Tag Archives: Women’s History

Male suffragist dresses as a woman, Inez Milholland Festival 2014 and other news notes

Inez Milholland Festival 2014SideInezThe rocking of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement moves forward, whether or not New York State has this important centennial on its “to do” list. Mark your calendar for August 16-17 for the Inez Milholland Festival 2014 that will be held in the Champlain Valley in the Adirondacks. LetsRockTheCradle.com is the “go to” place for upcoming announcements of the two-day program.

“Male suffragist dresses as a woman” is a headline that’s certainly to get some attention. Great musical video of the Corrs sisters singing “The Long and Winding Road” demonstrates the power of combining women’s issues with music and bringing attention to African women. Online link. Another cool story about a suffrage quilt. Huffington Post has article about the lessons learned from suffragist Anna Howard Shaw. Many new New York History blog contributors wrote about women’s history during March, Women’s History Month. New  York women and their contributions to the Adirondacks. Ken Florey’s book on suffrage memorabilia reviewed. The Missouri Women’s Network Education Fund launched its 1,000 Strong Campaign to raise $10,000 for the bust of St. Louis suffragist Virginia Minor to join the collection of bronze memorialized Missourians.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and views of the suffrage movement. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

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.

 

A legacy trip in the “Cradle” of the Women’s Rights Movement, plus other news

Edna on a horseThe New York History Blog featured women’s stories during March 2014, Women’s History Month. It’s a platform that welcomes news of suffrage-related events, histories and news. Check out some of the offerings, and if you aren’t following the New York History Blog, get on board.

More baby steps in the long process to win approval for the National Women’s History Museum. All members of the House Administration Committee voted in support of HR 863, this week that will move the National Women’s History Museum legislation forward. Committee Chair Candice Miller (R-MI), Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA), and Committee Members Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) spoke in support of creating a commission to produce a feasible plan for a privately-funded national women’s history museum. The bill passed out of the Committee without amendments, the first step to obtaining bill passage in the House of Representatives. The House Natural Resources Committee will consider the bill next.

A four-day, three-night Susan B. Anthony Legacy Trip is scheduled from August 4 through 7, 2014, “Be Part of Her Story” includes an in-depth and behind-the-scenes exploration of Susan B. Anthony’s life, her friends and family, her times and causes, her lifetime struggle to achieve equality for everyone. Organized by The Friends of Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, the trip includes three nights lodging in a downtown Rochester hotel, transportation to all venues, seminars on topics related to the suffrage movement with experts in their fields, travel around the historic Finger Lakes region, and visits to Rochester sites of importance to the Anthonys and suffrage. The trip is limited to 40, so sign up soon! National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, 17 Madison Street, Rochester, NY 14608.

Follow LetsRockTheCradle.com for upcoming events, action campaigns, and featured historic sites in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. In other news: There’s a new Facebook page about Matilda Joslyn Gage. The Finger Lakes Museum has appointed a new director.

Follow Suffrage Wagon for news and views of our suffrage history. 

Bonnie Smith’s tips on being interviewed about important subjects: Women’s History Month special

Bonnie Smith's tips for being interviewedBonnie Smith is nuts about history and how it can drive your business, your important causes and organizations. She has been passionate about this subject matter for years and understands that getting out the word is essential. The suffrage activists at the turn of the 20th were extremely sophisticated about the importance of the news media, and this was a new platform for the nation. Are you about to be interviewed by a reporter? It can be a bit unnerving, but here are some tips Bonnie believes will help.

* Don’t wing it! In spite of how much you know your subject, during the interview you won’t remember everything. Write down the key points you want to make, print them out, and hold the sheet of paper in front of you.

Think about the questions the reporter will ask and be prepared. There’s the specific subject of the interview, but there’s also context, information about you and/or your company, something about your own history or the history of your organization. really think it through.

An example: One of Bonnie’s clients knew Pope John Paul II, and he will be interviewed in April when the Pope is canonized. She prepared interview sheets for her client that include a chronology of his relationship with the Pope (dates and what happened when), bullet points about the Pope’s life and career, and quotes that my client has given over the years to newspapers. He will be prepared.

Your goal is to appear knowledgeable about your subject and self confident. Be prepared!

* Stand up when you talk to the reporter. It sounds simple, but people sound more alert and self confident when they speak standing up vs. sitting down!

* Get rest, go for a walk, whatever helps you be at your alert best.

* Try to be interviewed at the time of day that works best for you. See if you can work with the reporter to arrange your interview during the best time of day for you.

* Do NOT have a glass of wine or anything else to “relax you.” Believe it or not some people do this, and it’s a bad idea. It shows.

What else puts you in a good mood? Do it! You want to come across as happy and, again, self confident and knowledgeable.

Check out Bonnie’s web site and get on her email list. Make sure you hear about her latest projects and books!

 

Join the national network to give women’s history a much-needed boost!

Poster TorchDo you belong to an organization, academic program, community group, or national institution that works to promote women’s history? Are you a blogger, a performer, a teacher, an archivist, an author, a librarian, or a reporter writing about women’s history? Do you have a website devoted to women in history? Do you help sustain a women’s historic site? Whatever you are doing, the National Women’s History Network is gearing up to spread the word about the innovative work being done to advance women’s history around the nation. The first organizing meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sewall Belmont House and Museum, 144 Constitution Avene, NE, Washington, DC. Everyone interested in promoting women’s history is invited. The National Women’s History Project will expand its website this summer to make it a digital hub for information related to how others can participate in this important endeavor. The goal is to leverage all the remarkable work that is being done to further expand the impact of women’s history on an individual, local, state, and national level and to further expand the impact of women’s history in the decade ahead. Email your contact information along with a 50-word description of your work to nwhp@nwhp.org. The National Women’s History Project will also network with members to organize planning meetings throughout the nation to develop plans for promoting women’s history. If you’d like a summary of the meeting on March 30, send your email address to nwhp@nwhp.org and you’ll be included in all the updates. Become an official member of this very important team. If not during Women’s History Month, when?

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news, views, events and suffrage centennials.

NYS state women’s trail dusted off during Women’s History Month, plus new women’s history exhibit at state Capitol

When we traveled on the blogging tour of the “Cradle” last fall, Olivia Twine and I documented the importance of storytelling about winning the franchise for women. We heard terrific stories in Johnstown, NY, the birthplace of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the Harriet Tubman home in Auburn; the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville; the Quaker meeting house restoration project in Farmington; and the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. Other venues for suffrage storytelling are opening up, including several milestones initiated by the State of New  York this month.

Seal of Governor of NYSA new women’s exhibit opened at the state Capitol in Albany, New York  in early March to highlight trailblazing women and advocates, as well as utilize the opportunity for a “final push” to win passage of the Governor’s 10-point “Women’s Equality Agenda.” The State of New York also dusted off its state women’s history trail as Governor Andrew Cuomo encouraged NYS residents and travelers to the state to visit women’s history sites.

We’ve been advocating for a fresh look at the state women’s trail from the legislature, plus funding and promotion, especially as the 2017 suffrage centennial approaches. Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in January 2014 highlighted tourism and women’s issues. Many observers waited for even a passing reference to the 2017 centennial, but they may have to wait longer. This isn’t recommended as planning and development takes time when government is involved.

The State of California put significant funding toward its suffrage centennial several years ago. And Montana’s state centennial in 2014 may be a model that New York could have difficulty matching. An emerging theme from the state is of New York’s women leading the way. This is a great slogan. As suffrage activists insisted during the movement, they were more interested in “deeds,” not words. And this part of history deserves more than throwing something together at the last minute. We’ve been anticipating the 2017 suffrage centennial in NYS for a long time. Let’s make it the best ever!

