Category Archives: right to vote

Susan B. Anthony is a corker! Find out for yourself!

Cartoon of Susan B. Anthony

They called her Aunt Susan and she had so many adopted nieces, people couldn’t keep count. That’s why this post features a ten-minute audio clip from “Jailed for Freedom” by Doris Stevens, published back in Grandmother Edna’s day, that gives you a feeling of almost being there.

Susan B. Anthony died before the ratification of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote in 1920. So when August 26th comes around this year, at a time when people aren’t usually thinking about Aunt Susan, consider the possibility of having a party. There are lessons to be learned by putting on a skit about Susan. How about courage? Vision. Inner strength. She had her eye on the prize of women voting and wouldn’t give up. These themes are eternal.

I didn’t even have a script when I directed and produced my own Susan skit back in 2010. I went to the primary sources, lifted lines straight from the record, recruited the cast, and everyone had a blast with dress ups. The audience got the point.

So if you’ve been toying with the idea of putting on a program for August 26th (Women’s Equality Day) or a special fundraiser or other event for your friends, organization, or club, try Susan B. Anthony’s arrest in 1872 and her trial for voting. The trial was a hit at the Susan B. Anthony birthday party I organized in February of 2010, and it’s especially relevant for other special events because it’s an example of nonviolent civil disobedience. Susan was arrested for voting, and everyone knew back then that women couldn’t vote.

The audio clip on this post is a wonderful resource, plus the internet is a great resource for finding quotes from Susan, as well as her speeches, for reading out loud.  Here’s Susan B.’s petition to Congress in January of 1874. And resources from Susan’s trial record. Think about it! It’s a great way to introduce young people to Aunt Susan and there are great parts: Susan, the officer who arrests her, the district attorney, and the judge. Drama, conflict, plenty of action. Great lines.

Now –see how you do on a quiz about Susan B. Anthony.

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

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.”

A suffrage wagon named “Victory”: Look out Saudi Arabia!

The evidence of another suffrage campaign wagon known as “Victory” has surfaced in a 1915 news article about a torchlight suffrage parade in New York City. The wagon was accompanied by decorated automobiles, bands, and marchers representing different segments of society. Saudi women and others throughout the world today are curious about U.S. suffrage history and for good reason. See Bonnie Smith’s comments on the Suffrage Wagon News Channel about the curiosity of women from other parts of the world in our Votes for Women history.

The strength and power of organizing for rights can be seen in the evidence of Saudi Arabia relenting and throwing a few crumbs in the direction of its women residents. I use the word “residents” because they still have second-class status. Beginning in 2013, Saudi women can be appointed to the shura council (a policy advisory organization). In 2015 Saudi women will be able to vote and run for municipal elections. Women still aren’t full citizens, and they aren’t allowed to drive cars. If they decide to run for office on the local level, they’ll need permission from their husbands, fathers or male guardians. Reform? A baby step, perhaps.

Intense suffrage debates on Long Island street corners

The location of one such fiery debate was identified as the corner of North Ocean Avenue and Main Street in Patchogue, NY as part of the campaigning to open up Long Island to more suffrage organizing. The Votes for Women activists held parades, spoke on street corners and from the back seats of automobiles, as well as horse-drawn wagons. At times their presence in town was heightened with a live band.   See entire article from the archives of Edna Buckman Kearns that includes the details of a shouting match between the women and a man on the street. Edna witnessed the event, and it was her job at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to write about it.

Woman’s suffrage is going national!

Find out more about “History Detectives” and Louise Bernikow’s appearance on the program.
Feedback I’ve been getting suggests that training is necessary in the art of High Tea. The Atlanta Board of Education produced a training film for young women that covers the basics of putting on a tea. Films like this aren’t being made any more. It covers “correct behavior,” proper form and dress, “etiquette and taste, where the tea-pot should be placed and more. Also, check out other training films in the archive of the Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

I like to use the program for the 1915 tea in honor of Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw as an example of how to organize a similar event, even if it’s just you in charge of the organization. The enlargement for the image above may be slow in loading, but it’s worth the wait because the size is 100 percent. On the right page of the program, there’s the who, what, where and when. The suffrage quotes speak for the issue and justify the importance of the occasion, as do the patrons who are an integral part of the fundraising. If you think I’m pushing the 1915 tea, you’re right! Grandmother Edna was on the planning committee.

