Category Archives: voting rights

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.

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.

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.

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.

Did the Suffragettes Sing When They Marched In Parades?

You bet they did, says performer Gerri Gribi. Listen to a two-minute segment of a longer audio interview with Gerri where she discusses the role of music in suffrage activism. Gerri performs suffrage songs for audiences across the country during special programs and celebrations highlighting the suffrage movement and other occasions related to women’s social and musical history. Songs were important in parades. At special teas and receptions it wasn’t uncommon to have a woman performer either sing or play a musical instrument.

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.

More Holiday Gift Ideas

The shop at the National Women’s Hall of Fame is loaded with gift ideas for the girls and women in your life. Take a look at books, bookmarks, puzzles, buttons, calendars, card games, t-shirts, postcards, baby items and DVDs. Also, you can head over to ebay and type in Votes for Women. Original postcards are reasonably priced and there’s a lot of stuff for collectors who won’t be able to resist some of the offerings.

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.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Girls and Women in Your Life

Replica "Votes for Women" plate.

There are gifts galore to choose from and you don’t have to leave home! Replica “Votes for Women” dinner plates come with high recommendations. See comments by Veyla Jancz-Urban. You can order items from the “Votes for Women” tea sets online at the Susan B. Anthony House gift shop, plus many other items. Zazzle has many personalized suffrage gift items, as does Cafe Press –whether it’s a mug, t-shirt, poster, set of stickers, mouse pad. Chances are. . . if they don’t have it, they’ll make it for you. The Louisa May Alcott House has a shop full of suffrage goodies. And don’t forget CDs and books. The online shop of the National Women’s History Project has a wide range of items from women’s history, including books for readers of all ages, games and educational items.

It’s All About Spirit and Spunk

Votes for Women Tea Set is a great gift idea representing spirit and working together!

A modern-day version of spirit is gaining ground in a movement called the Chica Peeps. It celebrates the close bonds women have in supporting each other which is defined as: Chica Peeps[chee - ka peeps], noun; a sisterhood of strength and support; a group of three or more women who anchor, guide and nurture each other, often through humor.

Although my grandmother never heard the term Chica Peeps, it’s definitely something she experienced as women rallied to win the vote. Velya Jancz-Urban, a Chica Peep organizer, sees the connection between suffrage, Chica Peeps and a suffrage tea set.  The replica tea set is packed away beyond her reach (for now anyway), but it’s one of those possessions with both personal and historical meaning, according to Velya.

Velya faced a serious personal challenge two years ago which she survived, in large part, due to the support of her Chica Peeps. She explains: “MChica Peeps helped make me whole again. I got to thinking that if I have Chica Peeps, than other women must also have them. Chica Peeps has now taken on a life of its own and seems to be what many women are looking for.

“As far as the Suffrage Movement goes, I guess my interest in women’s issues began when I was quite little after my first trip to Newport, Rhode Island. While I loved the mansions, it was Alva Vanderbilt Belmont who really fascinated me and I have read just about everything that exists on her. To think that American women were granted the right to vote only six years before my own mother was born astounded me! Of course I know about Alice Paul, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but Alva really appeals to me because of her legendary intrusive and aristocratic manner which antagonized some of the women’s rights leaders of the time, yet she was sincere about gaining equality for women. The best gift I’ve ever received was the complete set of reproduction ‘Votes for Women’ dinnerware my husband purchased for me on our 20th wedding anniversary (it will be our 28th anniversary on 11/28!) when we were in Newport. . . Last week I told my family that unpacking the box that contains the ‘Vote for Women’ plates will be a happy moment for me! So, from Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s Marble House and Chinese Tea House where she held her suffrage rallies, to Brazil, and now to Chica Peeps I guess women have always fascinated me – I’ve come full circle (but I wish I had my plates!).”

Help with National Holiday for Alice Paul

If a national holiday is designated for suffragist Alice Paul, she will be the first woman honored by a national holiday. Help get the movement going with an online petition. Many people across the nation are remembering the Night of Terror. Sign the petition and spread the word.

We owe much to suffragist Alice Paul!

Paste This on the Fridge!

Suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt:

“Women have suffered an agony of soul that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. The vote has been costly, prize it!”

Women Political Candidates Feel the Sting

The Associated Press published an article, “Sexism Still a Problem for Women Seeking office” that highlights the attacks on women running for political office that the writer, David Crary, pointed out went beyond the boundaries of ordinary political attacks and what he described were gender specific. It’s worth checking out.

