Category Archives: 19th amendment

A story about Long Island suffrage activist Rosalie Jones, her “anti” mother and sister

Rosalie Gardiner JonesNate Levin is a real suffrage buff, and he found the article about the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon and the Huntington, NY confrontation with Mrs. Jones described in the recent New York Archives article as “fascinating.” Why?

Because Rosalie Jones, a prominent NYS suffrage activist, was from a divided family where her mother and sister were outspoken in their negativity about women voting. They weren’t shy in expressing their point of view that women had their own work to do and politics constituted a messy business. If you haven’t seen the article, take a peek with this link. And check out the video about Rosalie Jones from images that are part of the Library of Congress collection.

My grandmother Edna Kearns worked with Rosalie Jones on Long Island suffrage organizing, as well as Elisabeth Freeman who we’ll be hearing more of in 2014. Last year I paid a visit to Peg Johnston, Elisabeth’s great niece. And Elizabeth’s other great niece, Jane Van De Bogart, an old friend, was instrumental in starting me on my journey back in 1986 to discover the life and times of my grandmother.

The wagon’s exhibit in Kingston, NY was in conjunction with the Floating Foundation of Photography in High Falls, NY and the visionary work of curator Jone Miller.  It represented the first time the “Spirit of 1776″ was seen in public in New York since the days when Edna Kearns hitched a horse to the wagon and took it out on the road herself. So there’s a lot of history associated with the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon. Jane Van De Bogart and her mother Nettie, joined us in the programming at SUNY New Paltz back in 1986 (and several other programs at New Paltz College), as did my mother Wilma, plus Peg Johnston and her mother Ruth.

Watch the video about NYS suffrage activist Rosalie Jones and then imagine what it must have been like at the dinner table for the Jones family at their homes in New York City and on Long Island when the subject of women voting was raised. Video link. Long Island historian Natalie Naylor  has written extensively about Long Island women, and Rosalie Jones in particular. Natalie says that Rosalie is one of her favorite NYS suffrage activists.  Natalie’s book. Antonia Petrash’s book on the Long Island suffrage movement has an entire chapter devoted to Rosalie Jones.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel, your “go to” place for suffrage news and views, celebrations, events and centennials. Follow the “Spirit of 1776″ in postings twice a week and special newsletters four times each year.

The buzz has started about the Suffrage Wagon Centennial, plus suffrage news notes!

suffrage_wagone_high_res copy

July 2013 is the suffrage wagon’s centennial. It’s interesting how we pay attention to something when it has a 100th anniversary. Something that a few days before had been virtually invisible pops up on the radar screen and commends attention just because a centennial has been announced.

When I bring up my favorite subject of the suffrage movement, it’s surprising how often folks comment: “Women haven’t even had the right to vote for a hundred years. It’s not that long in the bigger scheme of things.”

Yes, I say. Ask people about the 19th amendment to the US Constitution and see how many know what you’re talking about. Not many.  Then mention that we have seven years to go before the national Votes for Women centennial in 2020. Most people don’t even think that far ahead, but it’s on my mind in 2013 in this year of centennials. The buzz started in earnest with the 1913 suffrage centennial parade in early March and the associated whirlwind of events, exhibits, and performances.

NewsNotesMoreMore news notes for April 2013 spill into this posting. Come May and you’ll see the full extent of suffrage-related news and events. Try for example: Alice Paul and hunger strikes. #1. #2. This latter article about Alice Paul calls her the “true” founder of the women’s movement. Now, I’ve never heard this before. And I  love Alice Paul. I suspect that Alice would bristle hearing such a claim. She had arms large enough for everyone. And then we continue on: A handmade lamp for suffrage. #1.  C-Span program about Sewall-Belmont House, headquarters of the National Woman’s Party in Washington, DC. #1. Statue of Liberty reopens in July. #1. #2.  Diversity of suffrage movement.  #1. #2.  A new look at Sylvia Plath. #1. #2. The husband of a suffragist. #1. #2. The old gap between what is and what should be. #1. #2. Women voters in Pakistan. #1. #2.  Important exhibition at the Smithsonian about women’s history. #1. #2. Community building. #1. #2. Gloria Steinem puts everything into perspective. #1. #2.   Program announced for Vision 2020. #1. #2.

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The ghosts of suffrage ancestors got Nancy Pelosi in trouble!

US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was teased in 2012. She was attacked. Some commentators suggested that she had a serious mental disorder. What’s behind such a vehement reaction?

Pelosi suggested that she’d been in communication with some of our most revered ancestors who struggled for women’s right to vote. Suffrage ancestors reportedly whispered in Pelosi’s ear about how women finally had a seat at the table of power and as a result, the suffrage spirits crowded in to witness the proceedings.

An animation short produced by an off-shore production company seems rather suspicious in terms of its origin and motivation, considering that Nancy Pelosi and our suffrage ancestors is a relatively obscure story associated with American politics. The video is worth watching, however, if only to cheer on Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and other activists. Not mentioned in the feedback is an apparently long tradition at the White House of staff and others witnessing ghosts.

Anecdotes and references to these famous suffrage ancestors were recorded at Pelosi’s speeches over time. No one in the audience threw tomatoes at her. It isn’t often when US political figures even mention the suffrage movement, though it’s happening more often these days as awareness of the long and difficult struggle to win the vote for women becomes more mainstream.

