Tag Archives: suffrage news

A women’s suffrage myth & a great free book with the inside story! Marguerite’s Musings.

“Jailed for Freedom” by Doris Stevens is featured book on Suffrage Bookshelf on Vimeo.

You can listen to the “Jailed for Freedom” book read free on Librivox.
Suffrage Movement Myth

by Marguerite Kearns

Have you heard the perspective referred to above that has been getting spread around lately? It compares the English and American suffrage movements and concludes that the English suffragette movement was exciting and creative while the American suffrage activists were boring and trite. So sad that these sister movements are being pitted against each other. If there’s anything positive about this old myth being trotted out into public, it’s to give these faulty assumptions an airing.

THE MYTH COMPARING ENGISH AND AMERICAN ACTIVISTS

The myth of exciting versus boring relies on the assumption that the English suffragists’ use of property damage, that is, a degree of violence, placed the English suffrage movement in a position of being considered more interesting than the American women who were “polite.” Translate that to “nonviolent.”

Sweeping generalizations underlie this myth. In fact, the women’s rights movements in England and the United States were committed to nonviolence. And later on, the English tactics that included property damage were controversial in their time and did not represent the sentiments of all English women engaged in the movement. Suffrage activists on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean argued vehemently about the best tactics and strategies necessary to reach their goals. And while they disagreed about tactics, they remained committed to the goal of freedom.

"Marguerite's Musings" on Suffrage Wagon News ChannelTHROWING ROCKS AND BLOWING UP MAILBOXES

Sadly, the perspective comparing the Americans and the English relies on a misunderstanding. Nonviolent tactics and strategies are considerably more difficult and challenging to implement than a decision to resort to violence. Throwing rocks definitely has more juice for the purpose of a mainstream film. A commitment to nonviolent social change isn’t as visual and tension producing as deciding to blow up a mailbox.

In fact, the ties between American and English activists were close. And both movements, for all their differences, can be plotted on the same path of working within a rigid political and social structure to accomplish similar goals while facing considerable resistance from government to win voting rights. While the American suffrage activists remained committed to nonviolent strategies, there’s no doubt that violence was used against them, especially those who picketed the White House in 1917 and were imprisoned and assaulted by authorities.

THE SIMILARITIES ARE IMPORTANT TO APPRECIATE

Both the suffrage activists in England and the U.S. went up against hard-core resistance. The picketing of the White House in 1917 heightened awareness of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. And if these activists hadn’t been successful in impacting national policy, it’s difficult to predict now, in retrospect, if U.S. women would have won the right to vote at all in 1920.

This old tired myth comparing the two movements will hopefully lose its power once the public is better informed about the spirit and determination and dedication that kept American suffrage activists with their eye on the prize. Check out Doris Stevens’ work, “Jailed for Freedom.” These free audio files from Librivox fill in more of what it took for American women to win voting rights.

As more research on the women’s suffrage movement is completed, books are published, and the constituency interested in this part of history grows stronger, we’ll join hands across the Atlantic. I envision a grand parade or awards banquet where English and American women honor our suffrage activist ancestors and properly celebrate this extraordinary accomplishment of winning voting rights together.

Onward to the 2020 suffrage centennial celebration!

WATCH THE VIDEO ON SUFFRAGE WAGON

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Comment on the Suffrage Wagon blog. Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming women’s suffrage centennial events and celebrations. 

“Choose it and Use it” is a video reminding us of how the past is linked to what we do today and its impact on the future. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

 

“Your Voice, Your Vote” by Martha Burk, featured on Suffrage Wagon Bookshelf

VIDEO: “Your Voice, Your Vote” by Martha Burk, featured on Suffrage Wagon Bookshelf on Vimeo.

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“Your Voice, Your Vote” by Martha Burk is a must-have reference for the modern voter. Any book that features the 1848 Seneca Falls women’s rights convention in the first chapter has my attention from the start. Burk makes it clear that the past, present and future are all related. If this seems like common sense, it’s worth repeating. More often than not, the foundations of today’s struggles for equality and human rights are forgotten or marginalized.

