This week, for my artifact blog, I focused on the blog Louisa May Alcott is My Passion (thanks Rachael!). This blog is a collection of analytical and reflective pieces written by Susan Bailey on the “life, works and legacy of Louisa May Alcott and her family.” According to the blog, Bailey is “an active member and supporter of the Louisa May Alcott Society, the Fruitlands Museum and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House.” While I browsed her blog’s many different categories and posts, I also listened to her podcast episode “Beauty in the humblest things,” which stood out to me as it focuses on Louisa May Alcott’s spiritual life (which has its own category on Bailey’s blog!). According to Bailey and her guest, Alcott’s spirituality is characterized by her belonging to the transcendentalist movement – she found beauty in the mundane and everyday, in human beings and human nature, and in the humble deeds of common folk. While Alcott does apply a critical lens to her father’s spiritual and transcendentalist beliefs, as we saw in “Fruitlands,” it does appear that she accepted many of his beliefs as her own.
I feel that Bailey’s blog is relevant to our course in that it acts as an effective summary of Alcott’s own works, those of her friends and family, and those of Alcott scholars. Bailey’s blog features sections on Alcott’s life (including her time as an actress, her thoughts on feminism, and her spirituality), writing (both books and short stories), legacy (including formal scholarship, literary criticism, and even fan-fiction), family and friends (her immediate family, Emerson, and Thoreau are featured here, as are Alcott’s homes and “final resting places”), and sections for events and further resources. Bailey seems to have covered each of Alcott’s many works, and her work is shared in academic, blog, and podcast formats. While everything posted here is written by Bailey and from her perspective, of course, students can find more subjective information on many different topics, including domesticity, feminism, illness, and transcendentalism. Clicking on any one of these categories will show readers a multitude of posts, all written by Bailey, on the issue and how Alcott seems to address or feel about it in each of her works. Even if these aren’t the most comprehensive or academic of posts, they can help students figure out their own opinions on Alcott’s works.
Bailey also interacts with prominent Alcott scholars and historians, mentioning John Matteson (Eden’s Outcasts, The Lives of Margaret Fuller, The Annotated Little Women), Harriet Reisen (Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women), Susan Cheever (American Bloomsbury, Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography), Daniel Shealy (The Journals of Louisa May Alcott and The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott, with Joel Myerson and Madeleine Stern; Alcott in Her Own Time, Little Women Abroad), Martha Saxton (Louisa May: A Modern Biography), Richard Francis (Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia), Gabrielle Donnelly (Little Women Letters), Jeannine Atkins (Becoming Little Women), Julie Dunlap (Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau’s Flute with Marybeth Lorbiecki and Mary Azarian), and Jan Turnquist, (Executive Director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House) specifically as authors whose work she has read or experts with whom she has worked. She also interacts with Sarah Elbert, whose work we have utilized in our own course. Bailey emphasizes, however that you don’t have to be an academic to interact with or understand her blog, and this is intentional – just being a fan is enough of Louisa is enough. In this way, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion appears to have something for everyone – as long as you’re also passionate about LMA!