Tag Archives: women’s suffrage

Suffrage Wagon gathered speed in 2013 for women’s suffrage!

The "Spirit of 1776" suffrage wagonSuffrage Wagon News Channel celebrated a total of 350 posts since its inception in 2009. We have several platforms including the Suffrage Wagon blog and the web site. There’s a newsletter four times a year. I also post suffrage history on New York History, as well as Lets Rock the Cradle. Follow the suffrage wagon directly or touch in occasionally.

Edna Kearns is a 2014 National Women’s History Month nominee, as featured in the “Women’s History 2014 Gazette.”  New York Archives magazine article about the suffrage wagon, the “Spirit of 1776″ highlighted and summarized its history. And the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon was honored by a resolution by both houses of the New York State Legislature designating July 1, 2013 as Wagon Day in the state. During “Hot Tea Month” in January 2014, we featured videos on tea and the suffrage movement (See Video #1, #2), as well as Ken Florey’s articles about the role tea events had in organizing for the larger movement.

Tea for Two at Suffrage Wagon News ChannelWomen’s suffrage history isn’t a top draw, so considering what’s out in the marketplace for folks to consider thinking about, this is terrific. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has come a long way in the past four years as a multi-media platform about what it took for women to win the vote from 1848 to 1920. We also follow our sisters in the UK and around the world who have a passion for their history.

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Suffrage china and suffrage movement tea parties

Suffrage tea cups“Hot Tea Month” is almost over, but there’s still room for a good hot cup of tea, plus two great articles. One is from Grandmother’s Choice, a terrific web site that is ending its focus on women’s rights. The Underground Railroad is next, and many suffrage activists also were part of that movement. As a loyal follower of Grandmother’s Choice, we’ll miss the suffrage history! See great tea cup spread. Grandmother’s Choice PDF.

Enjoy this special article from the Canton Tea Company in the UK which caters to those who love tea. See below!

The English suffrage movement’s tea parties by Kate/Canton Tea Company

Tea has many unusual connections but one of the least obvious perhaps is the fact that towards the end of the 19th century, tearooms provided a safe haven and meeting place for the women suffragists and may have been instrumental in furthering their cause.

In many areas of Britain, local branches of the women’s movement grew out of the temperance societies. T-Total meetings were often just very large tea parties (with a sermon or two thrown in) and the women, who brewed gallons of tea and dished it out in mugs, encouraged “guests” to turn away from harmful alcohol and instead drink “the cup that cheers but does not inebriate.”

Towards the end of the 19th century, society was changing fast. New public transport allowed easier movement into and around town, more women were working in professional employment, going out more, shopping in the new department stores. And yet, there were no even moderately respectable places where some kind of refreshment could be taken by female shoppers.

BAD MANNERS TO REFER TO WOMEN’S BODIES

When William Whitely opened his department store in Bayswater in the 1870, he applied for a licence to open a restaurant inside the store but was refused on the grounds of its potential for immoral assignations! And where were women to wash their hands and find other essential comforts? It was still considered very improper and frightfully bad manners to refer to women’s bodies, and finding a lavatory was almost impossible.

The provision of public conveniences for ladies was considered outrageous and it was not until 1884 that the first “convenience” run by the Ladies Lavatory Company opened near Oxford Circus. To provide for women’s needs, women-only clubs started appearing – The University Women’s Club in 1883, The Camelot Club for shop and office workers in 1898, Harrods Ladies Club in 1890. And women met more and more frequently in tearooms.

Tea had always had very genteel connections. As the public tearooms became more and more popular during the 1880s and 90s, they were recognised as very respectable places where women could enjoy a peaceful cup of tea away from the hurley-burley of busy urban streets. They created the perfect place for a little light refreshment, for a chat, and for discussions about politics and votes for women and, of course, for planning campaigns and demonstrations.

INDEPENDENCE AND TEA PARTIES WENT HAND IN HAND

In Votes For Women, published in 1956, Roger Fulford wrote: “The spread of independence was helped by the growth of the tea shop. A few expensive restaurants existed but apart from these, there were no places for a quick meal other than the formality of the large damask tablecloth and best silver at home, or the brisk clatter of the bar parlour. The tea shop gave the young – perhaps in revolt against the stuffiness of family afternoon tea – an ideal meeting place; it was an integral part of the women’s liberation movement.” And according to Margaret Corbett Ashby, the teashops run by the ABC (Aerated Bread Company) were “an enormous move to freedom.” Once the suffrage campaign got going, the tearooms played a central part.

