Category Archives: 60-Second History Lesson

“Christmas in 1823,” a story by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Hioliday

by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The winter gala days are associated in my memory with hanging up stockings, and with turkeys, mince pies, sweet cider, and sleigh rides by moonlight. My earliest recollections of those happy days, when schools were closed, books laid aside, and unusual liberties allowed, center in that large cellar kitchen to which I have already referred. There we spent many winter evenings in uninterrupted enjoyment. MORE STORY

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Images: Holiday cookies by Miyagawa; Christmas pudding by Musical Linguist; Holiday ornament by Hmbascom.

Amelia Bloomer: a book review, a song on video, and more by Tara Bloyd

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer, by Shana Corey; Chelsey McLaren ill.  Scholastic Press, 2000.

by Tara Bloyd

Aimed at young children, this short picture book presents the story of Amelia Bloomer and her eponymous outfit in a simple, direct fashion.  The illustrations are bright and compelling, and are set off by a generous amount of white space.  The book contrasts Amelia Bloomer with the “proper ladies” who surrounded her – women who were not supposed to work or vote, and who wore dresses that required 20-30 yards of fabric just for the skirt.  The fact that Amelia didn’t invent bloomers – something that many people do not know – is clearly stated and is important.  As editor of the woman’s newspaper The Lily, Amelia’s championing of the short skirt and baggy pantaloons to replace cumbersome, socially-approved dresses was crucial to their popularization, and the book shows how both men and women reacted to the new clothing option.

I found the Author’s Note at the end of the book the most compelling part; it provides additional information about Amelia Bloomer’s life and times that couldn’t really be discussed within the parameters of a book for young children.  As an introduction to the issues facing women in the 19th century, though, the book is a good addition to suffrage-related libraries.

SuffBookShelf

The life and writings of Amelia Bloomer are available as a free ebook. Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

American apple pie wasn’t sacred to Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Photo by Sage Ross

Photo by Sage Ross

Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton wasn’t afraid to tackle any subject and make a few enemies along the way. Her position on American apple pie is one example. The Brits had pie right, Stanton said. They didn’t use a bottom crust, for it would inevitably become soggy. Her views on the subject were laid out in a collection of her writings:

“Mr. Gurney’s dig at our pie referred to the soggy undercrust so many of our American cooks persist in making. The English never have an undercrust to their pies, one of the few respects, it seems to me, in which English cooking, which is generally atrocious, is superior to our own, which also belongs in many respects to the atrocious order. The English put the fruit in a deep dish and simply spread a nice light crust over it. If there be women, or men either for the matter of that, in the United States who know how to make a crisp undercrust and bake it to the well-done point, let them produce the perfect American pie. But if they cannot accomplish this difficult feat, let us have done with our national raw, soaked undercrust of dough, which is why du=yspepsia has attacked one-half of our men, who will eat pie whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

“Though these lines were written in 1840, they still hold good to-day. Pie is still with us, and so is the abominable undercrust. All travelers can testify to
seeing some son of Adam at every railway station in America running for the cars with a great piece of pie in his hand, which to withstand such wear and tear must have an undercrust as tough as sole leather. Yet the prospective presidents of this great republic all eat it, and will to the end of time.”

From Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s writings, a free ebook online.

Did you stop by for Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s virtual birthday party in November? It’s not too late. LINK. Stay in touch with suffrage news, views, and stories about the suffrage movement by reading Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Celebrate at Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s virtual birthday party with video, music, cake and gifts!

With the presidential election over, the interest in American history (especially the suffrage movement) is showing a spirt in growth. A celebration is called for, so the table has been set for a virtual birthday party for Elizabeth Cady Stanton whose birthday is November 12th. She was born in 1815. Let’s ride the spirit!

This video is just the introduction. Pull up a chair to the table right now!  Link  You’ll be able to bake a cake for Elizabeth, listen to a musical tribute, watch the introduction to Not for Ourselves Alone, the Ken Burns documentary about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The virtual party is packaged onto one page for you to share with friends, family members, teachers and community members.

For a travel angle to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton virtual birthday party, visit Worldfootprints.

Audio message from Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Stop by Suffrage Wagon News Channel headquarters. By subscribing to the news channel, you won’t miss out on future virtual parties and celebrations. Subscribe.

California women have been voting for US president for 100 years!

“Why We Women Must Vote in November: An Inspirational Story from the California Suffragists” by filmmaker Martha Wheelock

When we women vote for U.S. President this November, we mark the 100th anniversary of California women’s first vote for president, an election when 90 per cent of the rest of American women could NOT vote. While I was researching the story of California suffragists’ victory for the documentary film, California Women Win the Vote, I learned how they won the vote, and why this early suffrage victory made a difference in women’s lives. So, women voters, take heed of the lessons they showed us for this election season.

As we learn some much-needed women’s history, we know that women were not given the right to vote by founding fathers or by beneficent statesmen. Women had to WIN their right to vote in hard-fought campaigns over a 72 year period, beginning in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton pronounced that women have the right to vote! And Iron-Jawed Angels (from HBO- a must see!) demonstrates what suffragist Alice Paul and the White House pickets underwent to attract support for our suffrage cause –through hunger strikes.

CALIFORNIA’S 1911 VICTORY WAS AN INSPIRATION FOR THE REST OF THE NATION

The story of California’s suffrage campaign is less known as an early victory and as the inspiration for the rest of the country. When California women lost their first suffrage referendum in 1896 by 20,000 votes, they were not defeated, but resolute and probably darn mad. They energized the California legislature to place a suffrage amendment on the 1911 ballot. This action meant that the male voters of California would determine whether their mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters should have the right to vote. Think of the challenge that the women faced: to persuade men, who wanted their women at home, caring for their needs and families that women were suitability and importance to the society as voting citizens. An added challenge was that most women did not even know themselves why they should have the right to vote. . .

