Celebrate World Embroidery Day, July 30

On July 30, join me in celebrating World Embroidery Day.

Les Chapeaux designed by Judi Alweil of Judy & Co. (See discussion further down in article.)Les Chapeaux Go to Wall Street

The initiative came from Skåne Sy-d, a local group of Broderiakademin, the Swedish Embroiderers Guild. The first World Embroidery Day took place on July 30, 2011, in Vismarlöv, Sweden. As the founders stated, “The importance of embroidery must be made known and World Embroidery Day will spread around the world. Make 30th July a day filled with creativity for the sake of Peace, Freedom and Equality.” (See the entire Manifesto and photos on www.broderiakademin.nu. )

Manifesto for World Embroidery Day
Day 30th of July

Textile reflects our world; embroideries can show the expressions of our time. Embroidery and textiles can focus on the social injustices between countries.

By the means of embroidery we can draw attention to the necessity of engaging in the force of textiles in global trade and with it in world peace. Textiles are a power and let us use embroidery as an inspiration for people to engage in creativity that leads to a better understanding between countries and between people.

To embroider is a peaceful occupation. It can be traditional made from a common remembrance, drawn designs, from a pattern, or from your own imagination. You embroider for joy, beauty, decoration and for the creation of identity.

Stitches can be decorative, beautiful, comforting, repeating, healing, telling, pleasurable, rebellious, caressing and perfect.

People embroider out of joy, as a hobby, professionally, for the bare necessities of life and as an act of freedom. You embroider together with others or in meditative solitude.
We want to acknowledge embroidery as an act of free creativity, which can lead to free, creative thoughts and ideas. We want to tie our embroidery threads from the privileged northern hemisphere together with stiches that are sewn by embroidering sisters and brothers all over the world.

We want to be part of a joyfully creative peace movement. (www.broderiakademin.nu)

As some of you know, it was embroidery that brought me to the study of women’s history. Back in the 1970s, I learned how to needlepoint and created works in the spirit of the political posters of the time. Once I went back to school, my needle and threads were put aside for study, then research and writing and teaching. I didn’t touch a piece of embroidery for almost thirty years but the work I had done surrounded me in my home. Finally, I couldn’t resist the pull and returned to the fold, only to discover that new yarns, designers, ideas, etc. had all changed. It took me several years just to learn about the innovations, and I’m still working on it.

In the meantime, to celebrate World Embroidery Day and to convince some of you that needlework is not just a luxurious hobby, I have included above one of my newer pieces. The design, originally called Les Chapeaux, was created by Judi Alweil of Judy & Co. The magazine Needlepoint Now printed a Stitch Guide by Jamie Prosser and Natasha Higgins in its May/June, 2013 issue. I tracked down the painted canvas and, although influenced by the Stitch Guide, chose my own yarns, a number of the stitch patterns, and then added a twist. If you look in each of the sets of earrings the ladies wear, you will see a message. I have named my version of the piece, Les Chapeaux Go to Wall Street in honor of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

If you are an embroiderer, take some time on July 30 to enjoy our art form. If you don’t know anything about needlework, google it, read about it, visit a museum or art show on fiber arts, or give your favorite fiber arts charity or embroiderer a gift.

New Information on William Lloyd Garrison’s mother, Fanny

Recently I have been in communication with Edward Papenfuse, a former Maryland State Archivist and historian. Now retired, Ed has been looking further into some documents he found concerning the bank activity of Fanny Lloyd Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison’s mother. (I will refer to him as “Lloyd” from here on.) Ed read my article on this website and shared his information which I am now (with his permission) sharing with you. This is new and exciting evidence of Fanny’s activities during her final years in Baltimore. (Be sure to read my article on her tragic but fascinating tale.)

The documents Ed found come from the Maryland State Archives collection of the Baltimore Savings Bank records (MSA SC 4313 1st Fidelity Collection of the Savings Bank of Baltimore.) I am including two of them here. The first is an account in the name of Maria Elizabeth Garrison, Lloyd’s younger sister. A note on the side indicates that the funds in this account were transferred to Fanny’s account on October 7, 1822. This was probably soon after Elizabeth’s death at the tender age of 14. The transaction was approved by one Stephen Williams who might have been a bank manager.


The second image is of Fanny’s own bank account dating from 1823 and 1824. Fanny died in 1823, so I am assuming that the 1824 notations have to do with interest. Ed says that there was an earlier account in Fanny’s name that he is trying to track down.


Ed is working on an even more enticing question, which is, where Fanny was buried. The Baptist Churchyard where she was originally put to rest no longer exists. Hopefully, Ed will be able to track down what happened to her remains, and I will be able to share that information with you.  I cannot thank him enough for sharing this new information with me. Although I am no longer researching the family, I find their story incredibly compelling. I have forwarded Ed’s information on to descendants of William Lloyd Garrison, and they are as intrigued as I am and eager to learn more.

