Take Up the Song - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Rebellious. Vivacious. Feminist. 

This collection, featuring photos and correspondence, explores the relationship between Edna St. Vincent Millay and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. It highlights poetry performances, friendship, Vincent's writings, and the underlying current of women's autonomy.

As you explore this collection, we encourage you to consider how Edna St. Vincent Millay, a vocal feminist and precursor to modern social movements, might find common ground with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

The Liberated Woman

Edna St. Vincent Millay, born February 22, 1892, was a prominent American poet. From her youth, Vincent exhibited a profound curiosity and throughout her life she captivated readers with her words, spoken and written. In 1979, scholar Patricia Klemans observed that Vincent's poetry, "presents a new viewpoint to literature—the liberated woman's view." 

Vincent's support for human rights is documented in public and private writings. As described in Into the World’s Great Heart, “when she detects sexism or injustice of any kind, she doesn’t hesitate to take the perpetrators to task.”

Consider the case of Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti who were wrongly convicted of murder. Outraged by their death sentence and advocating for clemency, Vincent wrote to Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller. Invoking the Christian faith, she implored him, "Think back. Think back a long time. Which way would He have turned, this Jesus of your faith? — Oh, not the way in which your feet are set!" 2

 Governor Fuller did not head her words. They men were excuted. Yet, Vincent's lifelong activism did not waver both in the public and private sphere.

While Vincent was a prolific writer, there is limited scholarship and academic writing about her. We hope this collection offers a brief glimpse into “a spirit relentlessly seeking goodness, beauty and truth for herself, her readers and listeners, and her times.” 3


Created by Sarah Pesola, Amy Gabbert-Montag, and Jaylene Telford. We extend our gratitude to The Millay Society, St. Catherine University Archivist, Amy Shaw, and CSJ St. Paul Province Archivist, Michelle Hueg, for their invaluable assistance.