Temperance as a Tool for Suffrage

Before women’s rights activists campaigned for suffrage, they called for prohibition. In 1852, four years after the Seneca Falls Convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the New York State Women’s Temperance Society. They would not found the American Equal Rights Association until 1866. 

Stanton and Anthony fought for statewide prohibition in New York alongside divorce and other Civil Reforms– like the amendment of the Married Woman’s Property Law, which allowed for property ownership, suits in court, shared child custody, and the rights to earnings and inheritance– before they ever explicitly fought for voting rights. 

Beginning in 1866, they fought for Universal Suffrage with the American Equal Rights Association, but split from the organization in 1869 over its prioritization of suffrage for black men over women. From there, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. That same year, the National Prohibition Party was organized. 

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Women’s History Month: Suffrage Pilgrimages in Historic Maryland Newspapers

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re going to take a look at suffrage pilgrimages that took place in Maryland in the summers of 1914 and 1915.

Back in August 2020, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and the Maryland State Archives co-hosted a social media campaign in honor of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. Many of the posts created for the campaign came from a newspaper digitized by HMNP in Chronicling America titled the Maryland Suffrage News.

One of HMNP’s Instagram posts for the #MDSuffrage and #MarylandWomenVote social media campaign
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Literature and Rare Books Spotlight: Kathleen Tankersley Young

One popular way that people observe Women’s History Month is by reading works written by women.  If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate women in literature why not learn more about women in publishing?

One woman who took part in the publishing industry was Kathleen Tankersley Young.  Young was an African-American poet and editor at the time of the Harlem Renaissance.  In 1929 Young, in collaboration with Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, published Blues: A Magazine of New RhythmsBlues was a literary magazine that contained contributions from noted modernists such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams.  Blues can be found in the Serials series of the Authors and Poets collection.

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Women’s Suffrage: Carrie Chapman Catt

“A small group of people determined to oppose legislation, if provided with money, as were the brewers and distillers, may prevent action being taken, even though the masses of the people demand it.”

In a modern political landscape that empowers lobbyists and special interest groups–particularly those with enough money to spare–you wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that these words were spoken in the last few years.  In fact, they were spoken one hundred years ago.

Carrie Chapman Catt, who composed these words, embodied socially progressive ideas in more ways than one.  Born in 1859 in rural Wisconsin, Catt dedicated four decades of her life organizing campaigns and advocating political leaders across the country for the passage of laws to enable women’s suffrage.  During a time when even the more influential women rarely occupied positions of high social and political power, Catt served two terms as the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association between 1900 and 1920 and founded the League of Women Voters in 1920.     

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The Trial of Susan B. Anthony, 1873

On November 1, 1872–four days before Ulysses S. Grant was re-elected as President of the United States–Susan B. Anthony and her three sisters walked into a voter registration office in Rochester, New York.  After a local inspector contacted a legal professional and required them to take an oath of registry, all four women obliged and walked out of the office as registered voters. This was a surprising result, to put it lightly, as the state of New York would not allow women to vote for another 45 years, and nationwide suffrage for women would not be legalized for another 48 years.

Susan B. Anthony on the cover of the February 26, 1916 issue of The Suffragist
Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage newsletter collection

While this event was not the first time women attempted to cast ballots without the legal right, the developments that occurred afterwards generated unprecedented national attention and helped generate new interest in the growing women’s suffrage movement.  After Anthony, her three sisters and about a dozen other women successfully voted after completing the standard oath of registry, they were all arrested less than two weeks later on charges of illegal voting. The arrests were an unexpected and dispiriting turn of events, but Anthony–always a gifted publicist as well as a strong leader–managed to use the upcoming trial as an opportunity to expose the injustices of the current voting regulations and cultivate further support for her movement.

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Spotlight on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and acclaimed poet born in Baltimore in 1825. Born to free parents and orphaned at three, Watkins was raised by her maternal uncle Rev. William Watkins, an abolitionist and civil rights activist, and his wife Henrietta. She was educated at her uncle’s school, the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth. While she was still very young, Harper worked as a nursemaid and seamstress for a white family that owned a bookshop. There, she discovered her love for books and filled her free time with reading. 

From there, Watkins grew up to become the first African American woman to publish a short story, and she published her first book of poetry, Forest Leaves, at age 20. Harper went on to publish another book of poetry, many short stories, and several novels, including her most popular work Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted. Watkins’ writing often addressed issues of race, gender, and their intersections. 

The poem below, “Slave Mother,” highlights the painful relationship between motherhood and Blackness that Harper observed during her lifetime. 

Heard you that shriek? It rose

   So wildly on the air,

It seem’d as if a burden’d heart

   Was breaking in despair.

Saw you those hands so sadly clasped—

   The bowed and feeble head—

The shuddering of that fragile form—

   That look of grief and dread?

Saw you the sad, imploring eye?

   Its every glance was pain,

As if a storm of agony

   Were sweeping through the brain.

She is a mother pale with fear,

   Her boy clings to her side,

And in her kyrtle vainly tries

   His trembling form to hide.

He is not hers, although she bore

   For him a mother’s pains;

He is not hers, although her blood

   Is coursing through his veins!

He is not hers, for cruel hands

   May rudely tear apart

The only wreath of household love

   That binds her breaking heart.

His love has been a joyous light

   That o’er her pathway smiled,

A fountain gushing ever new,

   Amid life’s desert wild.

His lightest word has been a tone

   Of music round her heart,

Their lives a streamlet blent in one—

   Oh, Father! must they part?

They tear him from her circling arms,

   Her last and fond embrace.

Oh! never more may her sad eyes

   Gaze on his mournful face.

No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks

   Disturb the listening air:

She is a mother, and her heart

   Is breaking in despair.

