The seal of New Bedford depicting a harbor and ships and highlighting the words "Lucem diffundo"
Seal of the City of New Bedford, MA

We could aptly describe the Anthony family and their fellow reformers as individuals who “diffused light.” I first happened upon this term (“Lucem Diffundo” in Latin) as a motto for the city of New Bedford, MA.

In 1847 when New Bedford citizens selected that slogan, they had been active in spreading light both literally and metaphorically. Most of them were Quakers, whose aim was to spread Divine Light around them.  They earned their living collecting whale oil to fuel the young nation and its lighthouses from their perch on the mainland facing the Atlantic. This vantage point also made their city a perfect place to take part in the Underground Railroad that served as a beacon to people seeking freedom from slavery.

View from above of homes and boats facing the water
Photo of New Bedford by Jeanne Gehret

The Anthonys, who diffused light

On February 15 we will again celebrate the birthday of Susan B. Anthony, who diffused light. As I’ve written elsewhere, all her family members were somehow involved in promoting the abolition of slavery and/or the unshackling of women from a patriarchal society. They, too, were Quakers.

Her brother Daniel, immersed in a racially mixed society, put his emphasis on African American equity while also supporting women’s rights. Susan chose to rank female equality before racial parity. In a sense they worked hand-in-hand with each other and with such greats as Frederick Douglass, Julia Seward, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many others referenced in my work.

In one way or another, they all diffused light.

If that’s the only notion you get from these pages, I’m satisfied. Even though I don’t sermonize here about ways that we can bring comfort and peace to those around us, I ponder that topic all the time. By lifting my candle to highlight the actions of these dedicated 19th-century reformers, I hope to inspire you to do similar things, wherever you are.

One of Susan’s many supporters said that she “left behind a trail of light” in the dark avenues of her era. Now, more than ever, we need light bringers. In the words of Nelson Mandela, be the change you want to see in the world as you celebrate the life of Susan B. Anthony.

A change in this website

Behind the scenes, I’ve been working to update and re-format this website. Though the formal name will eventually change to, you will still be able to find it for a while at The articles you’ve enjoyed will, I hope, be more accessible through a more searchable format.

I’m going to post only once a month in the future to allow me more time to research and finish my Dauntless Series. So be sure to open each email and post as soon as it appears.

In the meantime, create your own trail of light. We’re all counting on you.

Who are some of your favorite light-bringers (from any place and time)? Inspire us by leaving a reply in the space below.

8 Responses

  1. Thanks Carrie. Love the reference to “Barleycorn.” Not many people realize that Susan’s devotion to temperance and abolition was also a big part of her life and legacy.

  2. Good to hear from you, Rose. I uses your book on Douglass often for reference and hope that you larger tome is going well.

  3. Speaking of Susan’s upcoming 204th birthday, the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace will be hosting their 18th Annual birthday celebration by diffusing light on the matter of temperance, a movement in which Susan was passionately active in. The event, a performance entitled “Are you a friend of John Barleycorn? Temperance, Prohibition, and Women’s Suffrage as told by Jack London,” will take place on Sunday, February 18 at 3:00 PM in the G.A.R. Memorial Hall of the Adams Free Library, 92 Park Street, with a reception to follow. For more information, visit

  4. Not only do I want to put my focus on the ultimate light-bringer, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, I would also like to mention pastor Dave Anderson of the First Baptist Church North Adams along with many of the church’s leaders, Terri Braman and Abe Sanchez to name a few. Never have I seen the light so powerfully and continuously shine in a church. The Holy Spirit is truly felt upon entering this building where there is so much love and light present!

  5. I love the concept of diffusing light! My current favorite “light bringer” is our pastor, Laura Fry!

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