We’ll keep you posted if New York continues to inch toward its 2017 suffrage centennial planning. No word out of state government about how the centennial will be acknowledged, let alone celebrated. With the truckloads of state funding directed toward special interest tourism, not a peep yet about 2017 and how it represents an extraordinary opportunity for education, celebration, and economic development.

The National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY has announced the “Showcasing of Great Women” exhibit that premiered on the Google Cultural Institute on March 8, 2014. The exhibit features inductees whose contributions are recognized in social reform, business and technology.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

 

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.

Comic book women to be highlight of journal theme: Women’s History Month news note!

MissFuryTimelyA special issue of a future issue of the Journal of Fandom Studies will focus on comic book women in response to an increased interest in representations of women in comic books and the general explosion of comic studies over the last decade. The best-known comic book heroes historically have been men. However, fan communities throughout the world have rebelled against this tradition.

Wonder Woman has never gone out of style. Gloria Steinem is one such fan. Others have been introduced through the Lynda Carter television show or her most recent comic book appearances. Some of Wonder Woman’s peers from the 1940s, such as Miss Fury and Nelvana of the Northern Lights, have recently reemerged in print due to crowd funding efforts. Interest in such female comic book characters is not purely nostalgic; instead, it speaks to the ways in which fans have reinterpreted their cultural relevancy.

New fan communities are responsible for the revival of Ms. Marvel, who will now appear as a Muslim teenager. She will be the first comic book character to represent contemporary intersections of gender, ethnicity, and religion. In spite of these cultural trends, there’s little scholarly research about fan responses to comic book women. Existing research tends to focus upon gender stereotypes within texts and has not addressed what these heroines have represented to actual fans, both past and present.

The journal plans a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. For more information: Dr. Caryn E. Neumann (neumance@miamioh.edu), Lecturer, Dept of Integrative Studies and Affiliate, Dept of History, Miami University of Ohio.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views about women’s issues and the suffrage movement.

Big media jumping on the suffrage bandwagon during Women’s History Month

FollowSuffrageWagonWhat do Google and the New York Times have in common? The increasing recognition of and coverage of the suffrage movement. The Times blog ran an article during Women’s History Month about the women’s rights historic sites in the Finger Lakes region of New York. #1. #2. And Google is featuring a terrific presentation by Ken Florey, whose columns about suffrage memorabilia have been published in Suffrage Wagon News Channel in the past few years.

Ken Florey’s  “Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia” is included with twenty-three other exhibits in the “Women in Culture” section of Google’s Cultural Institute. Memorabilia produced by suffrage organizations and other sources from 1890-1917 include suffrage-related china, pennants, buttons, photography, ribbons, sashes, sheet music, journals, and other related material all designed to promote or oppose the franchise for women.

In other news, the exhibit “Records of Rights” continues at the National Archives. A column in the Washington Post gives an overview of the display and its significance, including the special section on women’s rights. While “Records of Rights” is a permanent exhibit, certain documents are changed periodically. The National Archives is at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Admission is free.  #1. #2

Who was in the very front line of the suffrage movement? Margaret Brent from Maryland played an important role in 1648 when she marched into the Maryland Assembly and demanded the right to vote. #1. #2. A new book called Voices of Cherokee Women by Carolyn Ross Johnston features 52 accounts by Cherokee women. While it doesn’t deal specifically with the suffrage movement, it’s exciting to note breakthroughs in the coverage of womens’ history. #1. #2. 

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

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

Meryl Streep will be headliner in new “Suffragette” film in UK

Suffrage Wagon News ChannelNext week the cast and crew for the UK film Suffragette will be busy as the cameras roll. Meryl Streep will play suffrage activist Emmeline Pankhurst in the Ruby Films drama. In February, the national League of Women Voters celebrates its 94th birthday since its founding following the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Every time a posting arrives in my box from the Montana women celebrating their state suffrage centennial, I’m excited. What’s a recent story? The Montana web site, “Women’s History Matters,” highlights real people from Montana, people on the grassroots, our friends and neighbors, or they would have been if we’d lived in those times and places. It’s a tender and respectful, and let me say a “sweet” acknowledgment of those who might have been in our families and communities, and they certainly fit into the larger human family. Take the article, “Rose Gordon: Daughter of a Slave and Small-Town Activist,” for example. I love it!

In Rose Gordon, I can see myself and many others who persisted in spite of the odds throughout life. When I write about my suffrage activist grandmother Edna Kearns, I’m also writing about the tens of thousands of women across the nation who put themselves on the line and made a mark, even if they didn’t realize it in the moment. The Montana suffrage celebrants are doing a terrific job. We stand on the shoulders of women like Rose Gordon.

For news about suffrage centennials, check out suffragecentennials.com

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

Suffragette fashion highlighted at New York Fashion Week

KAREN WALKER LOOK 1-0Marguerite's MusingsYeah for suffrage history and the way in which it is penetrating the mass culture. Just when I’m thinking that it can’t be possible to marginalize suffrage history any more, I’m surprised. The word is getting out. Like, there’s a suffrage focus on the History Channel during the month of March, and how about a top New York fashion designer who unveiled what she’s calling a glamorous fashion inspired by our grandmother’s and great grandmother’s generations?

I don’t have the shape to show off wearing such outfits, but I’ll tip my hat to those who do. A woman designer from New Zealand, Karen Walker, isn’t the first designer to tap into our women’s suffrage past. And she won’t be the last. The awareness of our history is happening. Every week across the nation, in communities large and small, so many suffrage-rekated events are scheduled that I can’t list them all in terms of exhibits, plays, conferences, lectures, art exhibits, forums, and much more.

Other updates from Suffrage Wagon News Channel: Madison Kimrey, the 12 year old identifying herself as part of a new generation of “suffragettes,” confronted the NC governor about making voting difficult for young people, and then she set up a Facebook page.

NC Youth RocksThe Facebook page highlights past and current activities that respond to guidelines relative to rolling back voting rights for young people.

Australian currency

What country followed New Zealand in granting women the right to vote on Planet Earth? Australia. This doesn’t mean that suffrage history is taught better in Australia than in other places around the world. I stumbled on a great blog article that addresses this point. The blog commentator noted:

“Most people know in a vague way that Australia was the second country to grant all women (except Aboriginal women, in some states) the right to vote after New Zealand, and if you didn’t know that, we super did and go us. That’s pretty much everything you learn about Australian women’s suffrage at school, which makes it seem like women were just gifted the vote without having to do anything. That’s wrong, sister — the suffragettes worked their petticoated butts off, touring the country and collecting thousands of signatures on petitions…”

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

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.

“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.

Edna Kearns is among 2014 National Women’s History Month Nominees

2014 National Women's History Month NomineesEdna Kearns is a 2014 National Women’s History Month nominee, as featured in the “Women’s History 2014 Gazette.” The theme for 2014 is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.”

The National Women’s History Project is one of the trailblazers in the field of women’s history and is increasingly recognized as such. Each year’s Gazette features noteworthy women, and it is a resource for projects and key events around the nation. A gala reception and dinner celebrating the National Women’s History Month 2014 honorees will be held March 27, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at The Willard Hotel, Washington, DC. Tickets are available at the NWHP web site. The NWHP Gazette costs $10 for 25 copies, plus all sorts of goodies available to order for Women’s History Month celebrations in March. It’s a no brainer.Edna Kearns: 2014 National Women's History Month Nominee

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and views of the suffrage movement. Postings twice a week, plus a quarterly newsletter. Suffrage Wagon also has YouTube and Vimeo channels.

No New York State suffrage centennial planning (yet): News notes and videos during “Hot Tea Month”

New video for Hot Tea MOnthSuffrage film buffs in the UK are busy preparing to go into production for a suffrage movement major motion picture, “Suffragette,” in February. And the UK suff sit-com “Up the Women” has been pleasing audiences over the past year.

