A VIDEO: Hot Tea and Picketing the White House with Alice Paul

Hot Tea Month during January
It’s “Hot Tea Month” and what better time than to feature “The Grated Door,” the brainchild of Alice Paul (her birthday: January 11th). The Grated Door was the tea room for the National Woman’s Party in Washington, DC and the “go to” place for those who picketed the White House for suffrage. See video about Alice Paul’s tea house. The selection below about The Grated Door is from The Story of The Woman’s Party by Inez Haynes Irwin. 1921. LINK.

“Alice Paul’s office, which is on the second floor, was done in purple and gold; the woodwork of gold, the furniture upholstered in purple velvet. Later, a large room, originally a stable at the rear of the first floor, was transformed into a tea room. Vivian Pierce had charge of the decorations here; and she made it very attractive. The brick walls were painted yellow, the tables and chairs black. The windows and doors were all enclosed in flat frames of brilliant chintz, of which the background was black, but the dominating note blue. The many hanging lights were swathed in yellow silk.

“The tea room rapidly became very popular in Washington; and, as rapidly, became one of the most interesting places in the city. Visitors of many distinguished kinds came there in preference to the larger restaurants or hotels. They knew the members of The Woman’s Party who lived in the house, and they gradually came to know the habitues of the tea room. At meals, separated parties were always coalescing into one big party. People wandered from table to table. There was an air of comradeship and sympathy. Afterwards, groups often went up the little flight of stairs which leads to the ballroom, and sitting before the fire in the huge fireplace, drank their after-dinner coffee together. These talks sometimes lasted until midnight.

“All about and from the offices that ran beside the ballroom sounded the click of typewriters — some one counted twenty-four typewriters in the house once. Everywhere, you ran into busy, business-like stenographers with papers in their hands, proceeding from one office to another. If it were lunch time, or dinner time, pairs of young girls, with their arms around each other’s waists, chattering busily, were making their way to the tea room. At night, the big ballroom was filled with groups reading magazines at the big (and priceless) tables; or talking over the events of the day

“Late at night, the discussions still went on. Upstairs, they followed each other from bedroom to bedroom, still arguing, still comparing notes, still making suggestions in regard to a hundred things : organizing, lobbying, personal appeal to political leaders, et caetera, ad infinitum. The huge, four-poster bed — big enough for royalty — in Mrs. Lawrence Lewis’s room was the scene — with ardent pickets sitting all over it — of many a discussion that threatened to prolong itself until dawn.”

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Reflections on Carrie Chapman Catt’s birthday from a suffrage buff

The importance of visiting historic sites associated with the suffrage movement can be seen in Nate Levin’s response to visiting the Carrie Chapman Catt girlhood home in Charles City, Iowa.

“I stepped out of my car and looked across the prairie, at the countryside–the same view, give or take 150 years, that Carrie Lane had seen every day as a girl and young woman. I felt like a pilgrim arriving at a long-desired destination, joy, a sense of a dream becoming a reality.

“The house itself did not disappoint. With their limited resources the people of Charles City have done a fine job of weaving Carrie’s story together with those of the suffrage movement and the even larger currents of history. CCC’s home upholds the suffrage spirit like few other places on earth.”

CattSlider44Nate Levin is upfront about his passion, to the point where he created a Facebook page called “Suffrage Buffs of America.” Nate created the online space in the hope of attracting others. His interest in the suffrage movement grew out of his involvement in the League of Women Voters. “I’m a second-generation League member –my mom was active in the League for decades and served on the board of LWVNYS for a short time,” he said. “I was an active member of my local chapter for six or eight years, rising to president.”

The intense interest in Catt stirred after Nate did some background reading on the League and was struck by the compelling personality of the League’s founder, Carrie Chapman Catt (who of course was a key suffrage leader before founding the LWV as a successor to the main suffrage organization).

