The Mystery of Mary Rogers


Hey Hoboken residents! It may be a bit rainy and unpleasant out – but why not head over to the Hoboken Historical Museum tomorrow (weather will be better – I promise!). Grab a cup of Starbuck’s coffee – and check out this great talk happening at 4pm on Sunday, April 18th!

The Mystery of Mary Rogers

Mary Rogers Beautiful Cigar Girl - The Mystery of Mary RogersWhat a 19th Century Case Can Teach Us About Society

Dr. Amy Gilman Srebnick talks about 1841 murder mystery!

By the mid-1800s, New York was becoming a world-class city, welcoming thousands of newcomers streaming in from Europe and from American farms looking for work in the many factories. With such a wide variety of jobs for men and women, New York was fertile ground for research by Montclair State University Professor of History Dr. Amy Gilman Srebnick on the subject of women and work in the 19th century city. She kept coming across accounts of a story about the mysterious death of a young woman, which became a lightning rod for public opinion.

In the summer of 1841, Mary Rogers disappeared without a trace from her New York City boarding house. Three days later, her body, badly bruised, was found floating in the Hudson River not far from Sybil’s Cave in Hoboken. A pretty and popular cigar saleswoman near City Hall, Rogers had been a familiar face to the throngs of pressmen who worked there. Her story, an unsolved mystery, gave rise to speculation in the press and inspired social reformers and politicians alike. “I got carried away by the story as a way to talk about American culture and the emergence of the modern city in the 19th century,” says Dr. Srebnick, who published The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers, Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York (Oxford University Press, 1995).

On Sunday, April 18, at 4 p.m., Dr. Srebnick will visit the Museum for a talk titled, “Death on the Hudson, Mary Rogers and 19th Century True Crime.” She will explain how Rogers represented an emerging class of women who took advantage of the greater economic and social opportunities available to them in urban America, and how her death became a touchstone for the voicing of mid-nineteenth century concerns over sexual mores, the changing roles of women, law and order, and abortion.

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