Category Archives: Suffrage Bookshelf

Musing about my Susan B. Anthony speech, plus release of new Alice Paul biography

MKmusingsI’m still working out the details of my Susan B. Anthony speech for the party commemorating the June 19th presentation Susan gave at the Ontario County, NY courthouse. The occasion: her trial for illegal voting in 1873. The courthouse is located in what’s known as the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States, not far from Rochester, New York –a great idea for historical road trips this summer.

Susan B. Anthony sure had spirit, and I wrote about it in Suffrage Wagon’s spring newsletter. After describing the upcoming party’s skit planning in the last blog posting, someone wrote in to note that Susan hadn’t actually been handcuffed. She’d held out her hands for handcuffs, but the arresting officer refused to comply before taking her downtown for booking. Many scripts are rewritten during the process. I love the feedback and need all the help I can get in this celebration of spirit.

Be forewarned, however. Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 speech isn’t for the thin skinned. Susan let loose about the injustice of second class citizenship for women. Her words are now included in lists of great American speeches. For someone like Susan B. Anthony to stand tall and give the judge hell must have taken courage and a truckload of chutzpah.

I love the potential surprises associated with Susan’s trial speech. At the 2011 party where I featured Susan’s trial, I invited guests to wear period costumes. One women chose a dress once worn by her grandmother, and others supplemented with hats and scarves. The tea table groaned with freshly-baked sweets. Grandmother Edna’s great-great grandchildren provided the entertainment — live music on violin and viola. I shared about the suffrage project I’ve been doing online since 2009. And then the trial skit. It was so much fun, I decided to do it again this year! I’ll write up the entire play shortly so you can see it doesn’t require a rehearsal, though you might do a test run first.

If you’re planning to send out invitations for a June 19th Susan B. trial speech party, consider attaching this promotional video link. Send me an email at suffragewagon at gmail dot com if you need any encouragement!

Suffrage Wagon BookshelfOn June 2, Publishers Weekly released its review of Jill Zahniser and Amelia Fry’s biography of Alice Paul. It’s a starred review of Alice Paul: Claiming Power by J.D. Zahniser and Amelia R. Fry.

“Zahniser and Fry’s biography shines a bright light on the ‘elusive’ figure of suffragist Alice Paul (1885–1977). A woman whose life bridged the ‘first’ and ‘second waves’ of feminism, Paul was once a towering figure in American suffragist politics, having cut her teeth on the battle for women’s voting rights in Britain. The elegantly constructed narrative combines the filaments of Paul’s precocious life into an incisive tale, beginning with her Quaker upbringing and following her as she emerges as an activist and agitator.

“The book shows how Paul navigated the shoals of propriety, respectability, and the necessity of forthright activist tactics. In addition, Zahniser and Fry (who died in 2009) effectively explore the often forgotten warrens of feminist history and its intersections with world events, including WWI. The authors deserve credit for tackling the issue of racism within the suffrage movement, as well as Paul’s latent prejudices. While showing how Paul became a suffragist, and the battles that defined a generation of fractious feminist activism, the book leaves the rest of her long life, after 1920, to other scholars. This is not only the story of one person, but of her epoch and culture. Zahniser and Fry have done readers a profound service.”

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with news and views of the suffrage movement. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote. Carry on the “Spirit of 1776.” If you’re off on a historical road trip this summer, check in with LetsRockTheCradle.com for suggestions and ideas.

Free ebook and new books for today: Suffrage Bookshelf

BOOKS TO BE AWARE OF: Book by Bonnie Smith about how women’s history relates to young girls today. #1.  Book by Susan Goodier about New York State and the campaign to defeat Votes for Women. #1.  Publication on the Long Island suffrage movement by Antonia Petrash. #1. As for the plot to kill Susan B. Anthony, this novel is a cliff hanger as two detectives follow Aunt Susan on her speaking tours and protect her from angry mobs. #1. #2.

Review: Curtis, Isabel Gordon. The Congresswoman. Chicago: Browne & Howell Company, 1914.