Don’t forget to put September 20th on your calendar in 2011!

A great story about California’s women singing for the vote . . .

There’s an excellent audio documentary prepared for “The California Report” about the upcoming state’s 100th anniversary suffrage celebration. You can access it with a click right here. There’s a great deal going on in California these days. The following news items are just a few examples, including a report about the League of Women Voters of California and a suffrage exhibit.

The 100th suffrage anniversary in California is a terrific backdrop to ongoing preparations for celebrating Women’s Equality Day on August 26th. Some folks are organizing the full-tilt high tea reception. Others are moving toward such a commitment gradually by meeting a friend at a local coffee or tea house. However… we’re all gonna have a good time.

Plan a party for Women’s Equality Day!

Clear the decks for a party celebrating Women’s Equality Day on August 26th! Need some help when it comes to getting excited about the passage of the 19th amendment? If you’re planning high tea and you’d like a program or memorabilia to go with the sweets, the National Women’s History Project has a collection of materials you’ll find useful: “Women Change America” place mats, equality-day balloons, posters, banners, speeches, a 15-minute Powerpoint, CD with 17 songs, video presentation for grade 7 to adult, purple and gold sashes, and a Women’s Equality Day program kit. Or a program could be as simple as asking people to write the answers to the Women’s Equality Quiz.

Just create an invitation, decide on the place, your guests, the menu. And you’re on your way to hosting a party. If it still seems daunting, just think about the number of people who will tell you afterwards: “Thank you for doing this!” This is the first of several postings this month in preparation for a party celebrating women winning the vote. If you can’t get it together for August, start a “to do” planning list for parties in January (Alice Paul Day) and Susan B. Anthony’s birthday in February.

Point of view from a Canadian lover of suffrage history

Barbara Allisen

I don’t remember when I first learned about the Canadian suffrage movement at school, but I do remember that politics were often discussed in our home. We lived in a very small farming community and the community hall, where elections were held, was across the street. Not all members of the family had the same voting preferences and should one of the females express a different opinion, teasing would follow about how terrible things were since women had been given the right to vote. But voting was taken seriously, and it was fully expected that each person who could vote would do so. I remember some farmers whose X signatures had to be witnessed because they could not write their names. At school, we had Civil Studies and held class elections. Much of the information I know comes from stories about the lives of these and other pioneer women I read after graduating from college.

On January 27, 1914, Nellie McClung and several hundred supporters filled the Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nellie delivered the message: “We are not here to ask for a reform or a gift or a favor, but for a right–not for mercy but for justice.”

FOR MORE FROM BARBARA ALLISEN

Lucy Burns donned an evening gown to get Churchill’s attention!

Lucy Burns.

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.

News from the NYS Museum

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!

That we always remember the “Night of Terror”

Dorothy Day was among the suffragists arrested after picketing the White House in 1917. She said: "Those first six days of inactivity were as six thousand years. To lie there through the long day, to feel the nausea and emptiness of hunger, the dazedness at the beginning and the feverish mental activity that came after. I lost all consciousness of any cause. . . I could only feel the darkness and desolation around me."

One day to go on Kickstarter campaign for suffrage documentary!

This is a reminder about the Kickstarter campaign for the suffrage documentary ends Friday afternoon, June 3rd. And this posting has some interesting web pages to look at after you’ve visited the Kickstarter site.

The suffrage movement was coming into its own at the time of film and moving pictures. Here’s a link to a suffrage video gallery. Enjoy!

If you aren’t aware of the Susan B. Anthony handbag, this article from the New  York Times will bring you up to date. And if you’ve ever wondered about suffrage collectables, Legacy America lays out what’s available and what it costs.

BUST Magazine Publishes Last-Minute Appeal for Suff Film

Check out “Bust Magazine” online for an affirmative last-minute appeal to raise the $5,000 slated to fund the production of a professional version of the story about the suffrage campaign wagon used by my grandmother Edna in the Votes for Women campaign. And please pass the word. I still believe in miracles.