But what about your local community, your friends and associates who are itching to get started with suffrage centennial planning? In the US during 2014, Nevada and Montana have their centennials underway. And don’t forget the necessity of advance planning for the 2017 suffrage centennial for New York State.

When NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his 2014 State of the State message in early January, he said nothing about planning the upcoming 2017 state women’s suffrage centennial. The entire 2014 message can be streamed online. Cuomo’s “Women’s Equality Agenda” is on the front burner for 2014. Although this agenda is great for addressing women’s issues of the present day and the future, leaving out past history suggests an imbalance.

It isn’t too late, though time is passing quickly. Planning should be in motion during 2014 and 2015 so that the NYS suffrage centennial can be launched by 2016 in preparation for an intense year of celebrations and special events the following year.

Perhaps nothing is going on behind the scenes for NYS to start the planning. Or we could be surprised! New York, after all, has within its borders the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

The website of the BBC History Magazine is featuring an excellent article: “1848: The Year of Revolutions.” The American women’s rights movement was kicked off in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and the BBC History Magazine gives the broader context of this important historical event in terms of social change movements throughout the world.

Tea MemorabiliaHave you been following the Suffrage Wagon Film Festival during “Hot Tea Month”? Check out some of these videos: #1: Suffrage Wagon launches “Hot Tea Month. #2: Alice Paul and her tea house, “The Grated Door.” #3: Examples of tea sets and suffrage tea memorabilia from the collection of Ken Florey.

Take a look at the Bloomsbury book on suffrage plays. There are some great ideas if you’re thinking about planning a special suffrage centennial event. And follow SuffrageCentennials.com.

Suffrage Wagon News Channel posts twice a week and four times a year with a special newsletter. Join us!

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.”

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with postings twice a week and a quarterly newsletter.

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.

“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.

Wilmer Kearns introduces December Suffrage News Notes

Wilmer R. KearnsThis is, after all, a news channel. And that means I follow what’s happening in the larger world of issues, events, centennials, books and perspectives about women’s suffrage, as well as  the accomplishments of the  suffrage movement and how we  build on that base today. Of course, my passion is inherited from my suffragist activist grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns, who was born on December 25th.

This year I’ll be celebrating her 121st birthday, and so these news notes are for her, and for my grandfather Wilmer Kearns who told me the suffrage stories when I was young. I grew up hearing my Grandaddy Kearns talk about the movement. Only now do I fully appreciate his contributions and the role the suffrage movement played in his life. This is one of those occasions when Edna steps aside and my grandfather Wilmer Kearns, born and raised in Beavertown, PA, takes over with introducing the first of the Suffrage Wagon news notes for December.

Much-talked about video from UN Women. See also: #1. #2.  From the UK where suffrage history is honored: Susan B. Anthony had her horse chestnut tree that still shades her home at 17 Madison Street in Rochester, NY.  Glascow has a tree too, an oak planted in 1918 to honor the suffrage movement. #1. #2.  Wales honors one of its suffragettes: Emily Phipps. #1. #2.  “Woman and her Sphere” highlights the 1911 census boycott by the English suffragettes. #1. #2.

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is gearing up for more fundraising to build a memorial to the women whose harsh incarceration at the Occoquan Workhouse was a turning point in the effort to secure voting rights for all women. Stay up to date on these efforts by visiting their web site.

 

Don’t forget the recent article about the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon and Grandmother Edna Kearns’ big confrontation in Huntington, NY in 1913. It’s from “New York Archives” magazine and reprinted with permission.

Suffrage Wagon News Channel publishes posts twice a week and a quarterly newsletter four times a year. Follow us. We’re a mulit-media platform of news, stories, features, videos and much more about women’s suffrage and the suffrage movement. Videos are added often to the Suffrage Wagon video channel. Check them out! 

December 25th birthdays for suffragists Edna Kearns and Martha Wright

Martha Wright & Edna Kearns birthdays

It’s sufragist Edna Kearns‘ birthday on December 25th, as well as Seneca Falls convention heavyweight Martha Wright.

Video to celebrate these December 25th birthdays.

Edna Kearns (1882-1934) is cited as one of two suffragists of the month in December 2013 for the Long Island women’s suffrage site.  #1. #2. Want to give a gift? Edna Kearns has her own chapter in Antonia Petrash’s 2013 book about women’s suffrage: Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement. To order. And then a look at the information about Long Island historian Natalie Naylor‘s book where Edna is also featured.

Past postings about the life of Edna Kearns: Video about the love of Edna’s life: Wilmer Kearns, a response to reader requests. See video about WilmerMarguerite Kearns muses about Grandmother Edna’s birthday on December 25th. The highlights of Edna Kearns’ life on Wikipedia. Videos and background about Edna Kearns.

Edna shares a December 25th birthday with Martha Wright, who may not be as well known as her sister, Lucretia Mott, but she was a mover and shaker at Seneca Falls nonetheless. Give someone a suffrage book this holiday season. Antonia Petrash’s book highlights Grandmother Edna, plus many other suffrage activists on Long Island, some of whom may surprise you. And A Very Dangerous Woman about the life of Martha Wright is a great choice. You can get a used copy online for very little and make someone very happy. Or buy it new.

Martha Coffin WrightDecember 25, 1806 (1875) - Martha Wright, called the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 with her sister Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Stanton and others. Wright was also president of women’s conventions in 1855 in Cincinnati, Saratoga, and Albany, a founder of the American Equal Rights Association in 1866, and she continued working for equal suffrage during the Civil War.

Biography of Martha Wright

And while you’re at it, December is Suffrage Wagon News Channel’s birthday. See the video!

Visit the Suffrage Wagon feature platform and enjoy the platform you don’t get to see when you subscribe by email. Follow the suffrage wagon and link up with the “go to” place on the internet for what’s happening with women voting, today and what led up to it.

A happy 4th birthday to Suffrage Wagon, plus birthday video!

Happy Birthday, Suffrage Wagon News Channel Every year in early December there’s another birthday for Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Now it’s number four!

We’ll be celebrating 350 posts this month, and that’s quite an accomplishment. Back in the early days it wasn’t clear just how long I could keep up with blogging on a subject as focused as my suffragist grandmother Edna Kearns and her “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon. Here I am, four years later and not running out of things to say.

There’s a happy birthday video. Take a minute and smile at the thought of four candles as you send birthday greetings by way of cyberspace. Leave a comment on YouTube so that we know you’re out there cheering on the wagon as much as people took notice 100 years ago. Today the news channel keeps fans abreast of suffrage news and views, events and centennials. The story of Grandmother Edna Kearns is just as fresh as it has ever been. She represents the tens of thousands of women on the community level that it took for women to win the vote. Current affairs suggest that rights granted can also be taken away. Choose the vote and use it!

The "Spirit of 1776" article in "New York Archives"An article about the “Spirit of 1776″ in the current issue of “New York Archives” demonstrates how the suffrage wagon in its centennial year continues to have juice. Suffrage centennials like this one are an opportunity to pause for reflection and honor the hard work and dedication that went into winning the vote. Take a stand and insist that rights fought for this shouldn’t be compromised. And don’t stop at the vote itself. It’s merely a tool in our toolbox as citizens.

Grandmother Edna Kearns’ birthday is on Christmas Day. She’ll be 121 years old in 2013.

Highlights of Suffrage Wagon News Channel in 2013 include the centennial celebration of the first journey of the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon from Manhattan to Long Island in July of 1913. Some links:

Media about “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon resolution in the New York State Legislature during 2013: Ms. Magazine blog: #1. #2. Newsday coverage. #1. #2. Legislative Gazette. #1.#2. Votes for Women 2020. #1.  Feature from Women’s eNews. #1. #2. Albany TV coverage. #1. #2.  State Senator Little’s web page about resolution.#1. #2. Transcript of June 18, 2013 of the New York State Senate introduction of the Wagon Day (July 1, 2013) resolution. #1. #2. New York History blog. #1. 

