Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: Georgiana Bruce Kirby
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Born Georgiana Bruce in Bristol, England on December 7, 1818, Kirby was a woman with ideas far ahead of her time. She was a pioneer for women's rights and civil liberties and many of her deeds are prevalent in Santa Cruz County today. In a world dominated by men, Kirby's intelligence and questioning mind would not allow her to accept a traditional life in which she could not pursue her personal ambitions and goals.

Photograph of Georgiana Bruce Kirby's grave site
Grave site of Georgiana Bruce Kirby

As a teenager Kirby came to North America, became a school teacher, and eventually drifted to the Brook Farm colony established by the Transcendentalists outside Boston, Mass. While there, she came under the influence of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was there that she took up writing and made the acquaintance of Eliza Farnham. In 1850, Bruce migrated to the west coast where she settled in Santa Cruz and married Richard C. Kirby, a local tanner. Eliza Farnham later joined her here and the two published numerous writings on a variety of subjects including the abolition of slavery and women's rights. Their originality of thought was to influence many generations of feminists yet to be born. Georgiana Bruce Kirby died January 26, 1887.

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