Here’s the link!

Six Days Left on Kickstarter Film Campaign

The Kickstarter campaign for the documentary about Edna and her suffrage campaign wagon comes to an end in six days. Over $1200 has been pledged and I still believe in miracles.

And now a brief note from the past: The value of a story is in the telling. This terrific story has come down to us from the suffragists themselves who made sure they wrote down their version of history. In March of 1913, U.S. President-elect Woodrow Wilson arrived in Washington, DC all geared up for his inauguration ceremony. He arrived at the train station in Washington, DC and expected  to be the center of attention, but he wasn’t. “Were are the people?” he is alleged to have asked. The response: “On the Avenue watching the suffragists parade.” Woodrow Wilson couldn’t have predicted what was in store for him in the years ahead.

Hanging In, While Making Another Dent!

Some days I have no idea if I’m making a dent when I write yet another letter about the Kickstarter campaign.

I stand on strong shoulders when remembering the suffragists’ persistence. When suff lobbyist Maude Younger approached Senator Irvine Lenroot in the halls of Congress, he snapped at her: “Nagging. If you women would only stop nagging.”

Maude also had a sense of humor about her determination. She described Senator Thomas Martin as someone who “…would not sit down and talk suffrage, nor would he stand up and talk it. The only way to discuss suffrage with Senator Martin was to run beside him down the hall.” She said that talking suffrage with the senator was “very good exercise.” Maude was well known for her card index of representatives which turned out to be a very effective and not-so-secret advantage when lobbying.

NOW, BACK TO REALITY. There are 23 days left and the Kickstarter project is only 16 percent funded. The clock is ticking!

Film Project Receives Grant From Puffin Foundation

Great news! One big step toward the reaching the dream of finishing the documentary about my grandmother and the woman’s suffrage movement was accomplished this week with the news that the Puffin Foundation has awarded $1200 toward the completion of the work. Don’t put away your pens. This doesn’t count toward the Kickstarter campaign that is underway until the beginning of June. However, it’s a huge leap forward, and one that strengthens my dream of having the news of Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon spread to large numbers of people.

Help Me Realize My Dream!

Grandmother Edna's suffrage campaign wagon

My dream is that my grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon will be put on permanent exhibit at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. And that the edited documentary I’m in the process of producing will be played on a monitor next to the wagon. An unrealistic vision? I don’t think so. It’s my dream and I stand determined to reach the goal of raising $5,000 to professionally edit the work in progress. Which is why I’m cranking up the Kickstarter campaign. There are 31 days to go before the end of the campaign. Honor the hard work that went into the state and national Votes for Women campaigns.

“It is doubtful if any man, even among suffrage men, ever realized what the suffrage struggle came to mean to women before the end was allowed in America. How much of time, patience, how much work, energy and aspiration, how much faith, hope, how much despair went into it. It leaves its mark on one, such a struggle. It fills the days and it rides the nights. Working, eating, drinking, sleeping, it is there. . .”

Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler (suffrage leaders)

The Whirlwind Campaign of Long Island: 1912

The women hit the streets, literally, when barnstorming Long island for Votes for Women in 1912. They also kept excellent records, took charge of their own publicity, and understood the importance of being visible.Long Island's 1912 campaign

News Notes From All Over

A film about the English suffrage movement called “Suffragettes” is in development. No votes for women in Saudi municipal elections. One hundredth anniversary of English boycott of census by suffragettes, an event that was inspired by Ghandi. There’s more suffrage news on the internet than ever before. The 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States is in 2020, which isn’t tomorrow, but it suggests that the interest will increase in time.

My Grandmother Stepped Up to Volunteer!

This appeal from the New York Suffrage Newsletter of August 1912 spelled out precisely the tasks volunteers needed to do:  help out at headquarters and sell the newsletter. My grandmother did everything that was requested. She sent out suffrage leaflets in her correspondence, stamped “Votes for Women” on her checks. She recruited supporters, sold newsletters, gave speeches, participated in local clubs and organizations, marched in parades, and much more. Suffrage campaigners also sold flags, arm bands, leaflets, buttons, place cards, seals, pencils, rubber stamps, drinking cups, posters, blotters, stationary, and baskets. The personalized trinket industry was busy back then, just as it is today!

