Monthly Archives: April 2012

Doris Stevens knew Alice Paul back when. . .

“Alice Paul brought back to the fight that note of immediacy which
had gone with the passing of Miss Anthony’s leadership. She
called a halt on further pleading, wheedling, proving, praying.
It was as if she had bidden women stand erect, with confidence in
themselves and in their own judgments, and compelled them to be
self-respecting enough to dare to put their freedom first, and so
determine for themselves the day when they should be free. Those
who had a taste of begging under the old regime and who abandoned
it for demanding, know how fine and strong a thing it is to
realize that you must take what is yours and not waste your
energy proving that you are or will some day be worthy of a gift
of power from your masters. On that glad day of discovery you
have first freed yourself to fight for freedom. Alice Paul gave to thousands of women the essence of freedom.”

Doris Stevens, from Jailed for Freedom

Listen to the free audio of “Jailed for Freedom” by Doris Stevens on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Alice Paul: the most overlooked civil rights leader of the 20th century!

Alice Paul is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Yet, during her lifetime she wasn’t interested in glory. She kept her eye on the prize: women’s rights and the vote. This video fills in a great deal. And keep in mind that author Mary Walton never heard of Alice Paul before a newspaper editor brought Paul to her attention. Meanwhile, this interview highlights where Walton calls Paul “the most overlooked civil rights leader of the 20th century.”

The local suffrage wrinkle: Debates on Long Island street corners

We continue with the untold story of the local wrinkle on the suffrage movement in New York State. As we move toward NYS’s centennial of winning the vote in 1917, we’ll see an increasing interest in this part of our history. The articles linked on this blog are primarily from the archives of Grandmother Edna Kearns.

The suffrage movement tapped the power of the press when its activists witnessed and reported on the news, much as citizen journalists do today. Writers and activists like Edna Buckman Kearns reported for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and local publications on Long Island. Edna also lived part time in New York City where her husband Wilmer Kearns was employed and her young daughter Serena attended a Quaker school. Edna gave her full attention to organizing Long Island for woman’s suffrage. Her reports in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle gave considerable detail to the grassroots organizing efforts, of which this article and others demonstrate.

Elisabeth Freeman was among the suffrage campaigners, along with Edna Kearns and others who spread out to cover organizations where numbers of men would congregate, such as the firemens’ convention. They showed up with literature and made a visual impact. The community reactions and how the suffragists responded were documented in detail.

Back to contemporary times: I enjoy reading the press coverage of England’s suffrage movement. The Brits’ coverage of this time in their history is extremely creative. For example, there’s a recent piece on a descendant of Emily Davison, best known for throwing herself in front of the king’s horse. And an excellent article on how the sinking of the Titanic impacted the suffragette movement in  England.

New curriculum materials for “Iron Jawed Angels” film

Grandmother Edna Kearns wouldn’t have had a starring role in “Iron Jawed Angels,” a classic introduction for many about the woman’s suffrage movement. However, she would have been in the office of the National Woman’s Party during the scenes when the suffs picketed the White House. And as such, she would have represented the many grassroots activists it took to win Votes for Women. Check out the mention of Edna in the online magazine, New York History.

Now there’s a curriculum guide available that uses “Iron Jawed Angels” to make history come alive. I haven’t seen the materials myself, but I’m passing them on because they stress the angle of nonviolent social change and its importance in the suffrage movement. Check out the press release. Plus additional information.

Suffrage Wagon News Channel is now on a new platform.

Could women vote and still be good mothers?

This was actually part of the conversation back in the good ‘ole days. Considering that grandmother Edna Kearns’ oldest daughter Serena was a poster child for the suffrage movement,  Edna definitely felt sensitive about criticism for taking her daughter on the campaign trail. Often people shouted at her from the sidelines: “You should be at home taking care of your child.” For Serena, accompanying her mother was thrilling and no doubt, educational. Even though at the turn of the 20th century it was noteworthy for a young person to join the movement, there were instances of young people taking part, such as with this photo, above, of children barnstorming for the movement. Edna’s in the photo, though barely. You can barely see the top of her head to the left of the driver, behind the flags. Edna handled media relations, so I expect she was responsible for this image appearing in numerous Long Island and NYC publications. The news article below illustrates Edna’s response to criticism that suffragists weren’t good mothers.

Don’t forget about Tara Bloyd’s article in “Albany Kid” last week that features Serena Kearns, her mother Edna Kearns’ suffrage campaign wagon, and the young people of the suffrage movement.

Suffrage Wagon News Channel has migrated!

Check out the new platform for Suffrage Wagon News Channel. The regular blog stays the same: that is, linked to suffragewagon.org        Note that things are organized differently –by news and 60-second history lessons. And the spring special issue of the newsletter is now published. Highlights include new art work by Peter Sinclair of the suffrage wagon, the article by Tara Bloyd in “Albany Kid” about little Serena Kearns who was a suffrage poster child, and a great music video about the suffrage movement. Also, a special feature: Who’s behind “Suffrage Buffs of America”?

Suffrage wagon in exhibit, “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court”

“The Spirit of 1776″ (Grandmother Edna Kearns’ suffrage campaign wagon) is displayed in the Hall of Governors at the NYS capitol in Albany through May 2012. What a dream come true, and something so many of us have been visualizing for so long. The exhibit honoring the accomplishments of NYS women is under the auspices of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, and here’s the press release distributed to spread the word. And other information: Link #1, Link #2. The exhibit opened during Women’s History Month, and what a perfect way to celebrate. And don’t forget to take a look at the article by Tara Bloyd (Edna Kearns’ great-granddaughter) that appeared in “Albany Kid” this past week. Its focus is little Serena Kearns who played a role in the movement as a suffrage poster child.