If you have any new information on the Garrison family, please respond through the “Comments” section here or on Fanny’s page.

Martha Plans a Visit to Cortelyou Road

Hello everyone,

This is a friendly reminder. Please mark your calendars. On Saturday, February 24, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. I will be doing a conversation/reading from Martha and the Slave Catchers. It is being held at the Brooklyn Public Library, Cortelyou Road Branch. For you New Yorkers, just take the Q train to Cortelyou Road, turn left when you exit the station, and walk two-and-a-half short blocks to the library. Below is the flier the library designed with its street and web addresses on it.


Martha Plans a Visit to Cortelyou Road

Hello everyone,

Please mark your calendars. On Saturday, February 24, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. I will be doing a conversation/reading from Martha and the Slave Catchers. It is being held at the Brooklyn Public Library, Cortelyou Road Branch. For you New Yorkers, just take the Q train to Cortelyou Road, turn left when you exit the station, and walk two-and-a-half short blocks to the library. Below is the flier the library designed with its street and web addresses on it.


A Reflection on Off-Shore Drilling

I am an avid embroiderer. I love trying out all sorts of needlework, taking classes, and reading about history and technique. Back in the 1970s, I created a group of political posters as needlepoint pieces. Little did I know that one of my 1978 designs, Greetings from Long Island, would become super relevant forty years later. I created this design as a reaction to a newspaper article claiming that there were plans for off-shore drilling off Long Island, New York. The impact it would have on our beautiful beaches and communities inspired me to pick up my needle and yarn to express my concerns. Greetings from Long Island measures 10 inches by 13 inches. It was worked on 18 mesh canvas with DMC floss, perle cotton, and rayon. It hangs in my workroom along with other political posters I’ve designed and stitched with a 30 year gap in time to develop my work as a historian.

Welcome to Long Island

My Conversation with Catherine Franklin

Hello to all,

Catherine Franklin, the educator who designed the Study Guide for Martha and the Slave Catchers, and I had a conversation about the book, its origins, and its uses in the Middle Grade classroom. It has been posted on the Seven Stories Press website under “blogs.” Here is the link: https://sevenstories.com/blogs/74-harriet-hyman-alonso-and-catherine-a-franklin-in-conversation I hope you enjoy it!

Martha and the Slave Catchers is Published

Martha and the Slave Catchers has finally made her debut, and she is very beautiful. As you can see from the book cover image, the original colors have been darkened to a red-orange which really pop. Below are some very positive reviews. Also, please be sure to check out “The Facts Behind Martha and the Slave Catchers” on my website and the Study Guide on the Seven Stories Press site. Catherine Franklin did a wonderful job with the study guide, and I think it will offer many ideas for teachers who might like to use the book and parents who want to take their children deeper into the real world of slavery and the antislavery movement.

The book is available through many on-line sellers and in a number of libraries. Please recommend it to your local library and book store. With many thanks.

Excerpts from Reviews of Martha and the Slave Catchers:

Kirkus Reviews:

“Alonso pens an informative, easy-to-follow adventure story that nevertheless tackles the persistent issues arising from antebellum America, including race and skin color, situational ethics and their devastating consequences, and allyship and using privilege for justice. A tense adventure about interracial adoption that gets to the heart of what’s most important: love.”

Donald Peebles, in School Library Journal:

“Alonso and Zunon have both done a masterful job bringing America’s pre-Civil War years to the page. Readers will sit in suspense as Martha risks her life in the Underground Railroad network. . . The loose ends in this slave narrative leave the door open to a sequel. VERDICT: Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Seeds of America” series will want to pick this up.”

Melanie Dulaney, on Goodreads:

“Author Harriet Alonso writes a gripping piece of historical fiction from a slightly different perspective as other Underground Railroad themed books . . . an excellent choice for students who are interested in Civil Rights, the Civil War, the abolitionist movement, the Underground Railroad and key figures in that historic period. The characters are vivid and the action is fast-paced. I would highly recommend this book to readers in the 5th-8th grade.”

From the Mixed-Up Files . . . of Middle Grade Authors:

“Alonso combines fiction and historical fact to weave a suspenseful story of courage, hope and self-discovery in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, while illuminating the bravery of abolitionists who fought against slavery.”

Elisa Carbone, author of Stealing Freedom:

“The complexities of mid-1800s slave laws and racial attitudes are captured within the pages of a riveting adventure story. The fast-paced plot, filled with twists and surprises, will engage readers and spark discussion of these important issues. Alonso breathes life into the sights, sounds, and emotions of travel on the Underground Railroad.”

Margaret Meacham, author of Oyster Moon

“Harriet Alonso’s gripping tale is steeped in period detail. . . Readers will come away with a clearer understanding of the horrors of slavery, and a greater appreciation for the bravery of those who fought against it. . . Anyone who loves an exciting read and likes learning a bit of history on the way will love this book.”