No matter what you’re interested in, Burk has a chapter on the subject that includes an overview and action guide. The book’s subhead “The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics, and the Change We Need” puts the topic of voting rights in perspective and where American women stand on a long list of issues. What’s at stake in 2015 and 2016 elections is at the top of the list.

Women have the advantage today in terms of numbers at the polling place. How does this translate to putting the nation’s policymakers’ feet to the fire? Well, that’s a different matter. Burk spares no words when it comes to the economy, taxes, Social Security, health care, reproductive rights, violence against women, education, child care, long-term care, lesbian and gay civil rights, global women’s issues, and more. And it all adds up to the utter importance of modern women voters being informed and taking action through the electoral process.

The author drives home the point that American women have no rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. This is what’s behind all the legislation intended to strip women of rights and liberties, she emphasizes. And so there’s a national campaign to revive the Equal Rights Amendment underway at the local, state and national levels.

Order Martha Burk’s book, and make it your business to support the ERA, a guarantee that Susan B. Anthony herself visualized. It’s worth saying this again: the book, “Your Voice, Your Vote” by Martha Burk is the missing ingredient when it comes to linking our past with the present and future. The potential needs to be realized and Burk tells us how. She also has a syndicated interview program, “Equal Time,” that’s excellent. Treat yourself during Women’s History Month in March.

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS: The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial has moved forward in its campaign to raise money for the national suffragist memorial. Check out the video and news.

Vote graphic on Suffrage Wagon Nes Channel

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennial events and celebrations.

100+ Suffrage Movement Videos or Bust!

100+ Suffrage Videos or Bust! A VIDEO  featured on Vimeo.

We’re getting close to going over the top by producing and publishing 100 suffrage videos. Visit our Vimeo channel.

IN OTHER NEWS: The National Women’s History Project is celebrating its 35th year with a big party on March 28th. Video. Follow special coverage on video during Women’s History Month in March. Video.

This video announces the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon digital library in the planning stages. The 1913 news article may be the first photo taken of the wagon prior to its presentation to the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in Manhattan in 1913. Note the article to the left: “‘Women Should Strike’ Says Woman Lawyer.” While it might bring a smile to our faces today, it’s a terrific example of how such an article could strike fear in the hearts of those opposed to women voting back in 1913.

Suffrage Campaign Wagon

In 2013, the centennial celebration of the “Spirit of 1776” wagon’s first journey was acknowledged by resolutions passed by both houses of the New York State Legislature. The wagon was exhibited at the New York State Museum in 2010 and at the state Capitol in Albany, NY in 2012. Photo: 2012 at the Governor’s exhibit, “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court.”

FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Stay up to date with audio podcasts and videos. Celebrate suffrage centennials and women’s freedom to vote. And follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

Day #3 of “Night of Terror” Observance: Audio podcasts and Marguerite’s Musings

Edna Kearns, New York suffrage activistby Marguerite Kearns

Day #3. For the past two days I’ve been sharing some background about the suffrage movement as we move forward toward November 15th, the “Night of Terror.” Notice how we’re easing into the subject matter. The topic can be a rocky road at some points. So buckle your seat belt. Some audio podcasts are stored in my back pocket to share with you this posting.

After dragging you from the White House gates (with the music video) to the workhouse (YouTube), it’s time to lighten things up. Let me introduce you to my grandmother, Edna Kearns. Here she is, over to the left. We’ll hang out with Grandmother Edna a few minutes. No doubt she’ll tell you  it wasn’t long before she was in the thick of the suffrage movement action in New York City and then off picketing the White House in 1917. Many of my friends and associates have adopted Edna as their own grandmother because she represents our collective grandmothers and great grandmothers and family members who were involved in the movement. They made it possible for us to vote. Make sure you get to the polls Tuesday. Winning the franchise was no small accomplishment.

