It’s not every day that a major publisher puts out a novel set largely in Germantown. Janet Benton’s Lilli de Jong (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday) is the diary of a young Quaker in 1883 Philadelphia who gives birth at a charity for unwed mothers. The fictional Lilli comes from an old Germantown family and was a new teacher at a Friends’ school and a lifelong member of a Meeting before her fall. Finding that the bond with her infant is not easily broken, she gains the courage to go against social norms, struggling against increasing obstacles to keep her baby and herself alive.
Come hear some of what Benton learned about baby farmers, wet nursing, Blockley almshouse, the care of foundlings, women’s poverty, the recovery of starving infants, prejudice against unwed mothers, Quaker ways and practices, and so much more. Find out how Benton crafted this tale of physical, emotional, moral, and spiritual trials that brings us from an institution for unwed mothers (based on an actual one downtown) to a wealthy family’s home on Walnut Lane to the streets of a burgeoning city. The author will also read an excerpt of the novel and answer questions.
Robert D. Hicks, PhD, Director Mütter Museum, will give historical context to Benton’s compelling novel. Enjoy a special display from the Mütter Museum in Mr. Maxwell’s library.
Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.
Arctic explorer Elisha Kent Kane has a moon crater and a US Navy Destroyer named for him. He was one of the most famous Philadelphians of his time. Kane’s own accounts of voyages to the polar region sold tens of thousands of copies when published. His personal life was no less fascinating – in particular his love affair with the spirit medium Maggie. Fox was one-half of the spiritualist Fox Sisters, who entranced the country with their séance performances. Kane died tragically at the age of 37 in 1857. Recently a historical marker was placed at his grave on a hill overlooking the Schuykill River in Laurel Hill Cemetery. Edward G. Pettit will lecture on this fascinating 19th century Philadelphian.
Following Pettit’s talk, Diane Richardson will present the Annual Report to the members. Before and after the presentations, members can enjoy a cookie reception.
Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Free of charge to members. Free of charge to members. Call (215)438-1861 for reservations.