year in Conferences” writers
who have covered Alcott papers in 2015: Tracey-Lynn
Clough, Kathleen Davies, Lucas Dietrich, Summer
Hamilton, Kelli O’Brien, Sarah Olvier, Gia Coturri
Sorenson, James M. Van Wyck, Jillian Weber,
and Michael C. Weisenburg.
***************************************************
Announcements from LMAS Members:
v After publishing two books in the last
quarter of 2015 (one revealing the spiritual
treasures in Louisa May Alcott’s works,
including Little Women), Susan Bailey is
now dedicating herself to her next book on
the life of Elizabeth Sewall Alcott.
v Miki Pfeffer is currently transcribing the
letters of New Orleans writer Grace King
for future publication following her book,
Southern Ladies and Suffragists: Julia Ward
Howe and Women’s Rights at the 1884 New
Orleans World’s Fair in which she quotes
King’s astute observations.
v Anne Boyd Rioux’s new book, Constance
Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist,
will be published by Norton on Feb. 29,
along with a new collection of Woolson’s
fiction, Miss Grief and Other Stories, with a
foreword by Colm Toibin. In other news,
she also has signed a contract with Norton
to publish Reading Little Women: The History
of an American Classic (tentative title). This
book is scheduled for publication in 2018
to coincide with the novel’s 150th birthday.
v Members of the LMAS, especially those
living or summering in the West, may be
interested in the Harriet Beecher Stowe
Society’s 20th Anniversary Conference to be
held in Spokane, Washington, from June
24-26, 2016. Updates about the conference,
which will include opportunities for
graduate students and advanced
undergraduate students, will be posted at
http://www.stowesociety.org/.
***********************************************
Now in its tenth year, The Louisa May Alcott
Society is an organization dedicated to providing an
“opportunity for Alcott scholars and other
interested persons to share in the study and
appreciation of the life and works of a major
American author.”
Current Officers:
Sandy Petrulionis, President
Anne Phillips, President-Elect
Marlowe Daly-Galeano, Secretary
Melissa Pennell, Treasurer
Advisory Board Members:
Leslie Wilson, Concord Free Public Library
John Matteson, CUNY
Wesley Mott, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Past Presidents:
Mary Shelden (2012-2014)
Daniel Shealy (2010-2012)
Larry Carlson (2008-2010)
Joel Myerson (2005-2008)
Our Website: www.louisamayalcottsociety.org
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The
Portfolio, is published in January and July. Please
send Alcott-related news to LMAS Secretary and
Portfolio Editor, Marlowe Daly-Galeano:
hmdalygaleano@lcsc.edu.
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library.



The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society









Number 18                               Summer 2015











The Louisa May Alcott Society celebrated its 10th
anniversary at Orchard House on Thursday, 21st May
2015. Twenty-two members (plus a few friends/relatives)
posed for pictures together in front of Orchard House.
Then, we knocked on the front door, and Miss Louisa May Alcott herself opened it and invited us to
enter! We gathered in the parlor for introductory comments by Miss Alcott, and then we toured the
home. Afterward, we enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and champagne on the lawn. Some of our company wondered
whether Miss Alcott, who was raised in a temperance family, would look askance at our celebratory
beverage. However, she informed us that she would be delighted to share it with us, adding that her
travels to Europe had broadened her horizons! The weather was perfect, the staff at Orchard House
was most welcoming, and the good fellowship was palpable. (Visit  www.louisamayalcottsociety.org
for more pictures.)
Jan Turnquist, Joel Myerson, and Sandy Petrulionis
Party planners Melissa Pennell and Sandy Petrulionis

LMAS member Susan Bailey attended the 10th anniversary celebration and has written about it on her
blog, “Louisa May Alcott Is My Passion.” She concludes, “Judging from the attendance and the
enthusiasm, I would say the Society is strong, growing and healthy. It is an honor to be a part of
such a wonderful group . . . .you have helped me to better understand why I am so passionate about
Louisa May Alcott.” Read more here: http://louisamayalcottismypassion.com/2015/05/22/th
e-louisa-may-alcott-society-celebrates-their-tenth- anniversary-with-a-visit-from-louisa/

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The Louisa May Alcott Society sponsored two panels at the American Literature Association
conference in Boston, May 20th-24th, 2015.

Phyllis Cole chaired “Conversations: Fuller, Alcott, and Others,” a joint session sponsored by LMAS
and the Margaret Fuller Society.
Katie Kornacki, a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, presented “‘A Loving League of
Sisters’: The Legacy of Margaret Fuller’s Boston Conversations in Louisa May Alcott’s Work: A Story
of Experience.” According to Kornacki, although Fuller died in 1850, her advocacy for female
education, self-reliance, vocation, and sorority influenced Alcott and others and appealed to
feminist thinkers who might otherwise disagree on paths to suffrage, emancipation, and other goals.
Fuller emphasized women-centered, “horizontal” alliances. Christie’s “loving league of sisters” in
Work, including a rich woman, a working class laundress, a Quaker, and a former slave, as well as a
“fallen” woman, resembles the group of women with whom Fuller founded the New England Women’s Club.
Fuller led conversations at Brook Farm and Sing-Sing Prison; she felt that the conversations she
led in Boston had much in common with those she led at the prison. In Work, Christie’s group also
is non-elitist, containing non-white and non-middle class participants, and thus may be more
progressive than the communities depicted in most feminist novels of the era. Further, sorority is
not solely the province of middle-class women. The working class

woman in Work sets an example, ensuring that there is room for all, including “fallen women.” In
treating Rachel as a sister, Christie puts her philosophy into practice; here Alcott enacts
Fuller’s theories about sorority. Work also breaks with conventional nineteenth- century feminist
novels in returning the fallen woman to her family—which Kornacki regards as an especially radical
departure from other novels of the era. Fuller’s other legacies include advocacy for suffrage, the
Women’s Horticulture School, dress reform, and the election of women to Boston’s School Board. Work
highlights the importance of conversation not only between classes but also among the leisure
class, which, according to Alcott, need help “quite as much as the paupers.” Alcott’s fiction
richly responds to Fuller’s
questions “What were we born to do?” and “How should we do it?”
Marielena James of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, presented “The Ideals of Companionate
Marriage: A Conversation Between Louisa May Alcott and Margaret Fuller.” Fuller delineates
different levels or grades of marriage in Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), and Alcott
exemplifies those types in her fiction. First, a “household partnership” upholds separate spheres.
James sees Meg and John’s marriage in Little Women as representing this level, initially. Meg
performs household duties, and John devotes himself to business. However, Marmee guides Meg toward
a higher level of marriage where she and her husband can connect on intellectual and emotional
levels, becoming true partners in life and work. This marriage, however, does not attain Fuller’s
highest level. Jo’s marriage to Friedrich in Little Women begins at intellectual friendship and
eventually does move to the highest level, a “religious union” or Platonic ideal that includes
“intellectual communion.” Although the real life model for the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. March was
far from ideal, when they married, Abba and Bronson each hoped for individual improvement, and
Bronson was involved in raising their daughters. However, practice was more complex than principle,
and following the Fruitlands debacle and other setbacks, the couple separated, emotionally and at
times physically. Nonetheless, James sees their fictional parallels, Mr. and Mrs. March, as
companionate partners. In the unfinished “Diana and Persis,” inspired by May Alcott Nieriker’s
experiences, Louisa explores the possibility of being both
artist and wife. While Diana devotes her life to art, Persis, not satisfied by art alone, marries
August, and they enjoy
a companionate marriage. Persis also creates a family that serves as a contrast to Diana’s “cold”
sculptures. Perhaps in part because of the example of her parents’ marriage, Alcott chose to focus
on her career, and in her later
work, she is more able to see career as an alternative to marriage. However, in her fiction,
companionate marriages are an ideal to strive for.
Professor Emerita Helen Deese presented
“Caroline Healey Dall and the Mantle of Margaret
Fuller.” Dall was 12 years younger than Fuller and 9 years older than Alcott. She saw Fuller as a
mentor and advised Alcott on Moods. However, because Dall’s critical review

of Moods alienated Alcott, Deese more closely focused on the Fuller-Dall relationship, citing
myriad ways that Fuller’s influence is evident in Dall’s life and career. Both were oldest children
who endured sibling resentments. Both took refuge in books. Both had spiritual crises.
Both were impatient. Both felt confident leading
conversations. Both were conscious of having what they identified as a man’s ambition and a woman’s
heart. Dall was well aware of Fuller’s genius: “There is no American woman who stands near her,”
she wrote in her journal after Fuller’s death, also asserting, “Transcendentalism ended with the
death of Fuller.” Especially admiring Fuller’s work at Sing-Sing, Dall worked for diverse reform
movements, helping slaves, supporting suffrage, and rendering aid to prostitutes. Deese noted in
particular the lengthy journal entry Dall wrote while living in Canada after reading The Memoirs of
Fuller in
1857. Homesick, suffering from culture shock, in financial straits, and estranged from her father
over the subject of abolition, Dall recognized in Fuller’s experiences crises and cruxes she
herself faced and felt a strong emotional connection, writing, “I see my own life renewed.”
Reflecting on similarities between her unsatisfying marriage and Fuller’s situation, she wrote that
the “agony of married life . . . is a thousand times worse than the loneliness of maidenhood.” In
contrast with Fuller, who died in “storm and strife,” Dall
envisioned leading “a hard life for many years.” Although their interaction was limited to the 1841
Conversation, where Dall felt that she had only irritated Fuller, Dall developed an intense
emotional bond with Fuller in her journal, which Fuller had encouraged her to begin writing when
Dall was 18. Deese argued that the journal is Dall’s greatest achievement: an eloquent and
compelling record of the plight of a “strangely gifted woman.”
During ensuing conversation, an audience member asked whether Milton and his depiction of marriage
in Paradise Lost particularly had influenced Fuller or Transcendentalism. Deese alluded to the
depiction of Adam and Eve’s hesitant steps as they leave Eden but has never seen any direct
reference to that connection.
Kornacki noted that when Fuller worked at the New York Tribune, she reviewed Milton’s works.
Another audience member, acknowledging marriage as a formative experience in the nineteenth
century, encouraged those present to resist the “too bad she never married” argument. In Work,
Christie is married only briefly— perhaps so that she can be a mother (which, for Alcott, may be
more important than being a wife). Kornacki pointed out that when Christie marries David, she
doesn’t even wear a wedding gown. David leaves immediately, and she returns to her mother-in-law’s
home. A third audience member raised the subject of repressing emotion. Is anger the feeling most
in need of repression? Does Dall let out her anger in her journals? How does anger fit into the
idea of companionate marriage? (Dall evidently “lets it all out!” according to Deese.) James noted
that it is Mr. March who is “helping” Marmee repress her anger. She added that she “is not so fond”
of Mr. March—or Bronson Alcott!

Another question came from a member of the audience who is editing The Bostonians. This listener
was interested in the panel’s references to sisterhood, especially given the way Henry James uses
that word in The Bostonians. Might Christie’s experience be modeled in any way on Frederick
Douglass’s discovery of his voice? (Panelists and audience acknowledged the troubled relationship
between abolitionism and women’s rights activism.) Kornacki responded that there is “absolutely” a
connection between Work, which was published in 1873,
and Douglass’s autobiography, which was reissued at that time. Another audience member asked, “What
effect do the recordings Dall made of Fuller’s Conversations have on Dall?” Deese responded that
this transcript was published in 1895; she doesn’t know how big a splash it made. She and others
noted that it is interesting to read how different the concept of a conversation was at that time.
Bronson’s ideas about it changed quite a bit. Dall recorded Fuller’s Conversation series where men
were participating (which Fuller regarded as her least
successful series). Cole asked how this series compare with the conversation Elizabeth Palmer
Peabody recorded. One final question involved “Diana and
Persis” and its influence on Elizabeth Phelps’s own work about art and marriage. The audience
thanked the panel for a lively and engaging presentation.










Marielena James, Helen Deese, Katie Kornacki, Phyllis Cole

The second sponsored panel at ALA 2015, chaired by
Christine Doyle, focused on “Transatlantic Alcott.”

Beverly Lyon Clark, Wheaton College, presented “Picturing Europe in Little Women.” Drawing from
more than 100 artists’ illustrations for Alcott’s novel, Clark identifies common subjects or motifs
in their work. Although European culture is alluded to in the novel through references to Dickens,
Shakespeare, Schiller, and Goethe, and Professor Bhaer is representative of and a tribute to German
Intellectualism, illustrators most commonly depict scenes from the novel set in England (Rotten
Row) and France (Nice). Often these scenes are associated with fashion or romance rather than high
culture. For Amy, Europe is an arbiter of talent/genius. Although she and Laurie discover in Europe
that they are not geniuses, Amy still cultivates her eye and taste. Only
a few illustrators depict Amy and Laurie discovering a
lack of genius, among them Merrill (1880), Jambor (1947), and Tudor (1969). Commonly, Europe is
conveyed as a backdrop to romance rather than a cultural archive. Magagna (1963), for example,
depicts Amy as more social than artistic. Other depictions of Europe in

editions of Little Women include outdoor scenes: Pitz (1967) depicts castles and gardens, archways
and bowers. Laurie and Amy in these scenes are reduced or contained by the outdoors. Most
frequently, Laurie and Amy are depicted at Nice, Valrosa, or Vevey. English (1967) depicts Amy as a
fashionable extension of Laurie. Lonelt (1950) depicts Amy as an artist subjecting Laurie to her
gaze. The novelization of the 1994 film includes a still of Laurie seemingly disparaging Amy’s art.
Very few illustrators of the boating scene, where Laurie and Amy famously agree that they will
always “pull in the same boat,” actually show both of them rowing. Most depictions of this proposal
scene are romantically conventional, but Blaisdell (1946) is one illustrator who actually does
focus on the couple in this scene. Clark notes that recent artists are no more likely to emphasize
European high cultural than earlier illustrators; their emphasis remains on the romanticism of the
exotic
locale. Since 1997, there have been no European scenes in illustrated editions of Little Women.
Ellen Campbell, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, presented “Revising the Marriage Plot in
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda.” Putting Little Women (1868-69)
and
Daniel Deronda (1876) in dialogue enables consideration of transnational attitudes toward marriage,
social status, and the position of women. In Daniel Deronda, Eliot depicts a heroine who makes the
wrong matrimonial choice; Gwendolen, under pressure from her family to marry
well, accepts the proposal of cold but wealthy
Grandcourt. For her, there are no other means of
support or alternatives. In Little Women, the March sisters’ marriage choices are not based on
socioeconomic concerns. Jo can support herself, and independence is at least a part of the marital
equation. Although she initially plans on marrying for money, Amy ultimately chooses
her mate because she loves him, and she makes her choice freely rather than in response to societal
or parental pressures. The Marches’ choices are supported by Marmee’s affirmation that marriage is
desirable only if the partners are happy together. For Eliot, 19th-century women have no other
choice but to marry. For Alcott, women cannot afford to marry only for money: respect and emotional
attachment are essential. Alcott does not wholly eliminate conventional concerns—Aunt March
pressures Meg to marry well, for example—but Aunt March is characterized as an unhappy old woman.
In Little Women, marriage also opens rather than forecloses opportunities. Marriage allows Jo to
continue working and to attain the type of work she most desires. Alcott read and liked Eliot’s
novels. Daniel Deronda was written after Little Women, and there is no evidence that Alcott’s work
influenced Eliot’s novel. Nonetheless, comparison of these texts provides insight into
transatlantic attitudes toward marriage.
Charlene Avallone, Kailua, Hawai’i, presented “Alcott Rewrites George Sand: Moods and Jacques.”
Sand’s Jacques (1833) depicts and reflects on incompatibility in marriage between a young bride and
older groom. In Moods (1864, 1882), Alcott engages with similar

characters and situations. Both authors were influenced by Goethe’s writings. Interestingly,
Caroline Dall translated Sand’s work prior to advising Alcott on Moods. Jacques and Moods both
feature characters named Sylvia, and Alcott’s Adam Warwick is a heroic type similar to Sand’s title
character. Sand assigned passion to the wife, portraying the husband more sympathetically; Alcott
made the wife her protagonist. Both Sylvias are wild and unconventional; both idealize men and have
flawed fathers. Both authors explore the psychology of moodiness and ponder the role of or barriers
to love in marriage. Alcott remains pessimistic while Sand finds solutions. Both authors maintain
the sovereignty of passion. Both conclude, “love cannot be forced.” Although critics denounced
Jacques and were shocked
that its adulterous passions were not criminalized, Emerson praised Sand’s courage, and Alcott
classed Sand with Shakespeare and Dickens. Reading Sand’s works inspired Alcott to move beyond
passionless depictions of marriage. Alcott also responded to marketplace
pressures; they shape Alcott’s response to the 1882 edition. Adolescent girls found Alcott’s
realism in her characters and plot; many critics (other than Henry James) also praised the realism
of her novel.
Following these presentations, listeners pondered Eliot’s influence on Alcott. Jo’s Boys refers to
her in “Among the Maids” where Jo comments that she prefers reading the works of Charlotte Brontë
because in Eliot’s writings, “the heart seems left out.” Especially in the Camp Laurence chapter,
Alcott rejects English attitudes about proper roles for women. Some audience members suggested that
Moods might more productively compare with Daniel Deronda than Little Women, adding that Geoffrey
is rich, but that isn’t why he’s the wrong choice for Sylvia. Others suggested that Campbell look
more specifically at Daniel’s marriage to Mirah and also the Jewish subculture of Eliot’s novel.
Audience members noted that English morals and values are not necessarily the same as European
ideas. The “On the Shelf” chapter of Little Women, for instance, alludes to French customs. Some
panelists and audience members wondered
whether there are any key differences between American and English illustrators’ works. Clark
suggested that the worst illustrators tend to be American, and that many illustrated editions have
poor production quality. One reason there may be fewer depictions of Europe is that some editions
only include the first part of the novel. Merrill’s and Jessie Wilcox Smith’s editions are most
often reprinted, perhaps because these illustrators emphasize sentimental aspects of Little Women.
The 1949
film especially influenced a number of illustrated editions, although in some cases illustrated
editions have
influenced the various films. A separate question focused on mothering as an aspect of Alcott’s
work that distinguishes it from European contemporaries. Panelists acknowledged the importance of
Marmee as well as other mother figures such as Moods’ Faith Dane and confirmed the absence of that
wise, supportive voice in works by Sand and Eliot and Austen (in whose works mothers are often
depicted in negative or passive ways). Americans

did read Sand’s works; she was the most discussed French author in America in the 1840s, but she
was increasingly written out of the conversation in later decades. Who or what changed her
reputation? An audience tangent reflected anxieties that children today are not reading Little
Women. Various audience members reported that when their book clubs selected Alcott’s novel,
readers either didn’t finish it or didn’t attend the
meetings. It continues to be popular in Britain, where it is seen as quintessentially American.
Following discussion, audience members thanked the panelists for their stimulating presentations.










Charlene Avallone, Beverly Lyon Clark, Ellen Campbell, Chris Doyle

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Summary of actions taken at the Louisa May Alcott Society’s annual business meeting, held on
Thursday, 21 May 2015:

President Sandy Petrulionis welcomed members and guests to the business meeting of the Louisa May
Alcott Society and introduced the Past Presidents in attendance, Joel Myerson and Mary Lamb
Shelden, as well as the current officers. Members approved the minutes for the
2014 business meeting and the 2015 Treasurer’s Report. As of May 2015, $620 in dues income has been
deposited. The Society has spent $927.22, including maintenance of the PayPal account, fees for the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, expenses for the anniversary reception and a donation to Orchard
House, but there is still a balance of $3,178.56. There are 55 paid members, including 8 new
members. Nominations Committee chair Mary Shelden presented the following slate of nominees, which
was approved by the members in attendance: President-Elect, Anne Phillips, 2015-16; Secretary,
Marlowe Daly-Galeano, 2015-2017; Treasurer, Melissa Pennell, 2015-2017. For the Advisory Board,
Wes Mott was elected to serve from 2015-2018.