This is my third day blogging in honor of the “Night of Terror” observance on November 15th, a partnership with Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association. Turning Point Suffragist Memorial has a web site and blog. You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook. There’s a lot of activity going on at Turning Point’s Twitter while it must seem like Suffrage Wagon is more like a classroom. Just the background, folks! Then we’ll get into the thick of things!

Vote graphic on Suffrage Wagon Nes ChannelLet me be clear. Grandmother Edna Kearns didn’t experience the “Night of Terror” at the Occoquan Workhouse. But Edna and little Serena Kearns were on the White House picket line showing their support, as were hundreds of women across the United States.

The campaign to win the vote started back in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. Actually it started earlier, but Seneca Falls became the launching pad. This is significant because the years from 1848 to 1917 were uphill. You know the drill: one step forward, one step backward and so on. By 1917 the women hit the streets with picket signs.

HOMEWORK ALERT: An assignment to spread over the next few days. Listen to the nine-podcast audio series linked here called “Playing Politics with the President.” Yes, it’s long, though each audio podcast averages no more than three minutes. Just enough time to squeeze it into your busy schedule.

In order to appreciate the story of the women of the Occoquan Workhouse, it’s helpful to understand the larger picture. American women were patient souls, but sooner of later they hit a brick wall. The audio series spells out in detail how U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and the two major political parties put roadblock after roadblock in the paths of the suffragists. They may have been patient souls, but their patience eventually wore thin. Audio by Librivox in the series “Playing Politics with the President.” The account is from the 1920 book by Doris Stevens, “Jailed for Freedom” that’s in the public domain.

For your reference: Here’s the entire “Playing Politics with the President” story series: Podcast #1. Podcast #2. Podcast #3. Podcast #4. Podcast #5. Podcast #6. Podcast #7, Podcast #8, Podcast #9  about US President Woodrow Wilson and the impending showdown over the issue of women voting. This is the leadup to when things became sticky and led to Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party picketing the White House, followed by prison time for many at the Occoquan Workhouse.

November 15th “Night of Terror” Blogging: Day #1 (Nov.1); Day #2 (Nov.2).

Suffrage Wagon Cooking SchoolFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel with email twice a week, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Support our partner, Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association. SWNC quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Join the conversation by commenting on the Suffrage Wagon blog. Stay up to date with audio podcasts and videos. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

VIDEO: Spirit of 1776″ wagon heads toward 2020!

VIDEO: This posting is a reminder about where the “Spirit of 1776” wagon has been and where it is headed –to 2017 and 2020 suffrage centennial celebrations.

In upcoming elections, ask ALL candidates their thoughts on how the present day is linked to the long struggle for equality and justice. Reinforce how it is critical to get behind our upcoming suffrage centennials with funding and leadership. Emphasize that we’re not satisfied with more volunteering opportunities and an endless series of bake sales.

If you’re supporting the idea of the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon on permanent exhibit, give the idea an extra boost with this video.

Music video about the “Spirit of 1776” wagon. A toe-tapping reminder of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with postings twice a week. Newsletters four times a year: summer, fall, winter and spring. Video, audio, news and views. Join in with conversation on the Suffrage Wagon blog.

Kearns archive at New York Botantical Garden for Echo Dale Gardens

Echo Dale GardensWhat happened to Wilmer and Edna Kearns and the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon after the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920? They moved from Rockville Centre, NY with daughter Serena Kearns back to Pennsylvania where their second child, Wilma, was born in November 1920.

The New York Botanical Garden  (the LuEsther T. Mertz Library) has archival materials in its collection from the business Edna and Wilmer founded, Echo Dale Gardens, located in the Philadelphia area. More items have been added recently. The Mertz Library maintains a wide scope of materials related to the nursery industry in the United States, including correspondence between nursery owners and their customers, invoices, plant inventories, sales brochures, catalogs, newspaper and magazine articles.