ARE YOU DESCENDED FROM A NATIONAL WOMAN’S PARTY ACTIVIST?  Get in touch with The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association. LINK

LAST-MINUTE DONATION TO SUFFRAGE MEMORIAL: LINK

Stay up to date with suffrage news and stories and the long and difficult struggle for the 19th amendment to the US Constitution. We wish everyone a happy New Year!

Happy August 26th and celebrate with a new video!

Women have been voting in the United States for 92 years. To celebrate, here’s a new video to help us make the most of the day! It’s from the National Women’s History Museum.

The National Women’s History Project has wonderful resources for the celebration of August 26. Highlights include a downloadable brochure, August dates for women’s history observances, a first-person story by Maud Wood Park about the suffrage movement, and much more! When planning any sort of event or community program, you can count on the NWHP to have lots of links and resources on its web site.

Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and stories of the Votes for Women movement that interests, delights and builds leadership for these times. SWNC posts twice a week. And we have an issue of our quarterly newsletter in the works for the fall. The SWNC 2012 summer issue is still available.

Suffrage wagon storytelling with the Hudson River Playback Theatre

I hadn’t planned to be on stage with the Hudson River Playback Theatre. In fact, this  was the last thing I predicted the Monday evening I spent attending a performance for organizations attending Service Week at Omega in Rhinebeck, NY.  I’d been on the road the previous three weeks from Long Island to Albany to Binghamton and back to the Hudson Valley again in hot clammy weather.

I was tired, but relaxing in the audience wasn’t meant to be. Hudson River Playback Theatre is interactive story theatre for dialogue and connection. The cast creates memorable theatre on the spot based on the true stories of people in the audience.

“Go up and tell your story,” Susan Zimet urged. Susan sat next to me in the audience, and I ignored her the first time she poked. Then her plea became a kick and an order:  “Do it, now.” You don’t say no to Susan.

Well, okay. I could tell about visiting Albany, the second floor of the capitol, to see Grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon in the women’s exhibit around the corner from the Hall of Governors. I could talk about Grandmother Edna being part of the grassroots suffrage movement and someone who campaigned in her horse-drawn wagon called the “Spirit of 1776″ on Long Island and NYC.  Then I’d throw in how I’d grown up with this icon of the suffrage movement, mention how every summer when I was a kid, my mother would dress us up. We’d visit my Grandfather Wilmer Kearns and he’d drag the old wagon out of the garage and we’d have our photo taken. It was important to mention how Edna died in 1934, so I had to learn about Edna from my mother and plowing through my grandmother’s writings, speeches, photos, news clippings packed in stacks of boxes. She saved everything.

Sarah Urech, the theatre’s assistant director, interviewed me on stage and made this part of the process easy. Then she asked me to choose who would play me (Jody Santriani), who would play Edna (the theatre’s director Jo Salas), and Grandfather Wilmer (Mateo). Musician Dean Jones backed up the performance on the piano.

Eeverything flowed from that point on with few props other than a curtain, wood boxes, and several scarves. Grandmother Edna came alive on stage, directing traffic from her soapbox wagon, leading marches to Albany, standing firm in her position that all American women should vote. There were few words, other than “Freedom,” and the finale became me, up on the soapbox wagon after Edna had departed, carrying on the unfinished work of the American Revolution.

Sarah Urech’s a master in helping people tell their stories. I found out later that she’s a distant cousin of Jeanette Rankin, suffragist and the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. So this story joins all the others because Susan Zimet poked me and challenged me to march up to the stage and live beyond the boundaries.

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Evidence of Edna Kearns’ whirlwind campaigning can be seen at state capitol

New York State Capitol, where Edna Kearns campaign wagon is on display.

Here, at last! Albany, New York, that is. Arrived yesterday and made a quick visit to the state capitol to see Grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon on exhibit near the Hall of Governors at the state capitol building. It’s a magnificent display. And reason enough to drag a news clipping out of the archives.

This column written by Edna Buckman Kearns  about the Long Island suffrage campaign sets out the facts, as well as the names of the participants and the details of grassroots organizing. It’s a timely reminder of the difficult and persistent work on the grassroots carried forward in the 72-year struggle to win the right to vote for women in the United States.

Edna’s sister-in-law Lulu Kearns from Beavertown, PA joined in with the grassroots organizing. And the Long Island communities visited, as well as everyone involved, are noted. They called it a “Whirlwind Campaign” for good reason.

Grandmother Edna and her co-workers knew they were making history. I found references to this in her letters and newspaper columns. And even a sweet reminder from my grandfather Wilmer Kearns who wrote to Edna when she was away at a conference to bring her up to date on domestic news. At the end of one letter, he reminded her in a postscript to “Make History.”

Watch a suffrage story on video and share your suffrage story

Did you know about the picketing of the White House by suffragists? This is a story we can’t tell often enough. The headquarters of the National Woman’s Party in Washington, DC (aka the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum) has prepared this video using some archival images many people have not seen.

These wonderful and energetic folks at the Sewall-Bemont House & Museum have launched a virtual campaign called “Share Your Story. Save HerStory.” It’s precisely the kind of campaign that builds leadership through stories of the suffrage movement, which is the mission of Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Contact Elisabeth Crum at 202-546-1210 ext, 17, or send her an email with your answers to the following questions: “Why is woman suffrage important to you? Why will you vote this year? Who are the women (past and present) who inspire you to vote? What do you think women should know about the WNP and how will that move them to vote in 2012?” Stories will be collected as blog posts, video, Facebook, and Twitterview. For more information.