Sandy, Melissa, Anne, Marlowe, Wes

The 2016 American Literature Association meeting will be held in San Francisco. Members discussed
possible topics for Alcott Society panels at the 2016 ALA. Marlowe Daly-Galeano offered to chair a
panel on “Alcott for Grown-Ups” (proposed by Phyllis Cole in light of the connections between
Alcott’s adult fiction and American Realism), and there will also be a panel on “Representations of
Teaching and Learning in Alcott” (chair to be determined). The remainder of the meeting was
dedicated to discussing final transportation arrangements for the 10th anniversary celebration at
Orchard House. Members expressed appreciation to Melissa Pennell for making the arrangements for
the reception, and they also acknowledged the generosity of President Petrulionis, who used her own
travel funding to pay for the “party bus” that transported celebrants to and from Concord. There
being no further business, the meeting adjourned and picture-taking commenced.

If he has not already gone give him my respects & tell him I hope the new water will do him so much
good he will start right off & pass the summer at Belle’s country house in Egypt.
I am much better, & mother thinks Watertown a most healthful place. So do I & Dr. Barrett.
I have been afraid to try my lovely portfolio yet, but hope a spring-like day or two will put a
thought into my head poetical enough to be written on my green & silver book, & good enough to be
sent to you. Father &
mother thought the portfolio perfection.
Miss Hoar was charmed with her strawberries, & they were the town talk for several days. It must be
so pleasant to have one’s name always associated with fruit,
& flowers, kind thoughts & friendly deeds, as yours is, dear Mrs Adams.
With much love I am yours both gratefully &
affectionately.





















L.M. Alcott

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President-Elect (and outgoing Secretary/Editor) Anne Phillips offers some thoughts about the
Society’s accomplishments and future goals:































Our record-setting number of business meeting attendees!


****************************************************

Advisory Board member and Concord Free Public Library Special Collections Curator Leslie Wilson
contributes the following item of interest to Alcott scholars:

The Concord Free Public Library has just purchased an undated Louisa May Alcott letter with
accompanying envelope. Postmarked from Concord on 5
August, the four-page letter is addressed to Mrs. Adams (identified by the auction company as Mrs.
Anne Rebecca Adams). In it, Alcott refers to sending autographs to
Mrs. Adams's husband (Alvin Hoar Adams), thanks her
for the gift of a portfolio, and writes of Miss Hoar’s pleasure in strawberries sent by the lady.
The letter has been added to the Library’s Alcott-Nieriker-Pratt Family Correspondence (finding aid
accessible at
http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Fin_Aids/ANP
_family.html). Dear Mrs Adams,
I send you the autographs I promised, but they are not as nice as I hoped. The best ones have been
given away I find. These however are genuine, & if they are of any use to you I shall be very glad.
When Mr Adams goes he can get you any you want, you know.






























The Louisa May Alcott Society celebrates its 10th anniversary with jubilation. It is exciting that
so many members attended the business meeting this year. Our anniversary event at Orchard House was
the envy of other ALA attendees. With the future of LMAS in mind, I attended a session at ALA on
“Women Writers and Author Societies.” I’d like to reflect on what we have accomplished and what we
might like to do in the future.
Listening to several presenters who noted that their emerging author societies have no published,
accessible biographies or other materials, I realized how fortunate we are to have such a wealth of
available scholarly resources. We are grateful for biographical resources by Madeleine Stern, and,
more recently, John Matteson, among others. We will always be indebted to Joel Myerson, Daniel
Shealy, and Madeleine Stern for their attention to Alcott’s Selected Letters and Journals. Beverly
Lyon Clark’s Louisa May Alcott: The Contemporary Reviews is an essential resource, and Little Women
and the Feminist Imagination, which Clark co-edited with Janice M. Alberghene, collects some of the
most important early scholarship on Alcott’s novel. Greenwood’s Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia,
featuring the work of nearly 80 Alcott scholars in nearly 600 entries, provides a wealth of easily
accessible information about all things Alcott. I would find it difficult to write about Louisa
without these resources at hand.
Next, as speakers at the Author Society panel
agreed, the author’s writings need to be regularly taught. Some LMAS members regularly teach Little
Women. Others regularly teach Hospital Sketches, or Moods, or Work, or selected “thrillers,”
particularly “Behind a Mask.” Student-friendly editions of many of these works are in print, but we
might consider expanding our

classroom canon of Alcott works. What aren’t we teaching that we should be teaching? Also, how
might we encourage editors to better situate Alcott’s works in the standard nineteenth-century
American literature textbooks?
A few of the other author societies mentioned that
they have hosted prizes for the best scholarship on their author in a given year, or student essay
contests. These are ideas worth considering in the future. (See the following article about the
2016 Signet Writing Contest for high-school students, by the way.) The Emerson Society offers a
grant to bring a student to ALA to present a paper. Would the LMAS want to consider this for the
future? Would we want to create study guides or other pedagogical materials and post them to our
website, as some author societies do? Additionally, Alcott scholar-teachers are directing
undergraduate research projects that would be of interest to LMAS members. Would it be helpful to
include a column in the newsletter occasionally in which we summarize some of these undergraduate
research projects? It would be wonderful
if more of these projects could lead to presentations at
our conferences. In addition, other associations have mentoring programs. Senior scholars
associated with the LMAS have always been most supportive and encouraging to up-and-coming
scholars. Would we want to develop a more formal mentoring program?
Roundtable speakers also acknowledged or desired some involvement with the museums or sites
associated with their authors. It was an honor to celebrate our 10th anniversary at Orchard House.
We were delighted to make a small contribution toward its preservation, and we look forward to
seeing the Kickstarter-funded documentary about it that is in production.
The representatives of author societies that have reached their 20th or 30th anniversaries
recommend collaboration with other associations on panels for conferences such as ALA. Having
co-sponsored successful panels with the Whitman Society in Washington in 2014 (on Whitman, Alcott,
and nursing in the Civil War) and with the Fuller Society this year, we
are moving in that direction. At this year’s LMAS
business meeting, members expressed enthusiasm for co- sponsored panels in the future, perhaps with
the Rebecca Harding Davis Society. The Cooper Society has
expressed interest in co-sponsoring a panel as well.
(Cooper and Alcott? Hmmm!) Although there is not yet an ALA-affiliated Frederick Douglass Society,
LMAS members were enthusiastic about offering a panel on Alcott and Douglass in the future.
Speakers at the roundtable emphasized that they work to host sessions on their authors at a range
of conferences, not just at ALA. We have sponsored successful panels at the annual conferences of
the Children’s Literature Association and sometimes at the conferences sponsored by the Society for
the Study of American Women Writers. Some intrepid LMAS members have traveled to Australia to share
their work on Alcott through ACLAR, the Australasian Children’s Literature Association for
Research.  We need to

continue making good use of these venues and reaching out to other organizations as well. If you
are going to other conferences where members might be interested in scholarship about Alcott,
consider organizing a panel. Also, we are developing fliers for LMAS that we would be happy to have
you share.
Author society panelists emphasized the need for vision. Where does the Louisa May Alcott Society
want to be in ten or twenty years? Where might Alcott scholarship need to go from here? 2015 marks
the 40th anniversary of Stern’s publication of Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May
Alcott, and we are only a few years away from the 150th anniversary of Little
Women. How would we like to acknowledge and celebrate
these milestones? As I noted above, we have access to the biographies, letters, and journals, but
I’d love to see an updated, more accessible edition of Stern’s Critical Essays on LMA, which is
currently out of print. Also, it will be increasingly important to digitize Alcott archives. At the
LMAS business meeting this year, members
expressed a desire for a panel on this topic at ALA within the next few years.
Our Society would not exist without Mary Lamb Shelden, Joel Myerson, Wes Mott, and Sandy
Petrulionis, who initiated the Society ten years ago. Mary and Sandy served extended terms as
officers, sponsored panels, attended ALA (nearly every year), and ensured that there would be a
10th anniversary. In addition, we thank Larry Carlson and Daniel Shealy, who have also served as
President, as well as all who have served on the Board over the years. Current Treasurer and
invaluable co- conspirator Melissa Pennell graciously has agreed to
serve a second term, and we are delighted that Marlowe Daly-Galeano will join the Executive
Committee as Secretary for the next two years. We are indebted to
these colleagues for their service. It is essential, however, that there are other members who are
willing to take on leadership roles in the coming years. If you think this is work that you would
enjoy, please get involved: submit proposals to the LMAS (or other ALA) panels, come to our
business meetings, and begin to be more involved in our Society’s activities.
We have enviable momentum as we move into our second decade. As of the end of May 2015, 55 members
have paid their annual dues. We’d love to see
membership grow, not only in the Treasurer’s Report but
also in the range of members attending and presenting at conferences, holding offices, and ensuring
the Society’s future. LMAS must continue to welcome all kinds of Alcott enthusiasts—scholars,
students, fans. Let’s make the best possible use of our listserve discussions. Let’s continue
talking about what we’d like the Society to be and become. Please help spread the word about our
Society and invite friends and colleagues to join us in celebrating all things Alcott!
2016 Signet Classics
Student Scholarship
National Essay Contest on Littl e Wome n !
Five high school juniors or seniors will
each win $1,000 to be used toward their higher education as well as a Signet Classics Library for
their school. Essays must be at least two and no more than three double-­‐spaced typed pages.
Entries must be postmarked by April 14, 2016; Students must write on one of these topics:

1. Discuss possible interpretations  of the word “little” in Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little
Women. How do characters use or reference the term? Is “little” consistently employed as a positive
term of endearment? How do you think Alcott intended the word to be interpreted?

2. In many ways, the novel pivots around Marmee, whom Alcott depicts as a model woman, wife, and
mother. Why do you think Alcott created an idealized figure in a novel otherwise filled with deeply
human—admirable yet flawed—characters? Do you find Marmee’s exalted goodness credible? Why or why
not?

3. Although the Civil War serves as the novel’s backdrop,
it is only directly observed or discussed as it relates to the economic and emotional well being of
the mostly female characters on the home front. In spite of this, does Alcott make any
philosophical  or moral points about the war against slavery? Or does she remain neutral?

4. Despite their close relationship,  Jo ultimately rejects Laurie’s marriage proposal. Do you
think she makes the right decision? What characteristics  does Amy have that might make her a
better mate for Laurie?

5. The experience of poverty recurs as a theme throughout the novel. What effect does poverty have
on the characters? How do the values and behaviors of the March sisters contrast with those of the
wealthy?
For further details, see
http://www.penguin.com/services- academic/essayhome/

****************************************************

Orchard House Event: the 2015 Conversational Series and Teacher Institute, Sunday - Thursday, July
12-16: “‘Heaven in the Mind’: The Spirit of Place in Transcendental Concord.”

“Nature and the spirit of place were sources of great inspiration to the writers and
Transcendentalists of Concord, seizing the imaginations and shaping the lives and philosophies of
Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Channing, Hawthorne, and others. Louisa May Alcott may have found life
dull at times in the sleepy village of Concord, but the surrounding beauty cast its spell on
Alcott and fired her imagination, infusing her writings
with abundant life and energy. Amos Bronson Alcott called this spiritual muse his ‘heaven in the
mind,’ a philosophical fancy reaped from the rich natural countryside that lay before him.
Speakers and participants in this year’s Series will
explore the magical effects of environment on the thoughts and writings of 19th Century authors,
poets, and philosophers, and examine what the ‘spirit of place’ means in today’s world.”
Presenters include Jeannine Atkins; Steve Burby; Cathlin Davis; Gabrielle Donnelly; Anne-Laure
François; Jason Giannetti; Jayne Gordon; Robert Gross; Stefanie Jochman; Lianne Kulik; Adriana
Lanzi; Cecilia Macheski; Kristi Martin; and John Matteson.

****************************************************
Recent publications:

Gregory Eiselein and Anne Phillips, eds. Critical Insights:
Little Women. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2015.

Stephen Jarvis, Death and Mr Pickwick (a novel), New
York, NY: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2015.

John Matteson, “Finding Private Suhre: On the Trail of Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Prince of Patients,’”
New England Quarterly 88.1 (March 2015): 104-125.
**************************************************** Many thanks to Sandy Petrulionis for her
photographs,
and to Leslie Wilson for her article on the letter recently
acquired by the Concord Free Public Library!

**************************************************** Please renew your membership for 2015-2016, if
you haven’t already.

To use PayPal, click on “Subscriptions and Memberships” at the Society’s web site:
www.louisamayalcottsociety.org. Scroll down to the PayPal link and follow the directions to submit
payment electronically.
If renewing by mail, please send your $10 check, payable to the Louisa May Alcott Society, to
Melissa Pennell, Department of English, UMass Lowell, 61
Wilder St., Lowell, MA, 01854.

***********************************************

The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The Portfolio, is published in January and July. Please
send Alcott-related news to incoming LMAS Secretary and Portfolio Editor, Marlowe Daly-Galeano:
hmdalygaleano@lcsc.edu.

Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library.

The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 17   __Winter 2015

“Eminent Women” Then and Now, contributed by Melissa Pennell:


      If you have ever visited Orchard House, you have probably noticed the “Eminent Women” composite that hangs in the house and is available as a reproduction in the shop. At the center of the composite sits Louisa, surrounded by eleven other women of her day. Many of the eleven are known to us today, while others have faded from view, their names no longer evoking any sense of recognition. I began to wonder who might appear in an updated version of this composite. Which women writers might the members of the Louisa May Alcott Society place in Louisa’s company?  With the tools of Photoshop, we might even be able to create a new assembly, but before doing so, we will benefit from [seems a dangling participle that needs “we” as a subject?]a little history and background on the current “Eminent Women” print may be helpful.   
      “Eminent Women” was a product of the Notman Studio, a Canadian firm that also had business ventures in the United States. Founded by William Notman, the studio originated in Montreal in 1856; by the 1860s, its work was beginning to be appreciated outside Canada. Notman did studio portraits, landscapes, and outdoor sports/adventure photography. In the late 1860s, Notman pursued ventures in the United States, initially taking photographic images of northeastern colleges, including Harvard, Yale, and Vassar. Albums containing these images were assembled in Montreal and shipped to the respective colleges, but changes in postal regulations began to make this a cumbersome project, so Notman established branch studios in some US cities, including Boston, Albany, and Philadelphia. (Branches went as far west as Ann Arbor, Michigan). In addition to preparing “view books,” the studios also photographed individuals for cartes de visite (photographs mounted on card stock, about the size of a playing card) and for “cabinets” (similar to the carte, but larger in size, often 5” x7”).1 
      While portrait photography grew in popularity, the use of artwork and photography to illustrate advertisements expanded in the post-Civil War era. Cabinets produced as collectibles were sometimes used to promote company names or product lines, and some American companies began to have decorative calendars printed that would be displayed in customers’ businesses and homes, keeping the company name before consumers throughout the year. One of the firms that initiated this practice was the Travelers Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. It commissioned Notman Studios to prepare composites for reproduction as calendar art and as cabinets.2 The initial series featured Union and Confederate commanding officers (those of Confederate officers were sent to company offices in the South).3 Additional composites appeared, including “Famous American Authors” for 1883. This composite, which may have drawn on the painting “Irving and his Friends at Sunnyside” (1879) by George Schussele for inspiration, depicts all men, with Emerson seated in the foreground. The composite of “Eminent Women” (1884) soon followed.4 To produce these composites, individual photographs were pasted onto a board to which artwork or segments of other photographs had been added to create the setting; the entire composite image was then re-photographed (Lewis and Lewis 485). Many of the composites made for Travelers in the 1880s were designed by Canadian artist and photographer Eugene L’Africain (1859-1892), who was employed by Notman Studios in Montreal. It is likely that he also added the painted detail that surrounds the center composite.
      The “Eminent Women” composite is arranged to appear as though the women are gathered in an elegant Victorian drawing room. The background was taken from interior photos of the home of Sir George Stephen in Montreal, while the portraits of the individual women had all been taken in Boston at the Notman Photographic Company. Many of these portraits were also used as frontispieces in works published by the individual women. That the portraits were all taken in the Boston studio makes this a composite of “Eminent Women of New England,” for no women writers from other regions of the country are included. Who are the individuals who surround Louisa in this assembly? Those who have remained well known or whose work has enjoyed rediscovery through the work of feminist scholars include Frances Hodgson Burnett, Julia Ward Howe, Helen Hunt Jackson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Lucy Larcom, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps [Ward], and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Those whose names are less familiar or who have fallen into obscurity include Mary Livermore, Louise Chandler Moulton, Grace Oliver, and Nora Perry.5
      Because we are not limited to portraits taken in Notman’s Boston studio, whom might we add to this circle of “Eminent Women”?  Which of the writers currently included should be kept in the composite and which should be removed to make room for others?
Editor Anne Phillips responds: Thank you for this fascinating article, Melissa! In consultation with President Sandy Petrulionis, I soon will be polling the LMAS membership to determine which 19th century American women writers should be included in an updated Eminent Women portrait. We will report on the results of the ballot in the Summer 2015 Portfolio, and we hope to announce the results as well during our 10th Anniversary celebration at the American Literature Association conference in May.
__________

1 Cabinets proved to be a popular collectible and remained in vogue until World War I.
2 Travelers Insurance still issues calendars with reproduction artwork. For many years, they have offered Currier and Ives calendars, and there is one available for 2015.
3 A fine cabinet of the Union officers was offered at auction in 2011 with an estimated price of $400-500.
4 Some records also mention a composite of “Famous Editors,” but additional details on this composite remain a mystery.
5 Mary Livermore (1820-1905): Born Mary Ashton Rice, she was the daughter of a Boston minister and graduated from the Charlestown Female Seminary, where she had trained to be a teacher. In 1839 she accepted a position as a teacher on a Virginia plantation. Witnessing the horrors of slavery firsthand, she became an abolitionist, one of the first reform movements to which she was drawn. Like many women drawn to the abolitionist movement, she also supported temperance and later women’s suffrage. She married Daniel Livermore, a Unitarian minister, in 1845. When the Civil War broke out, Mary volunteered for the Sanitary Commission and was active in fundraising as well as visitations to hospitals. After the war, her focus on women’s rights increased. She moved back to Boston in 1870, serving as editor of the Women’s Journal. Recruited to the Lyceum circuit, she became a noted lecturer, focusing primarily on women’s rights and reform movements. Louise Chandler Moulton (1835-1908): [Ellen] Louise Chandler was born in Pomfret, Connecticut. She attended Emma Willard’s Female Seminary in Troy, New York, for one year in 1854-55; later that year she married William Moulton and the couple settled in Boston. Moulton enjoyed an active career as an author, commentator, and literary hostess. She worked as a literary correspondent for the New York Tribune in the 1870s and in the 1890s wrote a weekly literary column for the Boston Herald. She established a literary salon in her home in Boston attended by many New England authors, including Emerson and Longfellow. Grace A. Oliver (1844-1899): Grace Atkinson Little was born in Boston, and lived much of her life on Commonwealth Avenue. She began writing shortly after her first husband, John Harvard Ellis, died a year into their marriage. She wrote articles for the Atlantic Monthly and Scribner’s Monthly (under her deceased husband’s name) as well as various Boston newspapers; her significant contributions are primarily biographies of Maria Edgeworth, Theodore Parker, Letitia Barbauld, and Arthur P. Stanley. She separated from her second husband, Dr. Joseph Oliver, in 1889 and moved to Salem, where she lived for the last decade of her life. Nora Perry (1831-1896): Nora Perry was born in Dudley, Massachusetts, but grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. She wrote in many genres, but poetry and children’s literature became her focus. She also served as the Boston correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the Providence Journal.  
delete one of these blank lines/spaces?

Works Cited
Dodds, Gordon, Roger Hall, and Stanley Triggs. The
     World of William Notman: The Nineteenth Century
     through a Master Lens. Toronto: McClelland and
     Stewart, 1998.
Lewis, R.W.B., and Nancy Lewis. American Characters:
     Selections from the National Portrait Gallery, Accompanied
     by Literary Portraits. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999.
Parsons, Sarah. William Notman: Life and Work.
     Toronto: Art Canada Institute, 2014.