MORE OF THE ARTICLE    More information about the film.

If you write Martha Wheelock directly, mwheelock@sbcglobal.net, she will take 25 percent off the DVD with free shipping. Total price is $19.95. Available on the website: http://www.wildwestwomen.org

For information about Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

NEW VIDEO: “This Wet and Wrinkled Paper”

“My voter’s card arrived today, and as I perused the tiny paper, wet and wrinkled from the rain, I felt the spirit of Grandma Edna watching over me,” Goldman-Petri wrote in a poem set to music and presented in this video.

“They stood on soapboxes, signed petitions, rang doorbells, smiled and dialed. They marched, paraded. They waited.  They waited, so I could have this paper.”

There’s more, and then the poem concludes: “My voter’s card arrived today, so thank you Grandma Edna. I’ll vote, I’ll lead, and I’ll succeed. I’ll remember how you fought for me. And it’s all because you believed, Women deserve liberty.”

As I post this video, I’m still reeling from last evening’s U.S. presidential debate where the two candidates, Romney and Obama, strutted on stage at Hofstra University, while outside police arrested the two Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates –Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala. The two women political candidates were handcuffed to chairs for hours for attempting to be part of the public debate.

There was a time, once, when political parties other than Democrats and Republicans were part of a dialogue and a process known as democracy. Remember when the League of Women Voters organized the debates? The women organizers were inclusive, as if this were a radical idea. Then, the mainstream parties forced the League out of the job.

The so-called debate last night took place on Long Island –Grandmother Edna’s turf. My grandmother’s generation was familiar with women getting arrested for standing firm on the issue of participation and the democratic process. They believed in the Spirit of 1776.

For more information, visit womenssuffrage.org  

NEWS FLASH: The story behind Grandmother Edna Kearns’ Suffrage Wagon

The blog of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, DC features the story of Grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon, especially the family stories. Check it out.

I’ve written stories about Grandmother Edna’s campaign wagon in the past, but this time I’ve included more in the Sewall-Belmont post, especially the role Grandfather Wilmer Kearns played in suffrage campaign work and the many ways in which Suffrage Wagon News Channel celebrates women’s freedom to vote.

The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum‘s location in downtown Washington, DC makes it a frequent destination for tourists and visitors from all over the world. The National Woman’s Party headquarters at the Sewall-Belmont House highlights a vibrant part of our past for the increasing numbers of people interested in this part of American history, especially the dramatic and difficult campaign for passage and ratification of the 19th amendment.

Storytelling is when our fabulous Votes for Women history comes alive. Share our stories.  Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel. An overview of the news channel.

 

ACTION: Yes, Virginia. Teaching state and local history is important!

Grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon is in line to become a teachable moment every time a school group spends time with the exhibit, “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court” that’s on display at the state Capitol in Albany, NY. And right now through October 11th, the state education department is accepting public input on the proposed core curriculum for NYS.

Some commentators are concerned that state and local history is getting short shrift. And there are those who caution that New York State government has had similar plans in the past to what is proposed now, including funding and promises of economic development. If these efforts aren’t integrated and in alignment with the state school curriculum guides, then they question the process of littering highways with signs and calling this significant without a focus and long-term plan.

Important links with background: Link #1. Link #2. Link #3.

Send in your comment to the NYS education department before October 11th. Fill in the dots between state and local history, the suffrage movement, and economic development, now and in the future.

Yes. Virginia. New York should be teaching state and local history, as well as citizenship. Our Votes for Women commentators –Teri Gay, Louise Bernikow, and Antonia Petrash– aren’t shy when emphasizing the importance of the local angle on national news. Teri Gary’s book, “Strength without Compromise,” is precisely about this wrinkle. In a Votes for Women Salon interview, Teri speaks about growing up in the Glens Falls area and being fascinated with local women’s contributions to win the vote. Louise highlights New York City, and Long Island is the focus of Antonia Petrash.

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Viral suffrage email gets renewed life by women voters before 2012 election

THIS EMAIL, WRITTEN BY NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST CONNIE SCHULTZ, WENT VIRAL A FEW YEARS AGO. It surfaces every election season. I know. It has come into my email box at least a dozen times and continues to remind us of what’s important. Send it to your friends. Now is the time! Here it is:

This applies to everyone. become knowledgeable and vote! We owe it to our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of “obstructing sidewalk traffic.” They beat Lucy Burns (photo above), chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis (photo above) into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the “Night of Terror” on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food –all of it colorless slop– was infested with worms.
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul (above), embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat, and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh MY memory. Some women won’t vote this year because – Why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining? Mrs Pauline Adams (above) in the prison garb she wore while serving a 60 day sentence.

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s movie “Iron Jawed Angels.” It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

Photo above of Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown ,  New York
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

Photo: Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was –with herself. “One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,” she said. “What would those women think of the way I use, or don’t use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.” The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her “all over again.”

HBO has released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

Photo: Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at  National Woman’s Party headquarters, Jackson Place , Washington , D.C. Left to right: Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer,  Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel,  Mabel Vernon (standing, right)

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: “Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.  We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party — remember to vote.

Photo: Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn.   Serving 3-day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Make a quilt for the women’s suffrage movement

This online quilt project speaks to tradition and connecting with the grandmothers and great grandmothers. It’s digital and exciting, whether or not you’re actually working on a suffrage quilt. I’ve signed up, just to be a vicarious participant. The site is:

And the suffrage quilt block changes every week. The research about suffragists and the suffrage movement is splendid. The activity is delightful. Here’s the block of one week:

As I check in every week with the progress of the suffrage quilt, I am delighted and impressed following along with the research invested in the project. Even if you don’t make a quilt, you’ll enjoy being part of the quilting circle. Check out grandmotherschoice.blogspot.com

Suffrage Wagon News Channel is accepting press releases of suffrage programs and events. Find out how to submit your releases.