“I asked myself why I hadn’t learned about her in school, and conceived the idea of writing a book for kids about her (there was no such book at the time, though three adult-level biographies of her existed). This was back in 1994. My plan of research was simple and doable –just to read those three books for adults. At the time, my job was quite demanding, but I soon changed to a somewhat easier job, and had a burst of energy which I devoted to writing the book. I did a lot of the work on the commuter train.”

It took Nate five years for the book (Carrie Chapman Catt: A Life of Leadership) to get into print which opened up a window into the suffrage movement. He calls Century of Struggle by Eleanor Flexner, a must read, and an immersion into subject matter that led him to the lecture circuit, including such provocative topics as “Crunch Time in the Woman Suffrage Movement,” and more recently on “What Fox News Would Have Said about Carrie Chapman Catt.” You can find interviews with Nate online about the suffrage movement, including this piece on YouTube.

“So you see this was kind of a solo path for me,” Nate continues. “I don’t believe there is or recently has been any national network of suffrage enthusiasts, but there are a fair number of individuals or ‘clumps.’ This is changing. “The centennial of suffrage is ‘walking’ across the country. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the successful referendum campaign in California. The year before it was Washington State. This year Oregon and Arizona join the spotlight. These centennials are observed to a greater or lesser extent on a local basis. Of course, 1913-1917 were the key years in New York, and there is perhaps an opportunity to build some momentum to 2017 and then beyond for the climax of the national suffrage battle in 2020.”

But it’s more than history that’s part of these observances, Nate continues. “Young girls still face great barriers in achieving leadership positions. The leadership at the end of the movement was really great, and the ‘followership’ was even greater. Women had achieved ‘agency’ to some extent in the abolition and temperance movements, but never before as much so as at the climax of the suffrage movement.

“I’m most curious about what it was inside the suffragists that drove them so. My working theory is that it was anger, righteous indignation, even rage, at being relegated to the place of those deemed less than fully human. I’m also fascinated by the internal battles and contradictions within the movement. It’s a dynamic time, and I find that if I can get in front of an audience, both men and women are taken up by the huge scale and passion of the movement.

“The U.S. suffragists were a big part of a much larger movement. Of course, the militants in the U.S. were greatly influenced by the militants in Britain. In the period 1904–1923 (except during the war) Catt was the key leader of the international movement as a whole, in addition to being the key U.S. leader.”

Nate Levine says he likes the information generated by Suffrage Wagon News Channel. He’s also appreciative of the park rangers at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, the members of the National 19th Amendment Society who have beautifully preserved Carrie Catt’s girlhood home in Iowa, the staff at the Sewall-Belmont House in D.C., Robert P.J. Cooney, Jr., who is the author of the massive, beautiful coffee table book entitled Winning the Vote, and Ellen Carol Dubois, who’s a leading academic expert on suffrage.

“I’m also a big fan of Ken Burns, but not particularly because of his documentary Not for Ourselves Alone. This telling of the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony seemed rather bloodless to me. How do we increase the number of suffrage buffs? I wish I knew how –I’m not the greatest marketer. All I can think to do is to keep plugging away. And why is this important? Like the civil rights movement, the suffrage movement was one of the most magnificent chapters in American history. It was a huge story, a huge part of the public consciousness back then, and has mainly been lost for the current generations. There are good reasons to be proud of being an American (as well as fake reasons), and the suffrage movement is one of the best reasons.”

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America’s Joan of Arc and two videos: Special for Joan’s birthday!

Inez Milholland as Joan of ArcKathleen Kelly, long-time friend of Suffrage Wagon, takes Joan of Arc on the road on her birthday with a special feature in “New York History.” See the special article for Joan’s birthday that spreads the word about the U.S. having its own Joan of Arc.

