Monthly Archives: May 2012

“Holding the Torch for Liberty”: June 3, 2012 suffrage musical gala in Manhattan

“Holding the Torch for Liberty” is the story of Sarah, a seamstress at the Liberty Pants Factory and suffragist allies who campaign for the right to vote in 1920. With the help of The Statute of Liberty, the students involved in the musical production overcome all obstacles and participate in a story about a great American civil rights movement.

Set aside June 3, 2012 for The Jazz Drama Program Summer Gala, 2-5 pm at Urban Stages in NYC. It’s a celebration of the work of The Jazz Drama Program with artistic director Eli Yamin, special guest Mercedes Ellington and honoring Dr. William Rodriguez, Latin Jazz Pianist, principal and founder of the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music.

The event features a live performance of scenes and songs from “Holding the Torch for Liberty,” the jazz musical about women’s suffrage by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson, and performed by students from Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music. Refreshments and a champagne toast are included in the ticket price. This is a wonderful opportunity to support a program that builds leadership through stories about the suffrage movement.

Tickets to this event are limited and can be purchased for $100. For more information. Each ticket holder will receive a copy of the cast CD of “Holding the Torch for Liberty” signed by the authors.

Albany women’s exhibit has the “Spirit of 1776″

The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon on display at NYS capitol in Albany, NY

Grandmother Edna Kearns’ suffrage wagon is highlighted in the exhibition, “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court,” that’s presently on display at the NYS capitol in Albany, New York. It constitutes a must-see experience and well worth my long trip to arrive here early this week. With the suffrage wagon named the “Spirit of 1776″ as an exhibit centerpiece, the freedom theme is magnified by the panels featuring individual women from New York who have made a significant mark on state and national history, as well as current affairs.

“From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court: New York’s women leading the way” balances the recently-opened Hall of the Governors, filled with portraits of men, with an exhibit introductory panel highlighting a statement rarely seen in public:

While women”… may not have always been the individuals passing the laws, women were writing the policies, organizing campaigns and generating awareness. For too long, these efforts have been minimized, omitted from the history books or forgotten completely.”

Hats off to the planners, researchers, governor and state museum staff and supporters responsible for the exhibition. See links: Capitol web site and coverage by Capitol Confidential.

Evidence of Edna Kearns’ whirlwind campaigning can be seen at state capitol

New York State Capitol, where Edna Kearns campaign wagon is on display.

Here, at last! Albany, New York, that is. Arrived yesterday and made a quick visit to the state capitol to see Grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon on exhibit near the Hall of Governors at the state capitol building. It’s a magnificent display. And reason enough to drag a news clipping out of the archives.

This column written by Edna Buckman Kearns  about the Long Island suffrage campaign sets out the facts, as well as the names of the participants and the details of grassroots organizing. It’s a timely reminder of the difficult and persistent work on the grassroots carried forward in the 72-year struggle to win the right to vote for women in the United States.

Edna’s sister-in-law Lulu Kearns from Beavertown, PA joined in with the grassroots organizing. And the Long Island communities visited, as well as everyone involved, are noted. They called it a “Whirlwind Campaign” for good reason.

Grandmother Edna and her co-workers knew they were making history. I found references to this in her letters and newspaper columns. And even a sweet reminder from my grandfather Wilmer Kearns who wrote to Edna when she was away at a conference to bring her up to date on domestic news. At the end of one letter, he reminded her in a postscript to “Make History.”

The English suffragettes relaxed their stiff upper lips

When people say they feel helpless in the face of overwhelming odds, an attitude or obstacle, it’s time for all of us to remember the serious resistance the British women were up against in their fight for the ballot. The suffragettes’ bold tactics became known worldwide after their decision to stretch the bondaries. Here’s a selection from Mary Walton’s 2010 book, A Woman’s Crusade:

“All over England, suffragettes ‘hid in bushes and under platforms, scaled roofs, let themselves down through skylights in order to interrupt meetings with the dreaded call, ‘votes for women.'”

While the suffrage story has been very low key for many years, it’s jumping into center stage in England with the announcement of the upcoming year’s centennial celebration of Emily Davison. Many of her relatives are involved, including the release of material previously unavailable. Check it out. The trailer of “Everything is Possible,” a UK film about Sylvia Pankhurst is a must see, if you haven’t run across it already. It’s a story of vision, determination, and a lifelong dedication to the goal of freedom. There’s also a fascinating link on the film’s web site about Sylvia’s security files compiled by the British government.