Suffrage Wagon News Channel publishes twice a week and four times a year with a special quarterly newsletter. Follow us. “Marguerite’s Musings” are a special feature.

A tale of lemon meringue pie, women’s suffrage style

Marguerite's MusingsMarguerite’s Musings:

When Thanksgiving comes around each year, I love to cook and become the center of attention like I did at age ten.

My mother Wilma didn’t mind telling people about how she was a terrible cook. This was always accompanied by the explanation that her own mother, Edna Kearns, was a suffrage and women’s rights activist, and not a terribly good cook either. Because Edna had died when my mother was a young teen, even boiling water had been a challenge for my mom. So, in the absence of any of the other young’ins in my family stepping forward to care about Sunday dinners, I vowed to become a good cook.

Photo by Annie MoleLemon meringue was a delicate and delicious dessert surprise –the one thing I could carry from the kitchen and present to everyone at the dinner table, guaranteed to evoke waves of comments and compliments.

Lemon meringue pie was lip-smacking good. Roll out the pie dough. Clean up the flour mess. Make everything from scratch. No lemon pudding mix. Not me.

I dug into the back kitchen cabinet for my mom’s double boiler to prepare the lemon custard with fresh lemons, egg yokes and sugar. Yum. Bake the pie and hold the meringue until the end. Then, beat the egg whites with sugar until they form a stuff peak and spread over the top of the baked custard pie. That’s what I remember. Place the pie back in the oven and toast to a quick brown.

“You’ll make a good wife for some man, someday,” my father said after polishing off every crumb on his plate and standing in line for more. I don’t ever remember making lemon meringue pie for any of my husbands. Nor do I ever remember them making it for me. Perhaps it’s time to search for a women’s suffrage lemon meringue pie recipe as Thanksgiving approaches. There are several great suffrage movement recipe books online. I can see my dad peeking around the corner of some heavenly cloud and wondering if I’m searching for a new husband.

Follow Marguerite’s Musings on Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Postings twice a week and a newsletter four times a year. Suffrage Wagon Cooking School has yet to schedule a lesson on making lemon meringue pie. But stay tuned; you never know!

Photo of meringue by Annie Mole.

News from 100 years ago: Grandmother Edna Kearns’ Better Babies Campaign

Safe Fabric JournaL, NOV 2013I suspect that Grandmother Edna Kearns is behind some of our family activity these days. Though I never knew my grandmother because she died in 1934, she influenced my life profoundly. And it’s not just me. Edna has another granddaughter, Winifred Culp, who’s a mover and shaker, and the spirit is spreading. See Safe Fabric Journal, November 2013 issue where Winifred speaks about NearSea Naturals and her new project, SAFEfabric.org.

Edna Kearns wasn’t simply interested in the vote. She vowed to expand the range of women’s influence with her Better Babies campaign. See October 31, 1913 article from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The campaign went on for weeks, and who would have thought that classes on mothering and lobbying for social programs would be so controversial! Some of Edna’s suffrage associates were of the opinion their colleague shouldn’t mix up the issues in the suffrage movement, and Edna got her wrists smacked as a result.Edna persisted nonetheless. She didn’t believe in compartmentalizing and took her commitment to womens suffrage seriously. And if we go back to Grandmother Edna, my mother Wilma and forward, we’re touching into five generations in my family who are out in the traffic of life as movers and shakers.

Image above from an ad in one of Grandmother Edna’s womens suffrage newsletters. Visit the Suffrage Wagon platform for special features.

Points of view about Elizabeth Cady Stanton on her November birthday!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Cady Stanton copyNovember 12th is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s birthday, and it’s my mother Wilma’s birthday as well. And don’t forget my friend and collaborator Olivia Twine who weighs in with November 12th as her birthday. November is heavily weighted with women’s birthdays, and the National Women’s History Project does a great job of pointing this out.

After a trip to the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States this fall, we stood witness to the places that percolated with activity and risks during the 19th century. And these free thought activists experienced their share of criticism as well. Each year we promote travel to Seneca Falls, NY and the national park there with a virtual birthday party for Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Join us this year!

But not everyone is taking a seat at the virtual birthday party. Blogger Mikki Kendall believes that Elizabeth Cady Stanton is a skeleton in the closet of feminism. Listen to her audio. Lori Ginzberg, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s biographer, expresses what it was like to write a biography of Stanton, the first serious biography in decades, and she doesn’t spare any words about Stanton’s mixed history in the suffrage movement.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Stanton caused waves on many levels. And the purpose of studying any period of history is to draw a circle around it and examine the details, the warts, the high and low points. The suffragists were as varied as any group of women voters today, and we continue to build on their strong shoulders. Here at Suffrage Wagon News Channel we rock the cradle by embracing the suffrage movement as an important part of American history.

Visit Seneca Falls, New York: Historic gateway to the Finger Lakes. Seneca Falls has an insider’s guide. Women’s Rights National Historic ParkNational Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. Find out about other historic sites to visit in the “Cradle” of the suffrage movement near Seneca Falls, NY. A one-hour documentary about  Seneca Falls, NY and nine teenage girls who visited there to discover themselves and their history. Ideas for teachers. Review of novel about Seneca Falls by Tara Bloyd.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with twice-weekly posts of news and views of the suffrage movement.

UK suffragette film, plus sit com’s second season, and news notes

nagy_woman_reading_newspaper_1918The Brits are serious about their suffrage history and a suff sit-com is big time on the telly. Plus there are plans in the works for a major motion picture about the movement!

Suffrage news from the UK: UK media features a perfectly strange and hilarious story about an English suffragette hiding in theatre in order to steal the limelight from Winston Churchill. #1. #2. No recent updated news about the development of UK suffragette film, “The Fury,” with Carey Mulligan, so it’s still hush-hush and old news is still interesting news. #1. Female-led comedy on prime-time telly, “Up the Women,” a suffrage sit com, has a second season in its future. #1. #2.

Musical drama “Wrong’Un: A Suffragette’s Story” based on life of real English activist. #1. #2. English working women in the suffrage movement. #1. #2. Love and women’s history. #1. #2. Suffragettes of the 21st century bring the stories of the past into the present day by featuring activists who are inspired by the English suffrage movement. #1. #2. Those who believe that English suffragist Emily Davison didn’t act alone during her protest of 100 years ago involving the King’s horse –researchers continue to dig into the past. Lost tape could be key to cracking the mystery. #1. Sorting out the facts from fiction in the case of suffragette Emily Davison continues. #1. #2. 

For your news and stories of the suffrage movement: Suffrage Wagon News Channel.  Rock the cradle of the women’s rights movement with Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine. Subscribe to LetsRockTheCradle.com

Can the Women’s Rights Trail become a reality?

by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine (as published in New York History)

Street sign in Seneca Falls, NYThe federal government shutdown in Washington, DC may have dimmed the lights at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house in Seneca Falls, NY, at the visitors’ center, Wesleyan Chapel, and other park site locations. But it didn’t deter our determination to continue on the blogging tour of the “Cradle of the Women’s Rights Movement in the US” that has kept us busy from late September into October 2013.

Seneca Falls took up most of our fourth day on this blogging tour that also included Johnstown, Fayetteville, Auburn, Rochester, and Farmington. Identifying what constitutes the “cradle” is an informal process we devised that highlights key locations of activism located in a geographic area of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York that suggests a cradle shape.

