March 5, 2004
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.- In celebration of Women's History Month, Elizabeth Carlisle, author of Earthbound and Heavenbent: Elizabeth Porter Phelps and Life at Forty Acres, 1747-1817 (2004) will speak on Thursday, March 25 at 4 p.m. in the Albert E. Barnett, M.D. '52 Reading Room in the Archives and Special Collections in the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. The talk and a reception to follow, sponsored with the support of the Howard A. Newton '06 Memorial Fund and the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation, Inc. are free and open to the public. Carlisle based her research for Earthbound and Heavenbent on the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Papers and other materials in the Frost Library, and this talk is one in a series featuring scholars who have made use of the library's collections.
Earthbound and Heavenbent tells the story of Elizabeth Porter Phelps, who was born in 1747 and spent most of her life at Forty Acres, the handsome family home now preserved as the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Historic House in Hadley. Phelps kept a diary and corresponded with friends, describing the extraordinary times in which she lived. Phelps's writings and Carlisle's narrative detail the daily rigors of 18th- and early-19th-century farming, sewing and cooking; the intimate truths of the Phelps's personal, family and community life; and the events, local and farther afield, that were shaping the United States. Carlisle's diary and letters paint a domestic foreground against the dramatic background of history: the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution, Shay's Rebellion and the War of 1812.
A review in Publisher's Weekly placed Earthbound and Heavenbent in the genre of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Midwife's Tale, noting, "its emphasis on the ways that women shaped early America offers a welcome addition to that crucial perspective on history."