Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 28, 2013

Double dose: Andover salutes women of history every Tuesday

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — Call it two titanic tales for Tuesdays. Twice each Tuesday in March, Andover will salute remarkable women in history, by telling their stories. Several of the remarkable personal stories are about Andover townspeople.

Memorial Hall Library, Addison Gallery of American Art and the Center at Punchard are celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing the slew of interesting lectures.

“From sports and religion to photography, we want to share stories about unique women who have shaped and influenced our world,” Emily Classon, community servicees librarian, said in an email.

Meanwhile, it’s the same sentiment at the Center at Punchard as impressive women of history, like Phoebe Kwass of Andover, who belonged to one of the first consciousness raising groups in the Andover area in the 1960s, are sharing memories.

“In 1970, a note hung on the bulletin board at the Andover Public Library which read ‘anyone interested in being in a women’s liberation group meet at the library on Monday at 8 p.m.,’” she said. “I went and so did a lot of other women.”

“Many of us stayed together, meeting each week for four hours talking about politics, women’s issues, Betty Friedan,” Kwass said. “Women today are unaware of what it was like.”

Married with two young children at the time, Kwass described herself as a housewife who wanted more. She eventually enrolled in Simmons College School of Social Work. She took a bus from Andover to Boston five days a week to earn that degree.

“I loved it,” she said, and points to a supportive husband who stepped up to help manage their home and Andover’s women’s liberation group as her inspiration.

Kwass will share her story as part of Punchard’s tribute to women.

Margaret Bourke-White, famous photojournalist, is also getting special attention. Local actress Sally Matson of Andover (perhaps best known for her Susan B. Anthony performances) plays Bourke-White.

“She was very well known in her day. She was the first photojournalist hired by Life magazine,” Matson said.

Matson’s research shows that Bourke-White received supportive letters from numerous well-known people, including Ansel Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1934, Bourke-White gave a lecture at Phillips Academy and sold four of her photographs to the Addison Gallery. She returned in 1935 to photograph workers at the American Woolen Company for Fortune magazine.

Another important lecture happens when “Our Bodies, Our Selves” co-author Joan Ditzion shares her thoughts on how ground-breaking publications have changed the way women view their health and sexuality.

Ditzion has counseled individuals and families over the years, given workshops for adult children of aging parents and held workshops for professionals who work with aging individuals and families.

As a founder of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, she is interested in women’s developmental issues through the life cycle. She co-authored all editions of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and “Ourselves and Our Children,” and contributed to “Ourselves Growing Older.”

“The service needs of older adults and their families is my current clinical and educational focus,” Ditzion wrote in an email. “This is a new field, and there is a need for increased knowledge about the incredible diversity of old people, the range of family situations and intergenerational relationships in people’s lives, care-giving and care-receiving, and the capacity of aging families to adapt and change.

“I am passionate about the need to provide families and potential or current service-providers information about aging,” she wrote.

A list of the events happening in March at Memorial Hall Library and the Center at Punchard, formerly known as the Andover Senior Center is below. The Center at Punchard is offering a four-part speakers series. Events are at 1:30 p.m. and cost $20 for all four events or $8 just or keynote speaker, Joan Ditzion, co-author of "Our Bodies, Our Selves." People can register in advance by calling 978-623-8321. Events at Memorial Hall Library happen at 7 p.m. and are free thanks to the Friends of Memorial Hall Library group; call 978-623-8400 or visit mhl.org for more info. Tuesday, March 5 :Center at Punchard: "Now that the Laundry is Folded: On with the Revolution," presented by consciousness-raising pioneer Phoebe Kwass of Andover. She takes us back to the 1960s and the first consciousness raising groups in the Andover area, say organizers. Memorial Hall Library: "Women in Islam" presentation will focus on the diversity of Muslim communities in the world. Presented by Subheen Razzaqui, history teacher at Newton North High School and speaker on Islam and the Middle East for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. Tuesday, March 12 :Center at Punchard: First female photographer of the Eagle Tribune, Rosemarie Webb, takes us back to her experiences as the ground-breaking woman photographer in the Merrimack Valley, circa 1970s. Memorial Hall Library: Curveball with author Martha Ackmann. Curveball tells the inspiring story of baseball's "female Jackie Robinson," Toni Stone, a woman whose ambition, courage and raw talent propelled her from the ragtag teams of the Dakotas to Yankee Stadium. Stone was the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro League. Ackmann is a journalist and author who writes about women who have changed America. Her writing has appeared in many newspapers around the country. A frequent commentator on women's issues, she has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, ESPN, the BBC, and National Public Radio. She teaches in the Gender Studies Department at Mount Holyoke College where she is at work on a new book about poet Emily Dickinson. Tuesday, March 19 :Center at Punchard: "Our Bodies, Our Selves" co-author Joan Ditzion will share her journey and talk about how these ground-breaking publications have changed the way women view their health and sexuality. Memorial Hall Library: Actress Sally Matson of Andover will bring photographer Margaret Bourke-White to life. The library will collaborate with the Addison Gallery and the Andover Historical Society. An Andover Cultural Council grant was awarded to Matson for this event. Tuesday, March 26 :Center at Punchard: Join Andover resident Terri D'Ambrosio and her mother Susan, who are direct descendants of Anne Bradstreet. Expect a special performance from our very own "Starlight Players" who will bring an extra dramatic flair to our concluding presentation. Also, Tuesday, March 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.: The Addison Gallery will feature an exhibit entitled, Women in Photography. Those who sign up will be able to view and discuss women photographers in the Addison collection. People are asked register for this program at mhl.org/eventcalendar or 978-623-8401, Ext. 31. Space is limited.