Mary Rice was born near Boston to a family descended from early American colonists. She attended a girls's school and worked as a teacher, including three years as a governess on a Southern plantation. In 1845, she married Daniel P. Livermore, a Unitarian minister, with whom she had three children and moved to Chicago. She became an activist for women's suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and the temperance movement. Following the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, Mrs. Livermore took responsibility for military hospitals in Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri. Like Clara Barton, she discovered appalling conditions and desperate needs, and demonstrated great talent for obtaining food, medicine, surgical supplies, and other essentials that saved the lives of thousands of soldiers. During this time she also published her first book, Pen Pictures (1863). After the war, Mrs. Livermore joined Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone in founding the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) and editing its publication, "The Woman's Journal." She was a prime attraction on the lecture circuit and toured the country giving speeches for more than 20 years. She continued to write, publishing her lectures and other essays in several of the country's leading magazines. Her most popular lecture, What Shall We Do with Our Daughters? was issued in book form in 1883. Four years later, her Civil War memoir, My Story of the War, was a bestseller. With Frances Willard, she edited A Woman of the Century (1893), a collection of biographical sketches of the women of her era. She published an autobiography called Story of My Life in 1897.