I’ll be participating in the story campaign. What about you? Stay up to date with news and stories of the suffrage movement: suffragewagon.org

Alice Paul: the most overlooked civil rights leader of the 20th century!

Alice Paul is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Yet, during her lifetime she wasn’t interested in glory. She kept her eye on the prize: women’s rights and the vote. This video fills in a great deal. And keep in mind that author Mary Walton never heard of Alice Paul before a newspaper editor brought Paul to her attention. Meanwhile, this interview highlights where Walton calls Paul “the most overlooked civil rights leader of the 20th century.”

Suffrage Wagon News Channel has migrated!

Check out the new platform for Suffrage Wagon News Channel. The regular blog stays the same: that is, linked to suffragewagon.org        Note that things are organized differently –by news and 60-second history lessons. And the spring special issue of the newsletter is now published. Highlights include new art work by Peter Sinclair of the suffrage wagon, the article by Tara Bloyd in “Albany Kid” about little Serena Kearns who was a suffrage poster child, and a great music video about the suffrage movement. Also, a special feature: Who’s behind “Suffrage Buffs of America”?

“Jailed for Freedom” features on-the-scene suffrage reports

Jailed for Freedom is a great resource. It features suffrage leader Alice Paul, the Woman’s Party, and the days, months and years leading up to the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

“Just show up,” say Votes for Women activists out in force at Mineola Fair

“Just show up.” That’s the advice for us today in all aspects of our lives. It was the motto of the suffragists who used community events such as the county fair to show up and use the occasion to advocate for human rights.

Check out the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 22, 1915. What’s Edna Buckman Kearns up to now? She’s making her presence known at the Mineola Fair, and here’s what the Brooklyn paper had to say about it.

Bad girls and troublemakers!

“History Detectives” was a great way to begin the week, along with Louise Bernikow’s article for the Women’s Media Center about this deep dark hole of our history.  You can watch the “History Detectives” show online after the fact.

Part of the thrill of doing this work is when my grandmother Edna Kearns speaks to me, when I can hear her voice above the noise and chatter of present day. Above all, she’s saying, “Don’t give up. Lucretia Mott took a lot of flack in her day from people who said she wanted too much too soon. And take Susan B. Anthony as an example. Ridiculed often, she never wavered from her goal.” Hefty advice for the days when we feel overwhelmed, isolated, discouraged. Hang in there, says Grandmother.

Notes pioneer women’s historian Anne Firor Scott: “It is worth trying to understand the past because in the process of doing so one learns so much about the possibilities and mysteries of human existence at the same time one is learning how partial and incomplete is even the most careful reconstruction of lives, events, and social movements. Sometimes I am willing to say, with Leonard Woolf, The Journey Not the Arrival Matters.” (From Making the Invisible Woman Visible.)

Anne Firor Scott’s interview with North Carolina Public Radio commentator Frank Stasio is worth a listen. Scott speaks about her life, women’s history, teaching and her perspective on the current state of affairs in the world. She reminds us that scholars and history buffs aren’t escapists in the sense that we prefer to live in the past instead of the present. Rather, we reach out to bridge the past with the present and extract the lessons meant for us today.

Blogging for BUST

Though the term “blog” didn’t come into use until 1999, it’s just like me to tell folks that Grandmother Edna blogged suffrage news and reported it much like a citizen journalist would today.  Edna wrote columns, press releases and was suffrage editor for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. She served as press chair for suffrage campaigns and had relationships with every news editor on Long Island.

Grandmother participated in suffrage events and then she raced home to write about the experience. The outcome wasn’t instant like a blog would be, but it was as fast as could be expected back then. A few women like Ishbel Ross and Emma Bugbee broke into writing through the suffrage movement. Check out this case study of Ross and Bugbee and how they got into “the exciting newspaper game.” The story of how Ross tracked down Mrs. Pankhurst led to her later comment about she owed her newspaper career to this front-page interview. Bugbee covered the 1914 march to Albany and the incident in front of the Metropolitan Opera in 1919 with Alice Paul and others where Grandmother Edna was smack in the middle of the fray.

While we’re waiting for the September 20th “History Detectives” program to air, I’m posting more audio comments from author and historian Louise Bernikow. Here, she speaks about the chronic forgetting of suffrage history.

Photo by Peter Norby.

The suffrage pennant that has Louise Bernikow talking!

It’s big news when the major media highlights anything to do with woman’s suffrage. The “History Detectives” show on September 20 (8-9 ET, PBS) is worth watching for the affirmation and charge you’ll get.

The 20-minute “History Detectives” segment highlights a Votes for Women banner that Yvonne Crumlish’s father gave her 30 years ago. The investigation provides an overview of the movement and delves into the story of how Yvonne’s grandmother Addie Blemly might have acquired the pennant and whether or not she was personally involved in the NYS suffrage campaigns. It was puzzling to Yvonne because her grandmother never mentioned anything the pennant. “History Detectives” took on the challenge.

I interviewed Louise Bernikow, one of the historical consultants for the segment, about the September 20th program and the general topic of suffrage history. Here’s a three-minute clip, the first of several on Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Louise is downright excited about the Votes for Women 72-year history. That’s the part I love.

