Women's Literary Tea

On March 6, join us for the story of The Notorious Mrs. Clem, as Wendy Gamber weaves the life and times of a charming and persuasive Gilded Age confidence woman, who became famous not only as an accused murderess but also as an itinerant peddler of patent medicine and the supposed originator of the Ponzi scheme. In her work Dr. Wendy Gamber, chair of the Department of History at Indiana University in Bloomington, explores women’s place in an evolving urban economy in the mid-nineteenth century. Tickets available at https://www.thepropylaeum.org/programs.

Book Synopsis:

In September 1868, the remains of Jacob and Nancy Jane Young were found lying near the banks of Indiana’s White River. Suspicion for both deaths turned to Nancy Clem, a housewife who was also one of Mr. Young’s former business partners. The Notorious Mrs. Clem, chronicles the life and times of this charming and persuasive Gilded Age confidence woman, who became famous not only as an accused murderess but also as an itinerant peddler of patent medicine and the supposed originator of the Ponzi scheme. Clem’s story is a shocking tale of friendship and betrayal, crime and punishment, courtroom drama and partisan politicking, get-rich-quick schemes and shady business deals. It also raises fascinating questions about women’s place in an evolving urban economy. Based on extensive sources, including newspapers, trial documents, and local histories, this gripping account of a seemingly typical woman who achieved extraordinary notoriety will appeal to true crime lovers and historians alike.

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