Don’t forget to pledge to support the Kickstarter campaign. Watch the video.

Grandmother in her Quaker bonnet!

Edna Buckman Kearns in her Quaker bonnetMy grandmother’s family history is important in the moral support it gave her to engage in Votes for Women. May Begley Buckman, her mother, was a temperance activist who was very much in support of woman’s suffrage. Edna Buckman Kearns was a ninth generation American on the Buckman side of her family. The Buckman family was the largest family group on the ship Welcome that came to the New World with William Penn, the first governor of Pennsylvania. I’m adding the first few generations to the “About Edna” page of this blog, with more to come. Here’s the information about Edna’s parents and grandparents. And the background about her Quaker great-grandparents and great-great grandparents.

Louisiana Women Celebrated With a Flair

The National Women’s History Project reported that their phone rang off the hook prior to and during March. Folks from around the nation called with reports of events and many questions. Louisiana women celebrated Votes for Women with a parade where they dressed in period costume.


During March a suffrage manuscript was uncovered in Connecticut that revealed the extent of organization it took to win the vote.

Put on a Pair of Kickstarting Boots and Pledge!

I need you to pledge to fund the completion of the film project I started last year. There’s a goal of $5,000 for polishing the editing, adding some more material, and getting the news out into the world. No money changes hands until we’ve reached the goal in early June. A lot of work has gone into this so far. And BTW, the Kickstarter boots are in your size!

Yeah, Team! On the Road!

It feels good to have affirmation about spreading the story. Yesterday I spoke to about a hundred DOE employees in Albuquerque — a program sponsored by the Federal Women’s Program. The program was terrific. I started out by saying that I suspected history might not have been their favorite subject in school and got them laughing at my past associations in history class: yawning, daydreaming, watching the clock and waiting for the bell to ring. Then I followed up by saying that I didn’t intend to lecture them, but rather instead tell them a story and show them photos about my grandmother and family’s association with my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon. My grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns, is an example of the tens of thousands of women across the U.S. who worked together to win the vote. History is much more interesting with a personal angle. I found this to be especially true when I spoke to high school history students at the New Mexico School for the Arts in late February.

Passing the Torch: Family tradition to sit in the suffrage wagon

Hana sitting in "Spirit of 1776"

My niece Hana, shown here, represents the fourth generation in my family to sit in the “Spirit of 1776,” my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon. It was a tradition in my family to be photographed in the wagon, and it was also a way of passing the torch of story to the next generation. Few summers passed without my mother gathering up us kids, marching us over to my grandfather’s house. He opened the garage door, dragged out grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon, and my mother took our photos. Of course it took me many years to get to the point where I was ready to pass the torch to the next generation, and it takes many forms. In this podcast, I’m being interviewed about my grandmother by Marzia Dessi, a student at Northern New Mexico College, during February 2011. Marzia’s interested in our history, the woman’s suffrage movement, and how the past relates to young women today. Listen in!

International Women’s Day 2011

Selection below from the International Women’s Day web site:

“. . . International Women’s Day is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.”

On International Women’s Day, Dr. Ida Lichter reminds us to remember and support today’s “new suffragists” in her op-ed piece. Ida Lichter is the author of Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression.

Be a Backer for Film About Votes for Women

Help us stand on the shoulders of courageous, determined women whose insistence on winning the right to vote carried forward the ideals of this country’s founders. Play an important part in telling the story through the Kickstarter campaign, “Hitch a Ride on the ‘Spirit of 1776.'” Make sure that an important part of our nation’s history isn’t forgotten. Back the work in progress about my grandmother who represents the thousands of women who persisted until Votes for Women was won. No money changes hands unless we reach our goal. Get on the bandwagon now! It’s Women’s History Month and there’s no time like the present.

