Category Archives: Suffrage Stories

“Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas…” letter and new video, plus December 25th birthdays and stories!

Federal and state womens trailsDear Santa, All I want for Christmas. . .

We’ll see if Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves can pull off what appears to be a minor miracle in terms of putting a federal and state women’s trails in Santa’s sleigh on Christmas eve. There’s a video called “All I want for Christmas is a women’s trail” that lays out the situation published in “New York History” recently by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine. See Part I of the series. And then Part II.

merryxmas_whiteberryChristmas Story Wrapup: Enjoy the holiday story from Elizabeth Cady Stanton about Christmas in Johnstown, NY where she grew up. Plus a story from 1914 where international suffragists exchanged holiday greetings even though their countries were at war. Interesting!

Two birthdays on December 25th: Edna Kearns and Martha Wright. See video honoring them. Also, Edna Kearns acknowledged as “Suffragist of the Month” during December on web site about the Long Island suffrage movement that’s inspired by a book on the same subject by Antonia Petrash. Having a birthday on Christmas didn’t make Edna Kearns a happy camper. One of Marguerite’s Musings. Seneca Falls convention activist Martha Wright has a birthday on December 25th. Celebrate her contributions at the 1848 Seneca Falls convention.

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A visit to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s hometown in Johnstown, NY

Nancy Brown of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown AssociationBy Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine

It’s late afternoon in Johnstown, NY, magic hour, right before sunset when filmmakers capture the best lighting. Nancy Brown, a fifth grade teacher, is waiting to take us to the local historical society and out to dinner with three other board members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association.

This is the town where well-known women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up. The place is also loaded with history of the American Revolution, plus generations of tanners and workers in the glove industry who lived and worked here. We can’t get to the Johnstown Historical Society at 17 North William Street without passing sites of major historical interest. It’s as if everybody is related in some way to this historical community. It looks like classic small town America, made in America.

The Historical Society building has a front parlor room that’s devoted entirely to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with things to die for: her piano, her chair, her father’s bookcase, her family bible. They have sleuths volunteering for the board who ferret out facts about the Cady family never known before. Elizabeth’s parents and many of her relatives are buried in the local cemetery. Local people here talk about Elizabeth Cady Stanton as if they’re related to her. And they are. Like they’re first cousins or neighbors.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton's piano

Today the activists of the local historical and hometown association understand the value of what they’ve got in their cultural heritage and they’re building it up from the grassroots.

Yet they feel there’s something lacking, despite the fact that Johnstown has the oldest working courthouse in America, the same courthouse where Elizabeth’s father was a judge. This is an area with strong women, well-known local women, including Molly Brant, Rose Knox, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a Native American Catholic saint, Kateri Tekakwitha.

Johnstown has a strong revolutionary history, a strong labor history. By going to the next level, the two local organizations are moving into the future by developing awareness through advertizing, street signs, a social media presence, collaboration and partnering. They have organized themselves thoroughly, and the town reflects this with its banners, cell phone tour, and exhibits including one at the local bank, the site of the Cady home where Elizabeth grew up.

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium, the umbrella of women’s organizations including the hometown association, is planning a symposium in 2015 to honor the year of Cady Stanton’s 200th birthday.

And still, something is missing. Ask them what they need, and there’s no question in their minds.

“The greatest gift the State could give us would be to fund a Votes for Women history trail,” said Nancy Brown of the Hometown Association. “A trail has been established, but there’s no funding.”

And what else is missing? They say that other historical-related groups located in the “cradle” are worthy, energetic, and well organized, but there’s no unity among the separate organizations. These associations of people may work together and share information, but there’s a recognized need to make a focused effort to get a trail funded that would be good for the state and visitors on a number of levels.

Emphasized Helen Martin of the historical society: “Money for a historical trail is desperately needed. Money –that’s the biggest gift the state could give us. There’s so much potential, like I could see a big convention of womens’ groups in New York State, maybe at the state fairgrounds. Some place where we can celebrate women’s past, get media coverage and press, get the right speakers.”

“We must pull together,” added Nancy Brown. “Look at all that needs to be done!”

“We know our past; we know where we are. But where are we going?” posits Helen Martin. “Let’s break that glass ceiling!”

These community grassroots organizers are aware of what can be accomplished by themselves and the value of working together with others to reach a goal. This involves rocking the cradle.

As we made our way back to the Holiday Inn from the Union Hall Inn Restaurant and dinner with Hometown Association board members Bonnie Valachovic, Barb Taylor, Sandy Maceyka, and Nancy Brown, we asked about their goal. We were told: “…to be the home of women’s equality by 2020.” But isn’t this competing with Seneca Falls? “Oh no,” they said.

“We complement Seneca Falls and other places and sites. There’s no doubt in our minds that Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s experience in Johnstown as a young person made her the revolutionary thinker she was.”

The Johnstown Historical Society at 17 North William Street, Johnstown, NY is open weekends 1-4 p.m., Memorial Day through September. Or by appointment 518-762-7076.