Suffrage Wagon Bookshelf

This 1914 story plays out the downside of what was predicted  by opponents and skeptics when women won the right to vote and hold public office. It’s important to read in order to understand the pressures of public opinion at the turn of the 20th century. Just as there is push back today by some segments of society because of women’s increasing political influence, the pressure was even more intense back in 1914. It speaks to the courage and persistence of suffragists to carry on the work begun in 1848 at Seneca Falls and not give up.

What could go wrong manifested, as predicted, for U.S. Rep. Cynthia Pike in the book, The Congresswoman. Cynthia had difficulties everywhere she turned –in her family, at the congressional office, from her colleagues. And in the end, she threw in the towel.

The long hard struggle for suffrage created a corps of determined women who didn’t give in so easily. Women have not served in public office in great numbers in the years since 1920 and the persistent resistance to women in political life that has lasted long past what otherwise might have been predicted. Some polls, however, suggest that more people feel as if a woman could be elected to this top post in the 2016 presidential election.

The free e-book of The Congresswoman is available through Google Play.

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Suffrage Bookshelf: Crossing Stones review by Tara Bloyd

Crossing StonesCrossing Stones, by Helen Frost.  2009: Francis Foster Books.

Crossing Stones is a phenomenal book.  Coming of age during the beginning of World War One, eighteen-year-old Muriel Jorgenson examines her life, her beliefs, her hopes for the future, and the concepts of war, peace, and women’s roles in this Young Adult book.  The book is written in free verse and cupped-hand sonnets, which I at first thought would annoy me but soon grew to appreciate immensely.  (The author put a lot of thought into the structure; read her note at the end to learn more.  I almost wish I’d read the note first, as I ended up going back through the book after doing so to more consciously understand and admire.)

Caught up in the build-up to WWI, Muriel is what many would have described a “headstrong” young woman; she’s not sure that she wants to follow the prescribed roles.  Frost writes:

“My mind sets off at a gallop
down that twisty road, flashes by “Young Lady,”
hears the accusation in it – as if it’s
a crime just being young, and “Lady”
is what anyone can see I’ll never be
no matter how I try, and it’s obvious
that I’m not trying. “

(I can’t easily reproduce the poem’s format in this review … seeing it for yourself is just one of the reasons I strongly recommend reading this book!) Although it’s expected that Muriel will marry the boy next door, Frank, that’s not necessarily what she wants to do.  When Frank, like so many other young men, joins the Army at the beginning of World War I, Muriel’s feelings about love, proper roles, and war become even more conflicted.  Muriel travels to Washington, DC, to help her Aunt Vera recover from a suffrage hunger strike.

While there, Muriel joins in the picketing, helps at a settlement house, makes friends, and more.  These experiences help solidify Muriel’s feelings that there are other possibilities for her, that it’s not wrong to question and challenge the status quo (even though both her high school teacher and the Espionage Act would have her believe differently. Yet she still struggles with questions of patriotism and loyalty: is it wrong to challenge the president during a time of war?  Is it wrong to wonder, out loud, if war is the right choice?

“When someone takes it
seriously, it’s only to chastise the protesters:
unwomanly, unpatriotic, a thorn in the side of the president
when he has more important things (The War)
to think about.”

And
“Papa thinks I’m strong because
I speak up for my beliefs – but as the war
gets louder all around us, I’m becoming quieter.”

Traveling through the influenza epidemic, the previously-idyllic lives of two small town families and the larger-scale vision of Washington, DC, the women’s rights movement, the war in Europe, and more, this book covers hard topics and does so well.  It puts personalities and faces on people and events from a time about which most teenagers know rather little, and is valuable for that as well as simply for the lyrically beautiful writing.

I highly recommend Crossing Stones.  Get it.  Read it.  Enjoy it. And learn, too, a bit more about what it was like to be a woman in those very turbulent times, to believe in suffrage and in questions and in possibilities.

