EXPLORE WITH US
Explore sites across Lexington - in person, or virtually - to learn more about the many contributions women have made to the Lexington community. From science, math and medicine to education, sports and entertainment - women have helped pave the way for all of us.
We are interested in your favorite stories about women whose contributions helped make local, state, national and global history!
Email us any time.
Stop 1 - Ruth Buckman's HomE & Family business
Sarah McDonough has shared research on Ruth Buckman's life:
"Ruth Stone Buckman was born in 1744 to Samuel Stone and Jane Muzzey, daughter of Buckman Tavern’s first owner, John Muzzey. Growing up down the road in what is now Burlington, little Ruth must have spent quite a lot of time in her grandfather’s establishment, as her father was eventually chosen as the heir to the home and business. When John sold the tavern to Samuel in 1764, Ruth would have been an important part of keeping the family tavern running. Located just off the town common at the juncture of two important roads, the Great Road to Boston and the Bedford Road, the tavern was an important establishment, and Ruth’s days would have been busy helping her parents and sister to feed, house, and entertain scores of both locals and travelers.
Ms. McDonough shares that after Ruth began courting, she suffered the loss of her father. She shortly thereafter and married John Buckman (July 21, 1768). Laws at the time prevented married women from owning property, and the tavern became her husband's property. Still this was Ruth's home and place of the family's business. Ms. McDonough continues: "The tavern quickly became known as Buckman's Tavern, Ruth would have been just as involved in the whirlwind of daily activities in the space as her husband. Farming, milking cows, cooking, and cleaning for a family was hard enough in the 1770s, but to keep a business like a tavern running was a gargantuan task. The tavern boasts nine fireplaces spanning three floors. Stables outside required frequent cleaning. Five cows, two oxen, two pigs, two sheep, and a horse needed to be fed. The family brewed their own hard cider for personal use, enough to fill fifteen barrels, and may have brewed beer as well. On Sundays, dozens of townsfolk flocked from the meetinghouse across the street for their nooning break, seeking cold beer and a hot fire. All of this was accomplished without the standard gaggle of children for assistance.
As the Revolution dawned, Ruth would have been intimately aware of the town’s politics in a way few other women were. There is much we do not know: What did she hear when she was clearing tables in the taproom? Was she a part of the female-driven protest movement of the 1760s, perhaps camping out for the day on her neighbor Anna Harrington’s lawn spinning flax to make patriotic homespun clothing? Was she in agreement with her husband when he allowed secret meetings to take place in the tavern, once public gatherings had been banned by the royal governor? How did she react when Paul Revere knocked on her door in the middle of the night? When the smoke cleared and she saw the bodies left lying on the common? When the town doctor began hauling wounded men into her parlor, placing them in her care?"
Site submitted by: Jessie Steigerwald
Research from: Sarah McDonough
Ruth Buckman was more than a witness to history, she helped make it. Ruth's home and place of family business remains an important link to understand why and how Lexington became the "Birthplace of American Liberty." This is a must see site!
STOP 2 - PIoneers in education
The first three publicly funded teacher's education schools were established in 1839, and Lexington was home to the only all-female school.
The Lexington Normal School drew students from across the state, and from neighboring states, providing women with the opportunity to pursue professions in education.
Graduates of the Lexington Normal School, like Mary Elizabeth Miles Bibb, became pioneers in education, helping develop special education teaching methods and establishing schools on their own. Upon her graduation in1843, Mary Elizabeth Miles was the first African-American graduate of any public teachers college in America. She went on to work a teacher, school founder, abolitionist, journalist, refugee assistant, and business owner.
We have no image of Ms. Bibb and continue our research.
Learn more: Framingham State
Mary Swift Lamson attended the Normal School and went on to work as an educator at the Perkins School for the Blind. She also helped found the YWCA.
Site submitted by: Jessie Steigerwald
STOP 3 - Site of the 1769 Spinning bee
In Her Shoes - Stop 3: On August 31, 1769, 45 Lexington women took their spinning wheels outside for a silent protest. Learning to spin and making cloth locally was one way to resist King George's taxation on imported cottons.
In 1769 women definitely did not have an accepted place in society for spoken protests. The Spinning Match was a competition as well, to see who could produce the most during the event. It took place on what is now a grassy lawn area at 3 Harrington Road, just across from the Battle Green (between First Parish Church and Massachusetts Avenue). This was formerly the home of Anna Harrington and her family.
Anna Munroe Harrington hosted the 1769 protest event at age 29. As you walk or drive past this area, consider the impression it must have made on the entire community to see so many women participate in a protest. Women in Lexington also participated in the boycott of imported goods, having both a political and economic impact.
Lexington Historical Society organized a re-enactment of the 1769 Spinning Match in 2019! (See photos, right.)
Site submitted by: Jessie Steigerwald
The Match is also referenced in the wonderful Lexington Historical Society exhibition "Bold Women of Lexington." Thanks to Dr. Emily Murphy, the research on this important event is much richer. What else will we be able to learn?
How important is it to document and understand "Women's Work"? Did the 45 Lexington women who stepped outside with their spinning wheels help fortify a community where - just 6 years later - the first shots of the American Revolution would be fired? Do you know the name of anyone local in Lexington who made some of the spinning wheels used on the day of this historic event
STOP 4 -Bashka Paeff Relief
"Lexington Militia Men relief"
One of our most well-known monuments in the Center is the Lexington Militia Man relief located next to Buckman Tavern. It was sculpted in 1948 by Bashka Paeff (1893-1979).
Paeff was a Jewish immigrant who came from modest means and went on to create many notable works of public art in Boston. She was just one year old when she immigrated from Minsk, Russia to Boston with her parents in 1894 to escape the pogroms. She grew up in Boston and graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and went on to study sculpture at the School of Museum of Fine Arts.
Paeff became famous for her public art at Boston’s Park Street T station, and later for the Boy and Bird fountain in the Boston Public Garden. She has other public sculptures around Boston, at Harvard and MIT in Cambridge, and in Kittery Maine. Paeff’s Boston home and sculptures are included in the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.
Bashka Paeff had strong opinions about war memorials, as documented in her writings about the Sacrifices of War monument in Kittery Maine which depicts a woman fiercely protecting her child.
Site submitted by: Betty Gau
Steering Committee member Humera Asif captures Paeff's sculpture.
Jewish Women's Archive Bashka Paeff. “I have some decided opinions about war memorials”, Paeff said. “I hope most of all that we shall not erect memorials to glorify war…We forget what suffering and horror it brought. We should set up memorials that would make us loathe war instead of admit it”.
Paeff was awarded the Daniel Chester French Award from the National Academy of Design for sculpture in the “classical tradition” as well as a special award from the city of Boston for her artist contributions.