Why was the suffrage movement in New York so important? Louise sums this up in a clip of four minutes that highlights how the 1917 victory was a tipping point for suffrage across the nation. In fact, when NYS women joined the fold of voters nationwide, it doubled the number of women qualified to go to the polls. But the goal of voting for ALL American women still must have seemed a stretch back then.

Louise photoshopped this great image for her Facebook page devoted to the September 20th program. Watch for other audio clips from Louise between now and then on this blog. And check out Louise’s web site.

“History Detectives” preview about Votes for Women mystery

Happy Women’s Equality Day! Here’s the preview for the September 20th episode of “History Detectives” where a Maryland woman inherited a colorful mystery from her father: a purple and gold pennant emblazoned with the words “Votes for Women.”  The imagery fascinated her – four women rallying around a fifth woman who stood blowing a trumpet.  She wondered if the pennant belonged to her grandmother, Addie Luther Blemly.  She was aware that her grandmother lived in Wolcott, NY, but knew little more about her life.  History Detectives host Elyse Luray set out to learn the significance of this pennant and to find out whether Addie Blemly played a role in the woman’s suffrage movement. The “History Detectives” special on September 20th features Louise Bernikow who will be interviewed on Suffrage Wagon News Channel prior to the broadcast. Save the date!

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Free download of suffrage music

Music. You gotta have music on August 26th, even if it’s from your own boom box. For starters, performer Gerri Gribi has a free download of “Oh, Dear, What can the matter be?” which is direct from the suffrage movement.  And playing “Fall in Line,” a suffrage march, will give your High Tea an air of authenticity. Formal invitations aren’t necessary. Surprise your guests by phoning them personally.

The program (below) is also from the February 1915 tea at the Hotel Biltmore honoring Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw. It’s an example of the effort poured into movement tea parties and receptions. Check out the video about Rep. Bella Abzug who sponsored federal legislation for the creation of Women’s Equality Day in 1971.  The August 26th observance acknowledges the Votes for Women victory in 1920 and makes a bridge between the past and the present.

U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey. . . on Edna Kearns’ suffrage wagon

U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey

“Thank you for contacting my office with regard to your Grandmother Edna’s suffrage wagon. Her story is an outstanding example of how women here in New York forged the path to the passage of the 19th Amendment and I am confident that people in the 22nd Congressional District and beyond would welcome the opportunity to see this part of our history on permanent exhibition.”

From a July 27th letter from U.S. Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey, 22nd District, New York, to Marguerite Kearns.

Interview with Teri P. Gay gives woman’s suffrage movement a broad perspective

Suffrage Wagon News Channel is featuring an audio interview with author and historian Teri P. Gay. Find out why Teri believes the upcoming 100th anniversary of woman’s suffrage in NYS and the nation is significant. Listen to her point of view about how this celebration might play itself out. What’s behind the fact that suffrage history is so relatively unknown? And more!

The interview is presented in snippets of a few seconds all the way up to five and seven minutes. It’s the kind of interview you can listen to in your car, when taking a stroll with your headphones around the block, or when sitting down with a good cup of tea. Teri’s book, “Strength without Compromise: Womanly Influence and Political Identity in Turn-of-the-Century Rural Upstate New York” is proving to be a hit among audiences of organizations and civil groups in the upstate NY region because it’s about their local history. Teri has given book signings and talks on over fifty occasions over the past year. She’s discovered that among the groups and organizations, audiences are anxious to find out the local angle of the suffrage movement in their communities. Enjoy the interview! And you can order her book.

July 19-20 is 163rd anniversary of Seneca Falls convention

1848 Seneca Falls Convention

Think back to 1848 in Seneca Falls and hold the thought of women and men gathering for the conference where the radical idea of Votes for Women was first expressed. There’s still time to plan an event for Women’s Equality Day on August 26th for your friends or organization. The National Women’s History Project is a terrific resource.

Note the new feature column above, “Save the Date,” that highlights August 26 and September 20. On July 24th there’s an interactive tour of New York City of women’s history.

That we always remember the “Night of Terror”

Dorothy Day was among the suffragists arrested after picketing the White House in 1917. She said: "Those first six days of inactivity were as six thousand years. To lie there through the long day, to feel the nausea and emptiness of hunger, the dazedness at the beginning and the feverish mental activity that came after. I lost all consciousness of any cause. . . I could only feel the darkness and desolation around me."

Two minutes of “Jailed for Freedom”

Doris Stevens, who wrote "Jailed for Freedom"

Listen! This podcast of just over two minutes is the introduction to Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens who documented the last phase of the struggle for Votes for Women. It explains why a bolder approach was necessary and how this became a state of mind as well as a record of actions. The work is dedicated to Alice Paul. This short clip is from a recording of the entire work, now in the public domain, brought to you by LibriVox. This book can be ordered through Amazon.

Who gave her life for Votes for Women?