How my Grandmother risked her life for Votes for Women

I wrote this award-winning story about how my grandmother (Edna Buckman Kearns) risked her life for Votes for Women; it takes us back to 1915. And what a great way to kick off the many activities of Women’s History Month! Accompanying this tale is a contribution by Tara Bloyd, Edna’s great granddaughter, who seasons the story with her favorite corn soup recipe. My grandmother Edna canned fruits and vegetables and made jam to raise money for the women’s suffrage movement. While our family saved some of Edna’s plates and dishes, the most prized possession is Edna’s canned corn which is featured in the story.

Women’s History Special Programs in New Mexico

It’s going to be a busy month for me as I join up with musician Gerri Gribi who’s bringing her autoharp and mountain dulcimer to the Santa Fe area for a whirlwind performance tour to celebrate Women’s History Month. She’ll be singing and I’ll tell stories about my grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns. Gerri and I will be at the New Mexico School for the Arts, on KSFR radio with Diego Mulligan, the featured guests at a Saturday, March 5th meeting of the Santa Fe chapter of the American Association of University Women, as well as presenting a special program and afternoon tea party on Sunday, March 6th for the Abiquiu Library and Cultural Center. Later in the month, there’s a women’s history program for federal employees in Albuquerque. I’ll be breathless and exhausted by the end of March!

“Fall in Line” Suffrage March

Listen to the band play “Fall in Line” (Suffrage March) composed by Zena S. Hawn. This tune was at the top of the program at a special tea held on February 9, 1915 to celebrate the birthdays of Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw. My grandmother was one of about 30 women on the planning committee for the event at the Hotel Biltmore in New York City. I used the 1915 program as a guide for planning a Susan B. Anthony party in Santa Fe during February. Birthday parties and elegant teas in honor of suffrage leaders were common during the women’s suffrage movement, and we’re falling in line by carrying on the tradition. Celebrate Women’s History Month by having a party with your friends and organization. A teapot, some tea and cookies. That’s all it takes. If you’re looking for a program, rent “Not For Ourselves Alone” which is about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  It’s also available on Netflix instant play. Screen it in advance. Roll out the tea and sweets and have a great time!

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony!

We had a great time on Saturday, February 12th celebrating Susan B. Anthony’s birthday in Santa Fe. Tea and sweets. Live music. A dramatic presentation and commentary. Here’s the program! The edited script from the public record of Susan’s arrest for voting in 1872 was a hit. Susan’s feisty spirit amazed the group of about 25 who gathered at the Quaker Meeting on Canyon Road (Susan was raised a Quaker). Celebrating Susan’s birthday is part of a long tradition in the U.S. Ninety-six years ago, my grandmother (Edna Buckman Kearns) was on the planning committee of a Susan B. Anthony tea at the Hotel Biltmore in NYC. See the Feb. 9, 1915 program: page 1 -page 2 -page 3 March is Women’s History Month, and the time is NOW to be planning a women’s history program or afternoon tea of your own during March. See the planning page on our web site. Large birthday parties were thrown for Susan in 1870, 1890, 1900 and 1906. A new book by Penny Coleman will be published in May 2011 about the significance of the friendship and working relationship of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Also, take an online tour of the Susan B. Anthony House in New York State.

Sticks and Stones Didn’t Break Their Bones

The advocates of Votes for Women were criticized, called all sorts of names, attacked by onlookers when they marched in parades. They persisted, even when some of their friends suggested that picketing the White House and Congress might be ill advised. Although my grandmother Edna didn’t go to jail (she would have, if not for her fragile health), she supported those who went to jail, stood their ground and suffered the consequences because they believed that they couldn’t count on President Woodrow Wilson to rally the necessary political support for a constitutional amendment. At times they were down to requiring only one or two votes to move the amendment to the next stage of passage. Mary Nolan was the oldest picket at the White House who at age 75, hailed from Florida. She said during her trial: “I am guilty if there is any guilt in the demand for freedom.”

Important Dates to Celebrate This Month:

February 4, 1913 – Birth day for Rosa Parks, the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”
February 12, 1912 – Juliette Gordon Low established the American Girl Guides, forerunner of the Girl Scouts of America
February 15, 1820 – Susan B. Anthony’s birthday
February 27, 1922 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote

Take a Quiz on Women’s Suffrage History

I know. Many people never learned anything about suffrage history in school. Most have picked it up along the way, and even more are just learning. This fun quiz plots your progress. Give it a whirl!

