Tag Archives: suffragists

What happens after Downton Abbey? and other women’s history gems

Downton-Abbey-Season-4Some people swear by Downton Abbey. Others are yawning and wondering if the series will take on more life than reruns of the same themes, issues and personalities. Like the novelty of the chauffeur marrying into the family has worn off, and the family is adjusting, though slowly, to the end of a way of life. That’s why I found the following article refreshing and worth sharing, even if the link has been sitting on my desk since January.

What happens after Downtown Abbey, the article asks. Writer Alyssa Rosenberg isn’t interested in breathing life into the Downtown Abbey cast. She’s suggesting that the family be replaced with some real-life characters, and I love her suggestions. How about the Pankhurst family of suffragettes in England or the Mitfords? Rosenberg lists the reasons why.

MK-musing

What did one cherub say to the other one in this thumbnail image? They’re whispering, so it’s not easy to listen. But let’s try anyway. One cherub’s asking the other: “What do we have to do to shake a substantial commitment out of New York State for the state suffrage centennial in 2017 that gets the same attention and excitement as the funding of ads for wineries and white water rafting?” The other cherub responds: “How about a sloop called the Susan B. Anthony that sails down the Hudson River and visits every port and school classroom? Would that get attention or what? If there are Clearwater and Woody Guthrie boats, how about Susan or Elizabeth or Alice or Carrie or Harriot or any one of a long list of candidates to represent the state’s rich women’s history?”

Where’s Pete Seeger when we need him? Toshi and Pete Seeger would say they modeled grassroots organizing for decades in New York’s Hudson Valley, so it’s our turn to get busy.  Is voting important anyway? Many would say it’s an essential expression of our rights as citizens. Perhaps that’s what’s behind the numerous attempts to suppress voting nationwide. In any event, the suffrage movement represents the largest nonviolent social revolution in the U.S. Whenever I wrap my head around that fact, it shifts my awareness of the significance of keeping democracy alive, whatever’s left of it after big money dumped into political campaigns clears the stage.

So if you’re suspecting I’m growing anxious about the passage of precious time when New  York should be busy planning its 2017 suffrage centennial, you’re right. There’s plenty of lip service spread around for women’s issues. And as the suffragists used to say, “deeds, not words” carry the day. Send us an email with your thoughts about how to get New York off of Ground Zero and busy planning its centennial. Send me your thoughts: suffragewagon at gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you as the Suffrage Wagon rolls on. Follow the wagon by way of email, Twitter and Facebook. And while you’re at it, visualize the State of New York putting the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon on permanent exhibit. It’s not doing any good gathering dust at a state museum warehouse near Albany, NY.

 

New York State’s wagon women are Rosalie Jones, Elisabeth Freeman & Edna Kearns: a special for Women’s History Month

Rosalie Gardiner JonesThe “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon in the collection of the NYS Museum is a terrific jumping-off point when telling the suffrage story. New York State is not only the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the U.S., but New York has its three wagon women: Rosalie Jones, Elisabeth Freeman, and Edna Kearns. All three suffrage activists drove horse-drawn wagons on Long Island and beyond that figured prominently in suffrage activist tactics and strategies in the period from 1913 to about 1915.

Only one horse-drawn wagon used for grassroots campaigning remains from this period, and that’s the “Spirit of 1776″ used by Edna Kearns in the collection of the New York State Museum.

Rosalie and Elisabeth garnered considerable attention, especially in rural areas, when they traveled by wagon to Ohio and Washington, DC. Women traveling in a horse-drawn vehicle represented a novel attraction along the road, and it enabled face-to-face contact with many voters who otherwise would not have heard the women’s message.

See video on Rosalie Jones. Elisabeth Freeman’s great niece, Peg Johnston, has been telling Elisabeth’s story through a web site loaded with detail. Long Island historian Natalie Naylor considers suffragist Rosalie Jones one of her favorite characters from history. See Natalie Naylor’s book that features Roaslie Jones, as does the book on Long Island suffragists by Antonia Petrash.

And of course, there’s my grandmother Edna Kearns who has been inspiring me for years to learn more about the suffrage movement and spread the word through Suffrage Wagon News Channel. The great part is that Rosalie, Elisabeth and Edna worked together in the cause, and today we carry on the message of this early wave of voting activists.

Organizations carry on the work of suffrage grandmothers and great grandmothers today!

Turning Point

Are you familiar with Turning Point Suffragist Memorial?

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association needs financial help to begin construction of a national memorial to those women who went to jail to win the right to vote. Turning Point Suffragist Memorial must meet a November 30, 2014, deadline for funding initial construction. Let’s help them reach that goal! The land is purchased. The overall design is completed. Help pay for the engineering analysis and detailed engineering drawings. Find out more.

