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When the Going Gets Tough…

Eleanor Eldridge (1784-1862)

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Elleanor Eldridge (RHiX32914)
“No man would have been treated so, and if a white woman had ever been the subject of such wrongs… the whole country would have been indignant.” from the Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge by Frances H. Green.
Elleanor Eldridge was a woman of African and Native American descent, who stood out for her entrepreneurial skills and ability to make a space and living for herself in an otherwise tough situation. By age 27, Eldridge started a soap business and purchased her own house in Warwick, Rhode Island. A few years later she moved to Providence, purchasing land and starting up another business.
Suffering illness while traveling, Eldridge’s life in Providence began to unravel. Assuming she had died, several of her creditors claimed property and her house went up for sale. When she returned she fought hard to stop the sale.  In 1832, Eldridge fell behind on her payments and her property was sold while she was away, but there was no evidence that the sale had been advertised. Again, Eldridge stood up to the system and was able to buy her property back from the new owner.
Elleanor Eldridge’s memoirs were recorded and written by Frances H. Green. The Rhode Island Historical Society holds four editions of the Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge as well as one edition of the continuation, Elleanor’s Second Book.
For more on Edridge, read the piece by former RIHS intern, Rebecca Hansen: Celebrating Women’s History Month by way of an entrepreneur’s 233rd birthday
 
~Michelle Chiles, Research Center Manager
 

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