The suffragettes are alive and kicking in the UK . . .

Even The New York Times has picked up on the feisty British women who have a Suffragette Summer School scheduled for September 2012. A new generation of activists are looking to their suffrage tradition and history to propel themselves into motion. Is the suffrage movement a thing of the past? “No,” they respond in a loud voice.

This side of the Atlantic there’s not quite as much matching the enthusiasm and passion of linking the past with the present, although this is changing, especially during this election season. For too long the American suffrage movement has been put on the shelf as something old fashioned and stuffy. So let’s take a close look at the UK and check out the Suffragette Summer School.

There’s a series of links from the UK  and US media that puts the Suffragette Summer School into perspective. Link #1   Link #2   Link #3  Link #4

This video link gives an overview:

Photo: 1908. A suffragette meeting in Caxton Hall, Manchester, England. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Emmeline Pankhurst stand in the center of the platform. New York Times photo album. Image is in the public domain.

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So, tell us about your suffragist grandmother, Edna Kearns . . .

There’s nothing like a newspaper article of the period that reveals character. I found this article in the Nassau Post published on July 16, 1915 describing a Long Island suffrage parade. Edna Kearns is identified as the campaign press chair (second campaign district) and the way in which she addressed the crowd is noted. The reporter stated that she expressed herself in “her usual quiet yet forceful manner.” It’s brief and to the point. And the point goes a long way. Here’s suffragist Edna Kearns at her home office in Rockville Centre, NY, the headquarters from where she organized Long Island and the NYC area for Votes for Women. More about suffragist Edna Kearns.

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New York State to cash in on tourism related to history

The conference held this week in Albany, New York attracted about 200 people from around the state to discuss the potential of natural, cultural, and heritage tourism in New York and to announce new signs erected on the state thruway and elsewhere directing travelers to various sites. This is excellent for artifacts such as the suffrage campaign wagon now on exhibit at the state capitol through the end of summer. A state policy supporting historical resources and funding programs makes it more likely that the suffrage wagon won’t gather dust in the state museum warehouse. This is good news for Grandmother Edna and a lot of other people.

For more information about this week’s meeting in Albany, NY: Link #1   Link #2

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Suffragette descendants hit the streets in the UK & at the Olympics

Who would have thought that a suffrage parade would attract mass attention in 2012? This happened in the UK recently when descendants of suffragettes and others marched at the Olympic opening ceremonies. It’s not the best video (see link below) possible, but it gives a feel for how it must have been for the suffrage marchers. It’s not surprising that the event was a life-changing experience for most, propelling them to future involvement in the political process, just as their grandmothers and great grandmothers were involved.

Take a look at some of these articles from the UK. English women are also planning to continue with the suffrage theme and march on Parliament in October 2012 to draw attention to the backsliding relative to women’s rights!

Here are several links to brighten your day: Link #1  Link #2   Link #3

This isn’t the first time when protestors have showed up dressed as suffragettes. Check out this example in the UK in 2010.

Photo: 1913, arrest of suffragette. London. Library of Congress. Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and stories of the Votes for Women movement. Visit SWNC central.

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.

Celebrating the stuff of our suffragist grandmothers and others!

  

August 26th isn’t Women’s Equality Day in the UK because they didn’t have to amend the constitution like we did with the 19th amendment. But there’s an upcoming grandmother celebration in the UK that’s worth featuring for several reasons: 1) the family’s pride in sharing the archive of Grandmother Alice Hawkins’ suffrage memorabilia 2) public interest in the subject matter. Alice’s great grandson Peter Barratt has a variety of digital resources on the web site devoted to Alice Hawkins, family member, working woman, and suffrage activist. Peter speaks at community events about his great grandmother. In the U.S., events like this are increasing, but they’re by no means as developed as in the U.K. as with this news item from Edinburgh.

There’s a lot to celebrate on this side of the Atlantic. Special events for Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) are scheduled throughout the U.S., and in New Mexico, in  particular with “Mujeres Presente: New Mexico Women Who Rocked the Vote.” And if you’re wondering about a special gift for someone for an upcoming birthday or holiday, check out the Alice Paul suffragist gold coin.

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Cake and lemonade, buttons and propaganda . . .

Article about suffragists in 1912 fills in some of the details of the Long Island campaign. This is where you find out about cake and lemonade, buttons and propaganda.

Suffragists at Long Beach, Long Island, 1912

Antonia Petrash’s upcoming 2013 book about Long Island suffrage movement (45 seconds) will add more to what’s known about the movement in the metropolitan NYC area. Here are some examples. . . Antonia gives highlights of her upcoming book about Long Island suffragists (32 seconds of audio). Edna Kearns’ contribution to suffrage movement on Long Island ( 44 seconds). The importance of New York’s suffrage movement (35 seconds). Why the suffrage movement story has been buried (39 seconds). The influential role of Long Island (NY) women (40 seconds). Celebrating the New York State suffrage centennial (42 seconds).  How Antonia became interested in the subjects of equal rights and suffrage (59 seconds). Two books Antonia wrote previously about extraordinary women in New York and Connecticut (56 seconds). Why the suffrage movement is inspiring. (60 seconds ). More stories by Antonia Petrash are featured on Votes for Women Salon on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

IN OTHER NEWS: The New York State Museum is now open on Sundays, but is closed on Mondays. It has been closed on Sundays since 2011. With the experience of the NYS capitol attracting thousands of visitors to its exhibits, the state museum is cashing in on this increased tourism. Good work!

New life for an old logo: Women’s Equality Day!

Every week the planning moves forward for the August 26th celebration. Events can be large or small. Private or public. With big budgets or a process of assembling what’s around the house. There’s an updated logo for Women’s Equality Day from WomenArts in San Francisco from that’s based on the  bugler used by the suffs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. See above. It’s available on buttons, stickers, t-shirts from Cafe Press. Even if you only wear one button to set the mood, it’s worth it. Get busy!

