Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Laura Jane Curtis Bullard, 1831-1912

By Irene V. Axelrod, Independent Scholar and Researcher, Retired Librarian, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Laura Jane Curtis was born in Freedom, Maine, November 21, 1831, to Jeremiah Curtis and Lucy Winslow Curtis. She was the oldest of five children. Jeremiah Curtis was a leader in the local antislavery movement. The family business was the manufacture and sale of Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, a morphine based tonic used for aches and pains. In 1854 the family moved to New York City.

In the same year, Laura Curtis published her first novel, Now-A-Days, which portrayed various Maine lifestyles, from loggers to members of high society, through the eyes of teacher Esther Hastings. Also in 1854, she began the publication of Ladies Visitor and Drawing Room Companion, which contained poetry, fiction, recipes, fashion news, and domestic advice for women. The paper, published by Curtis Publishing, also had many advertisements for Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup.

In 1856, her second novel was published. This book, Christine: or Women's Trials and Triumphs, was the story of a young woman's journey from boarding school to work as a women's rights lecturer, in defiance of her family's opposition. Christine used her own experiences to help younger women find their own way in the world. It was a story ahead of its time.

In 1859, Laura Curtis married Enoch Bullard of Boston, an executive in the family business, who later became its president. In 1861, the couple's son Harold Curtis Bullard was born and publication of the newspaper shut down.

In the 1860's, Curtis Bullard joined the emerging women's rights groups through her friendships with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was one of the founding members of Sorosis, which formed in 1868 after women were denied access to a dinner for visiting English novelist Charles Dickens. In 1869 she became the first corresponding secretary for the National Women's Suffrage Association (NWSA) and was a delegate to the Women's Industrial Congress in Berlin, Germany. This group issued a call for better education for women and the recognition of the rights of female workers.

The paper published by NWSA, The Revolution, edited by Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton had run into financial problems. Laura Curtis Bullard became its editor and publisher. Advertisements for Mrs. Winslow's Soothing syrup again became prominent. In 1871, an affair was alleged between Curtis Bullard and her friend Theodore Tilton. The Bullards moved to Europe and Laura became a hostess for visiting Americans and poets, artists and writers. She died in New York City on January 19, 1912, and was buried in the Bullard family plot in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge Massachusetts.


Agger, Lee. Women of Maine. Portland, Maine: Guy Gannett Publishing Company, 1982.

Bullard, Laura J. Curtis. Now-A-Days: A Marsh Island Reprint. Orono, Maine: University of Maine at Orono, 1980. Originally published, T.L. Magagnos and Company, David Bugbee, Bangor, Maine: 1854.

Everything Explained Today, "Laura Curtis Bullard Explained," Copyright A.B. Cryer, All Rights Reserved, Accessed August 17, 2019. Memorial Page for Laura Curtis Bullard 1831-1912. Find A Grave Memorial No. 37766906, citing Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Massachusetts , USA, maintained by PL (Contributor 520674.) Accessed October 10, 2019. Our Famous Women: Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Chapter XXVI, Elizabeth Cady Stanton by Laura Curtis Bullard. p.602-623. A. G. Nettleton and Company , 1884. Gale Document Number: GALE ARANTK996246988. Accessed September 10, 2019.

Kohn, Denise M. editor and with introduction. Christine: or Woman's Trials and Triumphs by Laura J. Curtis Bullard. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2010.

Legacy Profile; Laura J. Curtis Bullard 1831-1912. (Kohn, Denise, M. Legacy;vol.1, Iss. 1, Lincoln, Nebraska: 2004) ezp DOC ID 223843267 Accessed September 10, 2019.

Special Collections. The Revolution 1868-1872. Digitized from the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Watzek Library, Lewis and Clark College. Watzek Microfilm C-102, Series 1, Reels 1-3, Record b1275522.

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