VIDEOS: A clip from “Iron Jawed Angels,” that shows Inez Milholland leading the 1913 suffrage parade in the nation’s Capitol. It’s a great clip. And Kathleen’s article nails down the details of how we have our own Joan of Arc on this side of the Atlantic. My grandmother Edna and grandfather Wilmer marched in the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC at the time of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Can’t help the tears that well up every time I watch the clip. If you haven’t seen “Iron Jawed Angels,” it’s available online, including YouTube. Treat yourself during Hot Tea Month in January! And serve hot tea.

Here’s the launch video for Suffrage Wagon during Hot Tea Month. Link and I’ll embed it , though I’m not sure it’s going to hold on all platforms.

Have a party in honor of Joan of Arc, Inez Milholland, Alice Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucretia Mott, Anna Vaughn Hyatt and others from our history and feature hot tea at your gathering during Hot Tea Month in January.

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Suffrage Movement Was Fueled by Hot Tea: Part I

TeaMemorabilia

by Kenneth Florey

That there was more than a casual connection between tea and suffrage activism is undeniable. Suffragists organized tea parties to promote their cause and to raise money, as evidenced by many of the state reports that appear in Volume VI of The History of Woman Suffrage, a work that was originally conceived by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Further references to suffrage tea parties are scattered throughout the pages of the Woman’s Journal, where they are sometimes held up as models to advance “votes for women.” The Woman’s Journal, the most popular and longest lasting of all suffrage publications in America, was for a time the official organ of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the main periodic source for all things suffrage related.

SPECIAL BRAND OF TEA FOR SUFFRAGE EVENTS AND FUNDRAISING

But there was also a manufacturing component involved, and “suffrage tea,” along with its ancillary products, was sold to the general public and proved to be a successful fundraiser. During the California campaign of 1911, for example, the Oakland Amendment League had a suffrage booth at the Cherry Festival at San Leandro where they dispensed, among other items, “Equality Tea.” This tea was a special brand for the campaign manufactured for the Woman Suffrage Party that was also sold by other organizations to raise money at their events.

The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association advertised their own “Suffrage Tea in a Special Box” for fifty cents. In England, the Women’s Social and Political Union began selling in 1910 “Votes for Women Tea” in half pound and one pound packets. When WWI began, the English movement, which produced a greater variety of suffrage memorabilia than did its counterpart in America, placed a semi-halt on the sale of artifacts, perhaps considering novelty items to be inappropriate during darker times.

Suffrage tea was an exception and continued to be offered through suffrage periodicals. It is unfortunate that given its ephemeral nature, no tea, or even its attendant packaging, appears to have survived from the period, although one hopes that some examples may as yet emerge.

SUFFRAGE TEA CUPS AND TEA SETS, MOSTLY ENGLISH

There are a number of suffrage tea cups and tea sets known, but most of them are English. The National American Woman Suffrage Association did offer for sale in its 1915 catalog a demitasse cup and saucer for fifty cents each that were embellished with the words “Votes for Women” on a small, elegant gold rim. The setting was made for them by Hutschenreuther Selb Bavaria and imported by the Art China New York Import Company. Alva Belmont, Newport socialite and founder of the Political Equality Association, sold a small creamer for twenty-five cents that was inscribed “Votes for Women” in cobalt blue at the suffrage shop that was connected to both her headquarters and the Association’s lunchroom in New York City.

The Women’s Political and Social Union sold the most famous of the English sets at their huge bazaar at the Prince’s Skating Rink in Knightsbridge, London, held from May 13 to 26, 1909. Manufactured by the firm of Williamsons of Longton, Staffordshire, various distinct pieces included teacups and saucers, small cake plates, a teapot with lid, a small milk jug, and a sugar basin or bowl.

In 1911, the WSPU remade the set in a slightly larger size, expanded the number of items in it from 13 to 22, and sold it for ten shillings, six pence to the general public. All pieces featured an imprint with a design by Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of WSPU founder Emmeline Pankhurst, of an angel facing left, blowing a curved horn. In the background are prison bars and the initials of the WSPU. Above the angel is a banner upon which the word “Freedom” is inscribed.