The history? Well, here it is, plus some background. August 26th celebrations are fun, informative and necessary!

Susan B. Anthony would be proud of heritage tourism moving forward

OUR MAGAZINE PLATFORM. About Suffrage Wagon.

I  need a long-term perspective when it comes to the day-to-day plugging ahead on an issue that few people know about (the suffrage movement), but I’m certain it’s only just a matter of time before everything about it breaks loose.

I sense that Susan B. Anthony is impatient with news of ongoing attempts to make voting more difficult in many states. But she’s definitely pleased that the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY will hold a public meeting to seek public comments on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 regarding the  Votes for Women History Trail Route project.

This proposed plan moves ahead an effort to bring more attention to New York State’s rich cultural and heritage resources (especially Votes for Women), hopefully in time for the state’s centennial in 2017. This increased awareness is happening all over the U.S., so I must keep the larger picture in mind when I’m focusing on the daily baby steps forward. All this effort and interest will amount to something spectacular, one of these days.

The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 authorized the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (NHP) to administer a Votes for Women History Trail Route. Among the properties that could be linked in such a trail:

Susan B. Anthony Memorial, Rochester; Antoinette Brown Blackwell Childhood Home, Henrietta; Ontario County Courthouse, Canandaigua; M’Clintock House, Waterloo; Jane Hunt House, Waterloo; Jacob P. Chamberlain House, Seneca Falls; Lorina Latham House, Seneca Falls; Wesleyan Chapel, Seneca Falls; Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, Seneca Falls; First Presbyterian Church, Seneca Falls; Race House, Seneca Falls, Seneca Falls; Hoskins House, Seneca Falls; Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, Auburn; Harriet May Mills House, Syracuse; and Matilda Joslyn Gage House, Fayetteville.

So send the players in this scenario good thoughts. Keep your eye on a celebration on August 26th. Encouragement for a Susan B. Anthony party can be found right here on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

For updates and other suffrage news from Suffrage Wagon News Channel, subscribe. More about Suffrage Wagon.

Suffragette Slasher Story from film artist!

The suffrage movement is inspiring storytellers. The tale of the English  suffragette slasher is one example from Julie Perini.

Other suffrage stories and news from around the U.S. include: Suffrage storyteller Judy Baker. Oregon’s black suffragist story. Kansas women’s stories on film.

Out for the holiday!!!!

The office is closed. Am out enjoying the 164th anniversary of Seneca Falls. The following blog posting comes to you by way of the National Women’s History Project:

On July 19-20, 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott spearheaded the first women’s rights convention in American History. Over 300 women and men came to Seneca Falls, New York to protest the mistreatment of women in social, economic, political, and religious life. This marked the first public call for women’s right to vote.

At the end of the conference 68 women and 32 men of the 300 attendees signed the Declaration of Sentiments. This document was drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who used the Declaration Independence as her guide and listed eighteen “injuries and usurpations… on the part of man toward woman” (same number of charges the colonists leveled against the King of England).
Those who attended the conference were vilified and mocked by the press who described the conference as “the most shocking and unnatural event ever recorded in the history of womanity.”

Yet, thanks to the countless numbers who have worked to preserve the history of the women’s rights movement, Seneca Falls, NY is now the site of the Womens Rights National Historical Park.

To honor democracy and the amazing legacy of the women’s rights movement, be sure to register and vote!
Happy Anniversary!

Link to activities this weekend at Seneca Falls, NY highlighting dramatic presentations of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Photo: Library of Congress.Grundy County, Iowa, 1939.

Suffrage hikers to Washington DC are captured on film

Suffragist Elisabeth Freeman on her soapbox. From the web site elisabethfreeman.org published by her great niece, Peg Johnston.

There’s very little film footage from the suffrage movement, so this 80-second clip from the National Film Preservation Foundation is a treasure. It’s entitled “On to Washington.” The occasion is the suffrage hiking march with Rosalie Jones and Elisabeth Freeman and others who headed south to Washington, DC to join the suffrage parade scheduled to coincide with the inauguration of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. My grandparents Edna and Wilmer Kearns marched in that parade, along with Serena Kearns, my mother’s older sister who was born in 1905.

Grandmother Edna Kearns worked on Long Island suffrage organizing with both Rosalie Jones and Elisabeth Freeman. Jones was born and raised on Long Island where she carried out a significant amount of grassroots suffrage work. Elisabeth Freeman was born in England and became a paid organizer for the  movement. Rosalie, Elisabeth, Edna Kearns (along with Wilmer and Serena Kearns) and others started out on the march to Albany from NYC to see the governor about Votes for Women the first week in January of 1914.

Elisabeth Freeman’s web site is published by Elisabeth Freeman’s great niece, Peg Johnston of Binghamton, NY. Visit the Suffrage Wagon News Channel’s new platform.

Writer Antonia Petrash has lots of suffrage stories to tell

Suffrage pageant on Long Island. Photo: Library of Congress

There’s a new audio feature on Votes for Women Salon, a special feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel: an interview with Antonia Petrash who speaks about her upcoming book about the Long Island suffrage movement. The book is expected to be published in 2013 by  The History Press.

Grandmother Edna Kearns will be featured in Antonia’s work as someone significantly contributing to the suffrage movement because of her focus on the news media. Antonia has other stories to share with listeners in this Votes for Women Salon podcast special. Many of the interview selections are one minute or less. Listen when you have a break in your busy schedule.

Find out the story of the day when Susan B. Anthony met Elisabeth Cady Stanton. What the suffrage movement was like on Long Island. Remarkable New York women, and more. Click on the link above for Votes for Women Salon, a special feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

News from other places: In the Bahamas, there’s a suffrage celebration. A suff mural in Canada. The Canadians are strong in the promotion of history, and the U.S. could gather a few tips from their example. Especially this Canadian model of Strong Girls/Strong Canada!

