A fairy tale story of suffrage

My Aunt Serena Kearns was known as Nassau County’s “youngest suffragist.” If there was a poster child for woman’s suffrage, it was little Serena. Her image was preserved when sitting in her mother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon, the “Spirit of 1776” with the large bow in her hair. Yes, this is the same wagon on exhibit on the second floor of the New York State capitol through the summer of 2012.

Little Serena accompanied her mother, Edna Kearns, in New York City parades and on whirlwind campaigns for Votes for Women on Long Island.  This article from the Brooklyn Times on February 13, 1913 documents a suffrage story that Serena wrote:

“Once upon a time there was a fairy called Suffrage. Now it happened that the laws of the land did not suit her. She believed in equal rights. But in that land the men did not believe in the women voting.

“Now fairy Suffrage was a smart fairy: She went to the President. But she did not dress as a fairy. Oh, no! She dressed as a poor working girl asking for the vote to help her in her work. The President wouldn’t help.

“The next day while she was out walking she met an enemy of hers. His name was Ignorance. Ignorance began to say disagreeable things to her. ‘Ignorance,’ she said. ‘I will go to Justice, the queen of the fairies, for help.’ This she did. And Justice said: ‘I can help you because I dwell in almost everybody’s heart, while Ignorance lives in the hearts of so few people. I can overcome Ignorance with my wonderful power.’ Then Justice won the battle in the year 1915 and fairy Suffrage was saved.”

Poor Serena must have been disappointed as suffrage wasn’t approved in 1915 by New York State voters. However, it passed in 1917, which means the upcoming 100th anniversary is in 2017.

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10 responses to “A fairy tale story of suffrage

  1. That’s so sweet. Children’s grasp of complex situations, and ability to boil them down to the essence, is always impressive.

  2. Little Serena is right. Ignorance is a problem. She would be shocked at the number of men running around who have the gall to suggest that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote and the 19th amendment should be repealed. The reason? Because women are stupid and don’t vote the way these men believe they should. Maybe this is why there are growing numbers of single women in the U.S. An enormous demographic. I wonder if this is because they can’t find intelligent partners to live with who respect and care about them.

  3. I admire your regular postings. Stay with it. I’m there on the other end following along.

  4. I can picture eight-year-old Serena Kearns watching her mother hitch a horse to this buggy, climbing up onto the high wagon seat, and heading from town to town. No wonder people came from miles around.

  5. Nice story.

  6. We’re living in a fat world in more ways than one. Other countries are graduating more young people who are willing to work harder to get their piece of the pie. The failure of No Child Left Behind only shows that we can’t force kids to learn and apply it in the world. Everything is changing. Search engines are making people powerful in a way they were never before, and people are reaching out to learn more about ALL civil rights movements.

  7. Veronica Pinkham

    The women who worked for the vote passed the torch to the next generation. I hope that the children carried on the legacy which we are doing now. Hurrah!

  8. It must have been a dilemma for the suffragettes about how much their children would be involved in the campaigning. I’m sure the leaders ran into a dilemma about how much their children should be allowed to be children and how they related to the activities and work. I think of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and all her children. I don’t know how Elizabeth Cady Stanton dealt with this when her kids were small, but her daughter and granddaughter went on to become suffrage leaders. Would like to hear more about this.

  9. I wonder what Serena’s life was like after the suffrage movement. I bet she carried on the work in her own way.

  10. The suffs didn’t use children a lot, though there are a bunch of examples like little Serena. I’m sure the antis got on the suffs’ case about it.

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