Mother’s Day interview about Grandmother Edna Buckman Kearns

Mother’s Day card from National Women’s History Project

Mother’s Day has come and gone again. I’m on the road headed to Albany to see Grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon so I’m somewhat behind.

Here’s a link to the Mother’s Day interview featured on Chick History about Grandmother Edna Kearns and Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Our mothers and grandmother suffragists and great-grandmothers would be pleased about the increasing fascination with the details of their hard work to win the vote.

When you check out some recent articles that have appeared around the country, you’ll discover the gradual, but steady growth in interest in leadership today and how this can be linked to the suffrage movement.

Here are some examples: Forbes has an article about how 2012 is considered another Year of the Woman and how this has implications for the November election outcome. An Oregon woman shows us how to sew a suffrage bow. A bike ride in Iowa is named in honor of Carrie Chapman Catt. The first woman to be appointed as a federal court judge in Maine cites the suffrage movement and  various waves of activists who followed as responsible for remarkable accomplishments and opportunities available today.


Headed for Albany, NY to see Edna Kearns’ suffrage wagon?

The suffrage campaign wagon used by suffragist Edna Kearns on Long Island and in NYC is expected to be on exhibit through the summer of 2012 at the Hall of the Governors in the state capitol in Albany, NY.  To refresh your memory. . . check out the article below that appeared in the NY Times on August 1, 1913 at the time of the wagon’s presentation to the state suffrage movement.

This suffrage campaign wagon is representative of other horse-drawn wagons used in parades and in grassroots organizing for the suffrage movement. It’s likely that there are only two of these wagons existing today that were pressed into service for the Votes for Women cause.

One is Edna Kearns’ wagon, now in the permanent collection of the New  York State Museum and on exhibit now in the Hall of Governors in Albany. The other suffrage campaign wagon is the Smithsonian’s collection. Grandmother Edna Kearns was a squirrel when it came to documenting her suffrage organizing work, and the suffrage wagon has a history of its very own with the stories about it that I’m in the process of locating, collecting and sharing.

Behind the scenes of great suffrage music video, “Bad Romance”

Chances are that you’ve seen the suffrage music video, “Bad Romance,” a parody of Lady Gaga. But have you seen the behind-the-scenes production short (link above)? The increase in creative material about the suffrage movement is exciting and noteworthy.  Here are a few examples:

A stroll on the new Rochester Heritage Trail. Boston Marathon runners who acknowledge those who came before them. Activism exhibit in New York City. New book to be published in July 2012 from Rutgers University Press: “The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.”

In what ways have you been contributing to this outpouring of love and appreciation toward the tens of thousands of women who participated in this extraordinary civil rights movement?

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Watch a suffrage story on video and share your suffrage story

Did you know about the picketing of the White House by suffragists? This is a story we can’t tell often enough. The headquarters of the National Woman’s Party in Washington, DC (aka the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum) has prepared this video using some archival images many people have not seen.

These wonderful and energetic folks at the Sewall-Bemont House & Museum have launched a virtual campaign called “Share Your Story. Save HerStory.” It’s precisely the kind of campaign that builds leadership through stories of the suffrage movement, which is the mission of Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Contact Elisabeth Crum at 202-546-1210 ext, 17, or send her an email with your answers to the following questions: “Why is woman suffrage important to you? Why will you vote this year? Who are the women (past and present) who inspire you to vote? What do you think women should know about the WNP and how will that move them to vote in 2012?” Stories will be collected as blog posts, video, Facebook, and Twitterview. For more information.

I’ll be participating in the story campaign. What about you? Stay up to date with news and stories of the suffrage movement: suffragewagon.org

I love this story of Grandmother Edna Kearns!


Here’s what happened almost a hundred years ago. Grandmother Edna Kearns expected to be a speaker at a community event as she set out for the evening with this purpose in mind. She was, after all, as the article notes: “a well known suffrage speaker.” When turned away at the door of a Republican Party rally, Grandmother Edna didn’t take the situation lightly. She stood up on a automobile nearby and expounded on the topic of Votes for Women to the people passing by on the street, as well as those headed to the meeting. She held forth for at least two hours and refused give in –one example of many instances of her hard-headed style.

After the event, Grandmother Edna made certain more people knew about what happened. She wrote for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and this article appeared on November 1, 1915. It’s worth a read.  Not only because it’s yet another untold story of the suffrage movement. But it’s a lesson in determination and persistence that we can learn from today. The photo above isn’t of Grandmother Edna, but it illustrates the interest suffrage speakers sparked when they spoke in the streets.

Visit our updated Suffrage Wagon News Channel platform at suffragewagon.org