What did Edna Kearns do on the 4th of July, 1913?

Grandmother Edna Kearns hitched a horse to her “Spirit of 1776″ wagon and headed to the shore at Long Beach on Long Island. She took two outfits with her: a bathing suit and a white dress with a “Votes for Women” sash. What a crowd on the beach that day, and the group of women made a splash. Edna even got out in the surf to make a “voiceless speech,” a tactic of the suffrage movement which fell under the category of the visual rhetoric associated with sophisticated public relations. Take a look at this link. The suffrage campaign wagon again made the NY Times.

“Appeal to Liberty” on behalf of the foremothers. . .

Read at the feet of the Statue of Liberty on July 4, 1915

To the Men of New York,

We therefore appeal to you, in the name of justice and fair play, for relief from the intolerable position in which we have been placed.

We protest that no Government is just which taxes and governs half its people without their consent.

We protest that no Government is efficient which is guilty of so absurd a discrimination as that of putting a vote in the hand of male paupers and denying that privilege to at least a third of its taxpayers; of counting the opinion of illiterate males, and denying that count to the 41,000 women teachers of the State.

We protest that no Government is sound which pretends to secure the highest welfare to its people, yet pays no heed to what half its people want.

We protest that no Government is logical which elevates half its people regardless of qualifications to sovereignty and condemns the other half to political subjection.

Justice gave you the vote, in the name of that same great virtue, we ask you to give it to us!

For news clips about the entire story about the “Appeal to Liberty” and Edna Kearns carrying on the work on Long Island, follow this link.

Video about women voting in our back yard to the north

Nine minute video about the history of women voting in Canada. Plans for a suffragette statue in Australia. Click here. New Zealand women plan their 120th anniversary of Votes for Women. Online book about woman suffrage in Mexico. Canada’s extraordinary suffragists.

Oregon suffrage centennial has plenty of photo opps and dressups!

Former Oregon governor Barbara Roberts, center, with LuAnn Trotebas, left, and Alyce Cornyn-Selby, right, from the National Hat Museum, wearing vintage 1912 hats at a Oregon 2012 suffrage centennial event. Photos courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium, Century of Action project. Photos by Andie Petkus.

The story of suffrage is inching across the nation. The states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Washington have observed their centennials. Oregon, Kansas and Arizona are in the midst of it now, and with this –the awareness of a remarkable time in history grows stronger.

Former Oregon governor Barbara Roberts has been playing an important role by emphasizing the importance of this observance as she travels on the speakers’ circuit. See article.  Roberts gave a speech before the City Club of Portland in the past year where she told the audience:

“History is meant, not to sit on a shelf, but to devour and think about and talk about and share.” She called the suffrage movement something “. . . that’s little told and is highly under appreciated” and how this “is about to change.” Roberts’ perspective is shared by many: “We’re bringing our place in history out of the shadows” and she’s reminded of Susan B. Anthony’s charge: “Never another season of silence.”

But what has happened in the past 100 years? This article from the Portland Tribune raises the question of how much footing women have gained in Oregon’s political arena.

More to come about the Oregon suffrage centennial. Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and updates.

Susan B. Anthony is a corker! Find out for yourself!

Cartoon of Susan B. Anthony

They called her Aunt Susan and she had so many adopted nieces, people couldn’t keep count. That’s why this post features a ten-minute audio clip from “Jailed for Freedom” by Doris Stevens, published back in Grandmother Edna’s day, that gives you a feeling of almost being there.

Susan B. Anthony died before the ratification of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote in 1920. So when August 26th comes around this year, at a time when people aren’t usually thinking about Aunt Susan, consider the possibility of having a party. There are lessons to be learned by putting on a skit about Susan. How about courage? Vision. Inner strength. She had her eye on the prize of women voting and wouldn’t give up. These themes are eternal.

I didn’t even have a script when I directed and produced my own Susan skit back in 2010. I went to the primary sources, lifted lines straight from the record, recruited the cast, and everyone had a blast with dress ups. The audience got the point.

So if you’ve been toying with the idea of putting on a program for August 26th (Women’s Equality Day) or a special fundraiser or other event for your friends, organization, or club, try Susan B. Anthony’s arrest in 1872 and her trial for voting. The trial was a hit at the Susan B. Anthony birthday party I organized in February of 2010, and it’s especially relevant for other special events because it’s an example of nonviolent civil disobedience. Susan was arrested for voting, and everyone knew back then that women couldn’t vote.

The audio clip on this post is a wonderful resource, plus the internet is a great resource for finding quotes from Susan, as well as her speeches, for reading out loud.  Here’s Susan B.’s petition to Congress in January of 1874. And resources from Susan’s trial record. Think about it! It’s a great way to introduce young people to Aunt Susan and there are great parts: Susan, the officer who arrests her, the district attorney, and the judge. Drama, conflict, plenty of action. Great lines.

Now –see how you do on a quiz about Susan B. Anthony.

Six-part interview series on the overview of suffrage history

Among serious suffrage buffs, you either like Carrie Chapman Catt or you don’t. Some believe she got too much credit for the suffrage win, and others would say not enough. Chances are, most people today haven’t heard of her. So the six-part interview series featuring Nate Levin might be filed away in the deep archives of human memory, except for the fact that Levin lays out a simple story line explaining the suffrage movement which is worth spending some time with.

