1876 · Hartford
"Of all the Biblical scholars and translators to have worked on the Bible, Julia Evelina Smith is said to be the most interesting and most overlooked. A self-published professional translator and American women's suffrage activist, Smith was the first woman to translate the Bible, doing it from its multiple original languages into English" (Mota). Together with her sister Abby, a self-trained poet and linguist, she independently funded the project in its entirety. Not surprisingly for sisters who were "engaged in the tax resistance and suffrage movements in Connecticut, where the pair were born," Julia and Abby approached their work as activist as well as scholarly and spiritual in nature. After all, Julia wanted the project to support the cause of equality and "hoped to demonstrate that women should have the right to vote because they were not intellectually inferior to men" (Speedie). The project also posed an opportunity for supporting women as craftspeople and business owners, showcasing their capability for producing fine material books. To this end, Julia "selected a publishing house where the typesetting, operation of the presses, and editing were all done by women" (Speedie). In every sense, the sisters created a "feminist Bible" that remains a milestone in women's history (Stern).
Presented by Smith and her sister to a close family friend, who appeared in Julia Smith's will as the recipient of "a silk bed quilt containing 7,000 pieces" (Historical Society of Glastonbury). (Inventory #: 4026)