Edna B. Kearns and Wilmer R. Kearns’  love of plants and nature led to the establishment of Echo Dale Gardens, the nursery they owned and operated together after 1920. Wilmer and Edna were active in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and their prize-winning flowers and plants were displayed each year at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Local newspapers document Edna’s public speaking about gardening in the Philadelphia area. The “Spirit of 1776” suffrage campaign wagon was on display at the nursery for many years for the purpose of educating the public about how American women won the vote.

Their second child Wilma dressed as the little Dutch girl, the trademark for Echo Dale Gardens for special events and at the Philadelphia Flower Show. After Edna’s death in 1934, Wilmer continued operating the nursery at Echo Dale until World War II. In retirement he reopened the nursery in Ambler, PA. The overall collections at the New York Botanical Garden library also include plant information guides, nursery catalogs, exhibition guides, and other materials.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the movement, as well as the life and times of Edna Kearns, Wilmer Kearns, and the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon.

“Sister in Struggle”: Get to know suffragist Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth FreemanA great article about suffragist Elizabeth Freeman is the cover story in a recent issue of Pasadena Weekly. Their angle: Elisabeth died there, and the editorial staff was particularly interested in Elisabeth’s contribution to the anti-lynching campaign of 1916. They made a link between Elisabeth’s work and the Michael Brown case in Missouri today, welcome coverage because it illustrates the extent to which many Votes for Women activists had more than one concern, reminiscent of the early women’s rights activists involved in abolition and temperance. Elisabeth receives more attention these days for her activism in the suffrage movement, so this is a welcome addition to what’s available about her life and work. PDF of the Pasadena Weekly article.

See the great web site on Elisabeth Freeman produced by Elisabeth’s great niece Margaret Johnston of Binghamton, NY. Also. “Long Island’s Three Wagon Women” in the New York History blog.

Marguerite's MusingsI’ve been aware of Elizabeth Freeman going back years when I first heard stories about “Great Aunt Elisabeth” from my friend Jane Van De Bogart, a member of the Woodstock town board back when I lived in Woodstock, NY and prowled around local issues with my pen, pad and camera for Woodstock Times. I don’t remember if Jane mentioned her great aunt first or if I trotted out my grandmother Edna Kearns. In any event, one thing led to another.

Two people with family members who’d been suffragists in NYS would sooner or later insist on details and that’s how I found out that not only did Edna and Elizabeth know each other, but they worked together with Rosalie Jones on Long Island on women’s suffrage organizing. As Grandmother Edna Kearns was a Long Island wagon woman, so was Elisabeth Freeman who organized women from diverse backgrounds. Elisabeth also marched with Rosalie Jones to the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC –hardy souls who hiked through bad weather to prove their point.

In 1986 the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon became part of an exhibit about Elisabeth and Edna in Kingston, NY with a seed grant from the NYS Council on the Arts. Jone Miller and the Floating Foundation of Photography in High Falls, NY organized the exhibit which got me started on the long road to bring this part of American history to the attention of a broader audience. Several programs at SUNY New Paltz for Women’s History Month even involved our mothers.

Pick up a rock these days and you’ll find a descendant of a suffrage activist. That’s why I love Elisabeth Freeman. Peg Johnston has picked up the torch from her great aunt and is carrying it high these days. The general public may know about the suffrage movement nationally, but we find out much more by touching into the lives of individuals like Elisabeth, as well as the records and news coverage of clubs and associations on the local level that kept the suffrage issue alive for years. The existence of these organizations, and their ongoing events and activities, gave backbone to the national movement. Leaders at the top can’t do anything without support on the grassroots.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

We have an ongoing podcast series: “Playing Politics with the President” that features the work of the National Woman’s Party right at the time of Elisabeth Freeman’s work. Podcast #1. You can listen to the next podcast in the series, #2, this coming weekend.