Alcott, Transcendentalism, and Fate, 
contributed by Phyllis Cole:

     Early in Alcott’s first novel, Moods, her heroine Sylvia Yule visits the library of Geoffrey Moor and muses about a painting of the three fates hanging on its wall. “I was wondering,” she tells the man who will become her husband, “if there was any way of making those old women spin our threads as we want them. They look very stern and pitiless.” But later, amid the crisis that has overtaken her marriage, she addresses this emblematic painting again: “I no longer fear you, pagan sisters. I am learning to spin my own life” (Alcott 232, 275).
     In 2014, as noted in the last Portfolio, the Louisa May Alcott Society celebrated the 150th anniversary of Moods with a full panel of papers about it at the American Literature Association. I would like to join that conversation here with thoughts on the place of Alcott’s early novel in late Transcendentalism. Moods tells of a woman’s coming of age and its problematic outcome in marriage. But in these very ways the novel also enacts a battle with the forces of fate: references to fate permeate both of its versions, published in 1864 and 1882, despite the different outcomes of Sylvia’s death in the first and recommitment to Geoffrey in the second. For example, when she first chooses friendship with him, along with any “consequences” friendship might bring, the narrator comments that “fate took her at her word” (38). Though the scenes of her confronting the painting in the library appear only in the later version, I would argue that they are part of the ten chapters she regretfully cut in 1864 so as to meet her publisher’s demand: the earlier version actually includes an allusion to the painting that she failed to either explain or omit (171).  
     Recognizing this frame for the novel, as well as its larger meditation on fate, adds a crucial dimension to Moods as an Emersonian book and a contribution to late Transcendentalism. “Fate” was the title of his leading essay in The Conduct of Life, published the same year (1860) that Alcott first drafted Moods; and the painting of “Three Fates” that she has Sylvia contemplate hung in fact on the wall of Emerson’s study. Other aspects of Alcott’s debt to Emerson are well known, whether the novel’s title and epigraph about “moods,” from his essay “Experience,” or its larger modeling of Moor on Alcott’s mentor. But the painting is less often commented upon. Diane Whitley-Bogard, who is at work on a study of all the visual art in Emerson’s house, tells me that it is a copy by the American artist William Allen Wall of work by Italian Francesco de’ Rossi; visitors can still see it today at the Concord Museum.  
     To Sylvia the painting represents ominous possibilities by portraying the classical female figures of destiny who spin, measure, and cut short the thread of life. “The old ways fail,” she tells her father, “so I attempt new ones” (25). But her attempts are driven by “whims” and “moods,” the product of both her unhappy family history and her lack as a woman of moral education. She has no “self-reliance,” and this absence creates her “fate.” All of these terms come from Emerson. Indeed she anticipated his essay in using the last term, since she composed Moods in the summer of 1860, four months before he published “Fate” in The Conduct of Life. In all likelihood she was still responding to Emerson: he had given lectures by this title since 1850, and the flow of talk and manuscript between their Concord houses would have given her ready access to this most skeptical of his veins of thought. The Emerson from whom Alcott learned was not only the early optimist, but also the late questioner: “Where do we find ourselves?” “How shall I live?” (Emerson 471, 943)
     Alcott revised rather than echoed Emerson, however. Her voice emerged from a more complex setting than his mentorship alone; it was even more darkly realistic—and gendered female. She wrote that Moods had long been growing in her mind, and we can further position it in what she called her “romantic period,” which began at the age of fifteen in 1847 with her discoveries in his library (Cheney 57). From then until 1860, the year she first composed Moods, all three of the Transcendentalists whom she evoked in it contributed directly or indirectly to the late phase of the movement. Thoreau published Walden, from which Alcott drew details of Sylvia’s river trip as well as the character of Adam Warwick; in 1862 Thoreau died, and Moods memorialized him.  Fuller moved beyond Woman in the Nineteenth Century to revolution in Italy, dying in 1850 and eliciting the Memoirs of her life two years later. Alcott’s woman-centered novel was profoundly influenced by her, both by appropriating the Italian plot for Warwick and by frontally examining female life formations and partnerships. But if Alcott feminized Emerson’s “Experience” and “Fate” under the influence of Fuller, she also darkened Fuller’s prophecies for women under Emersonian influence, delineating a character unlike Fuller’s self-reliant and father-educated Miranda. Alcott’s Sylvia coped with imperfection after only brief glimpses of utopia. In the end, of course, late Transcendentalism was producing a new writer rather than merely repeating itself.       
Works Cited
Alcott, Louisa May. Moods. Ed. Sarah Elbert. 1864 and  
     1882; New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1991.
Cheney, Ednah D. Louisa May Alcott. Ed. Ann Douglas. 
     1889; New York: Chelsea House, 1980.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Lectures. Ed. Joel
     Porte. New York: Library of America, 1983.  

Daniel Shealy and Christine Doyle, presenters at the 2014 ALA Alcott Society panel on Moods, graciously have continued the conversation with these responses to Phyllis’s [shouldn’t it be apostrophe+s when a proper name ends in s?] article for The Portfolio. Daniel contributes the following:

     Through the lens of Emerson’s “Fate,” Phyllis Cole offers a new way to view Alcott’s Moods. Cole’s argument looks forward—not backwards—to the literature of the second half of the nineteenth century, when those writers who were influenced by the transcendentalists would, in turn, create their own vision. As Cole notes: “[Alcott’s] voice emerged from a more complex setting than his mentorship alone; it was even more darkly realistic—and gendered female.” After experiencing the harshness and impartiality of the Civil War’s effects at the Union Hotel Hospital in late 1862 and early 1863, Alcott turned to recasting Moods soon after Hospital Sketches was published. It is no wonder she incorporates not only the Emersonian ideas of “Self-Reliance” but also, as Cole says, those uncertainties of  “the late questioner.” [should we change this to I find? rather than put Daniel the author of this piece in 3rd person? Daniel] finds Phyllis’s idea about the role of fate especially intriguing and would love to see her explore it in greater depth--with references both to RWE and the novel. 


Christine offers this response to Phyllis’ piece: 

     It does seem, more and more, according to critical consensus, that for all its allusions to Emerson, Moods asserts a need to go beyond his version of Transcendentalism rather than to repeat it. Alcott appears, however, to bring Fuller’'s ideas to fruition, rather than to revise them. In “"The Great Lawsuit,”"[just revising to curly quotation marks, to match the earlier uses] Fuller’'s “"Miranda”" says that other women could probably not follow her precise path, since “"[t]his self-dependence, which was honored in me, is deprecated as a fault in  most women”" (17). Later in the essay, Fuller suggests that for most women of her time, who are raised in a societal context, full development might only be achievable through a conscious withdrawal from society for “"a time of isolation,”" where “"we shall not decline celibacy,”" in order for the soul’'s full development and a return to union with another. As she so beautifully puts it, “"Union is only possible to those who are units”" (64). Perhaps the men’'s removal to Europe in both versions of _Moods_ affords Sylvia the developmental time Fuller recommended, even if she wasn’'t able ultimately to act on it until 1882. 

Work Cited
Fuller, Margaret. Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845).
     Mineola, NY: Dover, 1999.

Thanks to Phyllis, Daniel, and Christine for their contributions and conversation! If you have additional thoughts to add, please post them to the LMAS listserve. We look forward to continuing our consideration and celebration of Moods in that forum!

Presenter and attendee Lauren Rizzuto provides for us the following summary of Orchard House’s 2014 Summer Conversation Series:

     Orchard House celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the Summer Conversational Series and Teacher Institute in July 2014. This year’s theme, “Navigating the Vortex: Creative Genius in the Time of the Alcotts,” encouraged lively discussion among the participants as they considered such questions as: what did Transcendentalists understand to be the difference between “talent” and “genius”? How did Louisa May Alcott and May Alcott perceive their positions on that spectrum, and in what ways did their self-perceptions spur them on to achieve their life’s work? Did genius burn, Jo?
     “The history of this Series is rooted in Bronson Alcott’s dream, of course,” says Jan Turnquist, the Executive Director of Orchard House. “In July of 1879 he began one of America’s earliest experiments in adult education with friends Ralph Waldo Emerson, Franklin Sanborn, and William Torrey Harris.” The Series was originally held in Bronson’s study, with the windows open, both to let in a breeze and so that others in the community could come and listen. Today, as one might imagine, the tradition continues to be a scholarly retreat of sorts, a place where Alcott enthusiasts, scholars, and writers may gather together for a few days of enriching, intellectual conversation. Jan Turnquist and Lis Adams, the Director of Education at Orchard House, moderate the event with confidence and hospitality. As a result, the atmosphere is collegiate, yet casual: in a light-filled room adorned with May’s paintings and photographs of the Alcott family, conference participants sit comfortably on cushiony chairs and sofas as they listen to each presenter’s talk. Afterwards, there is time for questions and debate as well as cookies, homemade chili, and quiche.
     Above all, the Series honors the Alcotts’ commitment to life-long learning. The first presentation, a panel discussion called “The Conundrum of Creativity,” led by Phyllis Cole, George Howe Colt, and Pulitzer prizewinning Megan Marshall, successfully kicked off the conversations to follow by positioning the Alcotts, and questions of their “genius,” in a cultural, historical context. While many note the significance of Emerson and Fuller, the panelists drew upon their research to explore lesser-known influences, such as Mary Moody Emerson and the Peabody Sisters, who acted as mentors and sounding boards for these major figures and, in turn, continue to influence our understanding of genius in the nineteenth-century. Several presenters continued this line of inquiry: Steve Burby and Kristina West expanded upon Goethe and Bronson Alcott’s formative place in conversations of the day, whereas Jason Giannetti spoke of Transcendentalism as a collaborative exercise. Another Pulitzer prizewinner, John Matteson, offered a nuanced evaluation of Margaret Fuller’s hurdles and triumphs as a female intellectual.
     Indeed, for many, Louisa May Alcott’s writing bespeaks a decidedly female intellectual climate, one that found inspiration not only in the leading minds of the day but also in the home. In this way, Orchard House becomes the perfect venue for the Series: just as it is gratifying to talk of Louisa’s writing in the company of her books, it is exciting to talk of May’s art while viewing it firsthand. Presenters Cathlin Davis, Kristi Martin, and Anne-Laure François focused their attention upon the Alcott sisters, most notably May, in their discussions of how Louisa’s genius was inspired by—and perhaps overwhelmed by—artistic collaboration and sibling rivalry in her family. Other presenters traced the Alcott sisters’ influence into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: Beverly Lyon Clark offered a marvelously thorough history of book illustration of Little Women in her presentation, which then served as a springboard for Lauren Rizzuto to focus on the ways that illustration and text shape our perception of the sisters as artists. Kyoko Amano considered Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott’s early contributions to children’s literature with the publications of their wonder books. And Olivia Milch’s presentation, “‘If Louisa May Alcott Were Alive Today, She’d be a Screenwriter,’” concluded the talks with a satisfying sense of aperture.
     The diverse perspectives of the presenters, combined with the energy and insight of those in attendance, make for an exhilarating few days. “‘Heaven in the Mind’: The Spirit of Place in Transcendental Concord,” the 2015 series, will be held July 12-16, 2015. Those interested in participating should visit Orchard House’s website, www.louisamayalcott.org. All are welcome.

Recent publications of interest:
Beverly Lyon Clark has published The Afterlife of “Little Women” (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014). As Gregory Eiselein notes, “This superb, scrupulously researched book breaks new ground. Clark provides readers with a comprehensive narrative for understanding the changing reception of Little Women.” Clark draws on an astonishing range of resources, including letters, autobiographies, diaries, Alcott’s references to fans, sales figures, library circulation figures, published reviews, adaptations, and reviews of adaptations, among other domestic and international materials, and she cites more than two dozen different digital archives that enabled her to access and amass the wealth of information accumulated in this volume. Eiselein concludes, “No one has previously researched the critical or popular reception of Little Women in such detail or with such nuance. This is an impressive, original, and well-written book.”

Phyllis Cole and co-editor Jana L. Argersinger have published Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism ([to be consistent w/ Johns Hop. citation above] University of Georgia, 2014), a collection of twenty essays that according to Susan Belasco is “[a]n astonishing record of scholarship that examines transcendentalism from the perspective of women writers [and demonstrates] that women contributed directly and positively to the movement of transcendentalism.” Philip F. Gura asserts that this is “a book that delights and instructs at every turn[,] a signal achievement [that] will redirect the study of both transcendentalism and American romanticism generally.”

Louisa May Alcott: Work, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Stories & Other Writings (Library of America #256, 2014). Edited by Susan Cheever, this volume includes several works by Alcott that were published between 1872 and 1877, all of which focus on and support women’s rights. Three novels are included: Eight Cousins (1875) and its sequel, Rose in Bloom (1876), and also Work: A Story of Experience (1873). Additionally, the volume includes Alcott’s “Address of the Republican Women of Massachusetts,” “Kate’s Choice” (short fiction originally published in Hearth and Home, 1872, and reprinted in Cupid and Chow-Chow in 1874); “Anna’s Whim” (short fiction originally published in The Independent in 1873 and reprinted in Silver Pitchers); “How I Went Out to Service” (originally published in The Independent in 1874); “Woman’s Part in the Concord Celebration” (a letter published in 1875 in Boston’s feminist newspaper The Woman’s Journal); “Letter to the Woman’s Journal, June 29, 1876,” and “My Girls” (the introductory sketch from the fourth volume of Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag, published in December of 1877). 
Alcott, Louisa May. A Merry Christmas: And Other Christmas Stories (Penguin Christmas Classics, 2014). Festively packaged for the holiday season alongside volumes by Trollope, Hoffman, Gogol, and Dickens, this volume has been assembled, according to Penguin’s promotional materials, to demonstrate the way that Alcott “shaped the ideal of an American Christmas.” Previously, Alcott’s Christmas-themed stories and poems have been gathered together in volumes such as Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury (2002) and A Louisa May Alcott Christmas (2004). This Penguin collection includes “A Merry Christmas” (excerpted from Little Women, 1868); “Kate’s Choice” (see publication history, above); “The Quiet Little Woman” (originally written by Alcott for the Lukens sisters’ magazine, Young Folks’ Journal under the title “Patty’s Place” in 1874 and reprinted in My Girls); “Tilly’s Christmas” (a story published in Merry’s Museum in January 1868 that anticipates the Laurences’ Christmas contribution to the March sisters in Little Women and was reprinted in My Boys, the first volume of Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag [1872], among other venues); “What Love Can Do” (published as “How It All Happened” in Harper’s Young People in 1880 and included in An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, the sixth and final volume of Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag [1882]); “Rosa’s Tale” (a short story published in Jimmy’s Cruise in the Pinafore, volume five of Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag, 1879); and “Mrs. Podgers’ Teapot” (short fiction first published in the Saturday Evening Gazette in 1864 and reprinted in Hospital Sketches and Camp and Fireside Stories).
The editor thanks Melissa Pennell, Phyllis Cole, Lauren Rizzuto, Daniel Shealy, and Christine Doyle for their contributions to this edition of The Portfolio!

Please maintain current membership. 
To use PayPal, click on “Subscriptions and Memberships” at the Society’s web site: www.louisamayalcottsociety.org. Scroll down to the PayPal link and follow the directions to submit payment electronically. If renewing by mail, please send your $10 check, payable to the Louisa May Alcott Society, to Melissa Pennell, Department of English, UMass Lowell, 61 Wilder St., Lowell, MA, 01854.

The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The Portfolio, is published biannually in the summer and winter. Please send your Alcott-related news to LMAS Secretary and newsletter Editor, Anne Phillips: annek@ksu.edu.

Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by permission of the Concord Free Public Library.



The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 16 Summer 2014

The Louisa May Alcott Society and the “Lowell 5,” with great appreciation to LMAS Treasurer and Guest- Columnist Melissa Pennell:

In an 1868 letter to her mother, Louisa wrote, “Keep all the money I send; pay up every bill; get comforts and enjoy yourselves. Let's be merry while we may, and lay up a bit for a rainy day” (Alcott 113). Having gone through many lean times with her family, Louisa appreciated the security that even a small cushion of savings offered; with the success of Little Women and all that followed, Louisa had more than “a bit” of money with which she might care for those dear to her. But where, in the mid-nineteenth century, might the average working person safeguard a rainy-day fund?
How could an industrial worker who in the 1860s made on average 57¢ a day in one of the mill cities of Massachusetts save up enough after paying bills and meeting expenses to open an account at a local bank?
By the 1850s, the bustling industrial city of Lowell, Massachusetts, a mere fifteen miles from Concord, had five commercial banks (only Boston had more), but to open an account at any of them required an initial deposit of at least one dollar, a sum that many working people, including mill operatives, newsboys, and domestic servants, found hard to accumulate. In 1854,
a group of ministers and civic leaders petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for permission to charter a “Five-Cent” savings bank for the “benefit pecuniary and moral, of the operatives, workers, and laborers of Lowell, especially of the poorer and younger class” (Long 2). The legislature passed a bill to incorporate
the Lowell Five-Cent Savings Bank in April of that year and the bank opened to the public for business on June
3. On opening day, the bank established accounts for
309 depositors, 248 of whom were under the age of 15; their initial deposits ranged in amounts, but 29 were for the minimum 5¢. At the close of business the first day, the bank held $7,026 in new deposits. Given Louisa’s own experience in domestic service, she might have been pleased to know that the first depositor listed on the bank’s ledger was Julia Leonard, a chambermaid, who opened an account with $27.00 (could this have been her life savings?). Another depositor that day was Grace Wood, a young girl, whose 5¢ started an account to which she contributed regularly.
When the Lowell Five-Cent Savings Bank opened, it shared space with the already established Prescott
Bank, but by 1874 it had become a depository for cities and towns as well as individuals, and its assets had grown to $1,800,00, necessitating its move to

independent quarters.  The bank, mindful of its mission to serve working people, had business hours in the afternoons on four weekdays but also opened on Saturday evenings from 7 to 9 pm. Bank operations were unsettled by the Panic of 1873 and other banking crises over the decades; its condition and dividend payments followed the ups and downs of the local and national economy. In 1904, the Lowell Five piloted a program of opening “branch offices” in many local schools to accept deposits from students, still allowing customers to open accounts with as little as a nickel. While this was clearly good business practice for the bank in establishing relationships with potential customers early in their lives, the students responded with enthusiasm.  By 1911, students had $9,440 on deposit through the school branches – this grew to
$350,000 by 1972 (Long 59). Today, the Lowell 5 still operates branches in two of the region’s technical high schools (the amounts on deposit are not published). Well into the 20th century, the Lowell Five-Cent
Savings Bank allowed customers to open accounts with as little as its namesake 5¢. Today it functions as a full- service bank, but continues to offer customers a
savings account plan that requires no minimum balance.
When Sandy Petrulionis handed over the
Treasurer’s records and duties to me, we decided that it made sense to move the Society’s funds to a Massachusetts bank. Given its history, the “Lowell
Five” seemed a good choice. Although she did not look
favorably upon the expansion of industrialization and the conditions of factory life, Louisa might approve our choice of a financial institution that was established to serve the needs of people with limited means as well as those who enjoyed greater incomes.

Works Cited

Alcott, Louisa May. The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott, ed. Joel Myerson and Daniel Shealy with Madeleine B. Stern. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987.

Long, Robert C. Biography of a Savings Bank: A History of the
Lowell Five-Cent Savings Bank.  Privately Printed, 1972.














Melissa Pennell and Mary Shelden at the site of the Union Hotel Hospital in Washington, D.C. where Louisa May Alcott contributed to the war effort in December 1862-January
1863.

The Alcott Society sponsored two sessions at the 2014 American Literature Association conference in Washington, D.C.

“I Want Something To Do”: Alcott, Whitman, and Nursing in the Nation’s Capital.” Ed Folsom from the University of Iowa, representing the Whitman Studies Association, and Sandra Harbert Petrulionis from Penn State Altoona, representing the Louisa May Alcott Society, co-chaired this session.

