If Barbara Blaisdell plays Susan B. Anthony for 23 years, when does she BECOME Susan?

Susan B. Anthony todayIt’s amazing that one person, Barbara Blaisdell, has been delighting fans of Susan B. Anthony for the past 23 years by showing up at events and special occasions in the Rochester, New York area, as well as other venues around the state and nation. She’s spoken on numerous occasions to groups large and small, presented convention keynotes,  and has been a special guest at luncheons and teas where guests have found her portrayal of Anthony intriguing. I love the fact that Blaisdell even had a starring role in a staging of Susan B. Anthony’s trial speech at the Ontario County courthouse not far from Rochester, NY years ago. June 19th is this coming week, folks, and there’s still time to give Susan’s trial speech observance some recognition with a party and spread the fun around.

“My outfit is historically accurate,” Barbara Blaisdell says, and she describes it as a “re-creation of Anthony’s dress displayed in the Museum/House. I also wear a hat, red shawl and carry an alligator bag to stay in character throughout the portrayal and engage in questions and answers whenever appropriate. Bringing the story of the country’s (the world’s) most legendary civil rights and women’s rights leader to so many people has been and continues to be my passion.”

Visit the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, NY and you may meet Susan B. Anthony aka Barbara Blaisdell during tours or special events. These are occasions when Blaisdell takes her role seriously as Susan herself would have responded to certain questions and comments. It’s surprising that some still have the impression of Susan having been grumpy and blunt. “Many people don’t know that Susan B. Anthony had a sense of humor. She wasn’t a gruff old bat, and many people don’t know that she liked to cook, garden, invite people over for a meal and visit. She loved children, and in my mind was an amazing person. Susan B. Anthony sacrificed her own personal life so she could fight the good fight.”

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3 responses to “If Barbara Blaisdell plays Susan B. Anthony for 23 years, when does she BECOME Susan?

  1. I don’t think SBA “sacrificed her personal life”– all that political work and connecting with like-minded comrades around the world and other activities described ARE a “personal life.” And a really fulfilling one at that…

  2. Hi Marguerite, thanks for this post. I think it’s great what Ms. Blaisdell is doing and has done.

    ..I’m currently reading the bio of SBA by Kathleen Barry. I’m not sure Ms. Barry would agree with the characterization that SBA sacrificed her personal life. Ms. Barry describes SBA’s relationship with ECS as being extremely close and rewarding, probably more so than many marriages. SBA regarded ECS’s children as her own. Ms. Barry’s portrayal of SBA is that she got much more out of her career as an activist than she would have as a “doll” or “drudge”, which were the two main modes of being a wife in those days.

    We should also not forget that the relationship between SBA and her sister Mary was close, and from the limited amount I know about it, was probably quite rewarding as well. Mary, an accomplished woman in her own right, kept the “home fires burning” for SBA over many decades when SBA spent much time on the road.

    So certainly all praise for Ms. Blaisdell, but a respectful and somewhat hesitant dissent from the notion that SBA was a martyr to the cause.

  3. One more thought, “Aunt Susan” was also close to her “nieces”, of which the chief one was Anna Howard Shaw, another great suffrage leader.

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