Grandmother Assaulted in the Street

It was a cold night in front of the Metropolitan Opera House when suffrage leader Alice Paul, my grandmother Edna and other women demonstrated when U.S. president Woodrow Wilson was in New York City. The police rushed the demonstrators, pushed them around and broke their banners. This article — “Suffragists and Police in Fierce Fight” from my grandmother’s archives — has her notes accompanying the March 5, 1919 article. “Untrue,” Edna says of the account, where a reporter attributed the incident to 200 “maddened Suffragists” who were the recipients of the attack, not the aggressors. Edna saved the broken stick that held her banner. Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party were determined to hold Wilson’s feet to the fire so that enough support could be generated to assure the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution which gave all American women the right to vote.

Is Anyone Paying Attention?

In the past, not all feedback about the idea of women voting was negative. Many prominent people put themselves on the line, including Walter Clark, chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. He wrote to suffrage leader Alice Paul toward the end of the national suffrage campaign to pass the 19th amendment: “Your place in History is assured. There were politicians, and a large degree of public sentiment, which could be won only by the methods you adopted.” Justice Clark was referring to the direct action taken by Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, which at the time was extremely controversial. Nowadays we take the civil rights movement to expand the franchise for granted. At the time it polarized people, as well as brought them together.

Water Dumped on Suffs’ Heads

Speaking from soap boxes in the street wasn’t an activity without its risks, as is noted by this June 30, 1914 New York Times article about an associate of my grandmother, Martha Klatschken, who had cold water dumped on her head when she was out advocating for Votes for Women at Twelfth Street and Avenue B in NYC.

With the observance of Martin Luther King Day this week, there’s also an awareness of other civil rights movements in the U.S., including the woman’s suffrage movement.

Below: Go to the web site about Elizabeth Freeman for more information: www.elizabethfreeman.org

Elisabeth Freeman on a soapbox, speaking for Votes for Women

A “Votes for Women” Teapot Means Celebrations!

I’m planning a Susan B. Anthony birthday celebration next month. More about this soon! And there’s news from Velya Jancz-Urban who always wanted a “Votes for Women” tea pot to go with her china set that has been stored away. Here’s what she said about it. Now the entire set will be coming out of storage just in time for afternoon tea party season. February 15th is Susan B. Anthony’s birthday and a perfect opportunity for Velya to use the “Votes for Women” dish set, which by the way, is available at the gift shop at the Susan B. Anthony House, among other places. Photo: Velya opens her teapot gift during the holidays.

Jailed for Freedom: Alice Paul

Alice Paul, important civil rights leader of the 20th century

From Doris Stevens’ book “Jailed for Freedom”– about suffrage leader Alice Paul: “Most people conjure up a menacing picture when a person is called not only a general, but a militant one. In appearance Alice Paul is anything but menacing.”

Stevens continues: “Quiet, almost mouselike, this frail young Quakeress sits in silence and baffles you with her contradictions. Large, soft, gray eyes that strike you with a positive impact make you feel the indescribable force and power behind them. A mass of soft brown hair, caught easily at the neck, makes the contour of her head strong and graceful. Tiny, fragile hands that look more like an X-ray picture of hands, rest in her lap in Quakerish pose. Her whole atmosphere when she is not in action is one of strength and quiet determination. In action she is swift, alert, almost panther-like in her movements. Dressed always in simple frocks, preferably soft shades of purple, she conforms to an individual style and taste of her own rather than to the prevailing vogue.”

January 11th is Alice Paul’s birthday. January is a powerful month for birthdays of important activists. Lucretia Mott. Joan of Arc. Sojourner Truth. And many more.

 

Celebrate Alice Paul Day on January 11, 2011

My grandmother Edna worked with suffrage leader Alice Paul on the national campaign to win Votes for Women.

It’s the goal of many Americans to have the day of January 11th (Alice Paul’s birthday) designated as a national holiday. Have you signed the petition? Have you thought about planning high tea during 2011 for your friends or organization as a way to talk about the issues?