In “Nursing’s Domestic Grotesque: Alcott, Whitman, and the Civil War Wounded,” Emily Waples of the University of Michigan explained that Whitman and Alcott both use the trope of the sentimental soldier but both also draw on “domestic grotesque,” in Bakhtin’s sense of the term (the grotesque body violating its own limits) as well as Ruskin’s (including both the ludicrous and the fearful). Whitman stresses the nurse/speaker’s willingness to lay hands on the body, envisioning exchange between patient and nurse. Nurse Periwinkle initially hungers for the grotesque, but as she bathes the wounded soldiers’ bodies, she revises her vision: “so many socks, shirts…” She calls attention to women’s invisible labor in the home, presenting surgery as a variation on domestic labor: a “dilapidated body” is compared with “a damaged garment,” and the doctor is “a very unpleasant looking housewife.” Both Alcott
and Whitman represent the writing hand (the amanuensis), emphasizing technologies of communication and relative assertions of subjectivity.

Sören Fröhlich from the University of California San Diego presented “The Pail Tells the Tale: Blood, Nursing, and the Remade Nation.” In Drum-Taps, Whitman alludes to a “nearly full” pail of blood. This image helps readers understand and differentiate between Whitman’s and Alcott’s writings in Memoranda of the War, Drum-Taps, and Hospital Sketches. Both authors create characters that were not part of the hospital staff as planned. According to The Hospital Steward’s Manual (Joseph J. Woodward, 1862), nurses were either male workers or enlisted men; female nurses might provide optional help but weren’t common. A wound-dresser would be a steward. African-American workers would be tasked with the hardest labor. Both authors alter the perception of nursing through their works. Whitman writes of “red life-blood oozing . . . upon that green and dew-cool grass.” Alcott refers to the floating vessel that can never wash away the “red stain of the lands.” In Whitman’s work, America can progress through the
war, absorbing the blood without being absorbed by it. Alcott’s Nurse Periwinkle makes the blood abstract and focuses on the living rather than the dead. For both authors, blood tells the tale of the failure of the nation.

J.D. Isip, of Texas A & M University-Commerce, presented “‘This Heart’s Geography’s Map’: Alcott and

Whitman Sketching an Affective landscape.” Both Whitman and Alcott create affective landscapes, causing those far from the battlefield to feel an
immediate connection. Citing practitioners such as Guy
Debord, Alfred Watkins, Ian Sinclair, and Will Self., Isip explained that psychogeography is not simply reporting but transforming situations. Whitman’s description “some youngster holds on to me convulsing” would be an example. For affect theory, concerned with forces that exist without the body, Isip cited Kathleen Steward, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Lauren Berlant, and Sara Ahmed. Ahmed refers to the cultural politics of emotion and looks at how emotion works on reader/text. Whitman and Alcott both provide useful examples for consideration through this lens. Alcott’s description of John will be familiar in light of Beth’s death in Little Women; Nurse Periwinkle has to tell John that he is dying, and he responds: “I’m
not afraid, but it’s difficult to believe.” Whitman writes, “young man, I think I know you.” Both authors create affective moments that link places and hearts.

Audience members asked to what extent Whitman dressed wounds? (Folsom also reminded audience members that the Drum-Taps poems are persona poems.) In response to the issue of blood, aren’t women more used to dealing with blood on a regular basis? Waples argued that for Alcott, daily domestic life afforded proximity to all kinds of fluids. Folsom
offered that some of Whitman’s notebooks held by the
University of Virginia could be blood-stained and that it may be possible to DNA-test those stains. Audience members noted the reference to blood in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address: America’s sins “must be paid for a drop of blood,” and they wondered why presenters didn’t more explicitly address race. Waples responded that such a discussion would be a logical extension of the panel’s focus on blood, but that time did not allow the speakers to extend their presentations in that direction. The final question focused on the fact that Whitman’s and Alcott’s Civil War texts were published in different contexts for different purposes—for example, Hospital Sketches was a fund- raiser and thus would avoid offending gentle sensibilities—and that the speakers might think more specifically about the purposes of these texts.










Petrulionis, Waples, Isip, Folsom, and Fröhlich

“Louisa May Alcott’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century: Mo o d s at 150.” Anne Phillips from Kansas State University chaired this session.


In “‘Playing with Edge Tools’: Teaching Louisa May Alcott’s Moods,” Daniel Shealy of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte argued that Margaret Fuller, rather than Ralph Waldo Emerson, is the most significant influence on Alcott’s novel. He noted that there are similarities between reviews of Alcott’s Moods and Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century, particularly because these women were daring to comment on the nature of marriage. Alcott herself ruefully responded that she had intended not to write about marriage but about a girl’s coming of age, and
she wryly noted, “My next book shall have no ideas…” Shealy always teaches the 1865 edition of Moods, although he summarizes the later edition’s changes, situating the novel within Alcott’s larger literary career and emphasizing what it reveals about her ideas about nineteenth-century women. He linked Moods to Alcott’s earlier fiction, particularly “The Lady and the Woman” (1856), published in the Saturday Evening Gazette. Shealy contrasted its protagonist, Kate Loring, with Sylvia
Yule in Moods. In “The Lady and the Woman,” Alcott
writes that a woman should be “man’s companion, not his plaything.” The ideal of Fuller’s egalitarian marriage, where partners assist one another to learn what is required, is acknowledged but not achieved in Alcott’s novel. Sylvia’s indoctrination in self-sacrifice prevents her from living her own life. Later, in “Early
Marriages,” published in the Ladies’ Home Journal in
1887, Alcott advocated that women should wait to marry, and that “principle, not passion should preside over the affair.” Shealy concluded by returning to Kate Loring’s more successful marriage and her position “at her husband’s side” in “The Lady and the Woman”— anticipating Alcott’s later works and the development of women’s rights.

Christine Doyle of Central Connecticut State University presented “Moods: ‘The Oversoul’ and Oysters.”
Doyle’s title is drawn from Louisa’s account of a visit
to the Radical Club meeting in 1872 and her humorous response to the Transcendentalist speakers. In her courses, Doyle links Moods with such works as Jane
Eyre, Faust, Alcott’s thrillers, and works by Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Theodore Parker, among others.
In her presentation, Doyle provided specific summaries
of Emerson’s and Thoreau’s physical appearances and character traits and their written principles about friendship and love. Although Henry James harrumphed that Warwick was “essentially a stereotype,” Doyle argued that the depiction of Warwick in Moods is true to Thoreau’s appearance and character, noting Warwick’s adherence to his “violently virtuous” principles above all else. Alcott was inspired
by events and ideas in Thoreau’s Week on the Concord and Merrimack (1949) and his essay on “Friendship” in particular. In connection with Alcott’s depiction of Geoffrey Moor, Doyle alluded to Emerson’s Nature but also Christopher Neufield’s 1991 essay in ATQ to unpack Emerson’s ideas about love and friendship.

Emerson casts friendship in a decidedly male light. In Moods, Alcott draws on these theories, but she demonstrates how real people dismiss what they believe when passion arises. In those conditions, they forget their higher ideals. Sylvia claims that she is too young to marry and only wants a friend, but she seems
unable to adhere to the Emersonian ideal of friendship, and her passion for Warwick thoroughly disrupts Transcendental ideas about love and friendship and truth. She confuses love and friendship. Moor and Warwick treat her with condescension (especially
during the river trip). Doyle finds the fireside chapter following Moor and Yule’s marriage to be “creepy,” particularly because of Sylvia’s “glad submission” (which reminds Doyle of Rochester’s relationship with Jane Eyre). Doyle finds the relationship between Moor and Warwick to be “much more suitable” in terms of equality, truth, and commitment. Doyle states, “I think Alcott is very funny,” particularly in her references to Moor and Warwick’s commitment to each other.

Mary Lamb Shelden, of Virginia Commonwealth University, offered an overview of a course on “Women in Transatlantic Literature” which would
include Moods, James’ The Portrait of a Lady, and Woolf’s The Voyage Out. (Originally, Shelden had envisioned pairing Moods with Woolf’s Night and Day, but she has found it fruitful to consider Moods in connection with Woolf’s first novel.) While James’s novel has received much greater critical attention, Alcott’s first novel
could spark a lively conversation in connection with James’ and Woolf’s works about formation of agency/identity, development of genius, the negotiation of relationships, male and female depictions of women in literature, definitions of bildung, and more. In these texts, what is the role of women in their own development? In what sense are they merely
instruments for men’s development? The female
protagonists of these novels commonly travel; they marry the wrong men; bildung is thwarted. Shelden invited the audience to continue to consider the ways these texts might work especially well together.

Audience members noted that Doyle and Shelden focused on transatlantic pairings while Shealy’s course is completely American. Discussion ensued about the depiction of nature in Moods (although Alcott is not thought of as a nature writer); Shelden noted that we first meet Sylvia in the garden. Doyle reminded the audience that Moor and Warwick develop their literary craft in Europe, rather than in America, and that Sylvia’s agency is arrested in the new world. Shealy noted that there is more nature writing in the 1882 edition than in the 1865 edition, and also called attention to Sylvia’s tableaux in the later edition. There was additional discussion about the evolution of the
1865 edition, with Alcott making extensive cuts in response to publisher Loring’s demands. (Shelden noted that The Voyage Out has a similar origin story.) Doyle asked about the ten chapters that Alcott

reported having cut; Shealy replied that those materials are missing. Audience members and panelists discussed the ending(s) to the novel, acknowledging that Alcott’s letters to Caroline Dall indicate that she intended to have Sylvia live an independent life, until she was advised to kill off her heroine. Shealy noted Bronson Alcott’s comment that Emerson volunteered to read
the novel: he doubts that Emerson actually did so. Members of the audience shared their experiences teaching Moods, with one person explaining that reviews of the novel resonate especially well with reviews for
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Another audience member noted that Moods pairs well with The Scarlet Letter and that although male students seem to hate it, most female students in her courses write on Moods.










Doyle, Shelden, Shealy, and Phillips

At the 2014 Children’s Literature Association Conference in Columbia, South Carolina, Louisa May Alcott Society members participated in “Lost and Found: The Diversity of Louisa May Alcott’s Fiction.” Joel Myerson chaired the session, which attracted more audience members than the room could hold. Powerpoint slides announcing the participants’ names and their presentation titles were accompanied by images painted by May Alcott.

Beverly Lyon Clark of Wheaton College presented “The Lost Little Women Film of 1919: Authenticity, Sentiment, Prestige.” Directed by William A. Brady, this production was filmed at Orchard House (which opened in 1912). The producers preferred quaintness
to accuracy and recycled blocking for scenes in the film from the 1912 stage play. (Brady negotiated for Little Men as well as Little Women but eventually opted not to film the sequel.) Perhaps because of the relatively low status of films at the time, only a few newspapers carried reviews. One emphasized the “lavender- scented” depiction of New England during the Civil War; another described its “charming glimpses of the period.” Some advertising emphasized melodramatic elements of the plot, depicting Laurie watching Jo with Friedrich: “In Another Man’s Arms! The Girl He Had Loved for Years!” Clark noted the influence of Jessie Wilcox Smith’s illustrations for Alcott’s novel on the film production and advertising. (She also displayed her collector’s item scarf associated with the 1949 film, inspiring desire in the hearts of audience members.) Clark noted that the actress playing Jo, Dorothy Bernard, was “hopelessly miscast.” She noted also that in 1919, a stage revival of the play opened in London,

featuring Katharine Cornell as Jo. Her lively presentation was richly augmented by projected images of advertisements, reviews, images from the film, depictions of the actors and actresses, and other resources.

Roberta Seelinger Trites of Illinois State University presented “Radicalism and Social Justice: Race, Gender, and Orientation in Louisa May Alcott’s Children’s Novels.” She noted the influence of Samuel May, William Lloyd Garrison, and John Brown, among others, on Alcott, and she delineated Alcott’s attitudes toward race, class, and gender—which were both ahead of and very much consistent with those of others of
her era. Thus, although Alcott wrote about race relations and argued for the humanity of African- American characters, she remained “unable to free herself from the era.” In “Little Gulliver,” for example, although “color makes no difference,” the story closes with a startling metaphor of the “innocent white soul.” Although Alcott was one of the earliest best-selling authors to call for social justice, racism is evident in her work. Some of the unfortunate attitudes toward people of color in Louisa’s work may stem from Bronson Alcott’s ideas about the superiority of blond, fair- skinned people. Trites also addressed Alcott’s support for women’s rights in her fiction, drawing from such works as Little Women, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Rose in Bloom, and Jo’s Boys. She noted Alcott’s frequent depictions of lifelong, intense relationships between women and acknowledged the attention paid to these intense female relationships by critics such as Elizabeth Keyser, Angela M. Estes and Kathleen Margaret Lant, Ann B. Murphy, and Elaine Showalter. Trites affirmed the importance of recognizing Alcott’s commitment to social justice, especially given the conference’s
emphasis on the theme of diversity.

Daniel Shealy of the University of North Carolina
Charlotte presented “Louisa May Alcott’s Lost
‘Wonder Book.’” In August 1864, Alcott referred in her journal to a manuscript, “Jamie’s Wonder Book,” and also noted that she “sent the Christmas stories to
Walker & Wise with some lovely illustrations by Miss
Greene” (Journals 131). Noting that Alcott wrote nearly
40 fantasy tales, beginning with Flower Fables in 1854 and continuing through her career to the second volume of Lulu’s Library, The Frost King, Shealy wondered what might have happened to the manuscript of “Jamie’s Wonder Book” and “the Christmas stories.” Was “The Rose Family” (also illustrated by Elizabeth Greene) one of those earlier stories? Was “Nelly’s Hospital,” which was published
in 1865 in Our Young Folks? Shealy explained that Alcott
evidently was using “fairy tale” as a blanket term for writings for juvenile readers. In September of 1866, she noted that what might have been the remaining manuscript of these stories again had been lost: “Ticknor added to my worries” (Journals 153). Louisa serialized Will’s Wonder Book in 1868. Was Will’s Wonder

Book in some form the missing “Jamie’s Wonder Book”? Madeleine B. Stern has argued that it might be, but Shealy doesn’t think so. In 1869 portions of the missing manuscript resurfaced. In a letter to Lucy Larcom, Alcott wrote, “Lizzie Greene tells me that two of my twice-lost stories have turned up again . . . .
There were twelve, I think, some in verse & some in prose beside four lovely sketches on wood by E.B.G.” (Letters 119). In 1874, Thomas Niles of Roberts Brothers, who regularly advised Alcott on her publications, suggested that she ask to have the manuscript returned. She paid Greene $30 for the illustrations and apparently kept the manuscript among her papers. A comparison of “Jamie’s Wonder Book” and Will’s Wonder Book shows significant differences. Alcott may have been influenced by Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book, but she also clearly drew from the natural history she learned from Henry David Thoreau: the work teaches readers about honeybees, caterpillars, etc., with the underlying message that the natural world
itself is a wonder.
                                           









ChLA presenters Clark (note scarf!), Trites, and Shealy

Summary of actions taken at the Louisa May
Alcott Society’s annual business meeting, held on
24 May 2014:

President Shelden opened the meeting by announcing that the revisions to the By-Laws have been approved. Members approved the minutes for the 2013 business meeting, and they also approved the Treasurer’s Report submitted by Melissa Pennell, including an account balance of $3425.78 as of 31 May 2014. There are 41 paid members of the Society, as of 24 May 2014. Melissa and Anne will work together to create an
official membership brochure for the Society. John Matteson was elected to serve a three-year term on the Advisory Board. The 2015 ALA conference in Boston will mark the tenth anniversary of the Louisa May Alcott Society, and plans are underway to host a Society social event, possibly in Concord. Panel topics for 2015 were tentatively identified: one may be a collaboration with the Fuller Society, and the other,
chaired by Christine Doyle, will focus on “Transatlantic Alcott,” given that 2015 is the 150th anniversary of Alcott’s first trip to Europe in 1865-1866. Incoming President Sandy Petrulionis presented a token of appreciation to Mary Shelden upon the completion of her term as President.

The Orchard House 2014 Summer Conversational Series and Teacher Institute will be held Sunday - Thursday, 13-18 July. The theme will be “Navigating the Vortex: Creative Genius in the Time of the Alcotts.” Distinguished presenters for this series include Kyoko Amano (University of Indianapolis); Stephen P. Burby (Brentwood [NY] Freshman Center); Beverly Lyon Clark (Wheaton
College); Phyllis Cole (Penn State-Brandywine); George
Howe Colt (Journalist/Author);  Cathlin Davis (Cal State University-Stanislaus);  Anne-Laure François (Universitié Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense); Jason Giannetti (Freelance Philosopher); Megan Marshall (Emerson College/Pulitzer Winner); Kristi Lynn Martin (Boston University); John Matteson (John Jay College/Pulitzer Winner); Olivia Milch (Screenwriter); Lauren Rizzuto (Simmons College); and Kristina West (University of Reading [UK]). For more details, call
978-369-4118, ext. 106, or consult Orchard House’s website at  www.louisamayalcott.org.

On Sunday, 14 September, the 9th Annual Benefit
5K/10K Run & 5K Walk will be held. This is a benefit for Orchard House, so if you are in the New England area and you are able to participate, please do so. (We welcome pictures of our members emulating Louisa’s enthusiasm for exercise at this event…) Orchard House promises “[w]ell-marked courses, ample water stations, and healthy snacks provided; for added fun, live musical entertainment, a starting volley by The Concord Minute Men, ‘Living History’ portrayers, and 19th C. game and toys!”

Many thanks to Sandra Petrulionis for the photographs from the ALA conference in Washington, and to Richard Flynn for the photograph of the panelists at
the ChLA conference in South Carolina!

Please renew your membership for 2014-2015. To use PayPal, click on “Subscriptions and Memberships” at the Society’s web site: www.louisamayalcottsociety.org.  Scroll down to
the PayPal link and follow the directions to submit payment electronically. If renewing by mail, please send your $10 check, payable to the Louisa May Alcott Society, to Melissa Pennell, Department of English, UMass Lowell, 61 Wilder St., Lowell,
MA, 01854.

The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The Portfolio, is published biannually in the summer and winter. Please send your Alcott-related news to LMAS Secretary and newsletter Editor, Anne Phillips:  annek@ksu.edu.


Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by permission of the Concord Free Public Library.

