Category Archives: New York State Women's History

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.

Will the 2017′s suffrage centennial events match the women of 1913?

During one week in May of 1913, New York State suffragists planned a whirlwind schedule of activities to support the suffrage movement. My question is this:  Will the centennial celebrants of 2017 in New York State match the women of my grandmother Edna’s generation? The above newspaper clip is from one of Edna’s newspaper columns. 

Splits in suffrage movement didn’t deter working relationships

Mrs. Raymond Brown took over after Harriett May Mills as president of New York’s state suffrage organization. A rare recording of Mrs. Brown speaking is a valuable look at the period, as well as a reference in one of Grandmother Edna Kearns’ newspaper columns that she wasn’t all that pleased with Mrs. Brown being selected as state president. Despite her personal opinion, Kearns and Brown worked closely together on suffrage organizing of Long Island. Photo: Library of Congress.

“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.

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.

Intense suffrage debates on Long Island street corners

The location of one such fiery debate was identified as the corner of North Ocean Avenue and Main Street in Patchogue, NY as part of the campaigning to open up Long Island to more suffrage organizing. The Votes for Women activists held parades, spoke on street corners and from the back seats of automobiles, as well as horse-drawn wagons. At times their presence in town was heightened with a live band.   See entire article from the archives of Edna Buckman Kearns that includes the details of a shouting match between the women and a man on the street. Edna witnessed the event, and it was her job at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to write about it.

“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!

Read Suffrage Wagon News Channel on your Kindle. Order through the Amazon Kindle store. There’s a 14-day trial.

Woman’s suffrage is going national!

Find out more about “History Detectives” and Louise Bernikow’s appearance on the program.
Feedback I’ve been getting suggests that training is necessary in the art of High Tea. The Atlanta Board of Education produced a training film for young women that covers the basics of putting on a tea. Films like this aren’t being made any more. It covers “correct behavior,” proper form and dress, “etiquette and taste, where the tea-pot should be placed and more. Also, check out other training films in the archive of the Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

I like to use the program for the 1915 tea in honor of Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw as an example of how to organize a similar event, even if it’s just you in charge of the organization. The enlargement for the image above may be slow in loading, but it’s worth the wait because the size is 100 percent. On the right page of the program, there’s the who, what, where and when. The suffrage quotes speak for the issue and justify the importance of the occasion, as do the patrons who are an integral part of the fundraising. If you think I’m pushing the 1915 tea, you’re right! Grandmother Edna was on the planning committee.

Don’t forget to put September 20th on your calendar in 2011!

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.

News from the NYS Museum

No one likes the belt tightening underway in organizations and institutions across the nation. And the distribution of pink slips in offices at the New York State Museum is no exception. The museum’s employees held their collective breath in 2010 when 12 staffers were laid off, and then again recently. There’s a breeze blowing through the museum these days when one considers that one third of its staff disappeared in just over a year due to layoffs, forced and voluntary retirements. In the past six months, the museum has closed its doors on Sundays, removed some exhibits and contracted its cafeteria out for cultural events. Some observers are wondering if the state museum will be able to carry out its legislative mandates.

How will this impact my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon that sits stored in a museum warehouse in the Albany area? No one knows at this point. With the 100th anniversary of women voting in NYS coming up in 2017, there are many reasons why New York should be planning an enormous celebration –one that will highlight the extraordinary accomplishment of New York women that was a tipping point in the national campaign.

All the more reason for us to continue gathering support for museum officials and those in the state’s executive chambers charged with budgetary matters to take the necessary steps to get the suffrage wagon out of the warehouse and on permanent exhibit. Let’s see what happens next!

The Good News and the Other News

Ok, let’s get the not-so-good news over with. We didn’t make the $5,000 goal on Kickstarter. But let’s not forget the $1200 grant from the Puffin Foundation and the pledges and support from many many friends. Thank you!