Take a look at this video piece about Alice that was produced by the Alice Paul Institute. They have ecards that you can send to friends and associates . . . for example, “You have a voice. Thank Alice.” “You can speak up. Thank Alice.” Author Mary Walton calls Alice Paul “the most overlooked American civil rights leader of the 20th century.” One source worth checking out is an Alice Paul interview conducted by Amelia Fry that’s available online.

Suffering From Jack and the Beanstalk Complex?

A Jack and the Beanstalk Complex is a fear of never being able to overpower the giant at the top of the beanstalk and thus, missing out on the treasure. When down in the dumps, it feels better some days to just curl up in bed and pull the covers over your head after hearing yet another tale about the condition of the planet today.

In July of 1911, suffragist Carolyn Katzenstein identified the Jack and the Beanstalk Complex by name after setting off with colleagues Alice Paul and Lucy Burns for a Votes for Women street meeting in Philadelphia. Carolyn froze after confronting a police officer, and she later wrote: “I am frank to confess that I seemed to develop a sort of Jack and the Beanstalk Complex because the policeman on the beat near our corner appeared to grow taller and taller and bigger and bigger the closer we got to him. To me, he seemed to be not an arm of the law but the whole body of it!”

You can and will overcome a Jack and the Beanstalk Complex, by simply joining me and others on the trail of the suffrage campaign wagon. The U.S. suffrage movement has been called “a solid historical milestone” by scholar and historian Eleanor Flexner, as well as “the largest social transformation in American history” by filmmaker Ken Burns.

The secrets and stories of this movement are yours, merely by subscribing to this blog. The form is in the upper right column. Type in your email address. Subscribing is free and a great way to stay in touch. What’s there to lose? Your roots can only grow deeper. And you’ll spring out of bed in the morning in the knowledge that others have faced the same anxieties and lived to celebrate a great victory.

Marching to Albany on New Year’s Day! Brrr

I should have known I had “marching on Albany” in my DNA. It would have made life so much easier. And it had to have been a stretch for my grandparents, Edna and Wilmer Kearns (marked on the photo above), when they headed out with suffrage activist Rosalie Jones and others from Long Island on New Year’s Day in 1914 for the trek to Albany, NY to speak to the governor about Votes for Women. Hiking was quite a media event, and the NY Times was there as the hikers started north. My grandmother Edna sent on-the-scene reports back to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle where she was an editor for suffrage news. The photo below is from the Bain Collection at the Library of Congress. Edna and Wilmer and their oldest daughter Serena are seen there, on the right, walking near the flag.

Who are the new suffragists today?

Women throughout the world who are struggling for recognition, participation in the political process –and freedom in general– they are the new suffragists. Someone to be acknowledged in this area is Ida Lichter, a psychiatrist who lives in Sydney, Australia. Her recent book, Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression, is a carefully researched and illuminating account of what Ida calls “the new suffragists” of today. I highly recommend it.

In a recent email exchange, Ida and I discussed the link between the U.S. suffrage movement and the “new suffragists.” Ida said: “Although there are different campaigns for equal rights in a variety of Muslim countries, I was struck by the passion, courage and determination of many women reformers to achieve equality with men by focusing on the injustice of discriminatory laws. They utilize scholarly exegesis to unmask the egalitarianism they believe to be inherent in the Koran but expunged by a patriarchal, tribal reading. Like the suffragists, they aim to achieve enfranchisement and equal rights, and many women, particularly in Iran, have taken part in well-organized peaceful protests and a One Million Signatures Campaign, risking injury, arrest and detention. They also want an end to the infantilization and idealization that characterized misogyny in the West for centuries and is still prevalent in many Muslim societies. In their quest, they embrace a historic revision of the patriarchy and a new definition of Muslim women by women.”

Ida is on Twitter and I’ve been following her recent posts so that our rich history and tradition can be linked to those struggling in the world today. It’s possible to offer much-needed support inspired by the “Spirit of 1776.”

Why Did The Story About Votes for Women Get Lost?