YOUNG HOT BLOODS TOOK TO TEA

In 1907, the Young Hot Bloods (the younger members of the Women’s Social & Political Union, founded in 1907) met at a tea shop in the Strand. And Alan’s Tea Room at 263 Oxford Street regularly advertised the free use of its large function room for members of the Women’s Social Political Union. Records show that the room was used in 1910 by the Tax Resistance League and in 1911 by the Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society for its inaugural meeting. In 1913, at the end of the “pilgrimage” to London by the NUWSS (the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies), some of the women (a few from the 50,000 who attended the rally) went to Alan’s for dinner and no doubt for several restorative and well-deserved cups of tea!   (Complete Canton Tea Company article in PDF format.)

Don’t forget that U.S. suffrage activist Lucretia Mott loved oolong tea. Stock up for gatherings with friends and family members.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with twice weekly postings of news and views of the movement. Suffrage Wagon has YouTube and Vimeo channels. Suffrage Wagon video for “Hot Tea Month.” Make a cup of hot tea and relax.

VIDEO Special for Hot Tea Month: “How to make a cup of tea”

Video: "How to make a cup of tea"

VIDEO for “Hot Tea Month” is “How to make a cup of tea.” It’s Suffrage Wagon Cooking School’s contribution to reducing the effects of cabin fever and the cold front impacting most of the nation.

In other news and commentary: We’re going into a year when it’s difficult to get much at all passed through the U.S. Congress. Various battles over voting rights are expected to set a trend in which the act of voting may become even more difficult for students, the poor andethnic minorities. At Suffrage Wagon we’re celebrating what it took to win the vote. Not even a hundred years have passed since that accomplishment. It’s expected to be a challenging year.

Meanwhile, let’s party with hot tea and sweets by inviting over our friends and family to celebrate women’s freedom to vote, although there are numerous vested interests that we stay behind in the kitchen. If so, let’s party in the kitchen and declare all attempts to suppress our vote as unacceptable.

HSSM_2014CalcoverCalendars have a relatively short shelf life in the marketplace. But it’s a close companion as the year passes. It’s still not too late to buy a 2014 Suffrage Calendar. This is the Howland Stone Store Museum’s first calendar of its type and what a treasure. See ordering information on the web site.

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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!

VIDEO, plus Part II of Ken Florey article about hot tea and the suffrage movement

Video showing vintage tea sets and memorabilia from the suffrage movement from the author’s collection. A special feature during national Hot Tea Month!

by Kenneth Florey

English suffrage activist Sylvia Pankhurst was responsible for the design of several tea sets. One, commissioned by the WSPU from the Diamond China Company for their refreshment stall at the Scottish WSPU Exhibition in Glasgow in 1910, was also available for sale after the event. Here Pankhurst’s angel with clarion was now facing right. A thistle, the national flower, was included in the image. A third set, probably also attributable to her and certainly the rarest of all English suffrage tea china, pictured the image taken from the Holloway Prison Badge that was given to all WSPU martyrs for the cause.

The prison gate was drawn in green, and the prison arrow, which all suffrage prisoners were forced to wear on their dresses, was in dark purple. The Women’s Freedom League, the militant but non-violent organization that broke away from the WSPU over policy differences, also produced china that probably consisted in part of teacups and saucers, but no independently produced full tea services are known.

One of the first suffrage “collectibles,” a piece that was made for display only and had no utilitarian value at all, was a silver commemorative spoon that was designed by Millie Burns Logan of Rochester, New York in 1891. It featured a bust of Susan B. Anthony at the tip of the handle, her name, and the words “Political Equality.” While there are about five different types of spoons known in this design, including a walnut spoon,” at least two are associated only with tea, including a small demitasse variety as well as a full teaspoon. Logan’s mother was Anthony’s cousin, and the spoons were probably sold as a fundraiser and not for personal profit. Other commemorative silver teaspoons were later produced, including one ordered by NAWSA for their convention in 1912.

NAWSA, as well as other suffrage groups, also sold special “Votes for Women” paper napkins, which, although theoretically could be used with any type of meal or refreshment, probably were quite popular at suffrage tea parties. Certainly, not all suffrage “tea events” necessarily involved special tea or “Votes for Women” cups, saucers, and napkins. However, enough of them did, in part to encourage the sale of such suffrage artifacts, and in part to reinforce the message of the day. If one were not encouraged sufficiently by a speaker to contribute to the cause, either through money or through work, perhaps the very tea cup that one was drinking from reinforced the compelling message of the movement.++

Link to Part I of the story about suffrage tea memorabilia. Did you like this article? Ken Florey’s web site. The video photos are from Florey’s suffrage memorabilia collection. Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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