The world is full of books that narrate the deeds and utter the praises of men. The lives of eminent men of our own time are made familiar to us in newspapers and magazines, in individual sketches and autobiographies, as well as in histories, dictionaries of biography, cyclopedias and other works of greater or less range of subject and extent of information. But, while many things have been written both by and for women, and much information has been published in one form and another in respect to eminent women of our age, there is not in existence, so far as the publishers are aware, any work, or series of works, which supplies the information contained in this volume, or preoccupies its field.

And it appears to the publishers that there is a demand for this very work. The discussions of the present day in regard to the elevation of woman, her duties, and the position which she is fitted to occupy, seem to call for some authentic and attractive record of the lives and achievements of those women of our time who have distinguished themselves in their various occupations and conditions in life. The knowledge of what has been attempted and accomplished by eminent women of our time is fitted to make an impression for good upon the young women of our land, and upon the whole American public. It will tend to develop and strengthen correct ideas respecting the influence of woman, and her share in the privileges and responsibilities of human life.

In selecting the subjects for the sketches here presented, regard has been had not only to individual excellence or eminence, but also to a proper representation of the various professions in which women have distinguished themselves. For obvious reasons, also, the selection has been confined chiefly to American women. [6]

In selecting the writers for the various sketches, the publishers have chosen those only whom they knew to be thoroughly qualified for the particular tasks assigned them, and so interested in the subjects of their sketches as to be prepared to do them full justice. Great attention has been given to the collection of materials which should be at once interesting and authentic. Variety and freshness of interest are secured by obtaining sketches from a large number of able writers, and by arranging their contributions so that no two consecutive chapters are the production of the same person. As it was impossible, on account of the lack of space, to give extended sketches of all who ought to be noticed in this volume, and in some cases, also, the requisite materials for such sketches could not be procured, briefer notices have been prepared of certain groups, which, it is believed, will be no unacceptable addition to the more elaborate chapters.

This work aims to present in its literary department, as well as in its engravings, an attractive series of accurate and life-like pictures. As a literary production, containing the best essays and finest thoughts of many of the first writers of the day, it must be a source of profit and pleasure to every reader of critical taste. The engravings, like the written sketches, are no creations of fancy, but trustworthy delineations of the features of those whom they profess to represent.

The publishers have spared neither time nor expense in the preparation of the present work, and they confidently believe that the importance of the field which it occupies, the ability and reputation of its writers, the freshness and reliableness of its facts, and the excellence of its engravings and typography, will justify the praises already bestowed upon its plan and execution by men and women of discernment, and insure to it a wide-spread and lasting popularity.

Hartford, July 15, 1868.

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