These historic sites are within easy access of the New York State Thruway which makes the region an attractive and accessible destination for local, regional, national, and international travelers. Rest stops along the superhighway are loaded with state “Path Through History” leaflets and brochures, including one feature magazine where the photos of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony are prominently displayed.

At the present time there’s no definitive way to determine where to begin and end when navigating the “cradle.” Numerous historical sites in this region could qualify as destinations on a journey through this hotbed of free-thought movements.

3-StatueSenecaVisitorsCenter-300x160

We had to be realistic about what could be accomplished in a short time. Regular travelers would likely cover the territory more quickly and efficiently, while we lugged heavy camera equipment, lingered to photograph sites, and speak to as many people as possible along the way.

We purchased books, t-shirts, ate in local diners, and in our own way contributed to supporting the Finger Lakes region that has considerable strengths in history, arts and culture, colonial and abolitionist resources, Native American culture, an attractive landscape, and much more.

Seneca Falls, NY is a key site in the “cradle”. It’s the location of the 1848 convention that’s considered the jumping off point for the first wave of the US women’s rights movement. Other important historic sites, events, and themes are also associated with philosophical and political movements stirring the region and its residents throughout the 19th century.

Women’s rights activists were extremely active in abolition and temperance, which could have easily distracted us when our instinct was to race off in the direction of anything and everything that remotely seemed interesting. Even settling on a few representative locations still resulted in a whirlwind trip leaving us exhausted but more certain than ever about one thing.

The promotion and development of the “cradle” should be an important and essential priority for New York in its efforts to stimulate the upstate economy and lay the groundwork for a campaign to put the state in the forefront of travel destinations during the 2020 national suffrage centennial celebrating the 19th amendment to the US Constitution.

Back in 1848 there were many challenges facing the women who wrote and promoted the Declaration of Sentiments declaring that all men and women are created equal. The tasks facing those who promote the “cradle” remain equally daunting today.

Belt tightening at the Seneca Falls national park site has been ongoing for some time. Federal employees have been called upon to do more with limited resources. And uncertainty about additional funding for a Votes for Women History Trail only adds to the complexities associated with doing more for less money or nothing at all.

The Votes for Women trail is a proposed federal initiative that would highlight 20 historic sites, including many of those on our own “cradle” blogging tour this fall. In addition, New York State has an incomplete women’s heritage trail initiative that encompasses more than the suffrage movement. Funding to complete this state trail is supported by many New Yorkers, but whether or not funding is possible during future legislative sessions in Albany remains to be seen.

The creation of a federally-funded Votes for Women auto trail doesn’t involve the pouring of concrete, the construction of new roadways, the erection of bridges, or a delivery of bricks for new buildings. It remains, however, a significant undertaking that has advanced to the stakeholder criteria phase. A Votes for Women trail has the potential of manifesting the vision of a clearly-identified “cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US. But realistically, what are its chances of success?

An optimistic interpretation of the significance of reaching the stakeholder phase is by no means assured without additional federal funding. Some commentators question if completing this stakeholder criteria phase is an identifiable accomplishment that’s able to propel a drive to attract more visitors (and new revenues) to New York. Others suggest that reaching the stakeholder phase may simply represent a dead end.

“We really don’t know what it means,” says Noemi “Ami” Ghazala, acting superintendent of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. “The criteria may sit there for a short time or remain there for years.” When Ghazala took on the position of acting superintendent of the federal park in August of 2012, the annual Seneca Falls visitation numbers were at 20,000. In one year under Ghazala’s watch, this number has increased 40 percent to 29,000.

The increased visitation numbers involved considerable effort and outreach, Ghazala explains, including appearances in schools, state fair visitations, and a focus on increasing the numbers. When Ghazala gazes into her crystal ball to the year 2017 (the centennial of women voting in NYS), she sees support and interest in the state centennial, though how a statewide celebration will manifest is less clear.

“Whatever happens, we’ll do our best here at the park. I emphasize to groups that raise the question of a state or national centennial that it’s important to work smarter. Let’s stop duplicating our efforts. If one organization has an event, let’s all of us go to it. We can all use the support. None of us has the resources to pull off a big celebration.”

For more information about the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States, visit LetsRockTheCradle.com 

Photos: Street sign in Seneca Falls, NY outside the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Statue in national park visitors’ center. Images by Marguerite Kearns.

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.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for book reviews, commentary, audio and video you can’t get anywhere else. Suffrage Wagon is on Twitter and Facebook.

The “Cradle” Blogging Tour was a great success: Marguerite’s Musings

Seneca Falls Visitors Center

Home from the blogging tour of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US in upstate New York! What an eye opener! It’s one thing to talk about the “Cradle” of the movement in the US, and yet another thing to see it for myself. I’m exhausted. I’m happy. I have enough material to write about for the next six months.

And we left the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY right before the federal government shutdown. Or we would have been among the thousands of visitors from around the nation and world disappointed (on many levels) about the politicizing of public services. Roads were closed, visitor centers shuttered, and campers ordered to pack up and hit the road.

The loss in revenue is tremendous. An estimated 716,000 people spend  $76 million dollars a day visiting the national park system, according to one AP story in the daily paper delivered to my front door yesterday. The news piece focused on national park sites in Utah and Arizona and the bewildered tourists, many of whom had traveled considerable distances to reach the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and other national sites.

The number of visitors to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY aren’t at the level of these destinations, although in my opinion, the national park in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in upstate NY hasn’t yet reached its potential in terms of public awareness.

Olivia Twine and I started out with the unveiling of the Sojourner Truth statue in Port Ewen in the Hudson Valley as a launching pad. Then we visited Johnstown, Fayetteville, Seneca Falls, Auburn, Rochester, and Farmington. There are hundreds more places we could have visited, depending on how broad we defined our parameters. It was ambitious enough for six days on the road. Visiting sites, photographing, interviewing, and driving kept us going nonstop, and still, we couldn’t keep up with the daily blog posts. We’ll be blogging about the experience some more, and there’s plenty to think about.

This was an experience made easier by the cradle’s accessibility to the New York State Thruway. We covered a lot of territory quickly. And it appears as if we may have rocked the cradle until the limb of the national government broke in two.

Subscribe to our blog, Lets Rock the Cradle, to keep up to date with the developments associated with making the Finger Lakes region of New York State a destination for people of all ages and backgrounds interested in this significant part of American history.

Rosalie Gardiner Jones: The Story and the Video

Rosalie Gardiner Jones

Rosalie Gardiner Jones of Long Island drove a yellow horse-drawn wagon that on occasion campaigned with Edna Kearns and the “Spirit of 1776” campaign wagon. Among Long Island’s suffragists, Rosalie knew how to reach out to the movers and shakers. She also networked with other grassroots activists ands reached out to the public by standing on street corners, gathering petitions, and taking bold moves such as “hiking” or marching to the state capitol in Albany. Rosalie worked closely with any and all who put themselves on the line for Votes for Women.

Less known was the way in which Rosalie Jones was a maverick in her own family. Her mother, Mary or Mrs. Oliver Livingston Jones, was opposed to women voting, as well as Rosalie’s sister. Rosalie was the kind of rebel who didn’t hesitate to use her family’s social standing and the resources that came with it to leverage the cause of women’s rights. This was always a danger when parents sent their daughter to college, as they had with Rosalie, but relatively few took advantage of the associated opportunities as Rosalie Gardiner Jones did.

Rosalie Jones convinced photographers to document suffrage marchers if she couldn’t get the Bain News Service to show up at a particular event. She knocked down doors to get access to newspaper editors and reporters. Few questioned her bold moves because Rosalie Jones always had a good lead or unique angle. She wasn’t shy and retiring.

