The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

In Search of Mercy Otis Warren

For almost sixty years the MHS has been home to the Mercy Otis Warren Papers, a manuscript collection comprised of three boxes of loose manuscripts and a large letterbook volume. Primarily the correspondence of noted author, historian, and patriot Mercy Otis Warren, this collection is rich with material concerning the political climate in Massachusetts before, during, and in the aftermath of the American Revolution.  Available on microfilm in the MHS library, this collection attracts the attention of a wide range of researchers including people working on projects involving the study of the American Revolution, the role of women in early American life, friendship networks, the art of letter writing, the relationships between gender and state, and those that are simply Mercy Otis Warren enthusiasts.   

This collection has always held special interest for me and I have enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with many of the researchers that have worked on Mercy Otis Warren projects here at the MHS.  In an attempt to learn more about Mercy, I struck out and visited Plymouth, MA -- the town in which Mercy lived most of her adult life -- to visit her gravesite and her home.  

The grave of Mercy Otis Warren is located in Burial Hill Cemetary, just off of Leyden Street in Plymouth.  The Warren plot -- easy to find just to the right of the main path through the cemetery -- contains stones for Mercy and her husband James Warren, in addition to several of James Warren's ancestors. Mercy Otis Warren died October 19, 1814, at the age of 86.  

The Winslow Warren House stands on the corner of North and Main Streets in Plymouth, a short walk from the cemetery.  This structure was built in 1726 by John Winslow, a British General and grandson of Edward Winslow, one of the original inhabitants of the Plymouth colony.  Mercy and James Warren moved into the house in 1757.  It was in this house that Mercy wrote her satirical plays and her three volume History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution

Although these sites are located quite a distance from the MHS, they are well worth the visit for any Mercy Otis Warren enthusiast and are a perfect complement to a research visit to our library. 

permalink | Published: Thursday, 28 July, 2011, 8:00 AM


Jul 29, 2011, 2:34 pm

Rick Hamelin

I live in Warren, MA and certainly know that there isn't enough attention given to this woman. Any truth to the rumor that she could be America's first published woman?

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