Woman of the Century/Charlotte Emerson Brown
BROWN, Mrs. Charlotte Emerson, president of the General Federation of Women's Literary Clubs, born in Andover, Mass., 21st April, 1838. She is the daughter of Professor Ralph Emerson, who was for twenty-five years professor of ecclesiastical history and pastoral theology in Andover Theological Seminary, in Massachusetts, and a relative of the philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Miss Emerson early showed a marked aptitude for linguistic learning. At the age of ten years she could read, write and speak French with facility. She was graduated while young from Abbott Seminary, and then began in earnest the acquirement of several other languages For many years of her life she has devoted from ten to twelve hours daily to intense study. After mastering the Latin grammar and reading carefully the first book of Virgil's Æneid, she translated the remaining eleven books in eleven consecutive week-days. Horace, Cicero and other classical authors were read with similar rapidity. She spent one year in the study of modern languages and music, and as teacher of Latin, French and mathematics in Montreal, with Miss Hannah Lyman, afterward the first woman to serve as principal of Vassar College. Subsequently she spent several years in studying music and languages in Germany. Austria, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Syria. On her return from foreign study and travel Miss Emerson was able to speak, read and write at least a half-dozen foreign tongues almost as readily as she did her native English. On reaching her home in Rockford, Ill., whither her parents had removed, she felt the need of a more thorough business education, and at once entered a commercial college in Chicago, and was graduated after a term of six weeks. In order to complete her business knowledge and make it practical, she became for a time private secretary of her brother, Ralph Emerson, the well-known Rockford manufacturer. Subsequently she organized there two clubs that met regularly in her own house; one was a musical club, the Euterpe, and the other a French club, and both were extremely successful She was at the same time teaching modern languages in Rockford Seminary. In 1879 she was married to Rev. William B. Brown, D.D., then of New York City. Soon after their marriage Dr. and Mrs. Brown went abroad for two or three years, and visited for study the chief art centers of Europe, passing in every country as natives. On their return to America they settled permanently in East Orange, N. J. Mrs. Brown was soon elected president of the Woman's Club of Orange, which greatly prospered under her leadership. She was also engaged in arranging plans of work for the Woman's Board of Missions and was active as a member of the advisory board for the organization and success of the General Federation of Women's Literary Clubs. At the organization convention, in the spring of 1890, Mrs. Brown was elected its first president. There were then fifty literary clubs in the federation. In less than two years that number had increased to over one-hundred-twenty, representing twenty-nine States and enrolling twenty-thousand of the intelligent, earnest women of the land. Mrs. Brown is greatly interested in the woman's club movement and gladly devotes her whole time to work for its advancement She possesses unusual power of memory, mental concentration, energy and business ability, CHARLOTTE EMERSON BROWN. combined with such sweetness of disposition and deference for others as to make it easy for her to accomplish whatever she undertakes. She is enthusiastic and inspires others with her own magnetism. She combines the power of general plan with minute detail, and her motto is that what should be done at all should be done promptly and thoroughly. She is the author of many articles that have appeared in magazines and in other forms, mainly in the interests of whatever work she may at the time have had in hand. She is carrying on a very extensive correspondence and relies largely upon this agency for the full accomplishment of her well-considered plans for women's advancement.