Tara Bloyd is the great-granddaughter of suffragist Edna Kearns. She is passionate about the suffrage movement and writes often for Suffrage Wagon News Channel about Votes for Women books for young audiences.

Mystery with a side of history: Seneca Falls Inheritance

by Tara Bloyd

Seneca Falls InheritanceSeneca Falls Inheritance, by Miriam Grace Monfredo (Berkley Prime Crime; published 1994)

For once I’m not reviewing a children’s book – what fun!  This light mystery-with-a-side-of-history takes place in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, at the start of the women’s rights movement in the United States.  Glynis Tryon, the town librarian, is the perfect protagonist to introduce readers to social issues, historical details, and real-life characters (including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass).  And oh yeah, there’s a few murders thrown in for the fun of it.  This wasn’t the absolute best mystery I’ve ever read, but it was quite enjoyable. I definitely recommend reading Seneca Falls Inheritance if you’re looking for a diverting story and gentle introduction to the suffrage movement.

Thirty-year-old Glynis Tryon has chosen to remain unwed, largely because of the many difficulties inherent in marriage in the mid-nineteenth century.  Monfredo writes that “The choices were limited: marriage and dependence, or Oberlin College and freedom.  There were no confusing alternatives.  Women did one or the other.  They usually got married.  Simple.”  Simple though the choice may have been, Glynis doesn’t live without regrets.  She just can’t see any other way.  Through her observations and experiences we see how little power women had to change circumstances ranging from abuse to alcoholic husbands to poverty.   We realize how common – and legal – domestic violence was, and also recognize the existence of racism and other social issues.  The frequent death of women from self-induced abortions – more even than from childbirth – and the existence of “no reliable method to avoid pregnancy, no safe way to abort one” is mentioned, as is the controversy about using anesthesia during labor.  (Women, after all, are meant to suffer in labor.)

Historical characters mingle with fictional ones throughout the book, giving the book extra verisimilitude and adding interest as well.  In a discussion Glynis has with Elizabeth Cady Stanton about a meeting to discuss women’s rights (the meeting that was to become the Seneca Falls Convention), the following conversation takes place:

Elizabeth Stanton sat back against the chair and sighed.  “We’ve talked of this before,” she said, “and I know you feel women’s suffrage is the ultimate goal, as I do.  But most women I’ve talked with are afraid asking for the vote is an extreme position.”

“I know that without the vote we will forever be asking!” Glynis said.  She got to her feet and went to the window.  The abolitionists were justifiably questioning why human beings should be enslaved, denied legal rights, because of their color.  Why couldn’t it also be asked: should human beings be denied legal rights because of their gender?  Weren’t women without those rights also in a sense enslaved?  Her opinion of male beneficence was not so high she couldn’t see that.

 “In my mind,” Glynis said, returning to her desk, “the vote should be the first and only goal now, otherwise it will take years of pleading and petitioning to achieve the others.[…]”

 “But you are one of the few who feel that way,” Elizabeth said, “at least at this time.  Which is why it is so important to bring women together.  For discussion and planning.  And education.  Next month,” she went on, “Lucretia Mott – she’s a Quaker minister, you know, an abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights – will be with mutual friends in Waterloo.  I hope to see her and suggest the idea of a meeting.  With her help, I think we can do it.”

Monfredo makes it clear in this conversation and elsewhere that asking for the vote is a truly radical idea, one which many women oppose because they think it’s simply too audacious.  As hard as that is to imagine now, it was reality in 1848.  Elizabeth Stanton talks about her husband’s dislike of her interest in women’s rights, as he believes she is abandoning the abolition cause; she angrily discusses the fact that women were instrumental in the early years of the fight for abolition but are being discouraged from taking part in public debate.  Glynis thinks to herself “Won’t it be interesting […] when the men who believe women fit only for the drudge work of male campaigns learn those same women have been honing their skills for a battle of their own.”

