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Caulkins, Frances Manwaring (1795–1869) - Local History

london historical school society

The first woman elected to membership in the oldest historical society in the United States, Frances Manwaring Caulkins was born in New London, Connecticut, on April 26, 1795, to Joshua and Fanny (Manwaring) Caulkins. Even at an early age, while attending school, she was fascinated with historical and genealogical research. After finishing school, she lived for seven years in New London with an uncle, Christopher Manwaring, and began contributing articles to local newspapers on historical people and events in the area. The death of her stepfather left the family destitute, and Frances became a schoolteacher. From 1820 to 1829 and 1832 to 1834 she ran a girls’ school in Norwichtown; from 1830 to 1832 she was a principal in New London. Thereafter she lived with various relatives doing evangelical work. In 1845 Caulkins published History of Norwich; it was rewritten for a second edition in 1866. In 1852 she wrote History of New London .

Caulkins was nominated as corresponding secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society on March 29, 1849. She was voted in on April 26 and became the first woman elected to the society and the only one for over a century. She died in 1869, in New London, probably from pneumonia.

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