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Gates Along My Path by Karen Board Moran
This historic fiction from a young adult view set in mid-19th century Worcester, Massachusetts, illustrates the impact of the first National Woman’s Rights Convention held there in 1850 on both the town’s children and all of us today.
How does one go about choosing the right path to travel through life– especially when you are under the age of twelve and a female? Liza makes her life changing decision, but will it be the best choice?
“Retired teacher Moran combines fictional members of a poor Irish family with real life figures in 1850s Massachusetts to illustrate the status of women and children in a culture that is just beginning to reevaluate its treatment of both. In an unusual move for fiction, she uses footnotes to verify facts.” (6 July 2014, E3, “Southern Arizona Authors” Arizona Daily Star)
J.C. Martin, Special correspondent, Arizona Daily Star
Lisa Writes Blog Review by author Lisa Arrington, 6 February 2014.
Review on telegram.com “Historian pens novel set in 1850s Worcester“, 3 February 2014. Also in printed version by Eric Stanway Worcester Telegram Towns 21 February 2014.
“Take this train to Worcester, 1850- I enjoyed this book very much–it is well-documented historical fiction. Aimed at a young audience, eleven-year-old Liza’s encounters with other real and fictionalized Worcester characters will no doubt also appeal to many adult readers, who will get a feel for the mid-nineteenth-century city through the eyes of an orphan child. An immigrant Irish girl, not sure where she belongs, begins to consider her options from the margins of a community that includes social reformers, abolitionists and woman’s rights activists, such as Stephen and Abby Kelley Foster. Possibilities may be limited for Liza, but local families who contribute to the care of the orphans provide a range of examples and a window into the lives of other Worcester children on various paths to adulthood, including those preparing to become laundry workers, candy shopkeepers, and elite educated professionals. I just love the way this story weaves historical facts with an intelligent and wise imagination–including helpful footnotes that clearly point out the difference. Good idea to put a glossary in the back, too. I could see a young reader becoming really interested in history, and being motivated to learn more from reading this book.” (1 December 2013 posted on Amazon.com)
Review in Green Valley News “Winter Reading”, Sunday, November 24, 2013 (B1).
“Enjoy a good read? Gates Along My Path defies time. While it is set in the 1850s, young adult readers will find its theme applies even today, as a young girl tries to find her path into adulthood at age 12. For adult readers the story takes you back to when you were facing the same difficulties of growing up. You had more time to mature into adulthood, while these children did not. Decisions that impact your life are never easy to make, especially at a young age. Having taught young adult literature I can assure you that this will catch the imagination of young readers. It is well documented with original pictures and footnotes explaining the terms and conventions of the time. It is placed at the beginning of the women’s rights movement with issues as current now as they were then.” (19 Nov 2013 posted on Lulu.com)
Nicholas L. Moran, Administrator (Retired) Worcester Public Schools, MA
“Combining equal measures of historical research and historical imagination, Karen Board Moran has created a fascinating novel for young readers. What was it like to be Liza, a young Irish immigrant who lost both parents to accidents on the same day? Where would she and her sister and brother turn? An older sister, Mary, had found work with the Worcester Children¹s Friend Society, an orphanage in central Massachusetts, and she arranges for her siblings to join her. Settling down in Worcester just begins Liza¹s adventures, adventures that reveal much about life in mid-nineteenth century America.
As the reader follows Liza¹s story, she encounters the story of Moran¹s research on the 1850 first National Woman’s Rights Convention. The book not only has a multitude of contemporary illustrations, it has footnotes in which Moran tells us where she found the materials that make up the texture of Liza¹s life in Worcester. Readers with an interest in the past as well as readers who like good stories will find Gates Along My Path enthralling.” (5 November 2013)
John F. McClymer, Professor of History, Assumption College; Co-editor, H-ETHNIC; Editor for online projects, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; Author of This High and Holy Moment: The First National Women’s Rights Convention, Worcester, 1850
Review for the Worcester Women’s History Project. WWHP Newsletter, Fall 2013, (12).
