Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of a Congregational pastor. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1880 and for many years was a professor of English literature at Wellesley. While teaching there, she was elected a member of the newly formed Pi Gamma Mu honor society for the social sciences because of her interest in history and politics, which she had also studied.
Bates was a prolific author of many volumes of poetry, travel books, and children's books. She popularized Mrs. Claus in her poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride from the collection Sunshine and other Verses for Children (1889).
Belle Sherwin Papers, Schlesinger Library. Wellesley College students reading and writing a student newspaper. The Prelude covered news of college events. The sign that says "Ripple" is a reference to the Waban Ripples, a section of the Prelude geared to a more humorous side of college life, 1889 (©1) (T. Kyle; E. Tufts; Mary Barrows; Mary Delia Lauderburn; Bessie Lesquereux Cook; Sarah Melinda Bock; Emily Meader)
Katharine Lee Bates was an American songwriter. She is remembered as the author of the words to the anthem America the Beautiful. In 1887, while teaching at Wellesley, Bates met fellow teacher Katharine Coman, an history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College School Economics department. The pair lived together in Wellesley for twenty-five years until Coman's death in 1915. Bates published Yellow Clover: A Book of Remembrance, "to or about my Friend" Katharine Coman.
Belle Sherwin Papers/Collection of the Schlesinger Library. Group portrait of members of the Legenda, the Wellesley College yearbook, board, 1890 (©1) (Jennie Bond McIver; Elizabeth Browning Mason; Belle Sherwin (1868-1955); Martha Pike Conant; Sarah Jane McNary; Mary Vinia Fitch; Alice Cary Baldwin; Louise Bradford Swift; Ruth Eastman Morrill; Alice Mabel Norton)
She contributed regularly to periodicals, sometimes under the pseudonym James Lincoln, including Atlantic Monthly, Congregationalist, Boston Evening Transcript, Christian Century, Contemporary Verse, Lippincott's and Delineator.
A lifelong, active Republican, Bates broke with the party to endorse Democratic presidential candidate John W. Davis in 1924 because of Republican opposition to American participation in the League of Nations.
Bates never married. In 1910, when a colleague described "free-flying spinsters" as "fringe on the garment of life", Bates answered: "I always thought the fringe had the best of it. I don't think I mind not being woven in."
Bates died in Wellesley, Massachusetts, on March 28, 1929, aged 69, and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery at Falmouth.
Bates lived in Wellesley with Katharine Coman, who was a history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College school Economics department. The pair lived together for twenty-five years until Coman's death in 1915. In 1922, Bates published Yellow Clover: A Book of Remembrance, a collection of poems written "to or about my Friend" Katharine Coman, some of which had been published in Coman's lifetime.
Some describe the couple as intimate lesbian partners, citing as an example Bates' 1891 letter to Coman: "It was never very possible to leave Wellesley [for good], because so many love-anchors held me there, and it seemed least of all possible when I had just found the long-desired way to your dearest heart...Of course I want to come to you, very much as I want to come to Heaven." Many contest the use of the term lesbian to describe such a platonic "Boston marriage", typical of many professional women of their time. Writes one: "We cannot say with certainty what sexual connotations these relationships conveyed. We do know that these relationships were deeply intellectual; they fostered verbal and physical expressions of love."
The first draft of "America the Beautiful" was hastily jotted down in a notebook during the summer of 1893, which Bates spent teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Later she remembered:
One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.The words to her only famous poem first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, for Independence Day, 1895. The poem reached a wider audience when her revised version was printed in the Boston Evening Transcript on November 19, 1904. Her final expanded version was written in 1913. When a version appeared in her collection America the Beautiful, and Other Poems (1912), a reviewer in the New York Times wrote: "we intend no derogation to Miss Katharine Lee Bates when we say that she is a good minor poet."
The hymn has been sung to several tunes, but the familiar one is by Samuel A. Ward (1847–1903), written for his hymn "Materna" (1882).
The Bates family home on Falmouth's Main Street is preserved by the Falmouth Historical Society. There is also a street named in her honor, "Katharine Lee Bates Road" in Falmouth. A plaque marks the site of the home where she lived as an adult on Centre Street in Newton, Massachusetts.
The Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School on Elmwood Road in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and the Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School, founded in 1957 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are named for her.
The Katharine Lee Bates Professorship was established at Wellesley shortly after her death.
Bates was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
Collections of Bates's manuscripts are housed at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College; Falmouth Historical Society; Houghton Library, Harvard University; Wellesley College Archives.
In 2012, she was listed as one of the 31 LGBT history "icons" by the organisers of LGBT History Month.
Katharine Coman (23 November 1857 – 11 January 1915) was a social activist and distinguished economist. She specialized in teaching about the development of the American West. Wellesley College named a professorship in her honor. (P: Katharine Coman with her collie named Sigurd. Sigurd is buried on the Wellesley College campus (©1))
She was born to Levi Parsons Coman and Martha Seymour in Newark, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1880.
She was professor of history (1883-1900), then chaired the Economics Department, and was dean of Wellesley College. Coman lived in a Boston marriage with fellow professor Katharine Lee Bates (author of "America the Beautiful") for 25 years, from 1890 until Coman's death from breast cancer in 1915.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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