In the Good News Department, Mayor David Coss of Santa Fe, New Mexico has joined an ever-growing number of people around the country who are supporting the New York State Museum in its efforts to obtain the funding it needs to put my grandmother Edna Buckman Kearns’ suffrage campaign wagon on permanent exhibit in Albany, NY (the state capitol). The museum has plans for a renovation that would feature the wagon, among other things. However, funding has been held up indefinitely because of budget issues.

Subscribe to this blog if you’d like to stay in touch with those of us who are following the the suffrage campaign wagon on its journey to be seen by you and the general public. By subscribing, you’ll receive updates a few times each month –not enough to clog your email account, but enough to stay on top of the wagon’s progress. The subscription form is at the top of the right-side column.

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

My Grandmother Stepped Up to Volunteer!

This appeal from the New York Suffrage Newsletter of August 1912 spelled out precisely the tasks volunteers needed to do:  help out at headquarters and sell the newsletter. My grandmother did everything that was requested. She sent out suffrage leaflets in her correspondence, stamped “Votes for Women” on her checks. She recruited supporters, sold newsletters, gave speeches, participated in local clubs and organizations, marched in parades, and much more. Suffrage campaigners also sold flags, arm bands, leaflets, buttons, place cards, seals, pencils, rubber stamps, drinking cups, posters, blotters, stationary, and baskets. The personalized trinket industry was busy back then, just as it is today!

Don’t forget to pledge to support the Kickstarter campaign. Watch the video.

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!

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.

Marching to Albany on New Year’s Day! Brrr

I should have known I had “marching on Albany” in my DNA. It would have made life so much easier. And it had to have been a stretch for my grandparents, Edna and Wilmer Kearns (marked on the photo above), when they headed out with suffrage activist Rosalie Jones and others from Long Island on New Year’s Day in 1914 for the trek to Albany, NY to speak to the governor about Votes for Women. Hiking was quite a media event, and the NY Times was there as the hikers started north. My grandmother Edna sent on-the-scene reports back to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle where she was an editor for suffrage news. The photo below is from the Bain Collection at the Library of Congress. Edna and Wilmer and their oldest daughter Serena are seen there, on the right, walking near the flag.

A Special Suffrage Christmas Tree!

My grandmother Edna May Buckman was born Christmas day in 1882, the daughter of Charles Harper Buckman and May Phipps Begley.   I found a 1910 article about a Christmas suffrage tree and holiday party that shows how the holiday festivities were tied to the suffrage organizing in New York City and it’s precisely the kind of event Edna and daughter Serena would have enjoyed. The children attending the 1910 suffrage holiday party walked away with candy wrapped in suffrage colors and a Votes for Women button.

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.

Book Underway About Long Island Suffrage Movement


“They aren’t absentee –just absent” is a Newsday Op Ed piece written by Antonia Petrash about women and voting. Petrash is the director of the Glen Clove (NY) Public LIbrary, and she is writing a book about the suffrage movement on Long Island.

More Awareness of Women’s History. . .

Such as the article in The New York Times about Susan B. Anthony’s home. Let’s see how long it stays up for public view.

And a very interesting clip about the women of the UK and their suffrage movement.

Videos Online Feature Suffrage

YouTube features: “Women’s Suffrage 1776-1900,” “We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants,” “Susan B. Anthony.”

Thrilling Image

How thrilling to have been standing up so high and photographing an incredible event like this —women marching in the streets of New York City. My grandmother Edna May Buckman was there. I’m sure of it.

1913 NYC Suffrage Parade, George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

Edna Will Return to New York

After leaving New York State behind in 1920 when she moved back to her family home in Pennsylvania, Edna May Buckman will return to New York when her horse-drawn carriage used for the suffrage campaign goes on exhibit at the New York State Museum in Albany in 2010. A new wing of the museum is being planned that highlights women’s rights in New York State. This article is from Legacy Magazine, Summer 2008.

Edna's suffrage wagon will go on exhibit in 2012