The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 14 Spring 2013
Contributor Daniel Shealy reports on a Recent
Auction of a Letter from Alcott to her Publisher
Regarding Little Women:
As most scholars of Louisa May Alcott know, few
manuscript letters from the author to Roberts Brothers
concerning the publication of Little Women in 1868 have
been located. Recently, however, an important letter,
from Alcott to her editor Thomas Niles, has surfaced.
The letter, written sometime in the summer [likely mid
to late June] of 1868, was sold at Skinner, Inc. on 1
June 2013 in Boston. The bifolium, inscribed in
Alcott’s hand on all four sides, sold for $10,000, with a
$2,000 buyer’s premium, bringing the total cost to
$12,000. The letter’s content reveals hitherto unknown
information regarding Alcott’s thoughts on the novel’s
title and May Alcott’s work on the illustrations.
On 16 June 1868, Niles had written Alcott
proposing the title of the book, including subtitles, and
asking her if she liked it. (The letter is located in the
Roberts Brothers correspondence to Alcott in the
Houghton Library, Harvard University, bMS Am
1130.8 [1-144].) The recently auctioned, undated letter
appears to be Alcott’s reply to her editor.
The letter begins with Alcott writing in the first
paragraph that she is “send[ing] the design with May’s
alterations.” She notes, “She cannot do much but has
put a snood [a net to hold back hair] on to Meg, &
shaded here and there.” Although Alcott does not
identify the illustration, she most likely refers to “Meg
at Vanity Fair,” as the author had previously sent the
drawing, noting “the engraver may see many faults, &
will please point out such as my sister can mend”
(Selected Letters of LMA117).
The more interesting information, however, is
Alcott’s response in the second paragraph to Nile’s
suggestion for the title. She replies: “About the title, we
[LMA and May?] think that if a second one is needed
‘Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy’ simply, is enough, for it is n’t
the story of thier [sic] lives, & any thing like ‘the story
of’ a year of thier [sic] times is suggestive of Leslie
Goldthwaite.” Here, Alcott refers to the popular
children’s author Mrs. A[deline] D[utton] T[rain]
Whitney (1824-1906), who had published A Summer in
Leslie Goldthwaite’s Life in late 1866. Although Roberts
Brothers advertised Little Women in the 1 September
1868 American Literary Gazette under Nile’s original
suggested title, Little Women; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, the
Story of Their Lives, the publisher obviously acceded to
Alcott’s desire.
An even more intriguing statement closes the letter’s
second paragraph. Alcott writes: “My sister does not
want to be identified as one of the little women &
prefers to have it stand—‘illustrated by May Alcott.’”
Why did May not want to be known as one of the little
women? Did she simply think it would be more
professional to be listed as the illustrator? Did she not
want to be identified as Amy, the sister who comes off
the worse in the first part of the novel? We may never
know. The title page carried the credit Alcott suggested.
The letter ends with a third paragraph telling Niles
to “excuse this untidy note but my small nephew is in
my lap recovering from a tumble & his gambols are not
conducive to elegance of handwriting.” She closes:
“Yours in haste, L. M. A.” Letters such as this show us
Alcott actively engaged with her publisher as they ready
a book for press.
The Alcott Society sponsored two sessions at the
2013 American Literature Association conference
in Boston.
“Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of Hospital
Sketches: A Teaching Roundtable”: Moderator
Daniel Shealy provided the publication history and
cultural context for Hospital Sketches, noting that during
the Civil War, suffering and death were on the minds
of many Americans. While Louisa May Alcott never
understood the success of Hospital Sketches, it “showed
her style,” “winning the ear and touching the heart of
the public.” Mary Lamb Shelden noted that Hospital
Sketches is an anomaly in the American literature canon,
for example, appearing out of sequence in the Heath
Anthology. Shelden and her students have found it
productive to contrast Frederick Douglass’s
“outbound” journey from Baltimore to New England
with the “inbound” and geographically similar one
taken by Tribulation Periwinkle to Hurly Burly House
in Hospital Sketches. She and her students have found it
fruitful to consider as well their psychological and
spiritual parallels. James Hewitson includes Hospital
Sketches within the context of literature about nursing,
grouping Alcott with Clara Barton, Mary Wolsey
Howell, and others. He traces the political and social
implications of the war, noting that circumstances
offered individuals the opportunity to renegotiate
gender: often, male patients were characterized in
feminine terms, while nurses were associated with
masculinity. He also demonstrated that nurses are
significant in Alcott’s later works, including Work and
Little Women. Marlowe Daly-Galeano, like Shelden,
noted the difficulty in positioning writers such as Alcott
in terms of the “Romanticism”/“Realism” or
antebellum/postbellum binaries, finding that Hospital
Sketches, while a popular and productive text, eludes
easy categorization. She suggested the relevance of the
concept of “Passing,” defining it in terms of
“personally and socially constructed identities” and as
“a way to transmit knowledge, information, and
history.” In response papers, her students have
considered the way women “pass” as ‘soldiers’ in the
work; as doctors; as “pure”; as wives, lovers, daughters
(standing in for them with patients); as masculine; as
Christian (particularly in terms of the challenge of
balancing Christian values with the death/destruction
of war). Paul Madeiros has included Hospital Sketches
within an “Introduction to Ethics” course, finding that
Hospital Sketches offers a response to the “problem of
egoism”: that we ought to pursue our own goals, not to
serve ourselves but to help others in need. He also
focuses on the way that Tribulation Periwinkle
distinguishes between acting on principle and acting
from impulse or feeling. He acknowledges the
influence in this text of Kant and Thoreau, also noting
the author’s own feminist desire for autonomy.
Ensuing discussion continued to consider the work’s
genre and position within the canon, noting that it can
be paired effectively with such texts as Whitman’s
Drum Taps and Twain’s Innocents Abroad. Those present
also continued to consider how Hospital Sketches
compares with the journalism of the period, and with
Alcott’s sketches and other works where she has
fictionalized her family’s experiences, such as
Transcendental Wild Oats.
Chapman, Madeiros, Daly-Galeano, Hewitson, Shealy
“Re-visioning Alcott: Her Impact on the Work of
Later Writers and Artists,” moderated by Beverly
Lyon Clark.
Punctuating his presentation with excerpts from lyrics
and songs, Gregory Eiselein traced the effect of Little
Women on legendary punk rocker Patti Smith. In Just
Kids, Smith described reading Alcott’s novel and
responding in particular to Jo March. Eiselein cited
Alcott’s and Smith’s common artistic traits, including
their merger of high art with popular forms; their
intense, unabashed amateur energy; their lurid style;
their artistic flow (where he alluded to Jo’s “vortex”);
and their intense, joyful state of creation/control. He
concluded by celebrating “Jo March, the Great-
Godmother of Punk.” Anne Phillips addressed the
influence of Little Women and the March sisters on the
2005 recipient of the National Book Award for Young
People’s Fiction, Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks: A
Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very
Interesting Boy. Birdsall’s novel has been compared to
Alcott’s classic by reviewers, readers, and even the
National Book Award presenter. Birdsall acknowledges
having borrowed “the idea of four sisters” from Alcott,
and Phillips traces parallels between the Penderwicks
and Marches. However, even the episodes and overall
plot are so closely aligned with the events of Little
Women that Phillips makes a case for The Penderwicks as
adaptation. While Birdsall’s novel can stand alone and
entertain a reader unfamiliar with Little Women, a
knowing reader will find much that is familiar. The
Penderwicks contrasts talent and genius; like Little
Women, it may raise troubling questions about what it
means to be female and artistic. Lauren Rizzuto
addresses (primarily online) fan fiction written in
response to Little Women, surveying not only the
surprising substitutions made by some of these authors
but also other fan fiction participants’ reactions to and
suggested revisions for these re-envisionings. As might
be expected, the relationship between Laurie and Jo is
the inspiration for much of the fan fiction. Although
many of the authors create versions of Little Women that
might prompt outrage, Rizzuto appreciates the close
readings of the text and the immersion in Alcott’s
fictional world that has inspired and guided much of
this “thoughtful and nuanced” work.
Clark, Phillips, Rizzuto, Eiselein
Summary of actions taken at the Louisa May
Alcott Society business meeting, held on 23 May,
2013: members approved the Treasurer’s Report
submitted by Sandra Petrulionis, including an account
balance of $3,149.55. The following officers were
elected: President Elect: (2013-2014) Sandy Petrulionis;
Secretary (2013-2015) Anne Phillips; Treasurer (2013-
2015) Melissa Pennell; Advisory Board: Katherine
Adams (2011-2014); Phyllis Cole (2012-2015); Leslie
Wilson (2013-2016). Officers will be examining the By-
Laws and drafting revisions in Spring 2014, to be
circulated to all members at least one month prior to
the 2014 ALA conference in Washington, D.C. All of
the changes will reflect the Society’s actual practice: for
example, the current By-Laws call for a quorum of 15,
and there are rarely 15 members present for the
business meetings. The Louisa May Alcott Society
members may be interested in participating in an
upcoming conference in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.
The theme of this event is “Intercontinental Cross-
Currents: Women’s (Net-)Works across Europe and
the Americas (1776-1939).” Past President Daniel
Shealy was presented with a token of appreciation for
his service.
New Publications:
Little Women: An Annotated Edition, edited by Daniel
Shealy (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,
2013). Lavishly illustrated and impressively annotated,
this new edition will appeal to scholars and fans alike.
If you’ve ever wondered about the fine details of Little
Women, from Faber’s drawing pencils and blanc-mange
to pickled limes and scarlet fever, and much more,
you’ll find useful and fascinating explanations all
through this edition. Congratulations on this scholarly
and esthetic accomplishment to Professor Shealy!
Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women
(Walker Books, 2013). Author Kathleen Krull has
drawn from Alcott’s journals, Hospital Sketches, and
“Recollections of My Childhood” in crafting this
picture/informational book about Alcott’s experiences
as a nurse in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War.
Illustrator
Carlyn Beccia
has received a
Golden Kite
honor award
and a Cybil
Award for
previous
publications.
The book is
earning rave
reviews from
fans of Little
Women.
Upcoming Event at Orchard House:
The 2013 Summer Conversational Series and
Teacher Institute, Sunday - Thursday, July 14-18:
“‘Chaos, Cosmos, and the Oversoul’: The Influence of
Transcendental Philosophy on the Life and Writing of
Louisa May Alcott.”
“On the 150th anniversary of the publication of
Louisa May Alcott’s Hospital Sketches, this year’s
Summer Conversational Series will explore her role as
an emerging “literary lion” among the distinguished
group of Concord’s Transcendentalist writers . . . . Miss
Alcott’s relationships with notables such as the
Thoreaus, Emersons, and Hawthornes and their
influence on her life and writings will be examined
through thoughtful presentations by respected scholars
and lively discussion among all participants.”
Presenters include: Kyoko Amano (U. of
Indianapolis); Katherine Butler (Arts & Entertainment
Writer); Cathlin Davis (Cal. State U.-Stanislaus);
Gabrielle Donnelly (Journalist/Author); Anne-Laure
François (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense);
Jason Giannetti (Dean College); Jayne Gordon
(Massachusetts Historical Society); Kathleen Harsy
(Riverside-Brookfield High School, IL); Stefanie
Jochman (Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, WI); Eve
LaPlante (Author); Kristi Lynn Martin (Boston U.);
John Matteson (John Jay College); Asako Motohka
(Hiroshima University); Tom Potter (Photographer);
Eric Sawyer (Amherst College/Composer).
For more information or to reserve a seat,
download the registration form:
http://www.louisamayalcott.org/2013/SpecialEvents2
013.htm#scs_jul13
Many thanks to Sandra Petrulionis for the photographs
of the panelists at the ALA conference!
Please renew your membership for 2013-2014.
To use PayPal, click on “Subscriptions and
Memberships” at the Society’s web site:
www.louisamayalcottsociety.org. Scroll down to
the PayPal link and follow the directions to submit
payment electronically. If renewing by mail, please
send your $10 check, payable to the Louisa May
Alcott Society, to Melissa Pennell, Department of
English, UMass Lowell, 61 Wilder St., Lowell,
MA, 01854.
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The
Portfolio, is published biannually in the spring and
fall. Please send your Alcott-related news to the
LMAS secretary and newsletter editor, Anne
Phillips: annek@ksu.edu.
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library.


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 13 Winter 2012
Last month we celebrated the 180th
anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s birth. This
fall, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, two
of the most successful contemporary women
writers of our era, both acknowledged their
debt to Louisa and her influence on them as
writers. In The New York Times on October
11th, Rowling was asked, “Did you have a
favorite character or hero as a child? Do you
have a literary hero as an adult?” She replied,
“My favorite literary heroine is Jo March. It is
hard to overstate what she meant to a small,
plain girl called Jo, who had a hot temper and
a burning ambition to be a writer.” We say,
“Viva Louisa!”
LMAS Call for Papers, ALA 2013
The 24th Annual American Literature
Association Conference will be held 23-26
May 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. The
Louisa May Alcott Society will sponsor two
panels there, in addition to the annual
business meeting. We invite your submissions
to the following:
“Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of
Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches: A
Teaching Round Table”
Published in 1863 to immediate success as the
Civil War sloughed into its second year,
Hospital Sketches is now available in several
paperback editions, most with excellent
introductions detailing its relevance in a
variety of classrooms—from literature and
history in general to women’s, gender, African
American, and disability studies in particular.
We seek abstracts describing successful
classroom strategies that feature Hospital
Sketches or that present Alcott as an important
figure in antislavery reform, women's history,
and popular literature of the Civil War. In
which kinds of classrooms is Hospital Sketches
an effective springboard for examining the
development of the Women’s Central
Association of Relief as an arm of the US
Sanitary Commission, and for calling attention
to the need for post-war freedmen’s
education? How does Nurse Periwinkle’s
increasing ambivalence toward the war enable
us to provide students with a more realistic
grasp of the human cost of this still too-often
romanticized military conflict? How does
Alcott’s treatment of racial themes in this text
compare with similar considerations in her
other work? How does Hospital Sketches
usefully complement themes observable in
other works that treat the Civil War, not only
in Alcott’s writings but in those authored by
other (and later) writers? Please send brief
abstracts to Sandy Petrulionis at
<shp2@psu.edu>, by January 21, 2013.
“Re-visioning Alcott: Her Impact on the
Work of Later Writers and Artists”
Writers as esteemed and influential as
Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Cynthia
Ozick, and J. K. Rowling have acknowledged
a debt to Louisa May Alcott. References to
and re-visionings of Alcott’s writing and life
have appeared in the work of such authors as
Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Kingsolver,
Geraldine Brooks, Lynda Barry, and many
others. Alcott’s work has also been translated
to stage and screen, in such forms as musicals,
mini-series, and anime. And dozens of artists
have created illustrations, including May
Alcott, Frank Merrill, Jessie Willcox Smith,
Norman Rockwell, Barbara Cooney, and
Tasha Tudor. This session will seek to trace
Alcott’s impact on the work of writers and
artists who have come after, and will consider
how engagement with her work--fleeting or
substantial--makes meaning in these later
settings and perhaps revises our thinking
about Alcott. Please send 200-300-word
abstracts electronically to Bev Clark at
bclark@wheatonma.edu. The deadline for
proposals is Monday, January 21, 2013. Early
submissions welcome.
New publications of interest to all Alcott
scholars and fans: Eve LaPlante, a greatniece
of Abigail May Alcott, a cousin of
Louisa May Alcott, and the award-winning
author of Salem Witch Judge, the 2008
Massachusetts Book Award recipient for
Nonfiction, has published two works of
interest to members of the Louisa May Alcott
Society.
My Heart is Boundless: Writings of
Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s Mother
(New York: Free Press, 2012), edited by
LaPlante, includes Abigail’s letters, journal
entries, and other miscellaneous papers,
including a few recipes. Some materials are
drawn from holdings at Harvard University
and Orchard House, while others are drawn
from documents held by descendants or other
private collectors. The papers reflect Abigail’s
thirst for an education, her resistance to her
father’s remarriage after her mother’s death,
her increasing disillusionment with her
husband’s inability to support his family, her
delight in her children, and her attention to
the political and social movements of her era.
In 1833, she wrote, “Louisa May now almost
3 months old is a sprightly merry little puss,
quirking up her mouth and cooing at every
sound” (48). Later, following the debacle of
Fruitlands and other disappointments, she
wrote, “I have taken the ship into my own
command, but whether I shall do better as
Captain that I have as mate, the revenue and
record of the year must decide. At least I
think I shall keep better soundings, and
ascertain oftener and more correctly whether I
am sailing in deep waters or in shallows. We
have been nearly wrecked twice” (154).
Additionally, LaPlante has published a new
biography inspired by Abigail’s writings. In
Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of
Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother (New
York: Free Press, 2012), LaPlante argues that
“Louisa’s ‘Marmee,’ Abigail, was in fact the
intellectual and emotional center of her
daughter’s world. Abigail is revealed here as a
politically active feminist firebrand, an early
and outspoken advocate for abolition and
women’s suffrage, and a fascinating thinker in
her own right. LaPlante shows how Abigail
pushed Louisa to write, inspired many of her
most successful stories, and gave her the
courage to pursue her unconventional path.”
It is the Centennial Year for Louisa May
Alcott’s Orchard House. Here are some of
their accomplishments during 2012: cosponsoring
unique events surrounding The
Concord Players' Decennial Production of
Little Women with all the major historic and
cultural organizations in Concord; offering an
unforgettable evening at Symphony Hall with
Keith Lockhart, The Boston Pops, Maureen
McGovern, Mary Richardson, and John
Matteson; successfully completing
preservation of The Concord School of
Philosophy, including re-locating the structure
upon its original footprint; being honored by
an unprecedented cultural exchange to Japan.
All this, along with serving nearly 50,000
visitors on-site at Orchard House, is only
possible with the continued support of donors
and members. Please consider making a
donation to support the preservation of
Orchard House and the continued
development of their programs via
www.louisamayalcott.org.
Please renew your membership for 2012-
2013. To use PayPal, click on “Subscriptions
and Memberships” at the Society’s web site:
www.louisamayalcottsociety.org. Scroll down
to the PayPal link and follow the directions to
submit payment electronically. If renewing by
mail, please send your $10 check, payable to
the Louisa May Alcott Society, to Sandy
Petrulionis, Penn State Altoona, 3000 Ivyside
Park, Altoona, PA 16601.
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The
Portfolio, is published biannually in the spring and
fall. Please send your Alcott-related news to the
LMAS secretary and newsletter editor, Anne
Phillips: annek@ksu.edu.
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library