Nate Levin wraps himself in the term “suffrage buff,” so much so that he created a Facebook page called Suffrage Buffs of America. His mother was a loyal member of the League of Women Voters (Grandmother Edna was a member) which has turned into a lifelong interest for Nate. He’s written  a book about Carrie Chapman Catt that’s free on Google Books. (It’s also available in hard copy). You can get to know more about Nate by way of YouTube in this five-part suffrage interview series: Program #1, Program #2, Program #3. Program #4. Program #5. Program #6.  And there’s more about Nate Levin on Suffrage Wagon News Channel where we feature his Facebook page that’s geared to other suffs like Nate…and me. There’s a great deal of information out there about the suffs, and it’s comforting to find a corner where people talk about these subjects.

Grandmother Edna Kearns presented an “Appeal to Liberty” to thousands

The Votes for Women activists took their appeal to the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July in 1915. It’s an example of the bold tactics of the suffragists in 1915 which didn’t win them the vote during that campaign, but it certainly sent a message that the issue wouldn’t go away.

One version of the story is told about New York City where huge suffrage parades and demonstrations put an “Appeal to Liberty” (read by suffragists) into the mainstream awareness as it became an essential element of the Fourth of July observance. See the Fourth of July 1915 coverage in the Times.

Grandmother Edna Kearns carried the “Appeal to Liberty” theme to Long Island where this report noted that local firefighters gave Edna the platform to speak about Votes for Women and thousands listened. News about Edna is in the second column.

Photo: Associated Press.

Some activists threw themselves into the suffrage cause at their own peril

From a 1914 newspaper, the “Daily Herald,” depicting “Miss Davison.” By Will Dyson.

. . .such as the UK’s Emily Davidson who threw herself in front of the King’s horse. More is coming out about Davison and the details of her life, inlcuding the tale of how Davison hid herself in a crypt so she could use Parliament as her home address as a way to lobby for the vote. The posting comments are as interesting as the researcher’s report.

The film clip of Emily Davison’s dramatic protest is well known, and the clip of her funeral procession in London impacts us as only film can do.

What did Grandmother Edna Kearns say when standing on her campaign wagon?

Grandmother Edna kicked up a fuss on Long Island in 1912 as she kept the newspapers filled with suffrage news. She connected the dots between current events and the need for the vote, whether in the newspaper columns she wrote or when campaigning after 1913 in her horse-drawn suffrage wagon now on exhibit at the state capitol in Albany, NY through the summer of 2012.

You can’t have a baby without engaging in politics, Edna argued. And she raised eyebrows among other suffragists who believed they shouldn’t venture outside their limited sphere of lobbying for the vote. Edna raised her voice about the scandal at the Mineola jail and ventured forth to say that women would take care of community business better then men. Just give women a chance, she said.

When the newspapers carried the controversy, Edna defended herself from those who claimed her Better Babies campaign on Long Island was merely a “fad,” a ploy for “sensationalism.” Edna’s motivation? She insisted she was concerned that mothers didn’t have all the skills they needed for mothering and vowed to establish parenting classes. Underlying her argument, of course, was how much women needed the vote! This speaks to us today by remembering the interconnectedness of issues and reaching out to others to bring us together in linking our past with taking leadership in these times.

“Holding the Torch for Liberty”: June 3, 2012 suffrage musical gala in Manhattan

“Holding the Torch for Liberty” is the story of Sarah, a seamstress at the Liberty Pants Factory and suffragist allies who campaign for the right to vote in 1920. With the help of The Statute of Liberty, the students involved in the musical production overcome all obstacles and participate in a story about a great American civil rights movement.

Set aside June 3, 2012 for The Jazz Drama Program Summer Gala, 2-5 pm at Urban Stages in NYC. It’s a celebration of the work of The Jazz Drama Program with artistic director Eli Yamin, special guest Mercedes Ellington and honoring Dr. William Rodriguez, Latin Jazz Pianist, principal and founder of the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music.

The event features a live performance of scenes and songs from “Holding the Torch for Liberty,” the jazz musical about women’s suffrage by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson, and performed by students from Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music. Refreshments and a champagne toast are included in the ticket price. This is a wonderful opportunity to support a program that builds leadership through stories about the suffrage movement.

Tickets to this event are limited and can be purchased for $100. For more information. Each ticket holder will receive a copy of the cast CD of “Holding the Torch for Liberty” signed by the authors.

Albany women’s exhibit has the “Spirit of 1776″

The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon on display at NYS capitol in Albany, NY

Grandmother Edna Kearns’ suffrage wagon is highlighted in the exhibition, “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court,” that’s presently on display at the NYS capitol in Albany, New York. It constitutes a must-see experience and well worth my long trip to arrive here early this week. With the suffrage wagon named the “Spirit of 1776″ as an exhibit centerpiece, the freedom theme is magnified by the panels featuring individual women from New York who have made a significant mark on state and national history, as well as current affairs.

“From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court: New York’s women leading the way” balances the recently-opened Hall of the Governors, filled with portraits of men, with an exhibit introductory panel highlighting a statement rarely seen in public:

While women”… may not have always been the individuals passing the laws, women were writing the policies, organizing campaigns and generating awareness. For too long, these efforts have been minimized, omitted from the history books or forgotten completely.”

Hats off to the planners, researchers, governor and state museum staff and supporters responsible for the exhibition. See links: Capitol web site and coverage by Capitol Confidential.

The English suffragettes relaxed their stiff upper lips

When people say they feel helpless in the face of overwhelming odds, an attitude or obstacle, it’s time for all of us to remember the serious resistance the British women were up against in their fight for the ballot. The suffragettes’ bold tactics became known worldwide after their decision to stretch the bondaries. Here’s a selection from Mary Walton’s 2010 book, A Woman’s Crusade:

“All over England, suffragettes ‘hid in bushes and under platforms, scaled roofs, let themselves down through skylights in order to interrupt meetings with the dreaded call, ‘votes for women.’”