When Rosalie organized small bands to march from New York City to the state capitol at Albany, NY, for example, she marched in front with a megaphone and called herself the General. Rosalie Jones posed for photos as if she were on stage at the Metropolitcan Opera. When Edna Kearns rode her “Spirit of 1776” wagon around Long Island, Rosalie occasionally joined in with what she called her little yellow wagon that saw service in upstate New York as well as all the way to Ohio with activist Elisabeth Freeman to benefit the suffrage movement there.

Rosalie had reporters write about the time she went up in an airplane to distribute suffrage literature from the air. These writers covered every step of the way during the 1912 suffrage hike to Washington, as well as a hike to join the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC in 1913, plus another march to Albany in 1914 to meet with the governor. Rosalie Jones was good news copy. Any New York Times reporter could attest to that. Check out the Rosalie Jones video that’s a special feature!

For more information about Rosalie Jones, see “Women in Long Island’s Past” by Natalie Naylor and “Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Campaign” by Antonia Petrash. Follow the suffrage wagon with twice weekly postings and a quarterly newsletter. News and views of the suffrage movement, events and centennials. And don’t forget to get a seat in the front of the blogging bus that’s leaving soon for a tour of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US.

Marguerite’s Musings: Presidential Bus Goes to Seneca Falls, NY

Marguerite's MusingsIt isn’t every day that a US President visits Seneca Falls, New York. Yet this is precisely what happened this past week as I’ve been encouraging everyone to visit the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US. Who would have believed that the presidential bus would pull into the small upstate NY town and citizens lining the streets would witness a historic event! Has a US president ever visited Seneca Falls? Don’t know, but it certainly helps our “Let’s Rock the Cradle”campaign of encouraging everyone to visit the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US. See some of the press from this past week: An Albany media outlet. #1. #2. And another clip from Washington, DC. #1. #2.

Tomorrow, or August 26th, is Women’s Equality Day initiated in 1971 by Congressional Representative Bella Abzug. And on Wednesday, or August 28th, is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for jobs and freedom. It’s a time when collectively we’re re-evaluating who we are and what we stand for. And what better strategy than to touch into our own history! Suffrage Wagon link for Seneca Falls.  Here at Suffrage Wagon, we’ve pretty much been celebrating Women’s Equality Day all month with a rap video, audio, and fun in the kitchen with Suffrage Wagon Cooking School.

Fresh corn is coming into the markets right now. I love the local farmers’ market where the corn has been picked that very morning. And Chef Cutting is on the case at Suffrage Wagon Cooking School to guide us through the process whether we roast our corn in the oven, on a grill, or campfire. It’s mouthwatering great! Chef Cutting loves giving a great show, and it will transform how you roast corn. And now: the highlights of August as collected by the National Women’s History Project:

August 26, 1920 -August 26, 1920 - The 19th Amendment of the US Constitution is ratified granting women the right to vote Celebrate Women’s Equality Day
August 26, 1970 - 
Betty Friedan leads a nationwide protest called the Women’s Strike for Equality in New York City on the fiftieth anniversary of women’s suffrage
August 26, 1971 - The first “Women’s Equality Day,” instituted by Bella Abzug, is established by Presidential Proclamation and reaffirmed annually
August 26, 1976 - “EXONERATION OF ANNE HUTCHINSON DAY” - Banished by the Massachusetts General Court in 1637, our early American Foremother was exonerated in a Proclamation by then Governor Michael Dukakis
August 28, 1963 - More than 250,000 gather for a march on Washington, DC, and listen to Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech
August 30, 1984 - Judith A. Resnick is the second US woman in space, traveling on the first flight of the space shuttle Discovery.

Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon by email, or follow us with Facebook or Twitter. Let’s get the wagon back on the road again!

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.

Bonded after wearing Grandmother Edna Kearns’ clothes: Marguerite’s Musings

MusingWagonby Marguerite Kearns

The first time I wore Grandmother Edna’s dresses, it was summer. I was about ten years old when we spent hours every day at the playhouse my father built –a small building in the back yard with green shingles on the roof and openings for windows Dad never finished.

My mother told me: “Here, go and play with Grandmother Edna’s dresses and her Votes for Women sashes.” I dug into the box. My brothers and younger sister weren’t all that interested in dress ups, so I had the cardboard box to myself with its musty-smelling thin fabric, lace, and flowing long skirts.

I marched in imaginary New York City suffrage parades and wrecked the dresses, tore and dragged them through mud. They’d been stored since Grandmother Edna’s death in 1934 –unwashed after she wore them. The sensation of dressing up like Edna never left me. Throughout life I’ve always loved high collars, long skirts, petticoats, and broaches worn at the neckline.

BONDED THROUGH WEARING EDNA’S CLOTHES

When my grandmother’s clothes touched mine, we bonded. I confided to Grandmother Edna Kearns in whispers, became convinced she worried about me and protected my secrets. My friends heard every story my mother told me about Edna’s horse-drawn wagon, the “Spirit of 1776,” how she wrote articles for New York City and Long Island newspapers, and marched in Votes for Women parades –especially the big one down in Washington, DC in 1913.

Edna’s archives fell into my hands in 1982. They’d been stored for years upstairs in my Aunt Serena’s closet. My mother and I sorted newspaper clippings and letters in an attempt to make sense of all this suffrage history. There were names of organizations I’d never heard of, plus events and speaking engagements spanning more than a decade from about 1911 through 1920.

GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST AT TURN OF 20TH CENTURY

Only years later did I recognize it as an archive of a grassroots suffrage activist at the turn of the 20th century. And then it became more than this. I learned about organizing for a cause as I sorted through Edna’s archives. Edna covered every inch of Long Island. In her free time, she participated in or organized events in New York City, such as a pageant at the Armory or being part of a suffrage program at the Metropolitan Opera. Though I’d never read Grandmother Edna’s writings all the years of storage in Aunt Serena’s closet, I was surprised to discover my own writing at the newspaper where I worked was almost identical in style to Edna’s. More than one person among my friends and family says I have Grandmother Edna in my DNA.

“Marguerite’s Musings” is a feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel. 

Follow the Suffrage Wagon to stay up to date with news and stories of the suffrage movement. We’ve been highlighting events, suffrage centennials, trends, and more since 2009. Tweets about suffrage news and views since 2010. Find out about Edna Kearns, the womens suffrage movement, how the 19th amendment came about, the campaign wagon called the “Spirit of 1776″ that is today in the New York State Museum and how it is the featured suffrage centennial in 2013 on this suffrage news channel.

“Spirit of 1776″ by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Part III

Independence Hall, PhiladelphiaThe continuing story of the suffragists’ demonstration at the nation’s centennial celebration in Philadelphia in early July 1876.

by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

. . . With this rebuff, Mrs. Mott and I decided that we would not accept the offered seats, but would be ready to open our own convention called for that day, at the First Unitarian church. But some of our younger coadjutors decided that they would occupy the seats and present our Declaration of Rights. They said truly, women will be taxed to pay the expenses of this celebration, and we have as good a right to that platform and to the ears of the people as the men have, and we will be heard. That historic Fourth of July dawned at last, one of the most oppressive days of that heated season. Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Sara Andrews Spencer, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Phcebe W. Couzins made their way through the crowds under the broiling sun of Independence Square, carrying the Woman’s Declaration of Rights.

This Declaration had been handsomely engrossed by one of their number, and signed by the oldest and most prominent advocates of woman’s enfranchisement. Their tickets of admission proved an “open sesame” through the military barriers, and, a few moments before the opening of the ceremonies, these women found themselves within the precincts from which most of their sex were excluded. The Declaration of 1776 was read by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, about whose family clusters so much historic fame. The moment he finished reading was determined upon as the appropriate time for the presentation of the Woman’s Declaration. Not quite sure how their approach might be met, not quite certain if, at this final moment, they would be permitted to reach the presiding officer, those ladies arose and made their way down the aisle.

