Pansy’s Public Readings

Photo of Isabella Alden about 1880 (age 39)
Photo of Isabella Alden about 1880 (age 39)

Isabella Alden was a busy woman. She had full-time duties as a minister’s wife, visiting members of the congregation, leading ladies’ prayer meetings, organizing mission bands, and teaching Sunday school classes. She wrote stories for and edited The Pansy magazine every month—all this at a time when she was producing an average of two books a year!

Somehow, she also found the time and energy to lecture before large audiences at Sunday School conventions, Chautauqua Assemblies, and women’s groups. She regularly addressed members of local CLSC chapters and traveled the country to meet with devoted readers of her books and The Pansy magazine.

This notice of one of Isabella’s lectures appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York) on January 14, 1882:

Notice in the Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle, January 14, 1882


And this announcement for one of Isabella’s addresses before a Sabbath-school convention appeared in The Bloomfield Record (New Jersey) on March 11, 1882:

The Bloomfield NJ Record_March 11 1882


When she could, Isabella combined her speaking engagements with visits to family and friends. That was the case in 1878 when she visited her home town of Gloversville, New York.

Reverend Gustavus Rossenberg Alden
Reverend Gustavus Rossenberg Alden

Years before (in 1866) Isabella married Reverend Gustavus “Gus” Alden and moved away from Gloversville; but her family remained in the area and she visited them as often as possible. In that late summer of 1878, she was able to visit her family in combination with an author speaking tour.

Isabella had just finished writing a short story she called, “People Who Haven’t Time.” The story was not yet published but she was ready to share it with her fans.

On Friday, September 20, 1878, she appeared at the Gloversville Baptist Church to give a public reading of the story.

The Baptist Church in Gloversville, New York
Undated photo of the Baptist Church in Gloversville, New York


The local paper, The Gloversville Intelligencer, announced the event and encouraged attendance:

Gloversville NY Intelligencer-Sept 26 1878


In the next edition, the newspaper gave a full account of the evening and proudly listed the many accomplishments of Gloversville’s favorite home-town girl. Here’s the full 1878 article from  The Gloversville Intelligencer:

Gloversville NY Intelligencer 1878 detail

The story Isabella read at the church that night would eventually be given a final edit and named “People Who Haven’t Time and Can’t Afford It.” In 1880 the story was published in a volume that included another Pansy short story, “What She Said … and What She Meant.”

Cover_What She Said
Original cover of Isabella’s book What She Said, published in 1880


There are other accounts of Isabella reading her stories before audiences. For example, in 1879 she appeared before a Sunday-School convention in New York to read an original story:

Auburn NY Daily Bulletin Aug 15 1879


And in 1895 she read her story “Miss Priscilla Hunter” to an audience at the Presbyterian church to help raise funds for the Young Ladies’ Missionary society:

From the Gloversville, New York "Daily Leader," September 18, 1895
From the Gloversville, New York “Daily Leader,” September 18, 1895


If you haven’t yet read Isabella’s story, “What She Said . . . and What She Meant,” you can read it for free. Click here to begin reading the stories mentioned in this blog post.


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