1828–JULY 20, 1887
Jennie Collins was born in Amoskeag, New Hampshire, in 1828. She was a labor and social reformer, abolitionist, and suffragist. Born into a poor family, she was raised by her grandmother after her parents died, and began working in a textile mill when she was just 14 years old.
Collins was one of the most prominent working-class women in the American social reform and women’s rights movements, which were dominated by middle- and upper-class people. In 1870, she raised funds to open a small center for working women in Boston, which she named Boffin’s Bower. The Bower was a place where working women could relax, listen to music, read, be entertained by lectures and performances, and improve their skills. It also provided food, clothing, and a place to stay for the needy. Before and during the Civil War, Collins also supported the abolitionist movement and fundraised for hospitals serving Union soldiers. She occasionally wrote for the Woman’s Journal and Revolution, two suffragist newspapers, and spoke at the 1870 convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1871, Collins published a book called Nature’s Aristocracy; Or, Battles and Wounds in a Time of Peace. A Plea for the Oppressed, in which she called for justice for the working class and those living in poverty, as well as the right for women to vote. She died in 1887 at age 59.
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