Public Program- Patricia Cline Cohen

Lectures and Performances
Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 7:30pm

Married Advocates of "Free Love " in 1850s America: Mary Gove Nichols and Thomas Low Nichols
By Patricia Cline Cohen

Patricia Cohen standing in front of a card catalog cabinet
Mary Gove Nichols was a well-known health reformer and pioneer lecturer on women's anatomy and physiology when she married the New York journalist Thomas Low Nichols in 1848. Together they opened a school for hydropathic medicine, published their own newspaper, wrote medical books and articles, a novel, and a treatise on marriage. Their writings made them the central players in a growing "Free Love" movement that defined marriage as slavery for women but then proposed novel solutions to the problem. This lecture will explore what they meant by Free Love and explain how these two rather different -but in some ways remarkably similar - people came to embrace, indeed celebrate, their own sexual partnership while advocating for total freedom in love relations.

Patricia Cline Cohen is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the current Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence at AAS. She is the author of A Calculating People: The Spread of Numeracy in Early America and The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York.

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