Mary Francis “Fanny” Purdy Palmer

Inducted: 2020
Born: 1839
Died: 1923

Fanny was an author, poet, and social activist. She was born in New York City on July 11, 1839 to Henry and Mary (Sharp) Purdy.

Following the death of her father when she was only seven, she grew up in upstate New York. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Buffalo and graduated from the Packer Institute in Brooklyn, NY. As a teenage she began to write for a New York country newspaper, of which her uncle was the editor and when seventeen years of age she was writing verse and poems for the Home Journal, Putmam’s and Perterson’s magazines.

Fanny married Dr. William Palmer on October 7, 1862 and several years later they moved to Providence, Rhode Island when Dr. Palmer established his medical practice. Fanny continued to write for the remainder of her life and contributed to many publications. While living in Rhode Island she became active in a number of efforts. From 1876 to 1884 she served as an elected member of the Providence School Committee. In 1870 she was elected to the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island Woman’s Suffrage Association and for a time served as that organization’s secretary. From 1884 until 1892 she was president of the Rhode Island Woman’s Club and from 1891 to 1892 she served as president of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. In 1894 Rhode Island governor D. Russell Brown appointed her to a three-year term on the board of the State Factory Inspector. Also, in 1894 Fanny founded the Rhode Island Short Story Club at her Providence home.

Fanny died on April 23, 1923 and was buried in Woodstock, CT next to her husband. She was survived by her two children Henrietta Raymer Palmer and Granville Ernest Palmer.

Russell J. DeSimone

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