the Robbins Hunter Museum
The Robbins Hunter Museum in Granville, Ohio boasts the first memorial to Victoria Woodhull in the United States, a memorial clock tower. Given by Robbins Hunter to the village of Granville as a bicentennial gift, Hunter wanted the clock tower to inspire interest in Woodhull and her place in history and further, to inspire future generations to study and be inspired by her.
Because of this, and due to our proximity to Woodhull’s birthplace in Homer, the Museum, in partnership with Denison University and supported by Ohio Humanities, has organized a multi-year project that focuses on the multi-dimensionality of her legacy, Victoria Woodhull: Phoenix Rising. As a branch of the Phoenix Rising project, this website was born to be a resource of vetted sources for those interested in studying Woodhull and her life and work.
The Avery-Downer House and Robbins Hunter Museum is a historic house museum furnished with 18th and 19th century decorative arts acquired by the original owners, as well as collectors tied to the house over its long history. It was completed in 1842, with additions in 1875, 1930, and finally during Robbins Hunter's occupancy from 1956 to 1979.
A private residence until 1903, the house was owned successively by the Avery, Spelman, and Downer families. From 1903 to 1930, the house was home to Denison University's Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, and from 1930 until 1956 it was home to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
From 1956 until 1979, Robbins Hunter, Jr. made this his home. Hunter had long harbored a dream of preserving the Avery-Downer House as a museum, and during his 23 years of ownership, he painstakingly collected antiques worthy of furnishing the interior. Opened as a museum in August of 1981 under the provisions of his will, the building has undergone extensive restoration and rehabilitation, revealing the beauty of this important Grecian landmark.
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, April 1 - December 30 (closed Thanksgiving day and Christmas Eve). Hours 1-4 pm. Admission is free.
The committee responsible for both the website and the series of round table discussions consists of current and former board members of the Robbins Hunter Museum. In addition, we have established an advisory panel of scholars and technical advisers to assist us in accuracy and presentation.
Christina Gray currently serves as the Vice-President of the Board of Trustees of the Robbins Hunter Museum. She is also the project director of Phoenix Rising. A cum laude graduate of Vassar College, she has spent nearly forty years working with historians and genealogists as a researcher on varying from medieval Scottish and English history, the Dead Ball era of American Baseball, the impact of the Civil War on communities in the north, the development of the mining industry in the United States, to the religious and philosophical differences of the Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colonies in the 17th Century. The Phoenix Rising project, because of the mis-information that has been repeated through the years, has become a major research interest.
As project director, she also oversees the project, making sure round-tables are filled with suitable speakers, promoting the event and securing funding.
The Project Committee
Judith Blackmore Dann, PhD.
Dr. Judith Dann is a Professor of Ancient History and Lead Instructor in the Classics in the Humanities Department at Columbus State Community College. She received her A.B. in Classics from Miami University (Ohio), her M.A. in Classics and Ph.D. in Ancient History from The Ohio State University. Her areas of specialty include comparative religion, mythology, ancient art and archaeology. She has been researching and giving public lectures about Victoria Claflin Woodhull for nearly 20 years. She lives in Homer, Ohio (Victoria Woodhull’s birthplace) with her husband and three children and is currently serving as a board member of the Homer Village Public Library as well as the Robbins Hunter Museum.
Thomas Wortham, PhD
Dr. Thomas Wortham, Professor Emeritus of American literature and former chair of the department of English at UCLA (1997-2007) was educated at Marquette University (A.B., 1965) and Indiana University (Ph.D., 1970).
He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on nineteenth-century American literature, including James Russell Lowell's The Biglow Papers [First Series]: A Critical Edition (Northern Illinois UP, 1977); Letters of W. D. Howells: 1892-1901 (Twaune.1983); The Early Prose Writings of William Dean Howells, 1853-1861 (Ohio University Press, 1990); My Mark Twain by William Dean Howells (Dover, 1997); The Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Harvard UP, 2011); and "Our Legislative Correspondent in Columbus": William Dean Howells' Legislative Letters to the Cincinnati Gazette and the Cleveland Herald, 1857-1858 (in progress).
A visiting professor at the University of Warsaw (Poland), 1976-1977, and a Senior Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, 1983-1984, Professor Wortham was the editor of the scholarly journal, Nineteenth-Century Literature, the pre-eminent journal in the field of nineteenth-century literary studies published by the University of California Press (1983-2008).
Gill Wright, PhD
Dr. Gill Wright Miller, Professor of Dance and is the former chair of Denison’s Women's and Gender Studies Department, has been at Denison since 1981. Dr. Miller earned her PhD from New York University in Dance and Women's Studies, her MA from Wesleyan University in Movement Studies, and her BFA in Performance from Denison University.
Myra is the author of The Scarlet Sisters, Sex Suffrage and Scandal in the Gilded Age [New York, Twelve, Hachette Book Group, 2014], as well as Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation (1984), All Governments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone (2006), among others, and is perhaps best known a journalist. Hired by legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in 1968 to cover the style section of the paper, but she was soon interviewing the Watergate burglers, Fidel Castro, Medgar Evers, as well as covering the 1969 Miracle Mets. Her interest in the Claflin sisters, and particularly Tennessee, sets her apart from other biographers. She brings a sharp critical eye to the material presented here, and for that, we are grateful.
Cari M. Carpenter, PhD
Cari is a Professor of English at West Virginia University, where she is also Interim Director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies and a core member of the Native American Studies Committee. She has published three books: The Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’s Campaign for American Indian Rights, 1864-1891, which won the 2016 Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Edited Book in Feminist Studies in Popular and American Culture from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association. She also edited Selected Writings of Victoria Woodhull: Suffrage, Free Love, and Eugenics (2010) and wrote Seeing Red: Anger, Sentimentality, and American Indian (2008), which won Honorable Mention in the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize.
Her 2015 dual biography Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage juxtaposes the personal lives, careers, and statements of two women’s rights advocates on opposite sides of an American marriage debate in the early 1870s. Safronoff was featured in the Sunday Boston Globe and won 10 book awards for Crossing Swords in categories ranging from U.S. History to Nonfiction Drama, including a silver “Ippy” in Women’s Issues. She presented her most recent historical research on Mary Baker Eddy’s influence at the 2018 Center for Study of New Religions (CESNUR) academic conference in Taiwan. Safronoff shared her own experience of female empowerment in her 2011 e-book short story, Climbing Mt. Rainier with the Chicks.
Reed Browning, PhD
Browning earned his BA from Dartmouth College, and his MA and PhD from Yale University. He taught at Amherst College from 1964 to 1967, and then spent forty years as a historian at Kenyon College, retiring as the Roy T. Wortman Distinguished Professor of History. While at Kenyon he also served as provost and acting president. He has written books on British and European history, including The Duke of Newcastle (1975), Political and Constitutional Ideas of the Court Whigs (1982) and The War of the Austrian Succession (1994). A baseball fan, he has also written two baseball history books: Cy Young: A Baseball Life (2000) and Baseball’s Greatest Season: 1924 (2003).