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association has a one-hour, one-mile cell phone tour called “Walking the Footsteps of Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” plus events, exhibits, banners and signs throughout the town. They also have a fabulous web site: http://ElizabethCadyStantonHometown.org

Follow Marguerite and Olivia on their travels for LetsRockTheCradle.

Photos: Top is a photo of Nancy Brown of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association featuring an image of one of Johnston, NY’s historic landmarks. Below is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s piano at the Johnstown Historical Society.

Two new videos about July 1, 2013 being the “Spirit of 1776″ Wagon Day

“Wagon Day” on July 1, 2013 in New York State video.

What is the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon?

Votes for Women 2020. Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

The awakening of Elizabeth Cady Stanton –inspecting law books: Part II

Daniel Cady

Daniel Cady, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s father.

by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The tears and complaints of the women who came to my father for legal advice touched my heart, and early drew my attention to the injustice and cruelty of the laws. As the practice of the law was my father’s business, I could not exactly understand why he could not alleviate the sufferings of these women.

So, in order to enlighten me, he would take down his books and show me the inexorable statutes. The students, observing my interest, would amuse themselves by reading to me all the worst laws they could find, over which I would laugh and cry by turns. One Christmas morning I went into the office to show them my present of a new coral necklace and bracelet. They all admired the jewelry, and then began to tease me with hypothetical cases of future ownership. “Now,” said Henry Bayard, “if in due time you should be my wife, those ornaments would be mine. I could take them and lock them up, and you could never wear them except with my permission. I could even exchange them for a cigar, and you could watch them evaporate in smoke.”

HER CHILDHOOD RESOLVE TO CUT THE NASTY LAWS FROM THE BOOKS

With this constant bantering from students, and the sad complaints of women clients, my mind was sorely perplexed. So when, from time to time, my attention was called to these odious laws, I would mark them with a pencil, and becoming more and more convinced of the necessity of taking some active measures against these unjust provisions, I resolved to seize the first opportunity, when alone in the office, to cut every one of them out of the books; supposing my father and his library were the beginning and the end of the law.

However, this mutilation of his volumes was never accomplished, for dear old FloraCampbell, to whom I confided my plan for the amelioration of her wrongs, warned my father of what I proposed to do. Without letting me know that he had discovered my secret, he explained to me one evening how laws were made, the large number of lawyers and libraries there were all over the state, and that if his library should burn up it would make no difference in woman’s condition.

“When you are grown up, and able to prepare a speech,” said he, “you must go down to Albany and talk to the legislators; tell them all you have seen in this office — the sufferings of these Scotchwomen, robbed of their inheritance and left dependent on their unworthy sons, and, if you can persuade them to pass new laws, the old ones will be a dead letter.”  Thus was the future object of my life suggested and my duty plainly outlined by him who was most opposed to my public career when, in due time, it was entered upon.”

SOURCE:  Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s memoir. Information about Daniel Cady, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s father.

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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.

Find out about Suffrage Wagon’s new videos. Our videos now on a YouTube channel. More information about Suffrage Wagon.

One hundred years ago suffragists knocked down doors: Part II

Suffrage Wagon Stories

by Marguerite Kearns

The first week in July of 1913 represented a high point in bringing the issue of Votes for Women to the public. This is  when the campaign suffrage wagon, the “Spirit of 1776,” left the Manhattan office of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association at 108 Madison Avenue in the care of Edna Buckman Kearns and headed to Long Island.

From this point on, campaigners under the state suffrage association’s umbrella barely rested. They barnstormed on foot, gave speeches on street corners, decorated and traveled in automobiles, and hitched horses to wagons to make themselves visible throughout Long Island. Agitating for change and interacting with a wide variety of people was exhausting –but oh, so stimulating– in the July 1913 heat.

Votes for Women activists stayed in touch with each other by phone, letters, and in person. They developed relationships with local and city newspaper reporters, as well as anyone else who would listen. If reporters couldn’t or wouldn’t cover suffrage news, suffragists themselves became reporters and press agents themselves. They stormed through every open door.

Suffragists learned how to make their own news and then participate in the process of gathering it as volunteers in the service of a cause.  For many, like Edna Kearns, it wasn’t paid work. But it was an exciting time to be learning about the Big Picture. Starting about 1911, Edna Kearns wrote suffrage columns and edited special newspaper reports about Votes for Women that were published on Long Island and in New York City papers. She was also a squirrel and saved as many of her speeches, news articles, letters, photos, leaflets, and suffrage memorabilia as she could. . .

Watch for more selections from the ongoing story of what happened 100 years ago with organizing for the vote and how the “Spirit of 1776″ theme and wagon played an important role in the unfinished American Revolution. For more information, check out our story and news source: Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

One hundred years ago on Long Island: Suffrage Stories

Suffrage Wagon Stories

Have a cup of tea with your suffrage stories and fortune cookies

by Marguerite Kearns

PART I:

The suffrage movement was big news in 1913, but Votes for Women activists had their eye on Long Island well before the turn of the 20th century. Women, in general, organized themselves into a complex web of local clubs and community groups throughout the island to promote everything from reading circles to the support of community institutions, the establishment of libraries, and a wide variety of social issues.