The bustle of preparation for the Brazilian hymn covered their advance. The foreign guests and the military and civil officers who filled the space directly in front of the speaker’s stand, courteously made way, while Miss Anthony, in fitting words, presented the Declaration to the presiding officer. Senator Ferry’s face paled as, bowing low, with no word he received the Declaration, which thus became part of the day’s proceedings. The ladies turned, scattering printed copies as they deliberately walked down from the platform. On every side eager hands were outstretched, men stood on seats and asked for them, while General Hawley, thus defied and beaten in his audacious denial to women of the right to present their Declaration, shouted, “Order, order!”

For more information, visit the Suffrage Wagon platform at suffragewagon.org This year is the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. Join us in a special celebration: a video, a book review, and links when planning a visit to Seneca Falls, NY. Part IV, the final installment of this suffrage series, coming soon.

Suffrage Wagon features news and stories, events. One recent suffrage centennial acknowledged the first journey of the “Spirit of 1776″ campaign wagon used in New York City and on Long Island.

New suffragette feature film in UK: Suffrage Wagon News Notes

NewsNotesA lot on our plate: The Brits are ahead of us with an announcement about a new feature film about the suffrage movement under production! #1. #2. Do you know about the Suffragette Cocktail? #1 #2. The “anti” suffrage forces are on the move –the same old thing and with the attitude of a former generation. #1. #2. 

Video on how to make the best roast corn for your next cookout. Introducing Suffrage Wagon Cooking School. It’s part of our suffrage centennial series, and 2013 is the centennial of the “Spirit of 1776′s” first journey. You’ll love this way of cooking from Chef Cutting. Make your next cookout a sensation!

August is perfect to begin planning for a high tea in early November to commemorate the Night of Terror. A quick refresher. This may seem early, but it’s also when planning should be underway on how to celebrate Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s birthday on November 12th.  And also, there’s the Night of Terror in November. It’s a possibility for a gathering of friends because there’s more possibilities for a program about our history that will have guests sitting on the edge of their seats.

Norway is having its suffrage centennial this year. The June events may be over, but there’s an international conference in November 2013 that promises to be interesting. For more information. Chick History has news items worth subscribing to. #1. #2. Women’s issues that haven’t changed since 1911. #1. #2. Activist school in UK was once called Suffragette Summer School. #1.165 years since the Seneca Falls convention of 1848. #1. #2.

And if you haven’t ever traveled to Seneca Falls, NY, it’s still warm weather right now. Visit our page on Seneca Falls resources.

Video of the Declaration of Sentiments, 1848, reading by Amelia Bowen. Video about the “Spirit of 1776″ resolution that declared July 1, 2013 Wagon Day in NYS. Ode to the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon.

News items to think about: Bad jokes about women’s rights aren’t funny these days. #1. #2.  Long Island exhibit includes women’s suffrage. #1. #2. And what about Votes for Women on the east end of Long Island? #1. #2. The Women’s Equality Agenda highlights. #1. #2. NOW impatient with politicians with histories of objectifying women. #1. #2. Another suffragist ancestor honored. #1. Illinois suffrage centennial produces play. #1. #2.  The force feedings are still remembered. #1. #2.

Suffrage Wagon has its own YouTube channel. We’re posting new videos all the time. Visit Suffrage Wagon’s feature platform.

The”Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon travels on: a suffrage centennial

One hundred years ago, all through the month of July 1913, the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon traveled for freedom throughout Long Island (NY). A quick overview of what happened during this suffrage centennial observance in 2013 can be seen through videos, special postings, and the story of the resolution that passed both houses of the New York State Legislature on June 18, 2013 designating July 1, 2012 the “Spirit of 1776″ Wagon Day in NYS. It’s a suffrage centennial celebration that brings the story home to us today.

Video about legislative resolution for the “Spirit of 1776″ resolution. Video about the 165th anniversary year for the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.

About Edna Kearns: her life and her travels with the “Spirit of 1776.” About the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon. Ode to the Wagon video. About Suffrage Wagon News Channel. The archives, so you can catch up on what you missed. Audio highlights. The Suffrage Wagon media room. Edna Kearns’ family members chime in. Visit Seneca Falls, NY. Other news items that are special for this suffrage centennial celebration. Find out about Votes for Women 2020.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news, views, events, suffrage centennials, and more. Image: The “Spirit of 1776″ on exhibit for six months at the state Capitol in Albany, NY during 2012.

Coming soon: the Suffrage Wagon Cooking School.

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.

July 2013 has its own Suffrage Wagon News Notes

NewsNotesJuly2013In both the US and UK, there’s considerable activism by those who’ve had enough of the last hurrah devoted to keeping women in their place. This is what happens when social systems transition, such as what we’re witnessing now. Women can grin and bear it, or stand up to be counted. One example is the banknote campaign underway in the UK, where the likeness of only one woman, Quaker and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (other than royalty), has appeared on a bank note. Now Fry is being replaced by Churchill, and this has more than annoyed women. The protest went viral. This article about the 30,000 signatures gathered by motivated activists is worth looking at, and it stands squarely on the shoulders of the English suffragettes.

New book on Long Island’s movement: #1. Special feature coming soon.

This year’s birthday celebration for suffragist and human rights activist Ida B. Wells will take place July 12-14, 2013 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Contact the museum for more information: idabwells@bellsouth.net. Video: “Ode to the ‘Spirit of 1776′ ” suffrage wagon. Video: “Spirit of 1776″ Wagon Day from Votes for Women 2020 which organized the 2013 legislative resolution and a press conference on June 19, 2013 in Albany.

News notes from all over:  “Lady Liberty: A Counter-Narrative.” #1. Second season for UK sit com about the suffrage movement. #1. #2. Star suffrage quilt. #1. #2. Illinois suffrage centennial. #1. #2. The Norway suffrage centennial. #1. #2. Opening of old suffrage safe sparks interest from around the nation and world. #1. #2. Coverage about US Supreme Court decision and erosion of voting rights. #1. #2. Plan for events associated with anniversary of Seneca Falls convention in July and Women’s Equality Day in August 2013. #1.  One billion rising for justice observance set for 2014. #1. #2.  Afghan women voters. #1. #2. Vote for wagon resolution. #1. #2. Clean tourism in NYS. #1. #2. 

Suffrage Wagon has been tweeting since 2010. Blogging about the suffrage movement and the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon since 2009.

July 4th grill and a holiday story from 137 years ago: Suffrage Centennial Special

Image: Library of CongressIt’s a mulit-tasking feat to run from the computer to the back yard to greet friends and at the same time finish this Fourth of July posting. Tomorrow it’s old news that 137 years ago on July 4th, suffrage activists traveled to Philadelphia to be part of the nation’s celebration of the Declaration of Independence. It was too good of an opportunity to make the point that the American Revolution was far from finished as far as women were concerned. They asked permission to be part of the program and were refused. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote about the holiday in vivid detail in her memoir. This is Part I read by Suffrage Wagon’s own reader, Amelia Bowen, who says this is one of her favorite readings. I’m turning up the volume as I’m counting out paper plates, cups, tableware, and napkins on their way to the picnic table. Part II: coming soon! Happy 4th of July!

Here’s the link to the six-minute reading in Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s own words.

The summer issue of the Suffrage Wagon quarterly newsletter is out. If you haven’t read it, here’s your chance. This Suffrage Wagon blog has limited options. For full features, visit our Suffrage Wagon full platform and follow us from there. See link.

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.

June 2013 Suffrage Wagon News Notes

NewsNotesJune2013

Big week in Albany, NY with legislative resolution highlighting “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon: Book about Long Island suffrage movement expected to be published in late June 2013. #1. #2.