Jerdine Nolen, author of Eliza’s Freedom Road

“With the backdrop of the horrors of a time in turmoil, through an unjust and cruel system, I learned more about the capacity and self-discovery of the human heart. This novel is a true hero’s journey—about love, bravery, the constancy of family, loss, history, and hope. This is a story about a time and the people who lived through those times we all need to read and know.”

Virginia Frances Schwartz, author of If I Just Had Two Wings

“Middle graders will love the spunk of Martha, the heroine of this novel. . . Rooted in abolitionist history, full of page-turning suspense, mystery, and inner conflict, Martha and the Slave Catchers depicts the disastrous aftermath of the passing of the 1850’s Fugitive Slave Act.

Happy reading!

A Special Honor

I’m very excited to share with you the news that I have been awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Peace History Society. I was presented with this honor on October 21 during the “Muted Voices” conference at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. I’ve attached an article written by past President of the organization, Virginia S. Williams, which gives a background of the organization. The article was written in 2009. Since then, the organization and its members have accomplished a great deal. For more information on PHS and more recent activities, go to http://peacehistorysociety.org. And here is a photo of the plaque presented to me:

PHS award
The Peace History Society: An Affiliate of the AHA since 1963

Virginia S. Williams, November 2009

During the December 1963 annual meeting of the American Historical Association, a group of historians moved by the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and the beginnings of the Indochina War, decided to commit more effort and attention towards the study of peace. The AHA gathering was held in Philadelphia that year, and 50 historians interested in peace research attended a meeting at the Friends Meeting House, chaired by Merle Curti, one of the best-known historians of the time and a past president of the AHA. This group decided to form a special conference group within the AHA and to hold a joint session at the AHA meeting the following year. A continuing committee issued a call to join its efforts “to encourage the kind of research on the history of war, peace, violence and conflict that can clarify the causes of international peace and difficulties in creating it.”

These efforts resulted, in 1964, in the creation of the Conference on Peace Research in History, with Charles Barker of Johns Hopkins University as its first president. The organization kept the name Conference on Peace Research in History until 1994, when members chose to rename the organization the Peace History Society (PHS).

For more than four decades, PHS has prided itself on having a diverse membership. Although mostly composed of historians, PHS has attracted other scholars of international and military affairs, transnational institutions, nonviolence, movements for peace and social justice, scholars of religion, peace activists, and members of the general public. They have come not only from North America, but also from around the world. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the PHS, panels at PHS conferences have approached topics from many different angles. PHS members have been concerned with making peace research relevant to scholarly disciplines, policy-makers, and their own societies.

The Peace History Society has regularly sponsored panels at the meetings of the AHA, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the International Peace Research Association, and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. It also has a long history of cosponsoring conferences and events with other organizations. In 2008, PHS co-hosted a conference with Historians Against the War entitled “War and Its Discontents: Understanding Iraq and the U.S. Empire.” Besides serving as an affiliate of the AHA, PHS maintains nongovernmental organization status at the United Nations. PHS is also affiliated with H-Peace, an international electronic network that seeks to broaden understanding about historical and contemporary peace, justice, and disarmament concerns.

In addition, PHS has sponsored major conferences of its own on a biennial basis. The themes of the last two have been “Peace Activism and Scholarship: Historical Perspectives of Social, Economic, and Political Change” and “Historical Perspectives on Engendering War, Peace and Justice.” In October 2009, Winthrop University will host the latest PHS conference, with the theme, “Toward a Peaceful World: Historical Approaches to Creating Cultures of Peace.” Staughton Lynd, the longtime scholar and activist, will give the keynote address.

PHS has been particularly active in encouraging collective research and writing projects. An early example was The Garland Library of War and Peace, edited by Blanche Wiesen Cook, Sandi Cooper, and Charles Chatfield (New York, 1972–1977). Others include Berenice Carroll, Clinton Fink, and Jane Mohraz’s Peace and War: A Guide to Bibliographies (Santa Barbara, Calif., 1983); Charles DeBenedetti’s Peace Heroes in Twentieth Century America (Bloomington, 1986); and Melvin Small and William Hoover’s Give Peace a Chance: Exploring the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (Syracuse, 1992). Furthermore, individual members of PHS have produced a vast body of scholarly work. In recognition of the prolific scholarship in peace history, PHS awards the Charles DeBenedetti Prize for an outstanding article in peace history and the Scott Bills Memorial Prize for an outstanding first book or dissertation in this field. Both of these awards are named for distinguished peace historians and past presidents of PHS. In 2007, PHS inaugurated the Lifetime Achievement Award, and presented it to Charles Chatfield, one of the pioneering peace historians.

Since 1972, the PHS has co-published Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research, which remains the major journal in the field with the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA). PHS co-owns the journal with its publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, and Peace & Change reaches 2,232 libraries globally through the Wiley-Blackwell consortia sales program. Most recently, Peace & Change published a guest-edited issue on the Iraq War (37:2, July 2009). Additionally, PHS members receive news updates through a quarterly newsletter, PHS News.