Shannon M. Risk

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The diary of Sarah Connell Ayer (1791-1835) reveals the motivations of a woman caught up in the Second Great Awakening that spread across New England in the early nineteenth century. Ayer arrived in Portland in 1811 and immediately sought out a circle of female friends who espoused the same desires as did she. She joined with other church women in challenging the boundaries of Republican Motherhood ,and under the veil of the church, helped to minister in the greater Portland society.This female church culture helped women like Ayer get through the many pitfalls of womanhood in the early nineteenth century, including infant mortality, loss of family fortune, and the tensions of public life. This emerging political culture would shortly lead to the temperance, abolition and woman suffrage movements. Author Shannon M. Risk is completing a PhD in history at the University of Maine. She has presented talks on her dissertation, titled “‘In Order to Establish Justice’: The Nineteenth-Century Woman Suffrage Movements of Maine and New Brunswick,” at several conferences and symposiums and has published articles in the Hudson River Valley Review and Khronikos, the University of Maine History Graduate Student Online Journal. She was recipient of the Alice Stewart Fellowship for 2007-2008 and is currently a Fullbright Fellow working in Canada.