The English had their martyr –Emily Davison who threw herself in front of the King’s horse to bring attention to the cause of Votes for Women. In the U.S., Inez Milholland was well known for riding a horse in suffrage parades. Milholland died on the campaign trail when barnstorming in the West.  She was known as the couragous woman who died with the word of “Liberty” on her lips. Suffragists repeated her words often when confronting U.S. President Woodrow Wilson: “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

BUST Magazine Publishes Last-Minute Appeal for Suff Film

Check out “Bust Magazine” online for an affirmative last-minute appeal to raise the $5,000 slated to fund the production of a professional version of the story about the suffrage campaign wagon used by my grandmother Edna in the Votes for Women campaign. And please pass the word. I still believe in miracles.

Here’s the link!

Six Days Left on Kickstarter Film Campaign

The Kickstarter campaign for the documentary about Edna and her suffrage campaign wagon comes to an end in six days. Over $1200 has been pledged and I still believe in miracles.

And now a brief note from the past: The value of a story is in the telling. This terrific story has come down to us from the suffragists themselves who made sure they wrote down their version of history. In March of 1913, U.S. President-elect Woodrow Wilson arrived in Washington, DC all geared up for his inauguration ceremony. He arrived at the train station in Washington, DC and expected  to be the center of attention, but he wasn’t. “Were are the people?” he is alleged to have asked. The response: “On the Avenue watching the suffragists parade.” Woodrow Wilson couldn’t have predicted what was in store for him in the years ahead.

Help Me Realize My Dream!

Grandmother Edna's suffrage campaign wagon

My dream is that my grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon will be put on permanent exhibit at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. And that the edited documentary I’m in the process of producing will be played on a monitor next to the wagon. An unrealistic vision? I don’t think so. It’s my dream and I stand determined to reach the goal of raising $5,000 to professionally edit the work in progress. Which is why I’m cranking up the Kickstarter campaign. There are 31 days to go before the end of the campaign. Honor the hard work that went into the state and national Votes for Women campaigns.

“It is doubtful if any man, even among suffrage men, ever realized what the suffrage struggle came to mean to women before the end was allowed in America. How much of time, patience, how much work, energy and aspiration, how much faith, hope, how much despair went into it. It leaves its mark on one, such a struggle. It fills the days and it rides the nights. Working, eating, drinking, sleeping, it is there. . .”

Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler (suffrage leaders)

Sun and Heat Couldn’t Keep Them from Their Task

I’m continuing to spread the word about the Kickstarter campaign. While I’m at it, I deliver 60-second history lessons wherever I can. One such tale is about how spreading the word about Votes for Women on Long Island in 1912 was no small accomplishment. This account from my grandmother’s files shows the details and about how the weather didn’t deter the women from the task at hand.

The Whirlwind Campaign of Long Island: 1912

The women hit the streets, literally, when barnstorming Long island for Votes for Women in 1912. They also kept excellent records, took charge of their own publicity, and understood the importance of being visible.Long Island's 1912 campaign

Louisiana Women Celebrated With a Flair

The National Women’s History Project reported that their phone rang off the hook prior to and during March. Folks from around the nation called with reports of events and many questions. Louisiana women celebrated Votes for Women with a parade where they dressed in period costume.


During March a suffrage manuscript was uncovered in Connecticut that revealed the extent of organization it took to win the vote.

Put on a Pair of Kickstarting Boots and Pledge!

I need you to pledge to fund the completion of the film project I started last year. There’s a goal of $5,000 for polishing the editing, adding some more material, and getting the news out into the world. No money changes hands until we’ve reached the goal in early June. A lot of work has gone into this so far. And BTW, the Kickstarter boots are in your size!

Slow Start, But Spirited Movement Forward!

Check out the story on my newest project about my grandmother and the “Spirit of 1776,” her suffrage campaign wagon.

And the newsletter from the Santa Fe chapter of the AAUW which said about the March presentation: “The March branch meeting was one not to miss. We had such a good time. Marguerite Kearns regaled us with tales of her grandmother who was a very active suffragist in New York State. She also had a slide show of artifacts from her grandmother’s life. Gerri Gribi taught us a suffragist song and she also sang several women’s folk songs for us. Talk about steel-willed women! Those Victorian ladies were a force to behold. And we are beholden to them.”

Passing the Torch: Family tradition to sit in the suffrage wagon

Hana sitting in "Spirit of 1776"

My niece Hana, shown here, represents the fourth generation in my family to sit in the “Spirit of 1776,” my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon. It was a tradition in my family to be photographed in the wagon, and it was also a way of passing the torch of story to the next generation. Few summers passed without my mother gathering up us kids, marching us over to my grandfather’s house. He opened the garage door, dragged out grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon, and my mother took our photos. Of course it took me many years to get to the point where I was ready to pass the torch to the next generation, and it takes many forms. In this podcast, I’m being interviewed about my grandmother by Marzia Dessi, a student at Northern New Mexico College, during February 2011. Marzia’s interested in our history, the woman’s suffrage movement, and how the past relates to young women today. Listen in!

“Stories of Smarts, Tactics, Courage and Stick-to-it-iveness”

Bonnie Smith of Boston, MA says she may not be related to the American suffragists by family, but she’s related “profoundly in spirit.” Bonnie has a great web site worth checking out, an ebook about how to create a women’s history trail in your community, and an enthusiasm that won’t quit.

She says: “I recently gave a walking tour in downtown Boston of women’s history sites for an international group of women economists who were attending a conference at Simmons College. It changed my life, and every talk or tour I have given ever since.