“Spirit of 1776″ wagon cited on Senator’s web page. #1. #2. Overview of the wagon’s travels in Albany, NY. #1. #2. News 10 in Albany covers “Spirit of 1776″ legislative resolution. #1. #2. #3.

The suffragette sit-com in the UK has been signed up for a second season. Emily Davison centennial reminds everyone of her sacrifice. #1. #2.  Unique perspective about English suffragette Emily Davison at the Derby. #1. #2. Excellent articles part of series on Emily (Woman and Her Sphere): #1. Guardian article on Emily. #1. #2.  Special June ceremony at House of Commons. #1.

UK media runs series about the “New Suffragists” of today. #1. #2. The new suffragettes around the world. #1. #2. And even more about the big suffrage picture. #1. #2. Women in Egypt called “new suffragettes.” #1. Young woman from UK interviewed about meaning of the vote to her today. #1. Young people are wild about the suffrage movement. #1.  Fourth graders learn about Elizabeth Cady Stanton. #1. #2. New England finds tourism outlook sunny. Suffrage history fits well with cultural tourism promotion.  #1. #2.  Men suffrage supporters referenced in contemporary appeal. #1. #2.  Ask a scholar about how the movement impacted the US. #1. #2. The women’s rights quilt continues. #1. #2.  The UK suffrage sitcom generates more media. #1. #2. 

Suffrage Wagon News Channel has new videos often. Do you ever check in with the main platform? If not, pay us a visit.

What was Edna Kearns doing on June 27, 1913?

What was Grandmother Edna Kearns doing in June 100 years ago? Grassroots organizing at every opportunity. There were meetings –outdoors, indoors, up on soapboxes, standing on automobiles, out with the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon on the beach, and anywhere a crowd gathered. Such is the nature of grassroots organizing. You get out the message however you can, where ever you can. The South Side Observer was a Long Island paper. Edna knocked on editors’ doors with her columns and special suffrage reports. For information about Edna Kearns, her life and work –video and bio.

And now the answer as to what Edna Kearns was doing on June 27th one hundred years ago. She was clipping the newspaper to preserve a record of her grassroots organizing:
South Side Observer, June 27, 1913

Visit Seneca Falls, New York

Visit Seneca Falls, New York: Located in the “cradle” of the women’s rights movement in New York State. Seneca Falls is considered the historic gateway to the Finger Lakes.

Link to Seneca Falls ad. Women’s Rights National Historic Park and National Women’s Hall of Fame are in Seneca Falls, NY. Also: #1.  The park is a must see. New programs every season. Seneca Falls has an insider’s guide for visitors which makes the case that there’s something for everyone in the family.

Resources: The awakening of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Part I. Part II. A virtual birthday party for Elizabeth Cady Stanton from Suffrage Wagon News Channel gives reasons for visiting Seneca Falls this summer. We celebrate Cady-Stanton’s birthday all year long.  Ideas for teachers.

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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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News of suffragette sit-com and many updates

newsnotesmore copyI just signed a digital petition. Tara forwards them to me. Bless her! It’s another tool in my tool box –along with recycling. Any of these things alone won’t budge the inertia associated with humans taking necessary steps to build a safe and sustainable future. But it keeps the Big Picture in mind while taking the garbage outsider to the composter. Digital petitions work when they’re included in a movement’s toolbox. If digital petitions are an end in themselves, they’re unlikely to attract much attention. Here’s the link to the petition Tara sent me. It’s all in the spirit of Grandmother Edna who was a peace activist, which in her day represented a challenging cause.

And now… on to Suffrage News Notes: A YouTube trailer about “Up the Women,” a suffragette sit-com. “Up the Women,” the suffragette situation comedy on UK TV featured. #1.  Even more about UK suffrage sit-com. #1.

An appeal to women to lead the Third Women’s Revolution. #1. #2. Speculation about a woman presidential candidate in 2016. #1. #2. Upcoming state suffrage centennial celebration in Illinois. #1. Woman mayor in Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s hometown has stepped down. #1. #2. Congressional medal for Alice Paul bill filed. #1. #2. Appeal to protect voting rights. #1. #2. Sojourner Truth statue vandalized. #1. #2.   Free suffrage downloads. #1. #2.  The Atlantic’s suffrage coverage. #1. #2. The story behind the story of Votes for Women. #1. #2. 

The unfinished women’s rights statue at the nation’s capitol. #1. #2. Should we change the date for Election Day? #1. #2.  Student wins contest for suffrage project. #1. #2. Pro women voters and candidates. #1. #2. Efforts to expand voting. #1. #2. Funding the Susan B. Anthony House. #1. #2.  Class trip to the cradle of the movement. #1. #2.  Suffragists in Texas. #1. #2.  One hundred years ago for big NYC parade. #1. #2. Honoring suffrage history. #1. #2.

News from: Japan. #1. #2. Bahamas. #1. #2. Norway’s national suffrage  centennial. #1.  Article from England: Suffragettes on hunger strikes. #1. Report from Australia. #1. #2. International Women’s History Month. #1#2. Jewelry of the suffragettes. #1.  The theme of cats in the suffragette movement. #1. #2.  Suffrage badge hung up in customs. #1. #2. 

This video about horse-drawn wagons used in the suffrage movement goes with Ken Florey’s wagon article (the images are from his postcard collection). See two-part article about wagons used in Votes for Women movement by Ken Florey, whose new book on suffrage memorabilia is expected to be published in late June 2013. See his web site for more information.

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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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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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The suffrage shop for the WPU: Part II, by Kenneth Florey

In the spring of 1914, suffrage leader Harriot Stanton Blatch continued experimenting with various forms of publicizing suffrage and purchased a used, horse-drawn van, with the intention of converting it into a roving shop. The van was moved from place to place every few days, and sold a variety of suffrage literature and memorabilia such as colorful buttons, pencils, ribbons, and even suffrage cigarettes.

“Votes for Women” cigarettes caused considerable controversy within the movement when the WPU announced earlier that they would be selling them at the grand opening of their headquarters in December 1910.  Many suffragists were strongly opposed to the use of tobacco, and condemned its sale in any form. The WPU version, however, was made of chocolate, a fact that was kept secret until opening day in order to create publicity through controversy.  The cigarettes sold from the wagon were also probably made of chocolate.

The WPU wagon shop carried on the format of its stationary predecessor in that it served both as a retail establishment and as a platform for speakers.  A side of the van folded out to allow a small platform to be let down, much in the manner of a drawbridge. Speakers emerged from the van, bringing the message of suffrage to various parts of the city.

Blatch explained to the press, “Young people move; the shop will move; democracy moves . . . youth harnessed to democracy is certainly a winner.” The shop apparently attracted many working women and men, one of Blatch’s main goals when she had organized the Equality League in 1907. As the suffrage movement became more and more popular among society women in New York, Blatch did not want to forget about workers, and the van became a way of reaching them.

The roving shop had but a limited shelf life, however. In late 1914, it was abandoned for a more permanent site, a shop on New York City’s famous Fifth Avenue.  Management of the shop became one of the prized positions in the WPU, and was held by some of the wealthiest of New York socialites, including Vera Whitehouse, Louisine Havemeyer, and Helen Rogers Reid.  Still, the wagon had achieved various successes. Its value was a form of visual rhetoric was enormous.  Articles about it in such papers as The New York Times gave valuable publicity to suffrage, as many in the general public eagerly awaited its appearance in their neighborhoods.

Image: WPU suffrage wagon shop. From Library of Congress.

If you have an email subscription, chances are that you’re missing out on a lot of the colorful photos, graphics, and videos available on the suffragewagon.org site.  If so, play us a visit. Also, check out Kenneth Florey’s web site on suffrage memorabilia.