I don’t remember when I first heard about Martha Matilda Harper. Occasionally I’d see an article about her in a local paper or see an exhibit about her at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. I guess it was her hair that first piqued my interest, and I always wanted to know more about her. Eventually I knew that I wanted to tell her story to kids. I didn’t know exactly what her story was, but I wanted to find out.
When I went to the internet for research, I found that Martha had a website, www.MarthaMatildaHarper.org. I also found Jane Plitt’s book, Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream. But I did some of my own research too, spending days at the museum reading her textbook and newsletters which are all housed there and educating myself about franchising and about the Christian Science religion, which Martha espoused.
When Jane came to Rochester to lecture at the U of R, I went to hear her speak and to meet her. When I told her about my desire to write a book for kids about Martha, Jane generously suggested a collaboration. That was a few years ago, and now that project has come to fruition.
Our book, Martha the Hairpreneur debuted in March, but I consider Discover Martha’s Magic, the June 23 event at the museum to be the ultimate fulfillment of my dream to know Martha Matilda Harper and to make her known. All of Rochester is invited to come and learn about Martha, to see her famous chair and to look at her brushes and bottles, to have their pictures taken with her cut-out, to make lip balm and to enter a longest hair contest.
June 23 is Martha’s day in Rochester. Won’t you join Jane and me in celebrating the life of this remarkable woman?