The suffragists didn’t take the insults by U.S. President William Howard Taft lightly when he addressed their organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Organization– back in April of 1910. Taft had been known to oppose women voting, but perhaps he’d at least be polite in addressing their convention. Instead, he launched into a tirade about how extending the vote to women would be a disaster. The audience hissed, to which Taft said that self restraint was part of the game. Later, the organization officially apologized to Taft, but the point had been made. The women were up against very powerful individuals and interests.
It’s all in the telling, and the suffragists are believed to have written their own version of the tale. In March of 1913. U.S. President-elect Woodrow Wilson arrived at the train station in Washington, DC all geared up for his inauguration ceremony. He expected to be the center of attention, but he wasn’t. “Where are the people?” he is alleged to have asked. The response: “On the Avenue watching the suffragists parade.”
Doris Stevens in her book, “Jailed for Freedom,” tells the story as fact. Here’s her story about the parade in a two-minute clip. The reading is brought to us by Librivox.
Suffrage Wagon News Channel is featuring an audio interview with author and historian Teri P. Gay. Find out why Teri believes the upcoming 100th anniversary of woman’s suffrage in NYS and the nation is significant. Listen to her point of view about how this celebration might play itself out. What’s behind the fact that suffrage history is so relatively unknown? And more!
The interview is presented in snippets of a few seconds all the way up to five and seven minutes. It’s the kind of interview you can listen to in your car, when taking a stroll with your headphones around the block, or when sitting down with a good cup of tea. Teri’s book, “Strength without Compromise: Womanly Influence and Political Identity in Turn-of-the-Century Rural Upstate New York” is proving to be a hit among audiences of organizations and civil groups in the upstate NY region because it’s about their local history. Teri has given book signings and talks on over fifty occasions over the past year. She’s discovered that among the groups and organizations, audiences are anxious to find out the local angle of the suffrage movement in their communities. Enjoy the interview! And you can order her book.
California is celebrating its suffrage centennial celebration. Oregon is realizing the potential of its 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage by beginning the observance now. A presentation by former governor Barbara Roberts before the City Club of Portland demonstrates this point. Her speech to the group is worth listening to. Roberts told the audience: “History is meant, not to sit on a shelf, but to devour and think about and talk about and share.” She called the suffrage movement something “. . . that’s little told and is highly under appreciated” and how this “is about to change.” Roberts’ perspective is shared by many: “We’re bringing our place in history out of the shadows” and she’s reminded of Susan B. Anthony’s charge: “Never another season of silence.”
Oregon, Kansas and Arizona celebrate their 100th suffrage anniversaries in 2012. The state of Washington had its 100th suffrage anniversary last year. Colorado, Utah, and Idaho have already acknowledged their 100th year of women voting.
1848 Seneca Falls Convention
Think back to 1848 in Seneca Falls and hold the thought of women and men gathering for the conference where the radical idea of Votes for Women was first expressed. There’s still time to plan an event for Women’s Equality Day on August 26th for your friends or organization. The National Women’s History Project is a terrific resource.
Note the new feature column above, “Save the Date,” that highlights August 26 and September 20. On July 24th there’s an interactive tour of New York City of women’s history.
Keeping the issue of voting alive and in the minds of politicians was an important tactic of the English suffragettes in 1909. It wasn’t one action that did the trick, but the constant reminders, in unexpected places, at unexpected times. Lucy Burns was an American, who with Alice Paul, was radicalized in the English front lines of suffrage. One evening she dressed in an elegant gown, socialized with the dignitaries at a fancy-dress ball, and then approached Winston Churchill. After waving a banner in his face, she asked: “How can you dine here while women are starving in prison?”
The police removed her from the building, and Churchill got the message.
These suffs hit the streets in 1914 in Washington, DC to spread the word. Meanwhile, back in New York on November 3, 1914, my grandmother Edna climbed up on scaffolding high above the city. She was one of eight suffragists who volunteered to paint a billboard at 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue to advertise a suffrage event at Carnegie Hall. See article. Edna was fond of clipping articles and underlining her name, just so people like me would be sure to know it wasn’t a clipping destined for the trash bin. (Photo above from the Harris & Ewing collection in the Library of Congress. News clipping from the NY Tribune, from the archive of Edna Buckman Kearns)
No one likes the belt tightening underway in organizations and institutions across the nation. And the distribution of pink slips in offices at the New York State Museum is no exception. The museum’s employees held their collective breath in 2010 when 12 staffers were laid off, and then again recently. There’s a breeze blowing through the museum these days when one considers that one third of its staff disappeared in just over a year due to layoffs, forced and voluntary retirements. In the past six months, the museum has closed its doors on Sundays, removed some exhibits and contracted its cafeteria out for cultural events. Some observers are wondering if the state museum will be able to carry out its legislative mandates.
How will this impact my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon that sits stored in a museum warehouse in the Albany area? No one knows at this point. With the 100th anniversary of women voting in NYS coming up in 2017, there are many reasons why New York should be planning an enormous celebration –one that will highlight the extraordinary accomplishment of New York women that was a tipping point in the national campaign.
All the more reason for us to continue gathering support for museum officials and those in the state’s executive chambers charged with budgetary matters to take the necessary steps to get the suffrage wagon out of the warehouse and on permanent exhibit. Let’s see what happens next!
Sit down in your favorite lawn chair for a little over ten minutes and sip some iced tea. Find out about a little-known story involving Susan B. Anthony and the 4th of July. Doris Stevens wrote this splendid piece in 1920. It’s the first chapter of her book, “Jailed for Freedom,” and you can listen to it right now. This reading is in the public domain and brought to the Suffrage Wagon News Channel by LibriVox.