MARBLETOWN – One of the most prominent Ulster County women of the early 20th century, active in educational reform and equal rights for women, has been all but forgotten. A lecture on Sept. 25 at the Bevier House Museum will rectify that historical oversight.
A lecture on the life and accomplishments of Martha Gruening (1889-1937) will be delivered by Dr. Ruth Abrahams, executive director or the Gomez Mill House. (Gruening was a past resident of the Gomez Mill.) The lecture will take place at 3 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Bevier House Museum, 2682 Route 209, Marbletown.
Free admission to the lecture for UCHS members, $7 for non-members, $5 for students, seniors and military. The event is sponsored by the Ulster County Historical Society. Details at ulstercountyhs.org.
Born into a prominent and socially progressive family, Martha Gruening became aware early in life of social injustice. She had been inspired by her father and her siblings. Patriarch Emil Gruening ran free ophthalmology clinics for the poor and served as a trustee of The Nation, which her brother Ernest edited. Her sister Mary ran Madison Street Settlement House in New York City; sister Clara started a birth control rights organization with Mary Ware Dennett.
Despite her privileged background, Martha Gruening pledged to better the lives of fellow citizens and correct the inequities of society. A graduate of Smith College and NYU Law School, Martha engaged actively in such causes as suffragism, the right for women to vote. She was a civil rights pioneer, joining the NAACP and contributing to its magazine, The Crisis. Gruening also agitated for reforming worker conditions in factories and industry. She protested against American intervention in World War I, for which she was arrested in Philadelphia. Her progressive views were proclaimed in a series of articles she wrote for magazines of the era. At her premature death, she was working to open a progressive school, based on the philosophy of her mentor Will Durant on the grounds of the Gomez Mill House.
This lecture continues a series of Ulster County Historical Society events with the theme of "Celebrating Women in History," to commemorate the 2017 centennial of woman suffrage in New York State.
The Bevier House on Route 209 in Stone Ridge serves as the UCHS museum space.
For information on future UCHS events, visit ulstercountyhs.org.