Alice Paul Institute: Historic preservation consultants, Preservation Partners, has teamed with the Alice Paul Institute to introduce a revised New Jersey women’s history website:  njwomenshistory.org. Take a stroll through the Alice Paul Institute gift shop online when looking for a gift. There’s a stone tile coaster, a utility apron, and suffrage pendants. The gift items are described in the December 2013 issue of the online newsletter, and you can sign up to keep in touch the rest of the year.

The National Women’s History Project has quite an offering for Women’s History Month items. Newsletters and special mailings feature birthdays and other special days in women’s history. Check out the web site. There’s a special Women’s History Month brochure that’s handy to print out. And the National Women’s History Project is sponsoring a gala dinner for its honorees of this year’s theme: “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.” There’s a great tour of women’s history sites planned in Washington, DC as well. See web site for details.

Sewall-Belmont House: The historic headquarters of the National Woman’s Party. Great store for shopping. Collections, exhibits, programs, museum. Located in Washington, DC, the Sewall-Belmont House is a terrific travel destination. The Sewall-Belmont House makes suffrage history in the nation’s Capitol come alive. Don’t miss a visit. Tours available Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

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Correction: The book Alice Paul: Claiming Power coauthored by J.D. Zahniser and the late Amelia Fry will be released in July 2014, not September, as previously reported.

International Women’s Day features new film by Dutch women: “Ahoy!”

Inez Milholland in Dutch film "Ahoy!"

 American suffragist Inez Milholland on horse, featured in film by Dutch women, “Ahoy!” 

Message from the Dutch women who filmed “Ahoy!” and featured American suffragist, Inez Milholland.

With pride we present our film Ahoy! unsurpassed women of the world. The film is about a young woman who’s inspired by the lives of heroines. When  the leadroll dreams, some heroines come alive. Eventually the main character makes a decision. In this film we honour female leadership and courage of women all over the world and show their relevance for women in our time.

The idea of the film  came  as a result of a year project “Heroines Woldwide” from our Dutch Women´s organization Zeeuwse Wereldvrouwen. Our women’s group is located in the south of the Netherlands, the province Zeeland (Sealand). We live on a peninsula. We meet every week and the participants are Dutch women and women from all over the world, young and old etc. The goal of our organization is to empower women  and to increase awareness in society about the role of women. We work through education, art, film, poetry and with projects. At the moment we’re working on the project Silent Voices about violence against women. The exposition will open on March 8th, International Womens’ Day 2014.

During the year-long project “Heroines Worldwide,” all women chose  a heroine from their own original country and shared it with the group. In this way we got to know many unknown heroines. We made a Wall of Fame in our room where we have our weekly meetings.

For most of us, Inez Milholland was totally unknown. We were excited when we heard about her. Her story is so inspiring and visual. We definitely wanted her in our film. We found out a lot of heroines who died young and dedicated their life to womens’ rights.

Making the film was a real adventure. We did everything ourselves. The film is entirely shot on iPhone. And women of our group played the heroines. We asked the community to help us with locations and horses.

This project has really changed us. Actually, playing the heroines, literally crawling into their skin, changed the spirit of our group. On the 14th of February 2014, we joined the One Billion Rising movement and we went on the streets to demonstrate against violence  against women, and we also danced Break the Chain. With us was a Dutch heroine Aletta Jacobs  (also in our film) she came to life, to demonstrate with us and hold a speech for the public. We are not to be stopped now. Thank you, Inez Milholland, and all the other heroines.

The film has shown at Film By the Sea in Vlissingen and Cineffable, Filmfestival International Lesbien et Feministe du Paris. 
www.roslinprager.nl       http://vimeo.com/61417700 

www.zeeuwsewereldvrouwen.nl

Video and article: Join Susan B. Anthony in Rochester

Marguerite's MusingsWho loves Susan B. Anthony? Thousands of people, and that includes hundreds who attended the annual luncheon of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, NY. this week. Susan’s birthday is on Saturday, February 15th.

I wrote an article about Susan, her fans in Rochester, and how the Susan B. Anthony House will be launching a virtual tour of the house in order to meet the demand. The story is about Susan’s fans today, as much as it is about Susan. Rochester, New York and the Susan B. Anthony House demonstrate a novel and very effective living history tied to economic development and education.

See my article in New York History. Article in PDF.

