Tag Archives: women’s suffrage

Kearns archive at New York Botantical Garden for Echo Dale Gardens

Echo Dale GardensWhat happened to Wilmer and Edna Kearns and the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon after the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920? They moved from Rockville Centre, NY with daughter Serena Kearns back to Pennsylvania where their second child, Wilma, was born in November 1920.

The New York Botanical Garden  (the LuEsther T. Mertz Library) has archival materials in its collection from the business Edna and Wilmer founded, Echo Dale Gardens, located in the Philadelphia area. More items have been added recently. The Mertz Library maintains a wide scope of materials related to the nursery industry in the United States, including correspondence between nursery owners and their customers, invoices, plant inventories, sales brochures, catalogs, newspaper and magazine articles.

Edna B. Kearns and Wilmer R. Kearns’  love of plants and nature led to the establishment of Echo Dale Gardens, the nursery they owned and operated together after 1920. Wilmer and Edna were active in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and their prize-winning flowers and plants were displayed each year at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Local newspapers document Edna’s public speaking about gardening in the Philadelphia area. The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon was on display at the nursery for many years for the purpose of educating the public about how American women won the vote.

Their second child Wilma dressed as the little Dutch girl, the trademark for Echo Dale Gardens for special events and at the Philadelphia Flower Show. After Edna’s death in 1934, Wilmer continued operating the nursery at Echo Dale until World War II. In retirement he reopened the nursery in Ambler, PA. The overall collections at the New York Botanical Garden library also include plant information guides, nursery catalogs, exhibition guides, and other materials.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the movement, as well as the life and times of Edna Kearns, Wilmer Kearns, and the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon.

Podcast #2: “Playing Politics with the President”

Woodrow WilsonThis second audio podcast of “Playing Politics with the President” is a provocative look at the determination of women to press the issue of their rights in 1913. I love the description of the first deputation to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson –and then the second and the third. We’re not hearing this account from people a hundred years after the fact. We’re fortunate to be able to  hear Doris Steven’s own words published in 1920 in “Jailed for Freedom.”

Podcast #2. “Playing Politics with the President”

I loved the description of the womens’ reaction to being led into President Wilson’s office and being asked to sit in rows of chairs, like a school room, with the Woodrow Wilson’s chair in front. Everyone in the women’s delegation admitted to being frightened by the formality. And Alice Paul’s questioning of the President is classic. No one would accept Wilson’s excuses. The women’s reactions are enough to bring a smile of support to our faces today. Essentially he told the women of the delegation that he had more important things to do besides caring about their rights. After suffragists gathered petitions from around the nation, they presented them to Congress and the Susan B. Anthony amendment was introduced, but the battle wasn’t over yet.

This audio podcast series is great if you have two minutes to get a sense of what it took for American women to win the vote. Last week we featured Podcast #1. Take some time each weekend to relax to listen and add to your awareness of the continuing drama of “Playing Politics with the President.” We’ll be sharing a new audio podcast in the series every weekend. Production by Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Audio by Librivix.

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Find out about the Seneca Falls Dialogues in Seneca Falls, NY in October at LetsRockTheCradle.com Registrations are possible now. Fall is a great time to travel. Imagine the colorful landscape and all that you can see in the vicinity of Seneca Falls, New York. Also, check with LetsRockTheCradle.com for other travel ideas when you’re in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

 

“Sister in Struggle”: Get to know suffragist Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth FreemanA great article about suffragist Elizabeth Freeman is the cover story in a recent issue of Pasadena Weekly. Their angle: Elisabeth died there, and the editorial staff was particularly interested in Elisabeth’s contribution to the anti-lynching campaign of 1916. They made a link between Elisabeth’s work and the Michael Brown case in Missouri today, welcome coverage because it illustrates the extent to which many Votes for Women activists had more than one concern, reminiscent of the early women’s rights activists involved in abolition and temperance. Elisabeth receives more attention these days for her activism in the suffrage movement, so this is a welcome addition to what’s available about her life and work. PDF of the Pasadena Weekly article.

See the great web site on Elisabeth Freeman produced by Elisabeth’s great niece Margaret Johnston of Binghamton, NY. Also. “Long Island’s Three Wagon Women” in the New York History blog.

Marguerite's MusingsI’ve been aware of Elizabeth Freeman going back years when I first heard stories about “Great Aunt Elisabeth” from my friend Jane Van De Bogart, a member of the Woodstock town board back when I lived in Woodstock, NY and prowled around local issues with my pen, pad and camera for Woodstock Times. I don’t remember if Jane mentioned her great aunt first or if I trotted out my grandmother Edna Kearns. In any event, one thing led to another.

Two people with family members who’d been suffragists in NYS would sooner or later insist on details and that’s how I found out that not only did Edna and Elizabeth know each other, but they worked together with Rosalie Jones on Long Island on women’s suffrage organizing. As Grandmother Edna Kearns was a Long Island wagon woman, so was Elisabeth Freeman who organized women from diverse backgrounds. Elisabeth also marched with Rosalie Jones to the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC –hardy souls who hiked through bad weather to prove their point.

In 1986 the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon became part of an exhibit about Elisabeth and Edna in Kingston, NY with a seed grant from the NYS Council on the Arts. Jone Miller and the Floating Foundation of Photography in High Falls, NY organized the exhibit which got me started on the long road to bring this part of American history to the attention of a broader audience. Several programs at SUNY New Paltz for Women’s History Month even involved our mothers.