“These women were from all over the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. They asked very specific questions about tactics, how things worked (courts, government, etc.). They wanted to know exactly how people got it done. I suddenly realized that I WAS TALKING TO THE LUCY STONES OF THESE COUNTRIES. They wanted to know tactics and strategy and they need the support of the global female community.

“I believe that we Americans have a special responsibility to support reformers and revolutionaries. . . I believe strongly that ‘our’ stories are inspiring to the world. Despite all of our issues, people do still look to America for inspiration. I would love to see more of ‘our’ suffragists promoted on international sites.”

Bonnie’s perspective on why the story of the 19th amendment isn’t better known is worth checking out: “We still suffer with backlash, with a lack of understanding about the word ‘feminist,’ and with too many people — including the media — promoting the notion that we are in a post-feminist age — which is ridiculous. The big challenge, though, is to teach this information in ways that are inspiring and relevant — to connect the dots to today. All too often, this information is presented in a strident, preachy way and it really doesn’t have to be! These are very inspiring stories of smarts, tactics, courage, and stick-to-it-iveness.”

Visit the web site for Bonnie’s suggestions on how your business can celebrate Women’s History Month.

Be a Backer for Film About Votes for Women

Help us stand on the shoulders of courageous, determined women whose insistence on winning the right to vote carried forward the ideals of this country’s founders. Play an important part in telling the story through the Kickstarter campaign, “Hitch a Ride on the ‘Spirit of 1776.’” Make sure that an important part of our nation’s history isn’t forgotten. Back the work in progress about my grandmother who represents the thousands of women who persisted until Votes for Women was won. No money changes hands unless we reach our goal. Get on the bandwagon now! It’s Women’s History Month and there’s no time like the present.

How my Grandmother risked her life for Votes for Women

I wrote this award-winning story about how my grandmother (Edna Buckman Kearns) risked her life for Votes for Women; it takes us back to 1915. And what a great way to kick off the many activities of Women’s History Month! Accompanying this tale is a contribution by Tara Bloyd, Edna’s great granddaughter, who seasons the story with her favorite corn soup recipe. My grandmother Edna canned fruits and vegetables and made jam to raise money for the women’s suffrage movement. While our family saved some of Edna’s plates and dishes, the most prized possession is Edna’s canned corn which is featured in the story.

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony!

We had a great time on Saturday, February 12th celebrating Susan B. Anthony’s birthday in Santa Fe. Tea and sweets. Live music. A dramatic presentation and commentary. Here’s the program! The edited script from the public record of Susan’s arrest for voting in 1872 was a hit. Susan’s feisty spirit amazed the group of about 25 who gathered at the Quaker Meeting on Canyon Road (Susan was raised a Quaker). Celebrating Susan’s birthday is part of a long tradition in the U.S. Ninety-six years ago, my grandmother (Edna Buckman Kearns) was on the planning committee of a Susan B. Anthony tea at the Hotel Biltmore in NYC. See the Feb. 9, 1915 program: page 1 -page 2 -page 3 March is Women’s History Month, and the time is NOW to be planning a women’s history program or afternoon tea of your own during March. See the planning page on our web site. Large birthday parties were thrown for Susan in 1870, 1890, 1900 and 1906. A new book by Penny Coleman will be published in May 2011 about the significance of the friendship and working relationship of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Also, take an online tour of the Susan B. Anthony House in New York State.

Take a Quiz on Women’s Suffrage History

I know. Many people never learned anything about suffrage history in school. Most have picked it up along the way, and even more are just learning. This fun quiz plots your progress. Give it a whirl!

Celebrate Alice Paul Day on January 11, 2011

My grandmother Edna worked with suffrage leader Alice Paul on the national campaign to win Votes for Women.

It’s the goal of many Americans to have the day of January 11th (Alice Paul’s birthday) designated as a national holiday. Have you signed the petition? Have you thought about planning high tea during 2011 for your friends or organization as a way to talk about the issues?

Take a look at this video piece about Alice that was produced by the Alice Paul Institute. They have ecards that you can send to friends and associates . . . for example, “You have a voice. Thank Alice.” “You can speak up. Thank Alice.” Author Mary Walton calls Alice Paul “the most overlooked American civil rights leader of the 20th century.” One source worth checking out is an Alice Paul interview conducted by Amelia Fry that’s available online.

Why Did The Story About Votes for Women Get Lost?

Check out this three-minute podcast that’s a selection from an interview with performer Gerri Gribi in the “Votes for Women Salon” series. She believes that history is taught in the context of war, not movements for peaceful nonviolent social change, which is one reason why the story of the 19th amendment hasn’t been given its due. The suffrage movement was the fulfillment of the promise of 1776 where the country’s founders declared that all men were created equal. Women wanted to be part of the political process, and they banded together to win the vote.

Find out more about Gerri Gribi online. Stay tuned for other points of view about why the story of the 19th amendment has been lost. What do you think?

What Was a Popular and Amusing Suffrage Song?

Do you have three minutes free to listen? A three-minute selection from an interview with performer Gerri Gribi highlights a song that could have you singing along within minutes. It sums up some of the arguments Votes for Women advocates had thrown at them. If you have a little more time, check in with the longer interview on the “Votes for Women Salon” series. And take a look at Gerri’s web site. It has free mp3 downloads, words to suffrage songs, and many links to resources.

Yanking Your Vote Away With a Smile. . .

