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The Widow's Mite: Hannah Mather Crocker and the Mather Libraries


On his death in 1785, Rev. Samuel Mather left behind books and manuscripts collected over more than 150 years by four generations of Mather ministers. He bequeathed them to the next of his descendants to enter the ministry, but his daughter, Hannah Mather Crocker, ended up in control. She used her father's library to barter access to learned circles and resources, negotiating with historians, scholars, Bowdoin College, and the American Antiquarian Society. Her access to the library, and her ability to dispose of it, fueled her publications advocating for women's rights and female education, showcasing the close relationship between her resources, access, and advocacy.