Newspaper accounts document that the state suffrage association sent representatives to Long Island women’s club meetings prior to 1900. On occasion, these women were keynote speakers at club luncheons and special events. Often it was enough for a newspaper article to document the presence of suffragists at club meetings which implied that Long Island represented fertile ground for the cause.

The first Long Island suffrage organizing meetings were held in private homes and informal settings. Organizing for the vote became more overt in 1912 with a “whirlwind campaign” of organizing that was covered in the state suffrage association’s newsletter and the local press.

Then on June 24, 1913, NYS Woman Suffrage Association president Harriet May Mills wrote to suffrage organizer Edna Kearns in a letter about her concern that the Women’s Political Union had been sending organizers to Long Island and  the state suffrage association better get busy making its mark. Mills wrote: “The W.P.U. has two workers on the Island and is trying to steal the whole of it.” She asked Kearns exactly when their volunteers would hit the ground running. Kearns replied that she was ready to take on the challenge, and she expected others to join her immediately. . .

Check out these videos of about one minute each that illustrate the Long Island movement organizing for Votes for Women.

WATCH FOR PART II OF THIS ARTICLE ABOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF SUFFRAGE ORGANIZING –LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK. COMING SOON. The main Suffrage Wagon platform changes often. Not familiar with us and want to know more? Check us out! And then subscribe.

Performance highlights why one suffrage leader was written out of history

 FINALBOOZEsmallBRIMSTONE, BOOZE AND THE BALLOT

Provocative program explores why one suffrage leader was written out of history 

Women voters and lovers of American history will discover the inside story of two of the suffrage movement’s founders during Women’s History Month when the background struggle between suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage is revealed on stage.

The dialogue performance will be at the Rosendale Theater in Rosendale, NY on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are celebrated as two of the founding mothers of the women’s suffrage movement. But who was Matilda Joslyn Gage? In her time she was considered a “founding mother” along with Anthony and Stanton. However, Gage was written out of history.

The background drama will be explored by Sally Roesch Wagner, executive director of the Gage Center in Fayetteville, NY, and Deborah Hughes, president & CEO of the Anthony House in Rochester NY, who will present a compelling dialogue that explores the split between two of the three suffrage movement founders. The event is a joint presentation of the Susan B. Anthony House, The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center, and Votes For Women 2020.

Matlda Joslyn Gage

The rupture between Anthony and Gage will be revealed by the reading of correspondence between them. In a unique juxtaposition, Sally Roesch Wagner (Gage director) will read Susan B. Anthony’s letters while Deborah Hughes (Anthony House director) will bring Gage’s correspondence to light.

After the performance, the audience is invited and encouraged to join the dialogue.

Deborah L. Hughes is a strong advocate for human rights and equal opportunity for all, especially those who suffer discrimination based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic circumstance. As an ordained minister and theologian, she brings a depth of knowledge and breadth of experience to this dialogue and special program.

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner is one of the first women to receive a doctorate in the US for work in women’s studies and is a founder of one of the country’s first women’s studies programs. An author and lecturer, Dr. Wagner appeared in the Ken Burn’s PBS documentary “Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony for which she wrote the accompanying faculty guide.

Tickets are priced at $20.20 (tax-deductible) and are available at www.rosendaletheater.org or the box office.

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Suffrage News Notes for January 2013

JanuaryNewsNotes

The 2013 winter issue of Suffrage Wagon’s quarterly newsletter is on the stands. LINK.

SuffrageWomen’s History Month in March 2013 is off to a great start with a suffrage centennial celebration in Washington, DC. For more information. Yeah!!! Sign up for email updates as the event approaches. LINK.

Suffrage Wagon News Channel has a YouTube channel. LINK.

New York needs to connect history with public policy. LINK. DAR suffrage exhibit in Washington, DC during March. LINK. Open letter to the women of Seneca Falls. LINK. PDF. A transgender woman visits the Susan B. Anthony House to learn more about what it means to be a woman. LINK.

Did Susan B. Anthony oppose abortion? Interview with Deborah Hughes, executive director of Susan B. Anthony House. LINK. More Votes for Women quilt design updates. LINK. PDF. The Catholic church and its suffrage history. LINK. PDF. The franchise in Egypt today. LINK. PDF. Young Canadian woman in politics. LINK. PDF.

In the event you missed some of January 2013’s special Suffrage Wagon features –here they are: The strange story of the Governor’s wife –video and story. LINK. Suffrage icon Joan of Arc. LINK. Special tribute to suffrage leader Alice Paul on her January 11th birthday. LINK. Author Ken Florey’s special features on suffrage tea memorabilia. LINK #1. LINK #2.

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