Women’s History in Montgomery County



Welcome to Chestnut Lodge . . . The Story of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann
Speaker: Karen Webber Gilat
Maverick psychotherapist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann is brought to life with a first person portrayal. A pioneer of the therapeutic relationship, she took the road ‘less traveled’ from Nazi Germany to Rockville MD. She came directly to Chestnut Lodge Sanitarium and served as its chief psychiatrist until her death in 1957. During her career, she saw patients from all walks of life in hospitals and private practice, but is best remembered for her pioneering work with schizophrenics. The most famous of these, Joanne Greenberg, penned her memoir ‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’ of her time with Frieda at the Lodge. A contemporary of Freud and briefly married to Erich Fromm, this charming, feisty, fiercely private Jewish woman took on the ‘Establishment’ at every turn. A question and answer will follow the program.


Lilly Stone
Speaker: Judy Welles
Lilly Stone is a story of country life and manners near the Nation’s Capital in the late 1800s, and a daring woman’s life. Lilly Stone was born during the Civil War, and she died during the Cold War. At the stage of life when most people retire, she was not only doing men’s work but running an industry of men’s work. In 1924, at the age of 63, Mrs. Stone founded and operated Stoneyhurst, a quarry for colorful stone used in part of the National Cathedral, National Zoo and for hundreds of buildings and homes. Clara Barton encouraged her to join the DAR. Lilly Stone organized the first literary and arts clubs in the farming community, inspired the first flag for Montgomery County, Maryland, and founded the Montgomery County Historical Society. The book describes the divided loyalties of county residents living close to the Potomac River during the Civil War; letters from Lilly’s son detail World War I, and, remarkably, World War II brings German POWs to work at her quarry. With accomplishments in business and a passion for preserving history, Lilly Stone made history herself. This PowerPoint lecture presentation is based on the speaker’s 2012 book Lilly Stone which may be offered for sale and signing as part of the presentation.


Differing Historical Perspectives on Slavery in Maryland and the District of Columbia
Speaker: James H. Johnston
The word “slavery” brings up a mental image of the “peculiar institution” as it existed in the Deep South right before the Civil War. Slavery in the Washington area was different. It began the same – in the late 1600s, Ninian Beall’s tobacco plantation occupied the land where the White House is today – but it soon changed. After tobacco wore out the land, slavery made less sense, and it was hard to enforce with an increasingly diverse capital of the United States. By the time of the Civil War, Washington, D.C. still had slaves, but they lived among a population of free African Americans. Author James H. Johnston will discuss the differing perspectives on slavery that emerge from his two books, The Recollections of Margaret Loughborough, about a daughter of the Old Dominion of Virginia, and From Slave Ship to Harvard, which follows six generations of an African American family in Maryland.


Divided Nation, Divided Town: One Woman’s Experience
Speaker: Emily Correll
The story of Rockville’s Dora Higgins and her experiences during the Civil War.


We Were There, Too: Nurses in the Civil War
Reenactor: Candace Ridington
Candace Ridington portrays a nurse reminiscing about her time of service in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War when the nursing profession struggled to create itself. This reenactment portrays the nurse profession’s early challenges, its rewards and sadness, and a glimpse of other nurses whose names are known to us through their journals. Suitable for adults and young adults. 45-50 minutes.


The Little Woman Who Grew Up: A Visit with Louisa May Alcott
Reenactor: Candace Ridington
Using her own script, Candace Ridington portrays Louisa May Alcott, daughter of the controversial Bronson Alcott and author of Little Women and Hospital Sketches, abolitionist, and nurse in Washington D.C. during the Civil War. Learn about the challenges and rewards of Alcott’s life, including her family’s struggle to live at Fruitlands, a Utopian Society her father attempted to create, and her harrowing stint at the Union Hotel Hospital in Georgetown shortly after the battle of Antietam. The program lasts about 45 minutes.