Monthly Archives: September 2010

Book Underway About Long Island Suffrage Movement


“They aren’t absentee –just absent” is a Newsday Op Ed piece written by Antonia Petrash about women and voting. Petrash is the director of the Glen Clove (NY) Public LIbrary, and she is writing a book about the suffrage movement on Long Island.

Grand Opening of Matilda Joslyn Gage Center

The grand opening of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville, New York is scheduled for the weekend of October 8-10, 2010. This is an incredible opportunity to find out more about a key suffragist in the movement, Matilda Joslyn Gage. There’s a very full weekend of activities –both educational and entertaining. Visit the newly-restored Susan B. Anthony house in Rochester, NY on a bus tour. Be part of the open house at the Gage home with special exhibits and features. Enjoy an evening of music and the special opening ceremony. For more information.

Woman’s Journal Photo of Horse-Drawn Wagon

Women mounted on horses and horse-drawn wagons (as seen on the front cover of this March 1913 issue of the Woman’s Journal) suggests that the drama was very much a part of the impact of the demonstrations. It was a rare sight for women to be out of the home and in public in such large numbers, and the crowds turning out to witness the parades often exceeded the women themselves. At a time when the vote for women is taken for granted, the impact of these times has faded almost to the point of invisibility. It’s a reminder, however, of the effectiveness of determination in getting things done.

Suffragists Couldn’t Be Shy!

Getting the word out to the public was no simple accomplishment at the turn of the 20th century. Bold speaking in public was a novelty and it was apt to draw large crowds. Photo: Bain Collection, Library of Congress.

The urgency to step up to the plate remains an issue today. An Associated Press article published on August 26th this year summed up the issue: “Yet in spite of celebrations planned today for Women’s Equality Day, marking the adoption of the 19th amendment in 1920, American women’s share of high-level political power still lags behind scores of other nations.”

Long and Short Suffrage Hikes

A rare and precious film clip of 1913 showing Rosalie Jones and Elisabeth Freeman leaving on a hike to Washington, DC for suffrage gives a sense of, not only their courage, but the intense interest in women voting and the need to accelerate the pressure. The story in my family was that my grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns, planned to take the wagon, the “Spirit of 1776,” on the long trip with Rosalie and Elisabeth, but she backed out at the last minute for health reasons. Edna went to the big march in Washington, but couldn’t commit to the long ordeal of the hikers underwent.

Edna, her husband Wilmer Kearns and their daughter Serena Kearns accompanied Rosalie Jones and Elisabeth Freeman on the 1914 hike to Albany in January, no small accomplishment. Hiking as a media event in the suffrage movement received considerable publicity.

Edna’s Hometown of Rockville Centre has a Woman Mayor

On the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, the newspaper covering Nassau County on Long Island featured Edna Kearns and a roundup of the number of women holding elected positions on Long Island. Check it out! I’m sure Edna thought it perfectly reasonable that Rockville Centre, where she lived, should have a woman mayor, Mary Bossart. While an accomplishment, it should be noted that Mary Bossart was elected in 2007 as the first woman mayor for Rockville Centre. She served as a village trustee for eight years.