Pick up a rock these days and you’ll find a descendant of a suffrage activist. That’s why I love Elisabeth Freeman. Peg Johnston has picked up the torch from her great aunt and is carrying it high these days. The general public may know about the suffrage movement nationally, but we find out much more by touching into the lives of individuals like Elisabeth, as well as the records and news coverage of clubs and associations on the local level that kept the suffrage issue alive for years. The existence of these organizations, and their ongoing events and activities, gave backbone to the national movement. Leaders at the top can’t do anything without support on the grassroots.

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We have an ongoing podcast series: “Playing Politics with the President” that features the work of the National Woman’s Party right at the time of Elisabeth Freeman’s work. Podcast #1. You can listen to the next podcast in the series, #2, this coming weekend.

VIDEO: The “Spirit of 1776″ launched its 1913 journey with letters

Marguerite's MusingsThe new music video, the “Spirit of 1776,” has a companion video about the history of the wagon and its role in suffrage grassroots organizing. It covers the weeks leading up to the first journey of the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon on July 1, 1913.

The video featuring archival evidence of the wagon’s history showcases letters from A.F. Wilson, president of the I.S. Remson wagon company in Brooklyn to the New York State Woman Suffrage Association that had offices in Manhattan. Remson claimed to be New York’s largest wagon company specializing in fine carriages, business grocer and express wagons, blankets, robes, whips, boots, and horse furnishing goods.

Though the company had been in business since 1881, automobiles had already taken a chuck out of the wagon business. And I.S. Remson company was badly in need of some fresh advertising. So a letter to Harriet May Mills, president of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in Manhattan, from A.F. Wilson, the Remson president, tested the possibility. Would the suffragists like a horse-drawn wagon for campaign purposes?  Mills said “yes,” and suggested that Edna Kearns of Rockville Center, New York use it in an upcoming organizing tour of Long Island by suffrage movement activists.

Video about The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon in 1913.

The series of letters that followed between A.F. Wilson and Kearns dealt with details such as a horse, maintenance, storage and so on. In the early days the Remson company claimed that the wagon had been built in 1776 by a Revolutionary patriot; word to this effect were painted on the side of the wagon. Over the years those claims (still faintly seen) were removed, leaving only the wagon’s name, the “Spirit of 1776.” Although the American Revolution theme worked well for the suffragists, historians and scholars have determined that the wagon actually had been built around 1820. The suffrage movement activists inherited the wagon’s history and name from I.S. Remson who heard this legend from sources on Long Island.

Though the name came with the wagon, the suffrage movement also used the theme of the “Spirit of 1776″ that dates back to the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY: the unfinished American Revolution.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with email, Facebook and Twitter, your source for the 19th amendment and other stories. Pass on these videos to any and all interested in suffrage centennial celebrations. The column, “Marguerite’s Musings,” by Marguerite Kearns is a regular feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel, publishing online since 2009.

NEW VIDEO: “Spirit of 1776″ for Women’s Equality Day!

Songwriter and performer Eighty Bug

This new music video has people talking. Now you can get in on the act by watching the “Spirit of 1776″ on YouTube. Songwriter and performer Eighty Bugg assembled quite a remarkable group of musicians, stage hands, filmmakers, and living history staff at the Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, California.

It’s a fabulous production inspired by the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon. The music video was produced by performer and songwriter Eighty Bug; directors Edwin Carungay and Lesha Maria Rodriguez; art director Jon Lagda; and the Suffragist Sisters featuring Eighty (banjolele and vocals), her sister Savannah Creech (ukulele and vocals), Ashli Lee Christoval (ukelele and vocals), Laura Guaico (tub bass), and Lisa Lui (violin), in addition to Max McVetty (percussion), and the Integral JRAT (guitar, mixing and mastering). The Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, California provided the sets and production support.

“We’re recognizing the efforts of our ancestors by creating an anthem for women everywhere to learn and sing together,” said Eighty Bug who composed and arranged the video’s lyrics and music. Her musical career has included performances in a variety of styles, including pop, hip hop, soul, R&B, rock, country, electronica, down tempo, and dance music. She continued: “Just as Americans fought for freedom from tyranny in 1776 and suffrage activists organized for equality starting in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY, we must continue to support our sisters today in the Middle East, India, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, as well as throughout the world who struggle for freedom today.”

The music video pays tribute to suffragist Edna Kearns and others who hitched a horse to the “Spirit of 1776” wagon and wore colonial dress to make the connection between the American Revolution and the unfinished social revolution that left out women. Kearns’ work symbolizes the combined efforts of tens of thousands of activists across the nation who over a 72-year period participated in the U.S. women’s suffrage movement. They worked in local and state campaigns as well as in the final push to win passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

For only the audio, the “Spirit of 1776″:

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Podcast #6, “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls”

Elizabeth Cady StantonOnly one more podcast to go after this one!

Podcast #6. Elizabeth Cady Stanton speaks about how the Seneca Falls convention didn’t end in July of 1848. The convention defenders had to defend their position on women’s rights and this meant educating themselves about hefty subjects including law and philosophy. These early suffragists initiated a study group in Seneca Falls (along the lines of Margaret Fuller) and many townspeople participated.

The short audio segments are between two and three minutes in the podcast series “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls.” One click away from the first five audio podcasts of “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls” Podcasts #1 through #6.

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The plot thickens…Podcast #3: “Trouble in Seneca Falls”

The plot thickens as the town of Seneca Falls, New York prepares for its big celebration this weekend with Convention Days 2014 where the entire community will be decked out for the festivities. Meanwhile, here’s Podcast #3 where Elizabeth Cady Stanton collaborates with four other women to plan the convention and some of the participants have second thoughts. It appeared, at first, that the 1848 women’s rights convention might be a failure. Watch for the ongoing story of “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls.” Audio, Librivox. A production of Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Hear Cady-Stanton’s own words:

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