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The Quack's Daughter: A True Story About the Private Life of a Victorian College Girl

Where: 99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

When: June 4, 2014 6:00PM - 7:00PM


Join NEHGS in cooperation with the Vassar College Alumnae/i Association for a presentation and book signing by author Greta Nettleton, as she shares her book, The Quack’s Daughter: A True Story About the Private Life of a Victorian College Girl.

In 2007, Greta Nettleton rescued a 19th-century trunk on its way to the landfill and discovered a trove of photo albums, diaries, sheet music, and scrapbooks preserved inside. The memorabilia told the remarkable story of her great-grandmother, Cora Keck, whose name she had never heard before.

Cora, a western girl from a scandalous family background, was sent east to Vassar College in 1884 to elevate her family’s social status. Her improbable educational opportunity at the prestigious institution turned into an enthralling journey of self-discovery as she struggled to meet the high standards in Vassar’s School of Music while trying to shed her reputation as the daughter of a notorious quack and self-made millionaire.

The most subversive thing of all: the “quack” was her mother. Mrs. Dr. Rebecca J. Keck was second only to Lydia Pinkham as 19th-century America’s most successful self-made female patent medicine entrepreneur.

The Quack’s Daughter is illustrated with hundreds of original images and photographs that illuminate the life of a spirited and charming heroine. Greta Nettleton spent years painstakingly researching the many people mentioned in Cora’s letters, diaries, and newspaper clippings and piecing together the extraordinary lives of Cora and her mother.

Greta Nettleton has been a writer and editor for many clients ranging from a software startup serving New York’s Seventh Avenue fashion industry to the World Bank. She holds a B.A. in History from Duke University and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently at work on a second book about Cora’s mother, Mrs. Dr. Keck, and the tumultuous early years of America’s medical profession, called The Charmed Line. The story of Cora Keck appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of American Ancestors magazine. 

The program is free and open to the public. Email or call 617-226-1226 to reserve a space.

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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