The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 12 Spring 2012
The Alcott Society sponsored two panels at the recent American Literature Association conference in San Francisco.
The first, “Teaching Alcott in Survey and Seminar,” was chaired by Mary Lamb Shelden (Virginia Commonwealth). Speakers included Gary Williams (U of Idaho), who presented “Alcott, Julia Ward Howe, and the Ways Logs Turn to Ashes” and discussed Alcott’s and Ward’s dramatically different responses to writing from the margin about issues important to women. Mischa Renfroe (Middle Tennessee State) presented “Teaching Alcott in ‘Law and Literature,’” detailing her methods for teaching Alcott’s “A Whisper in the Dark” in an interdisciplinary Law and Literature course as a way to generate student discussions about family law, inheritance and married women’s property rights, contract law, and legal declarations of insanity. In “Gender, Comedy, and Teaching Eight Cousins,” Gregory Eiselein (Kansas State) suggested pedagogical approaches to Alcott that help students appreciate how her wholesomeness and her representation of gender are best understood in relation to her use of an unstable comic irony.
The second panel, “Louisa May Alcott and Literary Theory,” chaired by Gregory Eiselein examined the relationship between Alcott's novels and literary theory. The opening presentation, "Moods and Masquerades: Alcott’s Emersonian Experiments” by Sean McAlister (U of British Columbia), explored Alcott's engagement with Emersonian theory to show how Emerson's influence structures Alcott’s formal experimentations in Moods and the novel’s critique of gender ideology. Bruce Ronda (Colorado State) followed with a paper titled “‘Little’: Souvenirs and Interiors in Eight Cousins,” which with the help of Freudian theory explored the uncanny in Eight Cousins and Alcott's incomplete and contradictory attempts to create secure environments for her protagonist Rose Campbell. In the panel's final presentation, “‘She Will Make a Charming Little Mother’: Oedipal Ties and Family Fictions in An Old-Fashioned Girl,” Ilana Vine (NYU) argued from a psychoanalytic perspective that An Old-Fashioned Girl reveals an unconscious desire to not grow up but instead remain forever in the bliss and unity of the pre-oedipal family.
Elections: At the Society’s recent business meeting, members elected Phyllis Cole to the Advisory Board, joining current board members Kate Adams and Greg Eiselein. Sandy Petrulionis was elected to another term as Treasurer. We thank all of our officers for their service.
The Alcott Society will sponsor a panel on “Louisa May Alcott’s Engaged Citizenship” at the upcoming Society for the Study of American Women Writers Triennial Conference in Denver, Colorado, October 10-13, 2012. Mary Shelden will chair the session, which will include the following presentations: Emily Dolan (U of Connecticut), “Louisa May Alcott’s Rehabilitation of the Fallen Woman in Behind a Mask”; Emily Waples (U of Michigan), “The Child Citizen: Utopian Education and Louisa May Alcott’s Moods”; and Amy M. Thomas (Montana State), “Alcott and the Democracy of Literature: Parallel Writings in The Woman’s Journal and The Youth’s Companion.” If you are attending the SSAWW conference, be sure to attend this fascinating panel!
There will be other Alcott presentations at the SSAWW: Marlowe Daly-Galeano (U of Arizona), “The Sisterhood of Traveling Artists: May Alcott Nieriker’s An Artist’s Holiday”; Anna Stewart (Valparaiso), “Alcott’s Reconstruction Moods”; Briallen Hopper (Yale), “That Was No Lady: Teaching and Class Identity in Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl,” on the same panel with Kristen Proehl (Clemson), “Educating Jo: Plumfield, Sympathy and the Tomboy Trajectory”; Greg Eiselein (KSU), “‘Darkness Made Visible’: Dickensian Chiaroscuro in Alcott’s Hospital Sketches and Work.”
Also, at 3:30-4:45 on Friday, October 12th, there will be an Afternoon Tea Sponsored by the Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and Louisa May Alcott Societies.
This year the Alcott Society established a listserve to which all members have been subscribed. Members have had the opportunity to post about and discuss Alcott’s attitudes toward religion, her
evolving fashions, adaptations of her works, and other topics of interest. We welcome your involvement in the conversation and we appreciate the assistance offered by those who have responded to members’ questions and observations this spring.
Please renew your membership for 2012-13. To renewing by PayPal, click on “Subscriptions and Memberships” at the Society's web site: www.louisamayalcottsociety.org. Scroll down to the PayPal link and follow the directions to submit payment electronically. If renewing by mail, please mail your $10 check, payable to the Louisa May Alcott Society, to Sandy Petrulionis, Penn State Altoona, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona PA 16601.
If you know an Alcott fan (and who isn’t?) or scholar who is not yet a member of the Alcott Society (or perhaps a little behind on membership renewal), please helpfully nudge. The $10 membership fee will include two newsletters per year, involvement in the listserve, and the excitement that comes with being at the center of all things Alcott!
“’Tis a pretty retreat, and ours . . . “
Orchard House Centennial Exhibit
In celebration of the centennial of Orchard House, the Concord Free Public Library and Orchard House collaborated this spring on an exhibition highlighting the history of the building that for nearly twenty years was the home of the Alcotts. Materials in the exhibit included a sampling of the artifacts unearthed during the 2001-2002 archaeological dig of the property, a chronology of the house, which predates the Alcott family’s tenure by nearly two centuries, and a glimpse at Concord in 1912. It also examined the decade-long residency of William Torrey Harris, Alcott’s partner in the Concord School of Philosophy, as well as the preservation of the house after Harris’s departure, brought about by Harriett Lothrop and others. The exhibit also featured the work of the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association, the organization responsible for maintaining the house, through interpretation and living history, as a memorial to the Alcott family, as well as a section on the Concord Players, with an emphasis on their decennial performances of Little Women. It concluded with a look at Orchard House today.
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House Centennial: Legacy of a Powerful Voice
The 2012 Summer Conversational Series and Teacher Institute will be held at the Concord School of Philosophy on the grounds of Orchard House
July 15 – 19. Distinguished Presenters include Kyoko Amano (University of Indianapolis); Cathlin Davis (California State University-Stanislaus); Gabrielle Donnelly (Journalist/Author); Anne-Laure François (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense); Kathleen Harsy (Riverside-Brookfield [Illinois] High School); Adriana Lanzi (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba Graduate Program); Eve LaPlante (Author); Kristi Lynn Martin (Boston University Graduate Program); John Matteson (Pulitzer Prize Winner/John Jay College); Debra Ryals (Pensacola State College); John Stauffer (Harvard University); Michael Stoneham (United States Military Academy at West Point); and Patricia West (Martin Van Buren National Historical Site).
“A Morning with the Alcotts,” Thursday, July 26, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Expert, authentically costumed staff and volunteers portray Alcott family members to introduce youngsters aged 7 and up to life in the 19th Century generally and within the Alcott home particularly. An interactive tour, old-fashioned games, songs, stories, and refreshments are all part of this highly popular and unforgettable experience!
“Welcome to Our Home,” A Living History Tour, Saturday, July 28, 4:45 - 5:45 p.m. Interactive tour with an expert, authentically costumed guide portraying an Alcott family member or one of their famous friends. Hear fascinating anecdotes and learn first-hand about their lives and times. Space is limited; reservations & pre-payment strongly suggested.
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter, The Portfolio, is published biannually in the spring and fall. Please send your Alcott-related news to the LMAS secretary and newsletter editor, Anne Phillips: annek@ksu.edu.
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by permission of the Concord Free Public Library


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 11 Fall 2011
LMAS Call for Papers, ALA 2012
The 23rd Annual American Literature
Association Conference will be held 24-27
May 2012 in San Francisco, California. Here
are the calls for papers for the LMASsponsored
sessions:
Louisa May Alcott and Literary Theory
This session seeks proposals that bring
together work in theory with interpretation of
Alcott's career and writings. Marxist,
psychoanalytic, hermeneutical, feminist, and
formalist papers are welcome, as are
Deleuzian, queer theoretical, post-humanist,
and other recent theoretical perspectives. The
panel is open to a diverse range of
approaches:
• Applications of theory that suggest
new readings of her work;
• Treatments of literary theoretical ideas
in Alcott's writings;
• Extensions of or responses to
previous theoretical engagements with
Alcott's work;
• Interpretations of Alcott in light of
contemporary theory;
• Considerations of her writings in
terms of race, class, gender, ethnicity,
sexuality, ability, age, species, nation,
region, or religion;
• Demonstrations of the ways literary
theory might help us better
understand Alcott's under-studied
masterpieces (such as An Old-Fashioned
Girl); and
• Theoretically informed examinations
of Alcott's literary forms, styles, and
language.
Please send 200-300-word abstracts
electronically to Gregory Eiselein at
eiselei@ksu.edu . The deadline for proposals
is Friday, January 20, 2012. Early submissions
welcome.
Teaching Alcott in Survey and Seminar
More of Louisa May Alcott’s work is available
for teaching than ever before: in the Heath
Anthology of American Literature, the Norton
Anthology of Children’s Literature, the Norton
Anthology of Literature by Women, the Norton
Critical Edition of Little Women – not to
mention more recently published gothic
works like A Long Fatal Love-Chase and e-texts
for works like An Old-Fashioned Girl. With all
this Alcott at our fingertips, the question
suggests itself: how are we teaching Alcott’s
work? How are we working Alcott into our
literary survey courses? Our women’s
literature and women’s studies classes? Our
American studies courses?
This Louisa May Alcott Society-sponsored
session at the American Literature Association
Conference (San Francisco, May 24-27, 2012)
seeks to consider Alcott in the context of our
courses. How does examination of Alcott
alongside of Thoreau, or Whitman, or
Dickinson, or Douglass change our
understanding of her work? How are we
helping our students to make sense of Alcott’s
biography in the larger context of history?
What are our successes and challenges in
teaching Alcott?
Please send 200-300-word abstracts
electronically to Mary Shelden at
mlshelden@vcu.edu . The deadline for
proposals is Friday, January 20, 2012. Early
submissions welcome.
For more about the conference, see the
American Literature Association website:
http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/ala2
/american_literature_association_2012.html
Fuller Society CFP for the 2012 ALA Meeting
in San Francisco, CA, May 24-27, 2012
Panels I and II: Margaret Fuller’s Lives:
Fuller’s self-fashioning, her personae,
representations of Fuller by others,
biographical analyses, Fuller biographies,
Fuller’s visions of others, including actual and
mythical subjects in her writings, published
and unpublished.
Please send proposals and short vitae by 15
January, 2012 to Larry J. Reynolds
(LJR@TAMU.edu).
The Atlantic has published a special issue
commemorating the 150th anniversary of the
Civil War. More information can be found
about the contents of the issue here:
http://www.theatlantic.
com/specialreport/
civil-war. Louisa
May Alcott’s story “The
Brothers” is included in
this issue. Originally
published by James T.
Fields in The Atlantic
Monthly in November
1863, it was republished
as “My Contraband; or, The Brothers” in
Hospital Sketches and Camp and Fireside Stories
(1869). Narrated by a Northern white nurse,
Faith Dane, the story traces her relationship
with “Robert,” a former slave who intends to
murder his white half brother, an abusive
Confederate officer. In The Louisa May Alcott
Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2001), Paul Petrie
writes that this story “represents an
intersection of LMA’s pseudonymous
sensation fiction with her reform-minded
fictions of moral development, and it thus
invites critical investigation of the interactions
between her overt and covert critiques of 19thcentury
social values” (222).
Lis Adams and Jan Turnquist invite proposals
for Orchard House’s Summer Conversational
Series, July 15 -19, 2012, which will cap the
museum’s year-long centennial celebration.
“Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House
Centennial: Legacy of a Powerful Voice”
Since Orchard House opened as a museum in
1912, it has been a pilgrimage site for
hundreds of thousands of people who come
to pay tribute to an author who has captured
their imaginations. Arguably the very first
museum established to commemorate the life
of a female American writer, Orchard House
attracts both American and international
audiences. During this session we will explore,
through presentations and lively discussions,
how Alcott left a legacy of influence and
inspiration for so many other writers and
activists.
Submit one-page proposals to
ladams@louisamayalcott.org (cc
janturnquist@gmail.com) by February 29,
2012.
The Louisa May Alcott Society Web site
contains information about Louisa May
Alcott, her family, and her times, with links to
numerous useful online sources:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMay
AlcottSociety/LMAS_welcome.htm
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter,
The Portfolio, is published in spring and fall.
Please send Alcott-related news to the LMAS
secretary, Anne Phillips: annek@ksu.edu
Louisa May Alcott Society Membership
If you have not yet submitted member dues
for the 2011-2012 year, or you would like to
renew membership for 2012-2013, please
send your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to our treasurer:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 1660
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library

The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 10 Spring 2011
Louisa May Alcott Society Membership -
Time to Renew!
We hope that those who care about fostering
opportunities for Alcott scholarship will
continue to support the organization with annual
dues – it only costs $10 a year to show your
support. We are currently down to only 28 duespaying
members - a precipitous drop in our
numbers, and one not predictable from the
vigorous scholarship our society has helped to
foster over the years.
If you have not yet submitted member dues for
the 2010-2011 year, please consider taking care
of this important task for both the current year
(almost at an end) and the coming one. You may
send your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to our treasurer:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
Or use the PayPal link on the LMAS Website:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/
LouisaMayAlcott Society/
LMAS_subscriptions.htm
LMAS at ALA 2011
The 22nd Annual American Literature
Association Conference will be held 26-29 May
2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Louisa May
Alcott Society will sponsor two sessions there, as
well as the annual business meeting, and in
addition will be represented on a panel hosted by
the Massachusetts Center for the Book:
Going Public: Author Societies and Author
House Museums (Session 4-E, Thu 5-26,
1:30PM, Marriott Wellesey)
Chair: Sharon Shaloo,
Massachusetts Center for the Book
• Joel Myerson, University of South Carolina;
• Matthew Pearl, Author of The Dante Club, The
Poe Shadow, and The Last Dickens;
• Cristanne Miller, University at Buffalo SUNY &
Emily Dickinson International Society;
• Margaret Murray, Western Connecticut State
University & Edith Wharton Society;
• Patti Phillipon, The Mark Twain House &
Museum;
• James M. Shea, Longfellow House-
Washington's Headquarters National Historic
Site;
• Mary Shelden, Virginia Commonwealth
University & Louisa May Alcott Society;
• Jan Turnquist, Orchard House, Home of the
Alcotts;
• Susan Wissler, The Mount: Edith Wharton's
Estate and Gardens;
• Jane H. Wald, Emily Dickinson Museum
Alcott as Pop Culture Icon (Session 5-J,
Thu 5-26, 3:00PM, Marriott Clarendon)
Chair: Mary Shelden,
Virginia Commonwealth University
• "'The Autograph Fiend is Abroad': Louisa May
Alcott and Fame," Daniel Shealy, The
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
• "Little Women Spinoffs a Century Ago; or, Beth
Becomes an Entrepreneur," Beverly Lyon Clark,
Wheaton College
• "Writing in the Movies: Jo March as Author in
Little Women Films," Marlowe Daly-Galeano,
University of Arizona
Louisa May Alcott Society Annual
Business Meeting (Session 8-P, Fri 5-27,
9:40AM, Westin Courier 7th Floor)
Among other items of business, we will hold
elections, presenting the following slate of
candidates from the Nominating Committee:
• Mary Shelden, President-Elect
• Anne Phillips, Secretary
• Katherine Adams, Advisory Board
Nominations may also be made from the floor.
Daniel Shealy will also transition from President-
Elect to President, and Sandra Petrulionis will
continue as Treasurer.
"Alcott and Other Authors" (Session 9-J,
Fri 5-27, 11:10AM, Westin Empire Room
7th Floor)
Chair: Sandra Harbert Petrulionis,
Penn State Altoona
• "Alcott and the Byronic Figure," Yvonne
Elizabeth Pelletier, University of Tennessee
• "Resisting Emerson and Extending Ellen
Sturgis Hooper: Louisa May Alcott as Poet,"
Jennifer Gurley, Le Moyne College
• "Nursing a Nation: The Wartime
Sentimentality of Louisa May Alcott and Walt
Whitman," Robert Arbour, Indiana University
Orchard House Summer
Conversational Series
and Teacher Institute,
10-15 July 2011
Orchard House, historic
home of the Alcotts in
Concord, Massachusetts, will again host its Summer
Conversational Series and Teacher Institute July 10-
15. This year's theme will be: "Creating a Vision: The
Power of Place - A Centennial Celebration of Louisa
May Alcott's Orchard House." Presenters will include:
Kyoko Amano
University of Indianapolis
Ted Dahlstrand
Ohio State University at Mansfield
Cathlin Davis
California State University - Stanislaus
Sterling Delano
Villanova University
Anne-Laure Francois
Universite Charles de Gaulle Lille 3
Jason Giannetti
Dean College
Reed Gochberg
Boston University
Karen Goodno
Salem State College
Rochelle Johnson
The College of Idaho
Jane Langton
Children’s author/Mystery writer
Eve LaPlante
Biographer/Author
Evelyn Navarre
University of Massachusetts - Boston
Lisa Stepanski
Emmanuel College
Laura Dassow Walls
University of Notre Dame
For details, see the Orchard House Web site:
www.louisamayalcott.org/SpecialEventsatOrchardHo
use.html#jul_2011
Concord Free Public Library
Special Collections is pleased to announce a new
online resource, Concord Massachusetts Newspapers
Up to the Civil War. According to the Website,
The Concord Free Public Library holds close-tocomplete
runs of all Concord newspapers from
1816 to the present time. The purpose of this
Web offering is to make digital images of the
library’s holdings of all Concord papers from
1816 to 1862—an important period in the town’s
social, economic, political, and cultural history—
readily available for research purposes.
For additional information or to view the collection,
see the CFPL Special Collections Website for the
project: www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/concordpre-
civil-war-newspapers/index.html
Nationwide Library Programs for Alcott
Documentary Funded Through NEH Grants
The PBS documentary, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman
Behind Little Women, has been the impetus for a
nationwide series of library programs related to the
film, and funded through the NEH Small Grants to
Libraries program. The NEH program, which brings
traveling exhibitions and other types of humanities
public programming to libraries across the country,
has funded these incentive grants so that libraries may
apply for funding to create programming related to
the documentary and its subjects of interest.
“Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women
– Library Outreach Programs,” which has been
designated an NEH We the People initiative, is a
collaboration between the National Endowment for
the Humanities (NEH), the American Library
Association, and filmmakers Nancy Porter and
Harriet Reisen for Filmmakers Collaborative. LMAS
President-Elect Daniel Shealy led local scholars
associated with the 30 grantee institutions through a
kick-off discussion series in Boston this past March.
Programs will continue through Spring 2012. For
additional information, see the American Library
Association Website:
http://ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pr.cfm?id=5952
Your Conference Ideas Welcome
Please consider suggesting an idea for next year's
LMAS-sponsored sessions for the American
Literature Association conference in Boston, or for
other upcoming conferences. LMAS welcomes ideas
and involvement from our members in putting
together calls for papers and scholarly panels. Contact
LMAS Secretary Mary Shelden: mlshelden@vcu.edu.
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library