Besides occasionally considering the tea party that sparked the social revolution, the period before the Convention is generally disregarded; I particularly appreciate that this book encompasses the issues and mindsets during that oft-overlooked timeframe.  I also love the many historical details.  The description of a dinner eaten at the local fancy hotel is beyond interesting; not only was I driven to learn what the word “kickshaw” meant (a fancy but insubstantial cooked dish), but I also reacquainted myself with the wide variety of dishes served in such a situation: “The roast course arrived: an immense silver platter of carved spring chicken, ham, crisp golden-brown canvasback duck, green goose, and sirloin of beef trimmed with parsley.  This was accompanied by mashed potatoes, asparagus, green beans, and parsnips.”  Bear in mind that that’s just one part of the meal!

The historical notes in the back of the book are fascinating.  I was quite intrigued by the Cult of Single Blessedness.   Monfredo writes that “As developed from 1810 through 1860, the main principles of the single blessedess philosophy were to encourage the single life as a socially and personally valuable state, and to inspire the search for eternal happiness through the acceptance of a higher calling than marriage.” Here’s a bit of information about the Cult of Single Blessedness if you, like me, want to learn more.

You may notice that I haven’t discussed the mystery.  That’s because, to me, it seemed incidental to the rest of the story.  The historical vignettes, the interactions between characters, the buildup to the Convention and description of what happened at it (including the fact that the door to the Methodist church where the Convention was held was locked and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s nephew had to be lifted through a window so he could open the door from the inside) – all those interested me much more than the whodunit part.  That’s not to say that the mystery aspects were poorly written, just that I found them the least compelling part of the book!

Seneca Falls Inheritance is a fun book, a good read, and a gentle introduction to the suffrage movement in the mid-1800s.  Like the best novels, it teaches without being didactic and it leaves you wanting more.  I look forward to reading the rest of Miriam Grace Monfredo’s works.++

Did you see the video about the Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls? It’s from Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Suffrage Bookshelf and a review by Tara Bloyd

Women's suffrage bookPeople at the Center of Women’s Suffrage, by Deborah Kops, Blackbirch Press: 2004

by Tara Bloyd

Rather than covering the suffrage movement as a whole, except for an overview at the beginning, this book gives short profiles of fifteen women important in the struggle.  I appreciated that instead of starting with the Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Susan B Anthony/Lucretia Mott era, the work begins much earlier: it includes information about Margaret Brent (“First American Woman to Demand the Right to Vote,” in the 1600s) and Mary Wollstonecraft (“Her Writing Inspired Early Suffragist Leaders”).  I’d never read about Margaret Brent in a children’s book about the quest for the vote, so I particularly appreciated seeing her here.

The author, Deborah Kops, does a very good job of including interesting details in her coverage; for instance, she writes of Carrie Chapman Catt that “By 1890, she was so passionate about the cause that her second husband, George William Catt, had to agree she could work for women’s suffrage four months out of the year before she would marry him.”  However, there were also a few notable omissions.  For instance, Lucy Stone’s marriage isn’t mentioned in her profile.  This saddens me because I think it’s an excellent example of people refusing to be bound by convention and instead creating their own, more equal, relationship.  Perhaps instead of including a picture of Oberlin College, the biography could have been a touch more comprehensive.  (I may be biased, though, as a proud “Lucy Stoner” … she was the first recorded American woman to not take her husband’s name upon marriage, saying “A wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should hers.”)

Many of the images included are rarely seen in works of this type; for instance, Sojourner Truth is shown, with her knitting, in a color painting instead of the more common black-and-white photograph seen elsewhere in which she looks quite stern.  (And why, I wonder, do authors so rarely explain why people tend to look stern and serious in those early photographs, and why they’re all black-and-white instead of color images?  I’d think it would be both important and interesting for readers to know a bit about how photography worked in the early years!)  There’s a beautiful picture of women celebrating passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, photos from various stages of Jeanette Rankin’s life, etc.  I appreciated the book’s layout and visual appeal.  That said, more than half of the book’s space was taken up by images … I would have appreciated more text, but that’s probably the English major in me!