In her discussions of intersectionality, Watkins alienated many white suffragists. She criticized the racism and selfishness of their refusal to support the 15th Amendment. In response, she helped found the American Woman Suffrage Association, which actively supported the 15th Amendment. She was also active in the “Colored Section” of Philadelphia’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. 

Later, Watkins helped organize the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). The NACW focused on both black and women’s issues such as women’s suffrage, lynching, and Jim Crow laws, and became the most prominent organization of the African American Women’s Suffrage Movement. 


Post by Rigby Philips
History, specializing in women’s history and the history of sexuality
(2021)

New Exhibit on Intersectional Feminism Now on Display

A new exhibit in the Maryland Room celebrates Black and Women’s History Months. Two cases showcase works by and about black women, including essays, poetry, and black student newspapers. They feature civil rights icons like Angela Davis, Pauli Murray, Maya Angelou, and Shirley Chisholm. 

Another case explores intersectional feminism as a whole. It includes documents by and about lesbian and trans women, disabled women, Native American and Chicana women, working class women, older women, and women from developing countries. 

What is intersectional feminism? Put simply, intersectional feminism emphasizes the fact that all women have different experiences and identities. People are often disadvantaged by more than one source of oppression: their race, class, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality may affect their experience as a woman. Intersectionality explores how multiple identities interact with each other, especially within the frameworks of oppression and marginalization. 

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An Unknown Pioneer Takes Her Place in the Broadcast Archives

Mary Kelly, Today Show 1952Mary Ellen Agnes Kelly (1926-2005?) was an American television researcher, talent coordinator, and associate producer with the pioneering early morning television program Today on NBC. She was also a special assignments reporter, traveling far and wide to film feature segments. Kelly crisscrossed the United States many times and covered stories from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. Newspaper articles from the period compared her to Nellie Bly, the intrepid 19th-century reporter known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days. Kelly traveled around the world – on the first commercial flight over the North Pole in 1957 – in 71 hours and six minutes. Unfortunately, her remarkable career is little known today.

A remarkable collection of photographs and clippings from her career are now part of Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture. The journey of these materials to our collections is typical in how it was nearly discarded but later adopted by an appreciative collector. In the 1960s, Kelly sublet her New York City apartment to a man who subsequently discovered several boxes she left behind. He contacted her to offer to return the boxes, but she declined. However, he thought that the contents were fascinating and kept the boxes for over 50 years. When he passed away, his widow – realizing that Kelly must have been important as one of the few women working in early television – donated the material to the UMD libraries.

Early Career

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Fembot Edit-A-thon

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Fembot, the University of Maryland Department of Women’s Studies, the University of Maryland Libraries, the LGBT Equity Center, and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, are hosting a two-day Wikipedia Edit-a-thon  to write women of color, trans, and/or non-conforming people and related organizations and ideas into Wikipedia.

fembotlogo

Please join Fembot and our partners for the 2018 Fembot Edit-a-thon! The Edit-A-thon will take place Friday and Saturday, March 9-10, from 10:30-4:00pm in McKeldin Library Rooms 6107 and 6103.  This Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon will contribute to the world of free and accessible knowledge, while at the same time working toward an anti-racist, gender inclusive history of everything within Wikipedia’s vast database.

More details about the event:

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Two Exhibitions on Women’s Suffrage in the Maryland Room

In celebration of Women’s History Month, two new exhibitions are available for viewing in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library related to the history of women’s suffrage in the local area.

The Washington Home of the Philippine Suffrage Movement exhibit is presented in collaboration with Philippines on the Potomac (POPDC) and with the Rita M. Cacas Filipino Community Archives at the UMD Libraries.  The exhibit tells the stories of several extraordinary Philippine women who would go on to change Philippine history and rewrite the nation’s suffrage law. The exhibit features extensive research in local, national, and international libraries and research institutions.  In addition, original materials are on display relating to the Filipina suffragist, writer, teacher, and feminist Sofia de Veyra who lived in the United States between 1917 and 1925.

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Titchie Carandang-Tiongson and Ewrin Tiongson, the creators of the exhibit, also recently presented their research process and methodology to English Professor Jess Enoch’s undergraduate class ENGL379Z/WMST 498V Special Topics in Literature; Women and Memory in Material and Digital Worlds.  The students in the class viewed the exhibit, asked great questions after the presentation, and were able to see how this research process related to their own work at recovering women’s suffrage history in the class.

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Materials related to Filipino American history and culture in the UMD Libraies can be found in the Rita M. Cacas Community Archives is available for research consultation in the Maryland Room of Hornbake Library.  Numerous images in this community archives collection are also available for viewing in the UMD Libraries Digital Collections.  For those interested in pursuing additional research there is also a research guide on Philippine and Filipino American History and Culture available.

A second mini-exhibit on Women’s Suffrage in Maryland is also on display in the Maryland Room. This exhibit showcases materials from Special Collections related to the woman’s suffrage movement and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) during the twentieth century.  Items of interest include a letter signed by Edith Houghton Hooker, noted suffrage leader and editor of the Maryland Suffrage News; a letter from a member of the Maryland Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage; and a sash worn for a 1978 march in support of the ERA.  The materials featured come from a variety of special collections including the League of Women Voters of Maryland archives, the National Organization for Women Maryland Chapter archives, and the Marylandia collection.

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The Washington Home of the Philippine Suffrage Movement will be on display through April 29th, 2017.  (Exception: the exhibit will be traveling between April 7th and April 16th and unavailable for viewing at that time.)

The Women’s Suffrage in Maryland exhibit will be on display through the end of March.

Be sure to check the Maryland Room hours before planning your visit!

Questions? Contact Liz Novara, Curator, Historical Manuscripts, enovara@umd.edu