Needlework picture
Ann Plato
Hartford, Connecticut; ca. 1835
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2018.0029a-d

Poet and essayist Ann Plato, the second woman of color published in the United States, may have learned her needle skills from her mother, Deborah, a seamstress. Ann lived, worshipped, and taught in Hartford, Connecticut, from approximately 1840 until 1847 but may have been born in the Long Island region. Like many white women and people of color, Ann then disappeared from the written record; but her words and her stitches remain. 

“When in the morning’s misty hour,  

When the sun beems gently o’er each flower;  

When thou dost cease to smile benign,  

And think each heart responds with thine,   

When seeking rest among the divine,  

Forget me not…  

When bird does wait thy absence long,   

Nor tend unto its morning song;  

While thou art searching stoic page,   

Or listening to an ancient sage,  

Whose spirit curbs a mournful rage,  

Forget me not…”

-“FORGET ME NOT,” by Ann Plato in Essays: Including Biographies and Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Poetry (1841, Hartford, Connecticut)  

Poem selection by activist for environmental justice and poet/author Alycia D. Jenkins