I definitely recommend People at the Center of Women’s Suffrage for any readers who are drawn toward learning more about individual people instead of reading about the movement as a whole. Reading about the experiences of specific women who were involved can be very compelling, and the women profiled provide a nice overview – we learn about Francis Willard, Anna Howard Shaw, Harriot Stanton Blach, Alva Belmont, and several others.  If the biographies are somewhat sparse, that’s a fault of the format rather than the author.

Unlike several of the other books I’ve profiled, People at the Center of Women’s Suffrage is still available (though Amazon warns that it could take 2-3 weeks for delivery); I’d encourage anyone creating a library of suffrage works for kids to seriously contemplate including this work. Book ordering information.

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Suffrage Bookshelf: Ken Florey’s suffrage memorabilia book is out!

Kenneth Florey book on suffrage memorabiliaMcFarland Publishers has finished printing Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia–An Illustrated Historical Study by Kenneth Florey. Consult McFarland’s spring catalog for more information. The book is available at Amazon.  The New York Times antiques column recently gave the book a favorable mention. If you’re a fan of Ken Florey’s articles on Suffrage Wagon News Channel about tea and the movement, wagons and automobiles used in the movement, plus more –you’ll be interested in his book.

Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study by Kenneth Florey: Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-7293-2   Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-0150-2     ca. 215 photos (16 pages in color), notes, bibliography, index softcover (7 x 10) 2013

While historians have long recognized the importance of memorabilia to the woman suffrage movement, the subject has not been explored apart from a few restricted, albeit excellent, studies. Part of the problem is that such objects are scattered about in various collections and museums and can be difficult to access. Another is that most scholars do not have ready knowledge of the general nature and history of the type of objects (postcards, badges, sashes, toys, ceramics, sheet music, etc.) that suffragists produced.

New techniques in both printing and manufacturing that grew side-by-side with the suffrage movement created numerous possibilities for supporters to develop campaigns of “visual rhetoric.” This work analyzes 70 different categories of suffrage memorabilia, while providing numerous images of relevant objects along the way, and discusses these innovative production methods. Most important, this study looks at period accounts, often fascinating, of how, why, when, and where memorabilia was used in both America and England.

Kenneth Florey, professor emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University, is a long-time specialist in Woman Suffrage memorabilia. He has lectured on the subject both here and abroad, appeared on television, and written articles for a variety of publications. He has also served as an auction appraiser on suffrage material. His collection of suffrage artifacts, consisting of postcards, buttons, ribbons, sashes, sheet music, and other objects, may be the largest ever accumulated by a private individual in this country.

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Suffrage News Alert and Tara Bloyd reviews “Marching with Aunt Susan”

NEWS ALERT: Two suffrage programs on UK television. One is a documentary on suffragette Emily Davison TODAY that can be viewed online. Details soon. The other show is a three-episode suffrage sitcom, “Up the Women” (see trailer) that starts this coming Thursday, May 30th. See overview and episode summaries: #1, #2, #3. And now for Suffrage Bookshelf:

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Marching With Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage, by Claire Rudolph Murphy, illustrated by Stacey Schuett.  2011: Peachtree Publishers.

Review by Tara Bloyd

I thoroughly enjoyed Marching With Aunt Susan.  Based on the 1896 campaign in California, the book focuses on events in the life of an actual ten-year-old girl, Bessie Keith Pond.  In this story, Bessie’s belief in the suffrage cause is precipitated by two closely-related events: her father refuses to take her hiking with her older brothers because “strenuous exercise is not for girls,” and her mother suggests helping with a suffrage tea instead.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY,  NOT OLD AND CRABBY AT ALL

Looking at a newspaper picture of Susan B. Anthony, Bessie thinks the suffrage leader looks old and crabby; she soon learns differently, though, and is inspired by Anthony’s statement that “Women’s votes can help change the world.”  Bessie attends rallies, works in the suffrage office, visits a factory where young women work in poor conditions, marches in a parade, and more.   I found the story, told in first person, compelling.