This isn’t a skit on Comedy Central. Judson Phillips isn’t joking when he proposes that only property owners should be able to vote in U.S. elections. The Tea Party founder has been floating this trial balloon recently to see if the idea will sink or swim. It sounds more like a temper tantrum than a serious proposal. Yes –a temper tantrum where Phillips is shaking his fist and stomping his feet because the population is becoming increasingly diverse and all sorts of people are becoming empowered, especially at the polls.

Come to think of it, a healthy proportion of the people on my holiday card list this year would  be turned away on election day under Phillips’ plan. This would include highly-mobile professionals, renters, city dwellers, women, the young, students, the retired and those downsizing in the current recession for any number of reasons. Apparently the idea of redefining voting rights has juice among those who either have no idea of the great sacrifice that was involved with the major civil rights struggles of the 20th century (of which woman’s suffrage was significant), or they simply couldn’t care less because of their personal and political agendas.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Girls and Women in Your Life

Replica "Votes for Women" plate.

There are gifts galore to choose from and you don’t have to leave home! Replica “Votes for Women” dinner plates come with high recommendations. See comments by Veyla Jancz-Urban. You can order items from the “Votes for Women” tea sets online at the Susan B. Anthony House gift shop, plus many other items. Zazzle has many personalized suffrage gift items, as does Cafe Press –whether it’s a mug, t-shirt, poster, set of stickers, mouse pad. Chances are. . . if they don’t have it, they’ll make it for you. The Louisa May Alcott House has a shop full of suffrage goodies. And don’t forget CDs and books. The online shop of the National Women’s History Project has a wide range of items from women’s history, including books for readers of all ages, games and educational items.

It’s All About Spirit and Spunk

Votes for Women Tea Set is a great gift idea representing spirit and working together!

A modern-day version of spirit is gaining ground in a movement called the Chica Peeps. It celebrates the close bonds women have in supporting each other which is defined as: Chica Peeps[chee - ka peeps], noun; a sisterhood of strength and support; a group of three or more women who anchor, guide and nurture each other, often through humor.

Although my grandmother never heard the term Chica Peeps, it’s definitely something she experienced as women rallied to win the vote. Velya Jancz-Urban, a Chica Peep organizer, sees the connection between suffrage, Chica Peeps and a suffrage tea set.  The replica tea set is packed away beyond her reach (for now anyway), but it’s one of those possessions with both personal and historical meaning, according to Velya.

Velya faced a serious personal challenge two years ago which she survived, in large part, due to the support of her Chica Peeps. She explains: “MChica Peeps helped make me whole again. I got to thinking that if I have Chica Peeps, than other women must also have them. Chica Peeps has now taken on a life of its own and seems to be what many women are looking for.

“As far as the Suffrage Movement goes, I guess my interest in women’s issues began when I was quite little after my first trip to Newport, Rhode Island. While I loved the mansions, it was Alva Vanderbilt Belmont who really fascinated me and I have read just about everything that exists on her. To think that American women were granted the right to vote only six years before my own mother was born astounded me! Of course I know about Alice Paul, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but Alva really appeals to me because of her legendary intrusive and aristocratic manner which antagonized some of the women’s rights leaders of the time, yet she was sincere about gaining equality for women. The best gift I’ve ever received was the complete set of reproduction ‘Votes for Women’ dinnerware my husband purchased for me on our 20th wedding anniversary (it will be our 28th anniversary on 11/28!) when we were in Newport. . . Last week I told my family that unpacking the box that contains the ‘Vote for Women’ plates will be a happy moment for me! So, from Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s Marble House and Chinese Tea House where she held her suffrage rallies, to Brazil, and now to Chica Peeps I guess women have always fascinated me – I’ve come full circle (but I wish I had my plates!).”

Help with National Holiday for Alice Paul

If a national holiday is designated for suffragist Alice Paul, she will be the first woman honored by a national holiday. Help get the movement going with an online petition. Many people across the nation are remembering the Night of Terror. Sign the petition and spread the word.

We owe much to suffragist Alice Paul!

Talk of the Town!

There’s a buzz about women’s suffrage. Amazement about Alice Paul. A huge celebration in Washington State. Reviews, commentary. Check it out and appeciate all the time it took to do this wrap up of the Iron Jawed Angels spirit that’s out there. It takes time to link up with what’s being said and this is about the last time I’ll do it…if only to make the point that appreciation and recognition of the suffrage movement is the Talk of the Town.

Contemporary ecofashion inspired by suffrage movement. Commentary about League of Women VotersReflections on Alice Paul and associates. Blog entry by Utah woman. Commentary from England. Elizabeth Cady Stanton not a happy camper on her birthday. Remembering Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Washington State celebrates 100 years of women voting. Touring theatrical company performs play about suffrage movement in Washington State. Suffrage movement source of pride in Washington State. People agreed to share power in Washington State.  “Oh, the women are coming to Seattle.” Long overdue recognition of Anna Ella Carroll. British suffrage movement referred to in article about digital activism. Remembering Jeanette RankinAbigail Smith Adams bio, plus suffrage photos and books. Women in the U.S. Senate. Suffrage movement cited by John McCain’s daughter. Internet radio interview about the suffrage movement and Alice Paul. Listen online. The ups and downs of the American suffrage movement. Low moments during the 2010 elections. More about the celebration in Washington State. Votes for Women Tea Towel. Appreciation expressed to suffragists and their sacrifices. Anthony arrested for voting. Reflections on election day. Inspired by “Iron Jawed Angels.”