While the suffrage story has been very low key for many years, it’s jumping into center stage in England with the announcement of the upcoming year’s centennial celebration of Emily Davison. Many of her relatives are involved, including the release of material previously unavailable. Check it out. The trailer of “Everything is Possible,” a UK film about Sylvia Pankhurst is a must see, if you haven’t run across it already. It’s a story of vision, determination, and a lifelong dedication to the goal of freedom. There’s also a fascinating link on the film’s web site about Sylvia’s security files compiled by the British government.

Behind the scenes of great suffrage music video, “Bad Romance”

Chances are that you’ve seen the suffrage music video, “Bad Romance,” a parody of Lady Gaga. But have you seen the behind-the-scenes production short (link above)? The increase in creative material about the suffrage movement is exciting and noteworthy.  Here are a few examples:

A stroll on the new Rochester Heritage Trail. Boston Marathon runners who acknowledge those who came before them. Activism exhibit in New York City. New book to be published in July 2012 from Rutgers University Press: “The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.”

In what ways have you been contributing to this outpouring of love and appreciation toward the tens of thousands of women who participated in this extraordinary civil rights movement?

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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

I love this story of Grandmother Edna Kearns!


Here’s what happened almost a hundred years ago. Grandmother Edna Kearns expected to be a speaker at a community event as she set out for the evening with this purpose in mind. She was, after all, as the article notes: “a well known suffrage speaker.” When turned away at the door of a Republican Party rally, Grandmother Edna didn’t take the situation lightly. She stood up on a automobile nearby and expounded on the topic of Votes for Women to the people passing by on the street, as well as those headed to the meeting. She held forth for at least two hours and refused give in –one example of many instances of her hard-headed style.

After the event, Grandmother Edna made certain more people knew about what happened. She wrote for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and this article appeared on November 1, 1915. It’s worth a read.  Not only because it’s yet another untold story of the suffrage movement. But it’s a lesson in determination and persistence that we can learn from today. The photo above isn’t of Grandmother Edna, but it illustrates the interest suffrage speakers sparked when they spoke in the streets.

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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.”

The local suffrage wrinkle: Debates on Long Island street corners

We continue with the untold story of the local wrinkle on the suffrage movement in New York State. As we move toward NYS’s centennial of winning the vote in 1917, we’ll see an increasing interest in this part of our history. The articles linked on this blog are primarily from the archives of Grandmother Edna Kearns.

The suffrage movement tapped the power of the press when its activists witnessed and reported on the news, much as citizen journalists do today. Writers and activists like Edna Buckman Kearns reported for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and local publications on Long Island. Edna also lived part time in New York City where her husband Wilmer Kearns was employed and her young daughter Serena attended a Quaker school. Edna gave her full attention to organizing Long Island for woman’s suffrage. Her reports in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle gave considerable detail to the grassroots organizing efforts, of which this article and others demonstrate.

Elisabeth Freeman was among the suffrage campaigners, along with Edna Kearns and others who spread out to cover organizations where numbers of men would congregate, such as the firemens’ convention. They showed up with literature and made a visual impact. The community reactions and how the suffragists responded were documented in detail.

Back to contemporary times: I enjoy reading the press coverage of England’s suffrage movement. The Brits’ coverage of this time in their history is extremely creative. For example, there’s a recent piece on a descendant of Emily Davison, best known for throwing herself in front of the king’s horse. And an excellent article on how the sinking of the Titanic impacted the suffragette movement in  England.

Grandmother Edna Kearns’ suffrage wagon on exhibit in Albany, NY

An article in “Albany Kid” by Tara Bloyd, Edna Kearns’ great granddaughter, is spreading the word to a younger audience about the exhibition of the suffrage campaign wagon used by Edna Buckman Kearns currently underway at the NYS capitol in Albany, NY.

A Brooklyn wagon company donated the wagon to the state woman’s suffrage movement in 1913. Considerable information about the wagon and its use for grassroots activism during the suffrage movement has been presented on Suffrage Wagon News Channel over the past two years.

The article in “Albany Kid” highlights the exhibit underway at the state capitol honoring  New York State’s extraordinary women as represented in many arenas, including suffrage. The exhibit’s in the Hall of Governors in the state capitol and is part of an ambitious program by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to make more public space available for educational and historical exhibits. The exhibit runs through April and possibly into May.

Grandmother Edna took the “Suffrage Special” to Washington, DC

It’s one thing to read about the split between Alice Paul and the main suffrage organization at the time, NAWSA. It’s quite another to realize that Grandmother Edna witnessed it. An article in the New York Tribune in November following the big 1913 suffrage parade laid out how the New Yorkers headed to Washington, DC for the NAWSA convention. Edna boarded the train with the New York delegation, accompanied by women whose names may be familiar to lovers of suffrage history: Inez Mulholland, Mary Garrett HayElisabeth Freeman, Ida Craft, Mrs. Arthur Livermore, Portia Willis and many others. It would be the national convention where the split between NAWSA’s direction and that of Alice Paul came to the fore in its recorded documents.

Alice Paul $10 gold coin issued to honor suffragist

The new $10 gold coin isn’t something that most of us will get our hands on, though it’s expected to be popular with collectors. An article in “Coin Week” recently questioned how the Paul coin could be issued by the U.S. government in the first place. The coin’s intended to be part of a series of presidential dollar coins for President Chester Garfield (1881-1885) and columnist Louis Golino suggests that the coin’s ill suited for the series.

There’s no doubt, however, that Alice Paul should be better recognized for her contributions to U.S. history. Whereas Ghandi took note of the British suffragettes and their campaign for the vote, he bristled when they broke windows to get their point across. Alice Paul served time in an English jail for her suffrage activism which was difficult to keep out of the American press, especially when she went on a hunger strike and was subjected to forced feeding, an experience which steeled her for the Votes for Women campaign in the U.S.

