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Women of Marblehead Book

The Women of Marblehead by Robert Booth and published by the Marblehead Female Humane Society.

In celebration of the Marblehead Female Humane Society’s 200th Anniversary, the Society commissioned Marblehead historian and author Robert Booth to document the history of the organization and the times in which the Society’s founders lived.

The result is “The Women of Marblehead: A Women’s History of Marblehead, Mass., in the Nineteenth Century and of The Marblehead Female Humane Society and Its Activities from 1816 Forward, a beautiful and highly informative 220-page illustrated book.

Booth provides insights and perspectives never presented before about the role of women in the social history of Marblehead in the 1800s. He takes the reader through the impact on the town’s culture and economy of the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo of 1806, the War of 1812, and the year with no summer that left Marblehead in a state described by one observer as a town “of widows and orphans.” The extreme hardships and poverty led to 125 women coming together to formally organize the Marblehead Female Humane Society on November 19, 1816, at the suggestion of Rev. John Bartlett.

Booth’s narrative continues through the 18th century with The Great Gale of 1846, Marblehead’s transition from a seafaring community to a center of shoe manufacturing, the Civil War, and Marblehead as a summer resort. Also included is material written by Martha Bessom Gorman that brings the narrative into the 20th century.

“In ‘The Women of Marblehead,’ Bob has given us new reasons to appreciate Marblehead’s history and those who have come before us. Their strength, their resolve, and their compassion continue to inspire us,” said Lee Weed, the Society’s directress. “We thank Bob for his fine work and for his meaningful insights on our shared history…must-reading for everyone interested in Marblehead.”

The book, designed by Peter Schalck and published by Maple Press, is available for purchase at:

  • Abbot Hall Gift Shop, 188 Washington St.
  • Marblehead Museum, 161 Washington St
  •  Marblehead Mercantile, 132 Washington St.


About Robert Booth

Robert Booth works as Executive Director of the Center for Clinical Social Work, a national credentialing and advocacy organization in the field of behavioral healthcare. He is a native of Marblehead, where he resides with his family. He was educated at public schools, Harvard College, and Boston University.

He is the author of the guidebook Boston’s Freedom Trail (Globe Pequot Press) and contributed a chapter to the 2004 book Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory, recently re-released in paperback by the University Press of New England.

In 2011 St. Martin’s Press (Thomas Dunne Books imprint) published his history of Salem in the period 1815-1830, Death of an Empire: The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America’s Richest City. This book was a repeat visitor to the Boston Globe’s bestseller list and was named Best Book of New England History in 2012 by the New England Society of the City of New York.

His nonfiction book Mad For Glory, about American intervention in the Pacific in 1813, was brought out by Tilbury House Publishers, of Thomaston, Maine, in November, 2015.