Beyond that, these attacks are reminiscent of the woman’s suffrage movement when suffragists were called on the carpet for not taking care of their families and daring to leave the safety of the home where they belonged. In my grandmother Edna Kearns’ papers, there are various references to this, such as when she marched in parades in Washington, DC and New York City where such taunts from the sidelines were common.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Material Mama blog and commentary about the history of voting. Digitized copy of The Woman’s Bible. Colorado women voted ahead of the countryLucy Hayes on stage. Women shouldn’t give away their power. Book on women in the South. Historians remember harsh history of woman’s suffrageRemember the past to shape the future.

National Suffrage Memorial is Long Overdue

Plans for a national suffrage memorial at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, Va. are underway to bring recognition to the woman’s suffrage movement. Finally!  The conceptual design for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial has been unveiled. Fundraising is underway. Design features for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial include: Entrance Plaza Gates duplicating the White House gates where suffragists stood as “silent sentinels” in protest and held “watchfire for freedom” rallies. Commemorative Banners anchoring the entrance, replicating those carried by the suffragists. A Memorial Cascade and Waterfall emanating from a wall mounted with more than 120 stainless steel plaques that identify the women incarcerated for the cause and copy the design of the “jailed for freedom” pin that was presented to them by Alice PaulA Footbridge Into A Memorial Meditation Garden symbolizing the crossing over and/or advancement of the movement and signifying the continuing push for equality. Nineteen Interactive Vignettes along a winding path that will provide the history of the suffragist movement and the story of the women held at the Occoquan Workhouse.

Historians with the Sewall Belmont House and a Smithsonian curator are participating in the creation of the vignettes. The memorial is expected to cost between two and four million dollars and the goal is to have the memorial built by the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August of 2020. The memorial’s organizers have a online newsletter and ambitious ideas.

Suffrage News from All Over!

Women remember the jailing of suffragists. “Iron Jawed Angels” is still being talked about. College student speaks about apathy and the value of voting. Reflections on Alice Paul. Washington State resident shares about her great-grandmother who was a suffragist. One hundred years of voting in Washington State. Scholar and biographer discusses Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Newspaper columnist reviews the history of women voting. British women use 1912 suffrage theatre performance as a fundraiser. New Mexico had a woman governor for two weeks in 1924. A detailed Woman’s Suffrage Timeline.

In other news, the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County (NY) is holding a celebration of the 90th anniversary of woman’s suffrage on Friday, November 12, 2010 (7:30-9:30 p.m.) at the Saratoga Music Hall at City Hall, 474 Broadway. There will be a dramatic reading of the “Declaration of Sentiments” written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and read by Coline Jenkins, the great great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The 19th amendment to the US Constitution, written by Susan B. Anthony, will be read by Shirley Anthony Carman and Beverly Marx, first cousins, four times removed from Susan B. Anthony. There will be a champagne toast to the suffragists, a musical tribute, and food. $20 members and $25 non members.

Suffrage Documentary to be Showcased in Silver City, NM

The upcoming November election, the Day of the Dead, and the 90th anniversary of U.S. women voting all converge with a shrine to suffragist Edna Buckman Kearns that will be on display from October 25 through November 14 in Silver City, New Mexico in the Silver City Day of the Dead Shrine Show.  The exhibit, spread throughout Silver City in 14 businesses and galleries, showcases the shrines of 21 artists. The opening reception is Friday, October 29, 2010, 6-9 p.m. at the A-Space Studio Gallery, 110 West 7th Street. Exhibits fall into the categories of contemporary and traditional shrines. Many shrines are traditional, such as Chickie Beltran’s shrine honoring miners and Gloria Beltran’s shrine honoring the Apache.

“Five Generations and the Million Dollar Wagon” is an example of a contemporary shrine in the form of a 19-minute documentary honoring Edna Buckman Kearns who campaigned for woman’s suffrage. This shrine also acknowledges the thousands of American women who campaigned for the vote over a 70-year period, an effort which was launched in 1848 with the woman’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York.

All the Suff News that Fits!

The suffrage wagon is a back door opening to the subject of a grand period of our history: the struggle for Votes for Women.  Judging by the number of mentions about the suffrage movement, as seen online, the level of interest is increasing. Here are some recent highlights:

One Washington county honors its suffragists. College student reports on reflections about voting in light of the sacrifices made by the suffragists she studied in Beverly, MA. Review of the book, The Feminist Promise. A quick lesson on the American Woman Suffrage Association. A teachable moment (one hour and fifteen minutes) about Alice Paul and the passage of the 19th amendment. “Woman’s Suffrage: I had no idea.” The discovery of women’s history and Alice Paul in a blog called “Mom2Mom.” British women activists connect their present-day struggle with the suffrage movement.