Check out this three-minute podcast that’s a selection from an interview with performer Gerri Gribi in the “Votes for Women Salon” series. She believes that history is taught in the context of war, not movements for peaceful nonviolent social change, which is one reason why the story of the 19th amendment hasn’t been given its due. The suffrage movement was the fulfillment of the promise of 1776 where the country’s founders declared that all men were created equal. Women wanted to be part of the political process, and they banded together to win the vote.

Find out more about Gerri Gribi online. Stay tuned for other points of view about why the story of the 19th amendment has been lost. What do you think?

A Special Suffrage Christmas Tree!

My grandmother Edna May Buckman was born Christmas day in 1882, the daughter of Charles Harper Buckman and May Phipps Begley.   I found a 1910 article about a Christmas suffrage tree and holiday party that shows how the holiday festivities were tied to the suffrage organizing in New York City and it’s precisely the kind of event Edna and daughter Serena would have enjoyed. The children attending the 1910 suffrage holiday party walked away with candy wrapped in suffrage colors and a Votes for Women button.

The Film “Mary Poppins” and History

Sister Suffragette scene from film "Mary Poppins"

The song “Sister Suffragette” in a clip from the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins represents an introduction to women’s history for many. It has been used in lesson plans, as well as to refer to the English suffrage movement. It’s worth revisiting the scene through YouTube: “Sister Suffragete Sing Along,” the written lyrics, or a more sober clip of news commentary such as “Who were the suffragettes?”

What if They Held a Parade and No one Showed Up?

This “Sixty-Second History Lesson” highlights how suffragist Alice Paul took up the challenge of organizing a Votes for Women parade in 1913 in the nation’s capitol. It was a delicate, and some would say an impossible task–to organize a successful parade as the city geared up for the inauguration of a U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson.

Alice’s intention was, not only for the parade to be politically effective, but for it to be an art form. Paul’s intention was described in a letter to a friend:  “Therefore, while we want, of course, marchers, above all things, we are endeavoring to make the procession a particularly beautiful one, so that it will be noteworthy on account of its beauty even if we are not able to make it so on account of its numbers.” The beauty and art of the parade were set into motion, but as it turned out – the city and its inhabitants weren’t in the mood to respond in quite the way Alice Paul had imagined.

An “unprecedented moment”

Relationships between men and women have been getting a lot of play. At a TED conference in Washington this week, the speakers lined up to present a wide range of points of view. Conference speaker Hannah Rosin noted that the present time is “an unprecedented moment when the power dynamics between men and women are shifting.” Women constitute the majority of the work force and they dominate the professions of medicine, the law and accounting, she said. The entire CNN article has a lineup of surprising perspectives worth checking out.

Yanking Your Vote Away With a Smile. . .

This isn’t a skit on Comedy Central. Judson Phillips isn’t joking when he proposes that only property owners should be able to vote in U.S. elections. The Tea Party founder has been floating this trial balloon recently to see if the idea will sink or swim. It sounds more like a temper tantrum than a serious proposal. Yes –a temper tantrum where Phillips is shaking his fist and stomping his feet because the population is becoming increasingly diverse and all sorts of people are becoming empowered, especially at the polls.

Come to think of it, a healthy proportion of the people on my holiday card list this year would  be turned away on election day under Phillips’ plan. This would include highly-mobile professionals, renters, city dwellers, women, the young, students, the retired and those downsizing in the current recession for any number of reasons. Apparently the idea of redefining voting rights has juice among those who either have no idea of the great sacrifice that was involved with the major civil rights struggles of the 20th century (of which woman’s suffrage was significant), or they simply couldn’t care less because of their personal and political agendas.

“strong, courageous, capable young women will take our place…”

Susan B. Anthony: “We little dreamed when we began this contest, optimistic with the hope and buoyancy of youth, that half a century later we would be compelled to leave the finish of the battle to another generation of women. But our hearts are filled with joy to know that they enter upon this task equipped with a college education, with business experience, with the fully admitted right to speak in public –all of which were denied to women fifty years ago. They have practically but one point to gain –the suffrage; we had all. These strong, courageous, capable young women will take our place and complete our work. There is an army of them where we were but a handful.”