Paste This on the Fridge!

Suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt:

“Women have suffered an agony of soul that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. The vote has been costly, prize it!”

Suffrage Wagon? You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

So what’s the big deal with a suffrage wagon? And what is it anyway? Something kids drag along the sidewalk for play? You’d be surprised how often the question is asked, and you’d think I might have called the blog something else. But a suffrage campaign wagon is what it is. Horse-drawn wagons were used by the women in the US suffrage movement in parades, in community tours, as a speakers’ platform and as a symbol of their work. Photos of suffrage campaign wagons show up in the collections of the Library of Congress, Bryn Mawr College, among other places. They were used to draw attention to the issues. And it was big news when women driving wagons such as these with signs traveled from place to place to drum up action.

The suffrage campaign wagons were generally pressed into service for the cause, and then they returned to being bread or milk wagons or whatever function they might have served previously. Few, if any, suffrage wagons survived. And if nothing else, they remain as a symbol of the extensive grassroots organizing of the turn of the century. Why should anyone care? That’s a good question. Because today we stand on the shoulders of strong people who worked their fingers to the bone to bring us the vote. Social movements are documented through photos, letters, organizational records and so on. But it’s difficult to produce an experience of having touched the movement and a period of time of our history. When we have an example of a suffrage wagon to touch and feel, it’s a treasure.

National Suffrage Memorial is Long Overdue

Plans for a national suffrage memorial at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, Va. are underway to bring recognition to the woman’s suffrage movement. Finally!  The conceptual design for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial has been unveiled. Fundraising is underway. Design features for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial include: Entrance Plaza Gates duplicating the White House gates where suffragists stood as “silent sentinels” in protest and held “watchfire for freedom” rallies. Commemorative Banners anchoring the entrance, replicating those carried by the suffragists. A Memorial Cascade and Waterfall emanating from a wall mounted with more than 120 stainless steel plaques that identify the women incarcerated for the cause and copy the design of the “jailed for freedom” pin that was presented to them by Alice PaulA Footbridge Into A Memorial Meditation Garden symbolizing the crossing over and/or advancement of the movement and signifying the continuing push for equality. Nineteen Interactive Vignettes along a winding path that will provide the history of the suffragist movement and the story of the women held at the Occoquan Workhouse.

Historians with the Sewall Belmont House and a Smithsonian curator are participating in the creation of the vignettes. The memorial is expected to cost between two and four million dollars and the goal is to have the memorial built by the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August of 2020. The memorial’s organizers have a online newsletter and ambitious ideas.

Suffrage News from All Over!

Women remember the jailing of suffragists. “Iron Jawed Angels” is still being talked about. College student speaks about apathy and the value of voting. Reflections on Alice Paul. Washington State resident shares about her great-grandmother who was a suffragist. One hundred years of voting in Washington State. Scholar and biographer discusses Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Newspaper columnist reviews the history of women voting. British women use 1912 suffrage theatre performance as a fundraiser. New Mexico had a woman governor for two weeks in 1924. A detailed Woman’s Suffrage Timeline.

In other news, the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County (NY) is holding a celebration of the 90th anniversary of woman’s suffrage on Friday, November 12, 2010 (7:30-9:30 p.m.) at the Saratoga Music Hall at City Hall, 474 Broadway. There will be a dramatic reading of the “Declaration of Sentiments” written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and read by Coline Jenkins, the great great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The 19th amendment to the US Constitution, written by Susan B. Anthony, will be read by Shirley Anthony Carman and Beverly Marx, first cousins, four times removed from Susan B. Anthony. There will be a champagne toast to the suffragists, a musical tribute, and food. $20 members and $25 non members.

Suffrage Documentary to be Showcased in Silver City, NM

The upcoming November election, the Day of the Dead, and the 90th anniversary of U.S. women voting all converge with a shrine to suffragist Edna Buckman Kearns that will be on display from October 25 through November 14 in Silver City, New Mexico in the Silver City Day of the Dead Shrine Show.  The exhibit, spread throughout Silver City in 14 businesses and galleries, showcases the shrines of 21 artists. The opening reception is Friday, October 29, 2010, 6-9 p.m. at the A-Space Studio Gallery, 110 West 7th Street. Exhibits fall into the categories of contemporary and traditional shrines. Many shrines are traditional, such as Chickie Beltran’s shrine honoring miners and Gloria Beltran’s shrine honoring the Apache.

“Five Generations and the Million Dollar Wagon” is an example of a contemporary shrine in the form of a 19-minute documentary honoring Edna Buckman Kearns who campaigned for woman’s suffrage. This shrine also acknowledges the thousands of American women who campaigned for the vote over a 70-year period, an effort which was launched in 1848 with the woman’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York.

Serena Kearns: Poster Child for Suffrage

To me, she was Aunt Serena. To the many people who knew my grandmother Edna, Serena was the poster child for the suffrage movement in New York City and Long Island. Edna Kearns was the suffrage editor for The Brooklyn Daily Eagle which meant Serena went everywhere with her mother. She rode in the suffrage wagon, handed out literature and even went to Washington, DC to picket the White House. Photo from the collection of Edna Buckman Kearns.