Suffrage News Roundup

Philadelphia Inquirer review of a new book about Alice Paul by Mary Walton. Review in a New Jersey paper. Columnist Jack Levine writes about his grandmother voting and her involvement in the suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony letter on sale for $15,000. News article about how women’s history doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. US president Obama mentions woman’s suffrage in a September 29th speech. Program features suffragist in Massachusetts program. In New York program.

“Strength Without Compromise”

People are interested in the history of woman’s suffrage. Author Teri P. Gary is finding this out as she travels upstate New York to speak to groups about her research and the story of the movement in Washington, Warren and Saratoga Counties. She’s been at about 40 appearances during the past year and is about to take a break so she has time for writing. Her book Strength Without Compromise:  Womanly Influence and Political identity in Turn-of-the-Twentieth Century Rural Upstate New York (2009) isn’t a candidate for the best-seller list. But it’s hot among certain audiences of people hungry to know more about this part of history. Teri has three more appearances scheduled:

Monday, Nov. 1 – at 7pm – Book talk and signing at the United Church in Greenwich, NY for the Washington County HIstorical Society (and is open to the public)

Sunday, Nov. 7 – (11am – 4pm – signing books all day at The Chronicle Book Fair in Glens Falls, NY at the Queensbury Hotel (this is the largest book fair in the Adirondacks!)

Saturday, Mar. 19, 2100 – 2pm – Book talk and signing at Hubbard Hall (an 1878 historic opera house) in Cambridge, NY – in conjunction with singer/songwriter Bob Warren, who will present his musical composition, “Only the Message Mattered,” about the life and work of Susan B. Anthony in the Greenwich, New York area.

Inspired by the true stories of Lucy Allen, Chloe Sisson and the Political Equality Club of small town Easton, NY, Strength Without Compromise focuses on the quest for political equality as carried out by suffragists in the rural areas of northern upstate New York at the turn of the 20th century. To order Teri’s book, contact her at: terig1189@yahoo.com

Book Underway About Long Island Suffrage Movement


“They aren’t absentee –just absent” is a Newsday Op Ed piece written by Antonia Petrash about women and voting. Petrash is the director of the Glen Clove (NY) Public LIbrary, and she is writing a book about the suffrage movement on Long Island.

Grand Opening of Matilda Joslyn Gage Center

The grand opening of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville, New York is scheduled for the weekend of October 8-10, 2010. This is an incredible opportunity to find out more about a key suffragist in the movement, Matilda Joslyn Gage. There’s a very full weekend of activities –both educational and entertaining. Visit the newly-restored Susan B. Anthony house in Rochester, NY on a bus tour. Be part of the open house at the Gage home with special exhibits and features. Enjoy an evening of music and the special opening ceremony. For more information.

Long and Short Suffrage Hikes

A rare and precious film clip of 1913 showing Rosalie Jones and Elisabeth Freeman leaving on a hike to Washington, DC for suffrage gives a sense of, not only their courage, but the intense interest in women voting and the need to accelerate the pressure. The story in my family was that my grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns, planned to take the wagon, the “Spirit of 1776,” on the long trip with Rosalie and Elisabeth, but she backed out at the last minute for health reasons. Edna went to the big march in Washington, but couldn’t commit to the long ordeal of the hikers underwent.

Edna, her husband Wilmer Kearns and their daughter Serena Kearns accompanied Rosalie Jones and Elisabeth Freeman on the 1914 hike to Albany in January, no small accomplishment. Hiking as a media event in the suffrage movement received considerable publicity.

Edna’s Hometown of Rockville Centre has a Woman Mayor

On the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, the newspaper covering Nassau County on Long Island featured Edna Kearns and a roundup of the number of women holding elected positions on Long Island. Check it out! I’m sure Edna thought it perfectly reasonable that Rockville Centre, where she lived, should have a woman mayor, Mary Bossart. While an accomplishment, it should be noted that Mary Bossart was elected in 2007 as the first woman mayor for Rockville Centre. She served as a village trustee for eight years.

“Iron Jawed Angels” to Bring in the New Year!

What a way to celebrate the New Year as I concentrate over the next few weeks and dive into grandmother Edna’s life and correspondence. I watched “Iron Jawed Angels” which focused on Alice Paul and others who worked their fingers to the bone for a national suffrage amendment. There were no films like this when I was growing up. And there’s another reason to celebrate. The year 2010 is the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution. Women worked hard and long for it. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers were in the front lines. This is a highlight of how Hollywood dealt with the issue.

Part 1 of “Iron Jawed Angels.”