The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 9 Fall 2010
LMAS Business Meeting and Sessions,
ALA 2011
Please join us if you can for our Annual
Business Meeting and LMA Societysponsored
panels at the American Literature
Association Annual Meeting 21-24 May 2011
in Boston. Here are Calls for Papers for the
two sessions we'll be sponsoring:
Alcott and Other Authors
Born in the bosom of the Transcendentalist
movement, raised among the intellectual elite
of Boston and Concord, Louisa May Alcott
had ample opportunity to experience the
influence of other writers. From Ralph
Waldo Emerson, whom she called “the god
of my idolatry,” to Margaret Fuller, who
famously made reference to her as one of
Bronson Alcott’s “model children,” to
authors like Shakespeare, Goethe, and
Dickens, whom she absorbed from farther
off, ideas from and characters shaped from
great writers frequent the pages of her
writing in works such as Little Women and
Moods. In turn, Alcott has also been
influential in the extreme; subsequent
authors from Gertrude Stein to Cynthia
Ozick have cited Alcott’s influence
sometimes, as in the case of Joyce Carol
Oates or Geraldine Brooks, stitching up their
work in narrative threads taken directly from
Alcott’s work. This session will consider
Alcott’s influences by and over other
authors.
Louisa May Alcott as Pop Culture Icon
Alcott was known to refer to herself as
Aesop's "goose who laid the golden egg" -
once in a poem, "The Lay of the Golden
Goose," written during her 1870 escape
abroad; and again in her 1886 novel Jo's Boys,
in the chapter "Jo's Last Scrape," which
concerns attempts by her fictional persona,
Jo March, to repel hordes of autograph
seekers. To call Alcott's work popular is an
understatement; from Alcott's day to our
own, it has created a commercial enterprise
of extraordinary profitability. From Madame
Alexander dolls to comic books to awardwinning
biographies and inter-novels, to
films, musicals, and operas, to recent
mashups Little Women and Werewolves and
Little Vampire Women, the Alcott industry
keeps on producing. This session will
consider Alcott's fame and fortune in her
own day as well as well as her continuing
pop culture legacy.
Please send 200-300 word proposals
electronically to Mary Shelden
(mlshelden@vcu.edu). Deadline for proposals
is Friday, 21 January 2011 (early submissions
welcome).
Fruitlands: The
Alcott Family and
Their Search for
Utopia is just out
(Yale University
Press, 2010). Novelist
and New England
historian Richard
Francis brings us an
account of "one of history’s most
unsuccessful—but most significant—utopian
experiments." Bronson Alcott, along with
Charles Lane, established Fruitlands in
Massachusetts in 1843, attempting to put into
action their communal reformist brand of
Transcendentalism. Drawing on the letters
and diaries of the Fruitlands participants,
Francis explores a fascinating moment in the
history of America and of the Alcott family:
http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp
?isbn=9780300140415.
CFPL Online Exhibit:
John S. Keyes Autobiography
The Concord Free Public Library has
announced a new offering on its Website – a
full transcription of John Shepard Keyes's
manuscript autobiography in searchable PDF
format. The transcription was performed for
the CFPL courtesy of LMAS Treasurer and
Penn State Altoona Professor Sandra
Petrulionis, with the assistance of research
assistant, transcriber, proofreader, and editor
Jennifer Cowfer and student transcribers and
proofreaders Deborah Barry, Jeannette
Burgan, Rebecca Diehl, and Christina
Seymour. See the opening page at
http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Key
es/index.html, and click to the transcription
from there. According to the CFPL Website,
"Dr. Petrulionis and her crew have prepared a
literal, line-by-line transcription to scholarly
standards." In addition to the autobiography,
the Website offers links to their editorial notes
and normalization practices.
The Louisa May Alcott Society Web
site contains information about Louisa
May Alcott, her family, and her times, with
links to numerous useful online sources:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMay
AlcottSociety/LMAS_welcome.htm.
The Louisa May Alcott Society
newsletter, The Portfolio, is generally
published biannually in the spring and fall.
Please send your Alcott-related news to
the LMAS secretary and newsletter editor,
Mary Shelden: mlshelden@vcu.edu.
Membership
We hope that those who care about fostering
opportunities for Alcott scholarship will
continue to support the organization with
annual dues – it only costs $10 a year to show
your support.
If you have not yet submitted member dues
for the 2010-2011 year, please do so through
the PayPal link on our Society Web site (our
preferred payment method):
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/
LouisaMayAlcott Society/
LMAS_subscriptions.htm
Or send your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to our treasurer:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
Photograph of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 8 Spring 2010
LMAS Call for Papers, ALA 2010
The 21st Annual American Literature
Association Conference will be held 27-30
May 2010 in San Francisco, California. The
Louisa May Alcott Society will sponsor a
session there, with the annual business
meeting to follow:
Session 3-E (1:30PM, Pacific C)
Women's Communities of Work in
Alcott's Circle
Chair: Laura Dassow Walls
University of South Carolina
• "'Our Best Thanks to the Sewing
Circle': Concord Endeavors on Behalf
of the Holley School for Freedmen,'
Mary Shelden, Virginia
Commonwealth University
• "Tilting Toward Community: Writing
Women at the World's Fair in New
Orleans, 1884-1885," Miki Pfeffer,
University of New Orleans
• "'In the Face of Cruelest Facts':
Margaret Fuller, Working Girls, and
the Trouble with Chastity," John
Matteson, John Jay College, City
University of New York
Summer
Conversational
Series and
Teacher Institute,
Orchard House,
11-16 July 2010
Orchard House,
historic home of the Alcotts in Concord,
Massachusetts, will again host its Summer
Conversational Series and Teacher Institute
July 11-16. This year's theme will be: "In
Heaven's Name, Give Her a Chance: Defining
the Sphere of Women in 19th-Century
America." Presenters will include:
Michael Barnett - Moravian College
Phyllis Cole - Penn State-Brandywine
Cathlin Davis -
California State University-Stanislaus
Helen Deese - Tennessee Tech University/
Massachusetts Historical Society
Sterling Delano - Villanova University
Anne-Laure François -
Université Charles-de-Gaulle Lille 3
Reed Abigail Gochberg -
Harvard University
Karen Goodno - Salem State College/
Orchard House
Luane Davis Haggerty -
Rochester Institute of Technology/
National Institute of the Deaf
Lynn Hyde -
Western Washington University/
The Old Manse
Adriana Lanzi -
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba
Megan Marshall - Emerson College/
Radcliffe Institute at Harvard
John Matteson - Pulitzer Prize winner/
John Jay College
Evelyn Navarre - SUNY-Buffalo
Janet Northrup - Chautauqua Institution
Debra Ryals - Pensacola Junior College
Lisa Stepanski - Emmanuel College
For details, see the Orchard House Web site:
www.louisamayalcott.org/
events.html#jul_2009
Concord Free Public Library
Special Collections is pleased to announce
that, as a 375th anniversary present for
Concord, the Friends of the CFPL are
republishing the history-cum-guidebook
Historic Concord, which describes Concord sites
comprehensively, including all the major
Alcott sites in town. Allen French's brief
history is reprinted in it, and Leslie Perrin
Wilson has written an all-new guidebook
section. The well-indexed, 180-page text
includes a list of books for further reading and
contact information for sites and is
extensively illustrated with historical images
from the CFPL and fold-out maps. Copies
should be available for purchase by July.
Not Your Mother's LMA
In addition to the above pulpy fictions now
available from your local bookseller, look for
Nook and Kindle digital editions of LMA's
works at www.barnesandnoble.com and
www.amazon.com.
Your Conference Ideas Welcome
Please consider suggesting an idea for next
year's LMAS-sponsored sessions for the
American Literature Association conference
in Boston, or for other upcoming
conferences. LMAS welcome ideas and
involvement from our members in putting
together calls for papers and scholarly panels.
Contact LMAS Secretary Mary Shelden:
mlshelden@vcu.edu.
The Louisa May Alcott Society Web site
contains information about Louisa May
Alcott, her family, and her times, with links to
numerous useful online sources:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMay
AlcottSociety/LMAS_welcome.htm
We welcome your suggested additions to the
site!
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter,
The Portfolio, is published biannually in the spring
and fall. Please send your Alcott-related news to
the LMAS secretary and newsletter editor, Mary
Shelden: mlshelden@vcu.edu
Louisa May Alcott Society Membership
We hope that those who care about fostering
opportunities for Alcott scholarship will continue
to support the organization with annual dues – it
only costs $10 a year to show your support.
If you have not yet submitted member dues for
the 2008-2009 year, or you would like to renew
membership for 2009-2010, please do so by
sending your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to our treasurer:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
Or use the PayPal link on the LMAS Website:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/
LouisaMayAlcott Society/
LMAS_subscriptions.htm
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 7 Fall 2009
LMAS Call for Papers, ALA 2010
The 21st Annual American Literature
Association Conference will be held 27-30
May 2010 in San Francisco, California. Here
are the calls for papers for the LMASsponsored
sessions:
Louisa May Alcott as Pop Culture Icon
Alcott was sometimes known to refer to
herself as Aesop's "goose who laid the golden
egg": once in a poem, "The Lay of the Golden
Goose," written during her 1870 escape
abroad; and again in her 1886 novel Jo's Boys,
in the chapter "Jo's Last Scrape," which
concerns attempts by Alcott's fictional
persona, Jo March, to repel hordes of
autograph seekers. To call Alcott's work
popular is an understatement; from Alcott's
day to our own, it has created a commercial
enterprise of extraordinary profitability. From
Madame Alexander dolls to comic books to
award-winning biographies and inter-novels,
to films, musicals, and operas, to the
forthcoming mashup Little Women and
Werewolves, the Alcott industry keeps on
producing. This session will consider Alcott's
fame and fortune in her own day as well as
well as her continuing pop culture and
political legacy.
Teaching Louisa May Alcott's Work
First published in 1873, Alcott's novel Work:
A Story of Experience was declared a "woman's
rights polemic." The success of Little Women,
Little Men, and An Old Fashioned Girl, did not
lessen Alcott's domestic responsibilities, and
the double duties spurred conscious activities
on behalf of women's rights and social justice.
Work's heroine, Christie Devon, a young,
white, spinster, busily breadmaking, declares
her independence and sets out to work for her
living. Each step on her pilgrim's progress
presents the difficulties of finding meaningful
work, earning her bread, finding home,
respect, and love. Hepsey, a freed slave,
reminds her "there's worse things than being
an servant." Trying nearly all the jobs available
to women, Christie is then homeless,
unemployed, despairing. Safe refuge appears
in the person of "Cynthie Wilkins, Clear-
Starcher," a laundress who counsels her not to
"marry for a living." Her new circle of strong
women, in league with Rev. Power, welcomes
Christie to sisterhood in woman's rights
efforts. We ask how can we illuminate Work
and its meanings for our students in the 21st
century as they become breadwinners and
breadmakers? What relevant experiences does
Work offer to today's readers?
Please send 200-300 word proposals
electronically to Mary Shelden
(mlshelden@vcu.edu). Deadline for proposals
is Monday, 4 January 2010 (early submissions
welcome). For more about the conference, see
the ALA Web site:
www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/ala2/
Summer
Conversational
Series and Teacher
Institute, Orchard
House,
11-16 July 2010
Orchard House,
historic home of the Alcotts in Concord,
Massachusetts, will again host its Summer
Conversational Series and Teacher Institute
July 11-16. This year's theme will be: "In
Heaven's Name, Give Her a Chance: Defining
the Sphere of Women in 19th-Century
America." Suggestions are welcome for
sessions, presenters, programs, and activities;
please send submissions to
education@louisamayalcott.org . Submission
deadline: 15 February 2010. For details, see
the Orchard House Web site:
www.louisamayalcott.org/
events.html#jul_2009
Kudos for Louisa May Alcott:
The Woman Behind Little Women
The PBS documentary from the American
Master's series, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman
Behind Little Women, directed by Nancy
Porter and written by Harriet Reisen, is set for
its television premiere 28 December 2009,
9:00pm EST (check local listings). The film
stars Elizabeth Marvel in the role of Alcott,
and features Jane Alexander as her first
biographer, Ednah Dow Cheney. Before it has
even seen the small screen, it has been
awarded the American Library Association's
Booklist Top of the List award for Best
Documentary, 2009. The companion
biography by the same title, written by Harriet
Reisen, has made the Bookpage's top ten list
for non-fiction. Orchard House, Home of the
Alcotts, will host an exhibit of behind-thescene
photos of the making of the film,
January-March 2010. To learn more, see the
documentary Web site:
http://www.alcottfilm.com/
Orchard House Fireside
Christmas
For December 2009, Orchard
House will be decorated for the
holidays and feature costumed
characters, activities for children
and families, and take-home
mementos. Advance reservations are strongly
recommended: 978-369-4118 ext 106. For
more information, see the Orchard House
Web site:
www.louisamayalcott.org/events.html
The Louisa May Alcott Society Web site
contains information about Louisa May
Alcott, her family, and her times, with links to
numerous useful online sources:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMay
AlcottSociety/LMAS_welcome.htm
Digital Projects Underway at the
Concord Free Public Library
Two of the digital projects currently underway
at the CFPL are of especial interest to Alcott
Scholars. The Concord Antebellum
Newspaper project will soon be mounting
digital images of all pre-Civil War Concord
newspapers on the CFPL website. Also, the
library is working toward finishing the
Historic Buildings Website, which will
ultimately feature the Thoreau-Alcott House
on Main Street. The pages for it should go up
by spring 2010. To see buildings currently
feature, see the CFPL Web site:
www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/BuildingHis
tories/index.html
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter,
The Portfolio, is published biannually in the
spring and fall. Please send your Alcott-related
news to the LMAS secretary and newsletter
editor, Mary Shelden: mlshelden@vcu.edu
Louisa May Alcott Society Membership
We hope that those who care about fostering
opportunities for Alcott scholarship will
continue to support the organization with
annual dues – it only costs $10 a year to show
your support.
If you have not yet submitted member dues
for the 2008-2009 year, or you would like to
renew membership for 2009-2010, please do
so through the PayPal link on our Society
Web site:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/
LouisaMayAlcott Society/
LMAS_subscriptions.htm
Or send your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to our treasurer:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
Image of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library

The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 6 Spring 2009
Our roster of paid members currently
stands at 39 (up 2 from the end of last
year). We hope that those who care about
fostering opportunities for Alcott
scholarship will continue to support the
organization with annual dues – it only
costs $10 a year to show your support.
If you have not yet submitted member
dues for the 2008-2009 year, please do so
through the PayPal link on our Society
Web site (our preferred payment method):
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/
LouisaMayAlcott Society/
LMAS_subscriptions.htm
Or send your check for $10, made out to
The Louisa May Alcott Society, to our
treasurer:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
LMAS Business Meeting and Sessions,
ALA 2009
Please join us if you can for our Annual
Business Meeting and LMA Societysponsored
panels at the American
Literature Association Annual Meeting 21-
24May 2009 in Boston. Our panels will
feature presentations on Recent Alcott
Scholarship from Leslie Perrin Wilson
(Concord Free Public Library), Roberta
Trites (Illinois State University), and
Daniel Shealy (University of North
Carolina, Charlotte) – Saturday 23 May in
Essex North East at 8:00 am (Mary
Shelden, chair). The annual business
meeting immediately following at 9:30 am
(North Star – 7th floor) will include
confirmation of a new advisory board
member and our secretary for the 2009-
2011 term, and of our president-elect for
the 2010-2012 term. Our roundtable on
Making the Documentary Louisa May
Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women
will feature presentations from
Producer/Director Nancy Porter,
Author/Producer/Screenwriter Harriet
Reisen, and scholars Joel Myerson
(University of South Carolina), and John
Matteson (John Jay College, CUNY) –
Saturday May in Essex North West at
11:00 am (Sandra Petrulionis, chair). In
addition, we’ll be screening the
Documentary, Louisa May Alcott: The
Woman Behind Little Women at the
Saturday 5:00 pm session, Essex North
West, with a welcome from our president,
Larry Carlson, and prefatory comments
from Nancy Porter and Harriet Reisen.
For more information about the
conference, see the ALA Web site:
www.calstatela.edu/academic/
english/ala2/
Little Women
Abroad: The Alcott
Sisters’ Lett ers from
Europe, 1870-1871,
is just out from
eminent Alcott
Scholar, Daniel Shealy,
and University of
Georgia Press. The book details the
sojourn of these sister artists – one visual,
the other literary – on their tour of Europe
on the heels of Louisa Alcott’s fame for
Little Women and An Old-Fashioned Girl.
The book features Shealy’s substantive
introduction, the letters from the sisters to
those at home in America, and 78
illustrations, many by May Alcott:
www.ugapress.uga.edu/0820330094.html
Summer
Conversational
Series and
Teacher
Institute,
Orchard House,
12-17 July 2009
Orchard House, historic home of the
Alcotts in Concord, Massachusetts will
again host its Summer Conversational
Series and Teacher Institute July 12-17.
This year Orchard House partners with
The Thoreau Society to offer the series in
conjunction with The Thoreau Society
Annual Gathering. This year’s series,
“Striking a Blow for Freedom: The Alcotts
and Abolition,” will focus on the Alcott
family’s dedication to the 19th-century
reform and abolition movements, and
Concord’s ties to John Brown’s raid on
Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. This
year’s presenters will include LMAS
members Cathlin Davis, John Matteson,
Joel Myerson, and Sandra Petrulionis, and
filmmakers Nancy Porter and Harriet
Reisen. For details, see the Orchard House
Web site: www.louisamayalcott.org/
events.html#jul_2009
Drinking
Gourd Project
Founded in
Concord
Your Portolio
editor and
LMAS secretary
was delighted to
attend an inaugural event on behalf of The
Drinking Gourd Project, a group of selfdescribed
“moms” seeking to put the
history of slavery and abolition, quite
literally, “on the map” in Concord. Their
first effort included a mock Anti-Slavery
Society meeting along with a keynote and
guided walk of Walden Woods from Elise
Lemire, Professor of Literature at
Purchase College, SUNY, and author of
Black Walden: Slavery and Its Aftermath. For
additional information, to see a map of
slavery and abolition-related sites in
Concord, or to make a contribution, see
the project’s Web site
www.drinkinggourd.cchumanrights.org/
Add Your
Testimonial for
Orchard House
for the Partners
in Preservation
Greater Boston
Initiative
While the deadline has passed to vote for
Orchard House to win the grand prize, it
is not too late for you to add your
testimonial about why you think Orchard
House deserves to win one of the smaller
grants from American Express Partners in
Preservation. To learn more about the
initiative, or to add your voice about why
Orchard House merits one of these grants,
see the Web site:
www.partnersinpreservation.com/
boston/index.php
The Louisa May Alcott Society Web
site contains information about Louisa
May Alcott, her family, and her times, with
links to numerous useful online sources:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMay
AlcottSociety/LMAS_welcome.htm .
The Louisa May Alcott Society
newsletter, The Portfolio, is generally
published biannually in the spring and fall
(usually in April and October). Please send
your Alcott-related news to the LMAS
secretary and newsletter editor, Mary
Shelden: mlshelden@vcu.edu.
Photograph of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used
by permission of the Concord Free Public Library


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 5 Spring 2008
While our member roster currently
59 (up 1from the end of last year), our
members current in dues number
from 40 at the end of last year). We hope that
those who care about fostering opportunities
for Alcott scholarship will continue to
support the organization with annual dues
only costs $10 a year to show your support.
If you have not yet submitted member dues
for the 2007-2008 year, please do so through
the PayPal link on our Society Web
preferred payment method):
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/
LouisaMayAlcott Society/
LMAS_subscriptions.htm
Or send your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to our treasurer
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
LMAS Business Meeting, ALA 2008
Please join us if you can for our Annual
Business Meeting and LMA Society
sponsored panels at the American Literature
Association Annual Meeting 22-25May 2008
in San Francisco. Our panels will feature
presentations on the Concord Reformers
from Katherine Adams (University of Tulsa),
Jessica Isaac (University of Kansas), and
Pulitzer Prizewinner John Matteson
(John Jay College, CUNY)–Saturday
in Pacific G at 9:30 am (Sandy Petrulionis
chair). The annual business meeting
immediately following at 11:00am (
will include confirmation of our treasurer for
the next term and passing of the president’s
gavel from Joel Myerson to Larry Carlson.
Our roundtable on teaching Little Women
feature presentations from Anne Phillips
2008
stands at
37 (down
). – it
site (our
treasurer:
, Society-
r day 24 May
m Petrulionis,
Seacliff A)
ur rm will
(Kansas State University), Anne Bruder
(University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill),
and Gregory Eiselein (Kansasa State
University) –Saturday 24 May in Pacific G at
3:30 pm (Mary Shelden, chair).
members presenting Alcott scholarship at
ALA include Phyllis Cole (Penn State
Brandywine)–Friday 23 May at
(Pacific E). For more informa
conference, see the ALA Web
www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/ala2/
Alcott Biographer
Awarded
The society extends
heartfelt congratulations
to member John
Matteson, who garnered
the Pulitzer for hi
biography,
Outcasts: The Story of
Louisa May Alcott and Her
Father (Norton, 2007).
According to the Booklist review:
lucid, commanding biography casts new light
on an unusual father-daughter bond and a
new land at war with itself.”
OH Summer Conversational Series ’08
Orchard House, historic home of the Alcotts
in Concord, Massachusetts will again host its
Summer Conversational Series and Teacher
Institute July 16-20. This year’s s
the sesquicentennial of the Alcotts’ residence
at Orchard House, with presenters
LMAS member Sarah Elbert, John Matteson,
Daniel Shealy, and Lisa Stepanski.
see the Orchard House Web site
www.louisamayalcott.org/events.html#scs_08
CFPL November Exhibit: May Alcott
The Concord Free Public Lib
coordination with Orchard House
an Exhibition, May Alcott as A
November 2008 – 30 January 2009
accompanying lectures from
Joel Myerson, Daniel Shealy, and John
Matteson. For details, see the CFPL Web
www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/events.html
Photo of the Ricketson bust of LMA used by permission of the Concord Free Public Library
y Other
2:00pm
. information about the
site:
Pulitzer
his
Eden’s
“Matteson's
ard series honors
to include
For details,
ee site:
Library, in
House, will host
Artist, 3
2009, with
LMAS members
site:

The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 4 Fall 2007
Our membership currently stands at 59, an increase
of 4 from last spring. Welcome and thank you to
those of you have recently joined our ranks–and
profound thanks also to our continuing members. If
you have not yet submitted member dues for the
2007-2008 year, please do so through the PayPal link
on our Society Website (our preferred payment
method):
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMayAlcottSociety
/LMAS_subscriptions.htm
Or send your check for $10, made out to The Louisa
May Alcott Society, to:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
Many thanks to Sandy Petrulionis and husband, Joe,
for establishing the PayPal site, which facilitates new
membership and renewal for all, especially for our
international members.
LMA Society to Host Scholarly Sessions,
Business Meeting at ALA 2008
In addition to our regular annual business
meeting, LMAS will host two scholarly sessions at the
American Literature Association’s 19th Annual
Conference in San Francisco, 22-25 May 2008:
The Concord Reformers:
Louisa May Alcott was a second-generation reformer
in her family; she was schooled in agitation for
women’s rights and the abolition of slavery, as well as
other reforms including religion, diet, medicine, and
labor, by the diligent efforts of her parents and their
famed circle of friends—and perhaps even more by a
larger, less public network surrounding this circle.
The Louisa May Alcott Society welcomes papers
addressing what Freda Baum has termed “the scarlet
strand of reform” in Alcott’s work and life, and in the
larger circles in which she learned to value the
reformist spirit. Send abstracts to: Mary Shelden,
mlshelden@vcu.edu; deadline extended to
24 January 2008
Teaching Little Women:
Several recent landmarks in publication have
encouraged serious study of Louisa May Alcott’s
beloved masterpiece, most notably the 2003 Norton
Critical Edition of Little Women, and the 2005 Library
of America edition of the March family trilogy.
The Louisa May Alcott Society welcomes
proposals for brief presentations for a roundtable
discussion of Little Women and pedagogy. Possible
subjects include:
• To what age is the novel best
taught—elementary school, high school,
undergraduate college, graduate school?
• What contextual materials help illuminate the
novel?
• In which subjects does Little Women instruct
its readers and how does Alcott deliver this
instruction?
• What do the Marches and their circle have to
tell us about teaching methods, and how can
their ideas inform our teaching of the novel?
• With what other primary texts is Little Women
most effectively paired in the classroom?
As this is a roundtable emphasizing pedagogy,
sharing of syllabi and other course materials will be
especially welcome at the session. Send abstracts
to: Mary Shelden, mlshelden@vcu.edu; deadline
extended to 24 January 2008.
Orchard House to Host Summer
Conversational Series, 16-20 July 2008
Orchard House and the Louisa May Alcott
Memorial Association will again this summer host
its annual Summer Conversational Series. This
summer’s series will mark the sesquicentennial of
the Alcott’s arrival at Orchard House in 1858. For
additional information or to submit presentation
proposals, please contact Education and Public
Programs Director Lis Adams at
ladams@louisamayalcott.org (or phone 978-369-
4118, x106). Proposals are due 20 January 2008.
Alcott Studies: Twain, Alcott, and the
Adolescent Reform Novel , Roberta Seelinger
Trites (U of Iowa P, 2007).
In this new work, Illinois State
University professor Roberta
Seelinger Trites explores the
intricate connections between
the lives and works of these
two fundamental American
authors in a generally understudied
arena of American
fiction. For further
information, see the University
of Iowa Press site:
www.uipress.uiowa.edu/books
/2007-fall/tritestwaalc.htmlz.
Madeline B. Stern:
1 July 1912–
18 August 2007
I first met Madeleine
Stern in 1973, when she
participated in a session
on "Research
Opportunities in
Margaret Fuller Studies"
at MLA, which also
included Bob Hudspeth,
Meg McGavran Murray,
and me. That began a
long friendship as well
as a correspondence about Fuller and all things
dealing with the Transcendentalists. It also led to
my meeting Leona Rostenberg, Mady's delightful
partner in booking and in life, and I had the
pleasure of a number of dinners with them (and
their successive dachshunds) when in New York.
Mady was delightful–always willing to share
information and discuss ideas, always open to new
approaches and new endeavors.
Her bookselling fields did not overlap with mine,
but she did once do me the great favor of
successfully bidding at auction on a number of
caricatures by Christopher
Pearse Cranch based on
Emerson's writings
(including the famous
"transparent eyeball"
sketch) that were
incorrectly described (as
well as segregated in the
children's literature
section of the catalogue),
and then waiving her
commission.
When Daniel Shealy and I began editing Alcott,
we naturally thought of involving Mady–after all,
it would take us many, many years to obtain the
amount of knowledge about Alcott she
possessed–and she volunteered to write the
introductions to what became the Selected Letters
and Journals, and vetted (and corrected)
everything we did, being a real partner in all our
enterprises.
I last saw her and Leona in April 2004, when
Leona was nearly blind and seriously ill. Still,
they kept up a long-practiced banter, telling
anecdotes of the past yet make inquiries of what
was going on in the present. When Mady called to
tell me that Leona had died, it was clear that her
death, along with Mady's own loss of vision, was
taking a toll.
I'll miss Mady. She was one of the first writers to
take seriously what became women's studies (even
if she was not given proper recognition, not being
part of the "academy"), she was passionate about
books and the people she wrote about, and she
represented an older, more gracious profession of
letters that has nearly disappeared. She will be
missed.
~Joel Myerson
Orchard House Tribute:
http://www.louisamayalcott.org/sternmem.html
New York Times Obituary:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/25/books/25st
ern.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter,
The Portfolio, is published biannually in the spring
and fall (usually in April and October). Please send
your Alcott-related news to the LMAS secretary
and newsletter editor, Mary Shelden:
mlshelden@vcu.edu.
Stern in 1915
Stern and Rostenberg in 1977
Cranch’s Transparent Eyeball


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 3 Spring 2007
LMA Society to Host Sessions, Business
Meeting, Orchard House Tour at ALA 2007
In addition to our regular annual business
meeting, LMAS will host two scholarly sessions at the
American Literature Association’s 18th Annual
Conference in Boston, 24-27 May 2007:
Thursday 24 May, 10:00-11:20am
2-H The Dramatic Alcotts (Essex North Center)
Chair, Sandra H. Petrulionis, Penn State Altoona
• "Gothic Elements and Movie Adaptations of 'The
Witch's Curse,'" Jennie MacDonald, University of
Denver
• "Jo March as Playwright: Success or Sellout?," Laura
King, University of Chicago Graham School of
General Studies
• "'Don't laugh, act as if it was all right!': The Witch's
Curse and other Clumsy Gender Theatrics in Little
Women," Julie Wilhelm, University of California,
Davis
Saturday 26 May, 12:30-1:50pm
19-C Orchard House, Historical and Imaginative
(Essex North Center)
Chair: Jan Turnquist, Orchard House
• "Jo March: The Sanewoman in the Attic," Mary
Lamb Shelden, Northern Illinois University
• Building Castles of Reform: Louisa May Alcott’s
Material Feminism,” Caroline Hellman, City
University of New York
• "What They Wore: 'The Rival Prima Donnas' to
Rodrigo," Callie Sadler Oppedisano, Tufts
University
Saturday 26 May, 2:00-3:20pm
20-L Louisa May Alcott Society Business Meeting
(Courier, 7th Floor)
LMAS has also organized a field trip to the Alcott
home, Orchard House, in Concord, MA, for Friday
25 May. Jan Turnquist, Executive Director, has
graciously agreed to host a tour of the historic site just
for our members. The group will depart from the
ALA conference at approximately 11:00am and return
to the conference site by 5:00pm. Please contact Mary
Shelden (mshelden@niu.edu, 815/753-1456) for
details if you are interested in joining us.
If you have not yet submitted member dues for the
2006-2007 year, please send your check for $10,
made out to The Louisa May Alcott Society, to:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis, Penn State
Altoona, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA 16601
Agenda for the LMAS Annual Meeting at ALA
1. Old Business:
• Treasurer and Secretary Reports
• Election of LMAS Officers: Our Nominating
Committee has put together a slate of candidates
for officers:
Larry Carlson, President
Sandy Petrulionis, Treasurer
Mary Shelden, Secretary
• 07-08 Nominating Committee
2. New Business
• Incorporation and Filing for Tax Exempt status
• Member dues
• Web site
New LMA Society Web Site:
www.personal.psu.edu/shp2/LouisaMayAlcottSociety/LMAS_welcome.htm
Many thanks to Sandy Petrulionis and husband, Joe,
for establishing a foothold for LMAS on the Web.
It already contains some excellent information for
scholars, including a variety of Web resources and
finding aids. Please email suggestions for additional
content, or send links and information to:
shp2@psu.edu
New Alcott Biography from LMAS Member
Louisa May Alcott Society member John Matteson
has authored a new book about the difficult but
loving relationship between Louisa and father
Bronson Alcott. The volume is due for release in
August 2007 from W.W. Norton. For details, see:
www2.wwnorton.com/catalog/spring07/005964.htm
From the Concord Free Public Library
• The CFPL will digitize and make searchable (on the
CFPL website) the Concord town reports up to or
through the Civil War, and soon will be engaged in a
similar project for the pre-Civil War Concord
newspapers.
• CFPL has left the Town of Concord website and
now has its Web home at www.concordlibrary.org.
• A Concord history by Leslie Perrin Wilson, In
History’s Embrace, is due out in June
Orchard House News
< 2007 Summer Conversational Series
Orchard House and the Louisa May Alcott Memorial
Association will again host its annual Summer
Conversational Series:
The Alcotts: A Never-Ending Conversation
Cathlin Davis - CSU-Stanislas
Sarah Elbert - SUNY Binghamton
John Matteson - John Jay College
Joel Myerson - USC-Columbia
Sandy Petrulionis - Penn State-Altoona
Daniel Shealy - UNC-Charlotte
Mary Shelden - Northern Illinois University
Lisa Stepanski - Emmanuel College
For more information, visit the Orchard House Web
site at www.louisamayalcott.org/events.html.
< Major Restoration Project Nears Completion
A restoration of May Alcott's Bedchamber is nearing
completion. Painstaking plaster repair on the vaulted
ceiling and conservation of original wall drawings and
wallpaper were made possible in part by a grant from
*The National Trust for Historic Preservation* in
partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement
Foundation.
Photograph of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library
< New Honors for
Orchard House
• Orchard House
named in 100 Places
Every WomanShould Go
by Stephanie
Elizondo Griest
• Orchard House
Website named one of
the top 5 best sites by
"Surfing the Net with
Kids" --
www.surfnetkids.com
< Alcott Documentary in the Works
www.alcottfilm.com
Orchard House Executive Director Jan Turnquist,
along with Madeleine Stern, and professors Joel
Myerson, Sarah Elbert, Daniel Shealy, Gregory
Eiselein, Elise Lemire, John Matteson, Anne
Phillips, and Shirley Samuels, serve on the
advisory board for the Nancy Porter Productions'
documentary, Louisa May Alcott: The Real
Woman Who Wrote Little Women. On-location
filming took place at Orchard House May 15th-
17th. This first documentary on the life of Louisa
May Alcott is slated to be aired on PBS in spring
2008.
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter,
The Portfolio, is published biannually in the spring
and fall (usually in April and October). Please send
your Alcott-related news to the LMAS secretary and
newsletter editor, Mary Shelden:
mshelden@niu.edu.


The Portfolio
Newsletter of the Louisa May Alcott Society
Number 2 Fall 2006
Our membership roster currently stands at
55–an increase from last spring of 6%.
Welcome and thank you to all who have
recently joined our ranks–and profound thanks also
to our continuing members. If you have not yet
submitted member dues for the 2006-2007 year,
please send your check for $10, made out to The
Louisa May Alcott Society, to:
Professor Sandra H. Petrulionis, Penn State Altoona,
3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA 16601
LMA Society to Host Two Scholarly Sessions and
Annual Business Meeting at ALA 2007
In addition to our regular annual business meeting,
LMAS will host two scholarly sessions at the
American Literature Association 18th Annual
Conference in Boston, 24-27 May 2007 (please
forward these Calls for Papers widely):
Session 1. Orchard House, Historical and Imaginative
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Orchard
House, we invite proposals on such topics as:
• Orchard House in the popular imagination
• Orchard House as home of the Marches in Little
Women
• Transcendentalism and the Concord School of
Philosophy
• The history and pre-history of the Orchard House
home and site
Session 2. The Dramatic Alcotts
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the
establishment of the Concord Dramatic Union, we
invite proposals for a wide range of subjects,
including the following:
• The theatrical career of Louisa May Alcott
• The Alcott girls as playwrights
• Adaptations of Little Women for stage and/or
screen
• The role of The Witch's Curse in Little Women
Please e-mail a one-paragraph abstract along with a
short bio to Louisa May Alcott Society secretary,
Mary Shelden, at mshelden@niu.edu. Deadline for
submissions is January 7. Please also indicate by
January 7 any special AV requirements. Plans are also
underway for a tour for LMAS members of the
Orchard House site in Concord, MA, during the ALA
conference. For more information about the 2007
conference, see the ALA Web site:
www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/ala2/.
LMA Society Panel at SSAWW
LMAS hosted a successful panel at the recent Society
for the Study of American Women Writers
conference 8-11 November 2006 in Philadelphia. The
session, titled “Women’s Letters and the Culture of
Reform,” included presentations from members
Helen Deese (Massachusetts Historical Society) and
Mary Shelden (Northern Illinois University), with
commentary from Mary DeJong (Penn State Altoona)
and Sandra H. Petrulionis (Penn State Altoona). Many
thanks to session moderator and LMAS treasurer
Sandy Petrulionis for organizing this opportunity for
scholarly dialogue!
Orchard House to Host 2006 Summer
Conversational Series
Orchard House and the Louisa May Alcott Memorial
Association will again this summer host its annual
Summer Conversational Series. The theme for this
summer’s series will be “The Alcotts: The Never-
Ending Conversation.” The tentative program for this
intensive workshop includes presentations from: Joel
Myerson, Cathlin Davis, Daniel Shealy, Lisa
Stepanski, Sarah Elbert, John Matteson, Michael
Pierson, Melissa Pennell, Mary Lamb Shelden,
Geraldine Brooks. For additional information, please
contact Orchard House Museum Assistant Jennifer
Gratz at jgratz@louisamayalcott.org, or visit the
Orchard House Web site at www.louisamayalcott.org.
Nominating Committee Solicits Nominees for
LMAS Officers and Advisory Board
Joel Myerson, Daniel Shealy, and John Matteson
will serve as the inaugural LMAS Nominating
Committee starting in January. Please send any
suggestions for nominees for President-Elect,
Treasurer, Secretary, and Advisory Board members
to John Matteson at matteson151@earthlink.net
by January 7.
LMA Society Articles of Incorporation
Articles of Incorporation for the Louisa May Alcott
Society as a Non-Profit Corporation will be filed this
month with the Massachusetts Secretary of the
Commonwealth. Many thanks to Wes Mott, who has
agreed to serve as agent-in-residence and has offered
useful guidance about steps in establishing LMAS as a
full-fledged legal entity.
Minutes from the LMAS Business Meeting
at ALA 2006 are available from society secretary
Mary Shelden: mshelden@niu.edu.
Orchard House Hosts 5K Walk/10K Run, Raises
Over $10,000 (and Counting)
On October 22, nearly 250 professional runners, local
residents, and history buffs turned out to participate
in the 1st annual run to benefit Orchard House. The
event was organized to solicit funding for Phase 2 of
the Orchard House restoration, which will preserve
and conserve the interior of the house (including May
Alcott’s original artwork drawn on interior walls and
woodwork), restore the Concord School of
Philosophy, and create a storage vault for collections.
Executive Director Jan Turnquist–who ran in period
dress, including hoopskirt!–notes that Alcott herself
was an avid runner, making the event particularly
appropriate for fundraising. It is not too late to
pledge your support for this event; for more
information and photos, see the Orchard House Web
site at: www.louisamayalcott.org.
From the Concord Free Public Library
Many thanks to Leslie Wilson for news of the CFPL’s
online finding aid for the Alcott Family Library. The
collection includes titles published between 1824 and
1887, and includes poetry, novels, memoirs, lectures,
local history and genealogy, travel, Native American
culture, philosophy, education, spiritualism,
agriculture, and (of course) Goethe. Items are from
the personal collection of Amos Bronson Alcott,
Louisa May Alcott, Abigail May Alcott, Anna
Bronson Alcott, and May Alcott. A number of books
in the collection were presentation copies to members
of the Alcott family. The Alcott Books copy of Henry
David Thoreau’s A Yankee in Canada (1866), for
example, was presented by Thoreau’s sister Sophia to
Louisa May Alcott. See the finding aid and description
at: www.concordnet.org/library/
scollect/Fin_Aids/AlcottBooks.htm
The CFPL’s current
gallery exhibition
“Antislavery in Concord”
(November 7, 2006-end
of January 2007)
highlights the antislavery
activities of the Alcott
family, along with those of
other Concord
abolitionists. In
conjunction with the
exhibition, Sandy Harbert
Petrulionis will be giving a
lecture at 5:00 on Sunday,
November 19 at the
CFPL on antislavery in
Concord with information
drawn from her new book: To Set This World Right:
The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau's Concord (Cornell
UP, 2006). For more information, see the Web site at:
www.concordnet.org/library/scollect/events.html.
The CFPL Web site also features a new Historic
Buildings site. A page of special interest to Alcott
scholars is found at: www.concordnet.org/library/
scollect/BuildingHistories/TownHouse/storyPages/
alcott.html; it features Bronson Alcott and the public
school children of Concord at Concord’s Town
House, which served as a center for the Town’s
educational activities.
The Louisa May Alcott Society newsletter,
The Portfolio, is published biannaully in the spring
and fall (usually in April and October). Please send
your Alcott-related news to the LMAS secretary
and newsletter editor, Mary Shelden:
mshelden@niu.edu.
Photograph of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library

The Alcott Society
Portfolio*
Number 1 Spring 2006
Our inaugural membership roster currently
stands at 52 members, with our most recent
inquiry from an Alcott scholar on the faculty
at University of Udine, Italy—we have only to figure
out how to arrange her dues payment! Welcome and
thank you to all who have joined our ranks. It is
deeply satisfying to see so many seeking to support
Alcott scholarship.
LMA Society Annual Business Meeting
at ALA 2006
Please join us if you can for our Annual Business
Meeting and LMA Society-sponsored panel at the
American Literature Association Annual Meeting 25-
28 May 2006 in San Francisco. Our panel will feature
presentations on the fictional Alcotts from members
Janice Alberghene (Fitchburg State College), Larry
Carlson (College of Charleston), and Daniel Shealy
(University of North Carolina, Charlotte)–Friday 26
May at 9:30 a.m (Mary Shelden, chair). The annual
business meeting immediately following will include a
vote to establish our constitution and by-laws (draft
document also attached–see article below) as well as
rotations for officers and board members; there is
much important work to do, so please join us if you
can–Friday 26 May at 11:00 a.m. Other members
presenting about their Alcott scholarship at ALA
include: Sarah Wadsworth (Marquette
University)–Thursday 25 May at 10:00 a.m.; and Lisa
M. Stepanski (Emmanuel College)–Saturday 27 May
at 5:00 p.m. There will be other presentations on
Alcott and her circle as well. For more information
about the conference, see the ALA Web site at
www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/ala2/. Hope to
see you there!
LMA Society Panel at SSAWW 2006
The Louisa May Alcott Society will also be
sponsoring a panel at the Society for the Study of
American Women Writers conference 8-11
November 2006 in Philadelphia. The session, titled
“Women’s Letters and the Culture of Reform,” will
include presentations from members Helen Deese
(Massachusetts Historical Society) and Mary Shelden
(Northern Illinois University), with commentary from
Mary De Jong (Penn State Altoona) and Sandra H.
Petrulionis (Penn State Altoona). For more
information about the conference, see the SSAWW
Web site at www.lehigh.edu/~dek7/SSAWW/
conferences.htm.
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House to Host 2006
Summer Conversational Series
Orchard House, the Concord, MA home of Louisa
May Alcott, will again host its annual Summer
Conversational Series in July. The theme for
this summer's series will be “Private Pages: Inner Life
Reflections of the Alcotts & Their Contemporaries”
(please see attached flyer). Several LMAS members
will be featured presenters at this intensive
workshop and teacher institute. For additional
information about participating or presenting at this
event, please contact Orchard House Executive
Director, Jan Turnquist at janturnquist@juno.com, or
visit the Orchard House Web site at
www.louisamayalcott.org.
LMA Society Constitution and By-Laws
The Constitution and By-Laws for the Louisa May
Alcott Society will be voted on at the annual business
meeting at the coming American Literature
Association conference on Friday 26 May (see article
above). The draft document is attached along with
this newsletter. Please take a few moments to review
this document; any comments or suggestions may be
sent ahead of the meeting to LMAS secretary Mary
Shelden at mshelden@niu.edu. Many thanks for your
interest in crafting our founding documents.
Honorary Membership and Inaugural Meeting
Dedication
At the Louisa May Alcott Society’s first organizational
meeting at the 2005 American Literature Association
annual conference last May, the membership voted to
dedicate its inaugural meeting to Leona Rostenberg
and extend honorary membership to Madeline B.
Stern in recognition of scholarship fundamental to
Alcott studies. This past Fall, the LMAS officers
mailed framed certificates to Ms. Stern, who asked
that we share with our members her sincere thanks,
and her thought that Ms. Rostenberg would have
been as delighted as she is to see the LMAS
established. Again, many heartfelt thanks to these two
scholars for their groundbreaking work!
*Name this Newsletter
One of the things we’ll be voting on at our second
annual membership business meeting 26 May at the
upcoming American Literature Association
conference (see article above) is a name for our
Society newsletter. The name above borrows from the
March sisters’ newspaper, The Pickwick Portfolio, in
Little Women. Please submit other name ideas by 20
May to Mary Shelden at mshelden@niu.edu, to be
voted on at the annual meeting. Thanks for your
creative assistance!
Photograph of the Ricketson bust of Louisa May Alcott used by
permission of the Concord Free Public Library