Video of Susan B. AnthonyThe article also features the horse chestnut tree growing outside the Susan B. Anthony House on 17 Madison Street in Rochester and how many are concerned because the tree didn’t produce chestnuts last year. Get the Big Picture about the preservation district that includes the house where Susan and her sister Mary lived for 40 years, the “1872 Cafe” around the corner where Susan voted illegally, the statues of Susan and Frederick Douglass having tea in a park down the street and much more .

Video: Commentary by Doris Stevens about Susan B. Anthony in “Jailed for Freedom,” 1920.

Follow feature articles by Marguerite Kearns and the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement. Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Get ready for upcoming events, plus Suffrage Wagon news review

Grandmother's Choice quilt projectJoin an international movement that builds on women’s civil rights movements of the past. One Billion Rising for Justice is on February 14th in 2014. I’ll be participating. Check out what’s happening in your community and join in!

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: February 15th is Susan B. Anthony’s birthday. A special article is planned. The month of March is Women’s History Month, so participate in events near where you live. Also join in by hosting friends and family for a tea party featuring goodies from your kitchen. March 8th is International Women’s Day. March 29th is the Seventh International SWAN Day or “Support Women Artists Now” Day. There have been over 1,000 SWAN Day events in 23 countries in the first few years of this holiday.

Sad to see the end of the online suffrage quilt project. See photo above. Over the past year I’ve been following the Grandmother’s Choice quilt blog project that has inspired and involved all sorts of people with Votes for Women history and quilts inspired by this fabulous time in our history. The projects have been varied and fascinating. The above illustration called “Gerry’s Suffrage Crazy Quilt” is one example. It demonstrates a terrific way to combine art, history, civil rights, and fun. Quilting is an extraordinary networking opportunity. #1. #2. 

Montana is moving full speed ahead with its suffrage centennial in 2014. It has a Facebook page, and the launch of media coverage. The Montana Historical Society points out that women didn’t serve on state juries until 1939, and the state celebration doesn’t include just “accomplished” women. A video gives an overview. For other suffrage centennial news from all over, follow suffragecentennials.com.

And now a Suffrage Wagon review of January. It was “Hot Tea Month” and we celebrated our past that’s tied to the present and future. January 3rd was Lucretia Mott’s birthday. She was featured on the New England Historical Society’s blog and there’s a new book out on Lucretia Mott by Carol Faulkner that I plan to read (another promise). For more information. Suffrage Wagon honored Joan of Arc’s birthday on January 6th with a special article from Kathleen Kelly about Joan and how the theme played out in the suffrage movement. Carrie Chapman Catt’s birthday in January didn’t go by on Suffrage Wagon without comment from one of her fans, Nate Levin, who shared a visit to Catt’s childhood home.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon. Postings twice a week. Facebook and Twitter. Vimeo and YouTube channels. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

“I walk on my suffragist grandmother’s carpet”: Marguerite’s Musings

Marguerite's Musingsby Marguerite Kearns

My writing space at home has two pieces of Oriental carpet –sections of the rug Grandmother Edna Kearns had in her home over 100 years ago. The carpet feels sturdy under my feet.  Though these remnants are now frayed and attract dog hair, I’d never expected this floor covering to have  lasted so long. But it has, just like the suffrage stories  Grandmother Edna passed down to me through my mother and of course, Edna’s own articles, stories and writings.

I can identify only a few things as having been touched by my grandmother. There’s the carpet, Edna’s tea tray, her silverware and letters, and suffrage archive. I walk on Edna’s carpet daily. Often I’m down on my knees tucking under frayed edges. When others mention how important it is to walk in other people’s shoes, I stand on Grandmother Edna’s carpet, listening to voices now faint (but growing louder) in this fast-moving world.

Suffrage stories are exciting. And they’re threatening. They’re a reminder of a time of grassroots organizing –people united in their determination to make change. We live in a time again of women rising, and at the same time, we are witnessing the last hurrah of a social system losing ground that no amount of legislation and other obstacles placed by backlash movements can change.

Grandmother Edna Kearns’ life has transformed me. The suffrage stories that have come down from her generation suggest the many ways in which it must have been a heady experience to have been involved in the suffrage movement. It represented a rush of sensation in a dead environment where education, marriage, political and personal power were limited, or for many, non existent. Women made many compromises, but the cat was out of the bag. Equality was on the horizon, and there was no turning back.

Women understood the value of working together, building constituencies, power and control through a nonviolent social revolution. As I walk on the carpet each day, I remember the legacy of our grandmothers and great grandmothers, as the power of their suffrage stories grow larger in spirit. The carpet’s surface is worn and beautiful in its strong threads.

Stay up to date with Marguerite’s Musings, plus news/views/stories  of the suffrage movement at the suffrage “go to place,” Suffrage Wagon News Channel.