Kara Wilson Yuen is currently the librarian at Orleans Elementary School, Orleans, MA
“Every story has a conflict and hopefully every character has someone who helps open the gates along their path. I was born in Worcester, educated in Worcester and have lived near Worcester all my life…Many people helped me along the way…I am somewhat like the main character.” (20 October 2013)
Jane Tinsley-Budzyna, Retired reading and English teacher, Auburn Public Schools, Auburn, MA
“Gates Along My Path is a historical narrative, following the lives of girls who have very few options for survival in the 19th century United States. The reader is introduced to some of the brave women’s rights leaders of the 19th century, who risked everything because they knew that oppression of any kind is the bane of a society that considers itself a democracy. Contrary to popular perception, some of those brave people also happened to be men. Gates Along My Path is a vital read for anyone needing a primer on the strides and daunting obstacles that women have experienced in the last hundred or so years. It is amazing how quickly some episodes become ‘distant history.’ Recommended for young adults, as well as anyone in need of some historical context. Contains reference list of period vernacular.” (19 July 2013 posted on Lulu.com)
Gary Packard, Retired Reading Department Professor, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
“What would your life be like if you didn’t have choices? In 1850, if you were a slave, an orphan or a girl–you didn’t! Discover with Liza the people she meets or learns about who are responsible for many of the choices available to us today. Well researched using primary sources, this history lesson makes a very interesting read.” (5 May 2013)
Millie Bentley, Retired teacher and librarian, Sunnyside School District, Tucson, AZ
“I had never heard about the first National Woman’s Rights Convention before reading Gates Along My Path.” (5 April 2013)
Mary Beth Wubker, Retired mortgage banker, Tucson, AZ
Risky Business: Edna Ione Smith Tyler. Women Unlimited Magazine, March 1998 (19).
Who was Silas Smith? WWHP Newsletter, Spring 2003 (5 & 6). Member of the first National Woman’s Rights Convention.
Crossing Paths with Pioneering Worcester County Women. WWHP Newsletter, Spring 2004. Sarah A. Ballard, Martha C. Eddy, Agnes S. Goulding, Ellen P. Lee, Jennette Pitkin, Mary Augusta Roper, Elizabeth Cutler, Mary Newell, Lucy W. Pierce, Martha Wheelock and Abby Wood head west.
“A Giant of a Woman”: Remembering Princess Winona. WWHP Newsletter, Spring 2005 (5).
At a Crossroads in History: Abby Kelley in Millbury, MA. WWHP Newsletter, May 2006 (9-11).
Clara (Clarinda) Cramond Fish Roberts. WWHP Newsletter, February 14, 2012.
Abby Kelley Foster (1811-1887). National Women’s History Museum Website, March 2012.
Circles of Influence (Lucy Stone, Josephine Brawley Hughes and Clara Fish Roberts). WWHP Newsletter, Fall 2012, (5).
Abby Spoke Here. WWHP Newsletter, Fall 2013, (5). Abby Kelley Foster visited Gerrit Smith in Peterboro, NY in 1843.
Preserving a Window on Your Past. WWHP Newsletter, Fall 2013, (6). Cazenovia, NY daguerreotype by Ezra Greenleaf Weld identified.
Book Signing Speech at 18th WWHP Annual Meeting. WWHP Newsletter. Spring 2014, (10-11). “Gates Along My Path”.
“Yours for Humanity — Abby” (2003)
by Karen Board Moran and Carolyn Howe
Click here to book a presentation of the one woman play.
Classroom materials were created by Claire Berkowitz and Karen Board Moran.
“Window on the Past: Revisiting the First National Woman’s Rights Convention” (2000)
A classroom script based on historic documents with student materials.
This pamphlet has been used for information in a dramatization in 2004.
Check for availability at:
World Cat – library search
1850 cast handout with pictures
History of the American Association of University Women- Worcester Branch, 1897-1997.
Compiled and published by Karen Board Moran and the Centennial Committee:
Donna Bruso, Connie Dillon, Tura Dudley, Barbara Fletcher, Betty George,
Laura Howie, Thirza Joost, Peggy Manoogian, Sue Martin, and Betty Orsi.