The Life of Helen Hunt Jackson
Helen Hunt Jackson was a famous nineteenth-century American author whose twelve years in Colorado Springs were the most productive of her career. She arrived in 1873 an invalid in search of health, and a woman who had suffered a devastating series of losses. She was an orphan, a widow and a childless mother. In Colorado Springs she built a new life and discovered the cause she championed until her death in 1885.
In retrospect, Helen was both an unlikely westerner and a reluctant activist. She initially found the treeless plains and stark scenery of the region dreary and depressing. However, her health improved and daily carriage rides into the foothills improved her outlook. She met and married William Sharpless Jackson who accepted her on equal terms affirming, “You will lead your life in your work & in which you are doing good. I will lead mine in a business line…I promise you will find me meeting you even more than half way.”
A prolific author in a variety of genres including poetry, travel writing and domestic essays, Jackson insisted publishers pay her well. Her work appeared in Scribner’s, Century Magazine, Harper’s and the Atlantic among others. She was financially independent and maintained a tight circle of literary friends, most of whom were reform-minded. However, Jackson claimed to detest “women with a cause” and found them tiresome.
Perhaps no one was more surprised than Helen when she “found a cause” in 1879. For the next six years, Jackson worked feverishly as an advocate for American Indian Rights in an era when it was unpopular to do so. She declared to William, “…I am stirred to the core…I do feel as earnest & solemn a ‘call’ as ever a human being felt to work for this cause.” At first Helen Hunt Jackson was a writer who used words to overcome grief. In doing so, she changed her life. Later, she used words to champion the rights of American Indians. In doing so, she changed the world.
The A Home of One’s Own: The Life of Helen Hunt Jackson exhibit deftly examines the famous author’s life, work, friendships, literary and personal influences, family and home in Colorado Springs. Additionally, the exhibit features photographs, artifacts, documents, three original rooms of the Jackson House, and an interactive touchscreen to provide a fresh interpretation of the ongoing legacy of Helen Hunt Jackson and the Jackson Family.