Alice Longfellow (1850 – 1928)
Born in what is now known as the Longfellow House on Brattle street, Alice Longfellow was the eldest daughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Fanny Appleton Longfellow. She was only 11 when her mother passed away in the summer of 1861, and she and her siblings were raised by their doting father.
Alice would spend her life championing education and historic preservation. In the early 1870’s, she helped to form the first community theatre group in Cambridge, and in 1878, she became the youngest member of the Society of Collegiate Instruction, also known as the Harvard Annex. This organization would eventually become Radcliffe college, a place where women were finally allowed to take classes from Harvard professors.
Alice was one of the Annex’s first students, and the first Radcliffe commencement ceremonies were held in the library of her home. She was a member of the Radcliffe board of trustees until her death, and there is a building in the college’s yard that bears her name.
Later in her life, Alice not only led her siblings in the preservation of their family home as an historic landmark, but was also an active member of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which purchased and renovated George Washington’s former home in Virginia.
Along with her educational and historical endeavors, Alice was an avid world traveler. On one such trip to Italy in 1927, she was received by Benito Mussolini, and presented him with a copy of her father’s translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. After her trips, she always returned home to the house on Brattle street where she was born and raised, and where she died in 1928 at the age of 78.