Born in 1867: Theodate’s Generation

October 26, 2023 – March 31, 2024

About the Exhibition


The concept of “born in 1867” came from the nearly identical birthdates of Hill-Stead’s founder, Theodate Pope Riddle, and writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 2 and February 7 respectively. Born just five days apart, their life experiences could not have been more different—one was the privileged and doted-upon only child of a wealthy industrialist, who sought her own path against societal expectations, the other was the daughter and wife of frontier farmers, who had a life of almost constant economic struggle and yet embarked on a late-in-life career that gained her fame worldwide. Of the two, Laura is by far the more well-known. Both women, even as young girls, displayed determination and resilience in pursuing what they wanted to do. These qualities were prevalent among many women of this generation.

This exhibition provides a cross-disciplinary survey of 20+ American women who share the birth year of Hill-Stead’s architect, museum founder and benefactor, Theodate Pope Riddle. Through various objects, we represent women from various geographic sectors of the United States, multiple cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and a variety of professions and avocations, including the arts, medicine, literature, journalism, education, social welfare, and more. Lastly, Born in 1867: Theodate’s Generation, contextualizes the broader picture of the female demographic that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries not only overcame lingering Victorian views that frowned on women’s activities beyond school, church, and home but also found new roles and occupations for themselves in the fast-changing U.S. economy that emerged after the Civil War.

Hill-Stead will celebrate this exhibition opening with a very special evening featuring author Deborah Royce. On Thursday, October 26 she will discuss her latest book Reef Road: A Novel and her life as a present-day pioneering woman. The talk will take place in the museum’s historic Drawing Room, followed by a fundraising dinner with the author in the Glass Room. Learn more and get your tickets here.


The Women Featured

Laura Ingalls Wilder – writer, author of The Little House on the Prairie series
Annie Nathan Meyer – founder of Barnard College, writer
Madam C.J. Walker – entrepreneur
Lillian Wald – founder of the traveling nurse system and the Henry Street Settlement in NYC
Emily Greene Balch – winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
Caroline Pratt – educator, founder of the City and Country School in NYC
Margaret Tobin Brown (aka Unsinkable Molly Brown) – philanthropist, survivor of the sinking of the Titanic
Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead – first female licensed OBGYN in Connecticut
Catherine Montgomery – founder of the Pacific Trail
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins – first African-American woman dentist in the United States
Wrexie Louise Leonard – first female astronomer in the United States
Mary Chase Perry – entrepreneur, ceramicist
Alice Foote MacDougall – entrepreneur, first female coffeeshop owner and coffee distributer
Annie Fisher – entrepreneur and cook
Margaret Neilson Armstrong – writer, illustrator, botanist
Maud Powell – violinist, suffragist
Nellie Charlie – entrepreneur, weaver
Amy Beach – first American female composer
Emma Azalia Hackley – concert soprano, newspaper editor, teacher, and political activist
Cora Smith Eaton King – first licensed female doctor in North Dakota, suffragist


Entry to the exhibition is included in the general admission ticket to the historic house. Purchase tickets in the Museum Shop.

Members  | FREE
 | $18
AAA & Seniors (62+) | $16
Students | $12
Children 6-12 | $10
Children under 6 | FREE

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