When writing to her mother from England in 1909, Alice explained the reasoning: “…to resist prison –passively by taking no food & also by refusing to obey any of the regulations, with the purpose of making the situation more acute & consequently bringing it to an end sooner.” She noted that this was in the spiritual tradition of Quakers: “…simply a policy of passive resistance & and as a Quaker thee ought to approve of that.”

Suffrage pageants were cutting edge for their time

Hazel MacKaye (shown above) was riding high in 1914 when her pageant, “The American Woman: Six Periods of American Life” was performed at the Seventy-first Regimental Armory (sponsored by the New York City Men’s League for Equal Suffrage). This cutting-edge production milked the potential when combining drama and social commentary. Grandmother Edna Kearns was involved, not only in the event’s organization, but also the performance. Historians now note that women’s pageants shifted to beauty contents in the years following the suffrage movement. In their time, though, suffrage pageants were less confrontational than parades and demonstrations. And they were an emotional training ground for later forms of protest, such as picketing the White House.

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Forty barefoot maidens in a suffrage victory dance

Edna Kearns documented as well as participated in the suffrage movement in the New York City area. She wrote for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the Brooklyn Times and many Long Island papers. She’s shown here in a news photo, fourth from the left, in an article describing the performers in the 1914 Armory pageant. Edna noted in pencil on the clipping that she had written the article, not unusual because she was press chair for many events and campaigns. And she submitted copy to many newspapers that was printed with and without her byline. Lulu Kearns, my grandmother Wilmer Kearns’ sister from Beavertown, PA, is noted in the article as a pageant participant!

I love the part describing the “forty beautiful maidens in a final dance of victory.”

Putting their bodies on the line: Suffragettes arrested!

There came a time in the American, as well as the English woman’s suffrage campaigns, when it became obvious that without bolder action, progress couldn’t be made.

A BBC audio recording of nine minutes made in 1946 features suffragette Ada Flatman speaking about risking arrest for the suffrage campaign in England. This first-person account by a very proper English woman is not only a delight to listen to, but an insight into how the more traditional advocacy of lobbying and education hadn’t worked in London, and the movement had moved to a new level of pressure. Recent BBC coverage of the English suffrage movement raises the question of whether or not the current British government should apologize for the acts of a past administration. The commentary shows the way in which history remains a present-day consideration.

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Men joined the bandwagon for Votes for Women

Whether or not the remarkable response from men for suffrage was expected back in 1914 isn’t clear. However, this article published in the New York Herald about the huge suffrage pageant at the Armory documents a growing and more influential suffrage movement.  The article noted that support from men had grown significantly in the previous three years and how enthusiastic men had stepped forward to be patrons of the Armory ball and pageant. Even children, including little Serena Kearns, were part of the production, as well as other children of the period. As the article shows below, my grandparents demonstrated their support as patrons.

Support for suffrage pageant from many quarters

Suffragists were publicity hounds . . .

Keeping the suffrage issue constantly in front of the public was a daunting task. Grandmother Edna Kearns got news coverage when standing on a street corner and speaking about suffrage. Here’s an example from a Long Island local paper:

Valentine’s Day stories about suffrage, PLUS a composer who used a toothbrush to conduct a song!

The Brits have come through royally with their recent media coverage of the English suffrage movement. Especially with the first broadcast of audio interviews of suffragettes recorded back in 1977 by prominent British historian Brian Harrison. This past weekend’s BBC radio special,  “The Lost World of the Suffragettes,” reveals the character, political context, and personalities of these gutsy activists. This coverage adds much to the rich collection of Votes for Women stories.

The BBC television pieces entitled Christabel Pankhurst: “I wanted to assault a policeman”  and another recent segment called “Fight to clear Derby suffragette Alice Wheeldon’s name” are worth the five minutes or so you’ll spend watching. The BBC news magazine even has an article raising the question of whether or not the English suffragettes were regarded as terrorists in their day.

Note the valentine illustration above by American artist Ellen Clappsaddle. There’s no doubt where she stood on the issue of Votes for Women!

Stories of the suffrage movement can also tickle your funny bone. A favorite of mine is about the well-known British composer, Dame Ethel Smyth,  imprisoned for the suffrage struggle in England. When serving time in Holloway prison, Smyth leaned out of her cell and used her toothbrush to conduct the suffragettes in the prison yard singing “The March of the Women,” the work Smyth composed.

You can hear Smyth’s own voice on a special podcast from the BBC. Come on, now. This podcast is only three minutes long. Painless. And don’t forget that Susan B. Anthony’s birthday is February 15th! This link to the Susan B. Anthony Day notes the opposition to it becoming a national holiday though Susan’s day is observed or celebrated officially in several states.

We are surrounded by greatness. Do you hear the suffrage call?

I love it when examples pop up on the web where the suffrage legacy of our ancestors is cited. Kristi Rendahl says this in her Op Ed piece about her suffragist great-grandmother:

“My great-grandmother is but one example of strength. I surround myself with pictures and memories of family members–men and women alike–who have shown might in times of distress. I serve food on my mom’s trays and use my grandmother’s silverware at meals. I play from my great-aunt’s songbooks on my grandmother’s piano. I drink wine from my aunt’s wine glasses. I sleep in my grandparents’ bed. I hang my great-aunt’s artwork on my wall. I listen to music on my grandfather’s Edison player. I soak up the journalled memories of my pioneer great-grandmother.

“I am never alone, because they and an army of love and wisdom are behind me. Anything I encounter will not surpass their stories. Anything I conquer will be because of the lessons they’ve taught me. And we are all enveloped in this greatness, if we remember to see it and let it feed the core of our being. Do you hear the call? Do you hear my great-grandmother saying ‘no’ to injustice? Do you hear your own conscience saying that there are some things that are simply not acceptable?”

Edee Lemonier speaks about her grandmother being bundled up to be carried to a Votes for Women demonstration in downtown Chicago featured in this New Agenda point of view.

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