COMING SOON: The second part of the special feature by Ken Florey about suffrage movement tea memorabilia. The author’s web site. Photos above are from the author’s suffrage memorabilia collection.

It’s Lucretia Mott’s birthday today, January 3rd. Have a cup of tea in her honor and invite your friends to join you. Monday, January 6th is Joan of Arc’s birthday. Joan was an icon for both the American and English suffrage movements.

Lucretia Mott birthday January 3

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel during January, Hot Tea Month.

Tea parties and receptions were one of the few socially-acceptable ways for a woman to get out of the house, both in the US and UK. They used tea gatherings for fundraising and for organizing. While digital organizing is great for many aspects of community organizing today, there’s nothing like face-to-face collaboration! Plan a tea gathering for your action group. Follow the wagon during January. Suffrage video film festival scheduled throughout the month!

Suffrage Video Film Festival. . .COMING SOON

Tea for Two at Suffrage Wagon News ChannelDuring “Hot Tea Month” in January, you can watch videos about how the suffrage movement and tea were related. And while you’re at it, make a pot of hot tea, put up your feet and relax:

Find out about Alice Paul’s teahouse in Washington, DC and how it became a refuge for women who picketed the White House to win the vote for women!

Another video takes a look at suffrage tea memorabilia, plus articles by Ken Florey about how tea parties and receptions were extremely important for the movement!

There’s video special from Suffrage Wagon Cooking School on how to make a cup of hot tea.

Plus a new rap video that highlights many women’s events where you can show off your hostess skills, bake and invite friends over.

Travel sign promoting women's heritage trails

These videos will be showcased during January 2014 on Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Follow the Suffrage Wagon on Twitter, Facebook, or email subscription.

Susan B. Anthony’s holiday sleigh ride, plus suffrage news notes for December 2013

Grandmother Edna KearnsThe Winter 2013-14 Suffrage Wagon newsletter should be in your email box. If not, here it is.

Terrific article about Susan B. Anthony’s organizing sleigh ride throughout New York State at Christmas in 1854. If you read no other article about Susan B. Anthony, this is the one. It shows how Susan took advantage of an opportunity and milked it for all it was worth. The New  York History blog is a great source for commentary, events, trends, celebrations and more.  #1. #2.

Not long ago, there were few women historians, maybe ten to one. Today the ratio is two to one, which is quite an improvement. This article from History News Network lays out the issue in a snapshot of what it’s like on the front lines in terms of getting the public to listen to women’s history in general, and specifically suffrage history. Things are changing, slowly.  #1. #2.

In New Zealand 120 years have passed since women there won the vote. Government officials take the anniversary seriously by meeting with young women voters to jumpstart their participation in voting. One news article gives an overview of the past, plus a perspective on what needs to be done from this point on.  #1. #2.  

If you didn’t hear about the 12-year-old calling herself a “suffragette” who challenged the NC governor over voting rights, here’s your chance. #1. #2. Feminist describes life-changing moment when describing how she marched with a veteran suffragist activist in a 1970 New York City parade. #1. #2. 

Suffrage News from all over: Keynote speech at centennial celebration of women’s right to vote in Norway. #1. #2. Women make up half of the Canadian population but only hold one quarter of the seats in the House of Commons. Why? #1. #2. The Shoeleather History Project features working women in the suffrage movement. #1. #2. The Irish remember their own suffrage movement. #1. #2.  Women around the world celebrate New Zealand’s 120th suffrage anniversary and note Africa’s progress on women’s representation. #1. #2. Is Canada a good place to be a woman? This article raises and answers the question in light of the Global Gender Gap Report. #1. #2.

Follow the suffrage wagon with postings twice a week and newsletters four times a year. We also have YouTube and Vimeo channels. 

“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.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news, views, videos, audio and much more about the suffrage movement. Everything you need to know, and then some. We have a YouTube channel (suffragewagon) and a Vimeo channel too. Postings twice a week and a quarterly newsletter.