The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories--An Osher Map Library/Smith Center Book Discussion with Author, Dr. Beth DeWolfe 
We invite you to join us for the first event in our winter/spring 2023 programming series for our current exhibition, "Industry, Wealth and Labor: Mapping New England's Textile Industry," at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education.  For this event, we will engage in a common read and discussion Dr. Beth DeWolfe's book, The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories, a fascinating true-crime historical account of mid-19th century Saco, Maine, and the textile industry.  Dr. DeWolfe is a Professor of History and Women and Gender Studies at the University of New England.  Please fill out the form below, and we'll send you a copy of the book, as well as a confirmation of your book discussion time! 

Book DescriptionWhen the winter ice melted in April 1850, residents of Saco, Maine, made a gruesome discovery: the body of a young girl submerged in a stream. Thanks to evidence left at the scene, a local physician was arrested and tried for the death of Mary Bean, the name given to the unidentified young girl; the cause of death was failed abortion. Garnering extensive newspaper coverage, the trial revealed many secrets: a poorly trained doctor, connections to an unsolved murder in New Hampshire, and the true identity of “Mary Bean”―a young Canadian mill worker named Berengera Caswell, missing since the previous winter. The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories examines the series of events that led Caswell to become Mary Bean and the intense curiosity and anxiety stimulated by this heavily watched trial.

In addition to the sensationalist murder accounts, De Wolfe looks back at these events through a wide-angle lens exploring such themes as the rapid social changes brought about by urbanization and industrialization in antebellum nineteenth-century society, factory work and the changing roles for women, unregulated sexuality and the specter of abortion, and the sentimental novel as a guidebook. She posits that the real threat to women in the nineteenth century was not murder but a society that had ambiguous feelings about the role of women in the economic system, in education, and as independent citizens.
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