We created "He Also Had Five Daughters: the Jill McLean Taylor Memorial Scholarship Fund" as a tribute to our mother and the work she began after marrying an Irish man and raising the three of us. The scholarship fund aims to further our mother’s career and personal interest that involved addressing historical and persistent inequalities in access to education. With that larger goal in mind, the specific mission of He Also Had Five Daughters is to provide financial support to young women pursuing an undergraduate education.
The background gist: An omission from a long-ago obituary from a rural New Zealand newspaper inspired the mission of He Also Had Five Daughters. While clearing her parents’ house of letters, papers, and all other materials accumulated over 48 years, our mother came across her grandfather, Jack McLean’s obituary. Of his nine children, it highlighted the lives of his four sons who included a well-known journalist, editor, and director of publicity for the National Party; an All Black rugby player and businessman; a self-taught engineer and artisan; and a journalist and author. There was a sentence or two about her grandmother. Of greatest interest to our mother was the last line, which read, “Jack McLean also had five daughters.”
As a daughter, sister, and wife, and researcher and assistant professor of education and women’s studies, Jill was particularly interested in what was missing. Having noted the secondary place or omission of women and girls from historical accounts and family narratives, the mandate “making the invisible visible” and challenging long accepted histories characterized our mother’s professional career and culminated in her beginning the biography of her five aunts.
Six months after retiring from Simmons College and just before committing more of her time to create a new family narrative that spoke to the courageous lives of her aunts, our mother was admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Six weeks later, on October 23, she passed away. The story she hoped to tell speaks to the historical and persistent differences in access to decent education, healthcare, reproductive rights, housing, and legal representation that are based on race, gender, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, and religious background. Referencing her grandfather’s obituary, she hoped to title her book “Jack McLean also had five daughters.”
We established “He Also Had Five Daughters: the Jill McLean Scholarship Fund” to honor our mother and the work which began while raising the three of us and ultimately comprised 26 years as a professor of education and women’s studies at Simmons College in Boston, MA. During that time, she wrote, contributed to, and earned several grants and publications, and helped with the organization and planning of the first Boston Teachers Union School. Her greatest legacy, however, was the impact she had on the three of us and the many students she inspired over her career.
Immediate goal: He Also Had Five Daughters recently created a scholarship in our mother’s name at Simmons College. To fund the scholarship, we have committed to establishing an endowment of $100,000. Consistent with our mother’s personal and career interests, and longstanding relationship with the Boston Public School system, the scholarship lends preference to Boston Public School graduates and applicants demonstrating an interest in women’s studies.
-Alex, Tom, and William Taylor