The book tells of the long, dedicated quest for votes for women, and is all the more poignant because it concentrates on an unsuccessful aspect of the long campaign.  Bessie is lucky because her family is supportive – her aunt was a leader in both campaigns, her father buys her a new white dress when hers is destroyed by an egg splattered on it during a march and realizes over the course of the book that Bessie should be able to go hiking with the family, her mother is in a position to host teas honoring and attended by Anthony, etc.

But even from her privileged position Bessie still faces challenges: her friend’s father rules the family and won’t let her participate in marches, onlookers at the march both verbally and physically heckle participants, Bessie talks with factory girls her own age, and, of course, California’s men vote against suffrage.

REALISTIC, NOT SIMPLISTIC VIEW OF THE STRUGGLE

I appreciate that the book shows a realistic view of the struggle and how important it was to not give up even after major setbacks; Bessie’s mother is determined to learn how to ride a bike after the defeat (because “Aunt Susan says that a bicycle gives a woman freedom”). And the book ends with Bessie suggesting to her father: “Sunday there’s a rally for the next suffrage campaign.  Come march with Mama and Me.”

The richly-colored illustrations are expressive and enjoyable and definitely add to the story.  Even though it’s a picture book, Marching with Aunt Susan doesn’t talk down to readers.   The historical information in the back of the book tells quite a lot in a fairly limited space: we learn about Bessie’s life, about California’s suffrage campaign and suffrage history in general, and about Susan B. Anthony’s life and work.

The section of Further Resources for Young Readers includes book and website recommendations, and photographs and copies of various documents are both on the endpapers and scattered through the historical information.   I strongly recommend adding Marching With Aunt Susan to any suffrage library, and I think it would be an excellent introduction to the suffrage movement for any children who find stories more interesting than facts.  (Wouldn’t that be almost all of them?)

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“Suffrage Books for Young Audiences” by Tara Bloyd

We The People: Great Women of the Suffrage Movement.4133IwK-JuL._  By Dana Meachen Rau, Compass Point Books,  2006.

This 48-page book includes biographies of several women involved in the fight for suffrage, each with a tagline.  (Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Mother of the Movement; Lucy Stone: Speaking State to State; Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Proud to March; etc)  Aimed at a fairly young audience (I’d guess 2nd-3rd grade), the book takes a somewhat simplistic view of the challenges these women faced.  That said, the women chosen to profile give a nice overview of the movement.

Great Women of the Suffrage Movement is part of the We The People series of books, which is designed to “explor[e] every era of U.S. history – from pre-colonial to modern times. This exciting series examines key events that have shaped the course of the nation, while clearly defining their place in history.”  Other books in the series discuss the Lowell Mill Girls, the Harlem Renaissance, the Haymarket Square Tragedy, etc. It looks like a useful series for learning a bit more about topics that are often glossed over otherwise.

This book is an option for children interested in the quest for suffrage who’ve moved beyond picture books but aren’t yet ready for more complex works. It could also be a quick reference for teachers who want to teach a basic unit to early-grade children, as it includes such useful bits as a map showing women in each state were granted at least basic suffrage, a timeline of the struggle, and suggestions for additional research. I enjoyed reading the book, and would recommend it to the right audience.

(As a side note, almost every book I’ve reviewed thus far is available at our local library; never overlook the power of the library!)

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Palm readings as a suffragette fundraiser: Suffrage Bookshelf

campaigning-for-the-vote-cover

“Woman and her Sphere” is a blog and web site created and maintained by Elizabeth Crawford (UK researcher, writer, and dealer in women’s books and ephemera). She is not only on the search for great material, but she’s immersed in it. Her blog contains many features, including a diary entry of an English suffrage volunteer who read palms at a suffrage bazaar and fundraiser.

The diary, recently republished, details the life of a grassroots activist, Kate Frye. Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive and edited by Elizabeth Crawford.  Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford: e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

Elizabeth Crawford not only has a passion for suffrage books, she also sells them. Check out a recent catalog. You might find something you never knew you wanted.

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Book for young readers from “Suffrage Bookshelf”

American Girl seriesMeet Samantha: An American Girl, by Susan S. Adler

By Tara Bloyd

Part of the popular and lucrative American Girl empire, Meet Samantha takes place in 1904.  The book’s synopsis says “It’s 1904.  Samantha Parkington, an orphan, lives in her rich grandmother’s household.  Grandmary has many servants, but there is no one for Samantha to play with.  When a servant girl named Nellie moves in next door, the two girls become fast friends, though their lives are quite different.  Samantha turns to Nellie for help in solving a mystery at Grandmary’s, but then Nellie encounters an even bigger problem of her own.”

The book doesn’t directly discuss suffrage, but does give a (somewhat sanitized) view of what life was like for women and girls in the early 1900s.  Because the main character is a sheltered, wealthy orphan, we read as much about stitching a sampler as we do about more challenging topics.  Racism is only hinted at, when Samantha discusses why their family seamstress has to live in “the colored part of town;” the answer, provided by her friend Nellie, is that “It’s just the way grownups do things.”

Suffrage is not discussed directly in the body of the book, but is mentioned in the historical information in the back.   In those six pages, we learn more about society’s expectations of women and girls, the options poor people had, and how  “modern women” wanted other choices — including the right to vote.  There’s also a nice picture of a suffrage march.

So why did I review this book?  Two main reasons, really.  First, it popped up when I did a library search for suffrage.  And second, as one of the wildly-popular American Girl books, it might be the first exposure many girls have to the history of the movement.  It’s not an amazingly fact-filled book, but it could end up as a “gateway book” to interest readers in the movement.

Wondering about Suffrage Wagon? Check out our overview of news about the suffrage movement, the passage of the 19th amendment, and stories about suffragists, suffragettes, suffrage activists, voting rights, and much more.

Suffrage Bookshelf is a regular feature of suffragewagon.org

 

Suffrage Wagon Bookshelf

New audio and ebook about suffrage history –the ratification of the 19th amendment in Tennessee.  #1. #2. Good books for young people about women’s history. #1. #2. Get used to the buzz now that more people understand what we’re talking about when we mention “suffrage” and “centennial” in one breath. It has been an exciting Women’s History Month with all the attention.

stovall_web

There’s a new book on 1913 suffrage parade from University of Tennessee Press. This is timely because of the Washington, DC suffrage centennial parade at the beginning of March 2013. And there have been any number of theatrical events, exhibits, readings, and more that honor the suffrage movement this month.

Recently I’ve been reading a suffrage mystery from the library. I needed some light reading and it’s about the English suffrage movement (sort of). It’s well written and more about solving a mystery than much about the movement itself. I needed an escape. So, a Nell Bray mystery by English writer Gillian Linscott did the trick. Linscott is no longer writing these books, but it’s worth a few evenings with my feet up, if only to enjoy how a mystery writer can weave the suffrage movement into a who-done-it.

Booklist said this about the work: “Nell Bray is a no-nonsense, passionate suffragette living in turn-of-the-century London. She also happens to be a superb amateur sleuth.” Sometimes the suffrage angle is pretty stretched, but the writing’s excellent and fast paced. Other Nell Bray suffrage mysteries: Sister Beneath the Sheet, Hanging on the Wire, Stage Fright, An Easy Day for a Lady,  Dead Man’s Sweetheart, Absent Friends, The Perfect Daughter, Dead Man Riding, Blood on the Wood.

You don’t hear a lot about Vermont and suffrage. So, here’s a book wish come true. This book review is about suffrage work in the UK — a diary with entries that give a vivid picture of what it was like, out in the streets doing canvassing work. Nothing romantic here and a good reminder that some things don’t change. Organizing for social change has its highs and lows. Overview of “The Love Letters of Mary Hayes” is a pleasure to read.

Check out Suffrage Wagon for news notes from all over, videos, suffrage events and stories.