Placards At The White House

In 1917, fed up with the inaction of conservative suffragists, Alice Paul decided on the unorthodox strategy of pressuring the president directly

By New Year’s Day 1917, Alice Paul, leader and founder of the National Woman’s Party, had made up her mind. Ever since coming home from studying abroad in 1910, the University of Pennsylvania PhD in political science had observed the ineffective American women’s suffrage movement with increasing impatience. She believed that for women to gain the vote—no matter how radical such a step might seem, no matter the reaction of conservative suffrage organizations—her dedicated followers in the Woman’s Party must picket the White House. Read more »

Women’s History

It is trivializing women’s history to suggest that baby has come a long way in the last 50 years. Women have always considered their past, often through genealogies, storytelling, oral histories, and even quilts. But in the last half-century women’s history in books and articles has come of age. Read more »

An Empire Of Women

E.G. Lewis decided that a strong man could liberate American women and make money doing it

THE CELEBRATION began even before the opening gavel of the First American Woman’s League Convention. As the thousand arriving delegates made their way out Delmar Boulevard to University City, a new suburb of St. Louis, storefronts hung with flags and bunting greeted them. Trolleys, wagons, and even a railroad train made a kind of procession to a camp of gay circus tents, complete with a hospital. The delegates had come for what they believed would be a turning point in the lives of American women. Read more »

Rosie The Riveter Remembers

For millions of women, consciousness raising didn’t start in the 1960s. It started when they helped win World War II.

DURING THE FIRST three years of World War II, five million women covered their hair, put on “slacks,” and at the government’s urging went to work in defense plants. They did every kind of job, but the largest single need was for riveters. In song, story, and film, the female patriot, “Rosie the Riveter,” was born. Many of the new recruits had worked in service trades—as maids, cooks, or waitresses. Many more had never worked at any paying job. Practically none of them had ever made as much money.Read more »

The Unsinkable Abigail

In forty years of scraping and scrapping for women’s rights, Abigail Scott Duniway never lost her nerve or wicked tongue

Man is, or should be, woman’s protector and defender. The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life.” Thus spake the United States Supreme Court in 1872 in upholding an Illinois statute barring women from practicing law, which a feminine aspirant to the bar had dared to challenge. Read more »

“I Was Arrested, Of Course…”

American women won the right to vote in 1920 largely through the controversial efforts of a young Quaker named Alice Paul. She was born in Moorestown, New Jersey, on January 11, 1885, seven years after the woman-suffrage amendment was first introduced in Congress. Over the years the so-called Susan B.
 

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Beyond Mother’s Knee

EARLY AMERICAN MALE CHAUVINIST PIGS REGARDED LITERACY FOR WOMEN WITH SCANT ENTHUSIASM. LEARNING TO READ WAS THE FIRST FEMINIST TRIUMPH

Could I have died a martyr in the cause, and thus ensured its success, I could have blessed the faggot and hugged the stake.” The cause was state support for female education, the would-be Saint Joan was Emma Willard, and the rhetorical standards of the 1820’s were lofty and impassioned. Themost militant feminists rarely scale such heights today. For one thing, dogged effort has finally reduced the supply of grand injustices; and today’s preference for less florid metaphor has deprived the movement of such dramatic images.Read more »

It All Began In Wyoming

One day in 1869 the gentlemen of the territorial legislature amused themselves by enacting the first woman-suffrage law. They trusted in a veto from the governor

Wyoming. The name itself recalls the Old West, where a man was a man. The virile pioneer, eyes squinted against the prairie sun or mountain snowstorm, muscles tense, ready to overcome any human or elemental opposition. The rough, tough cowboy, drawing fast, drinking hard, dying young. Read more »

Abby, Julia, And The Cows

In two dead-game spinsters who wouldn’t be unfairly taxed, the men of Glastonbury met their match and the cause of feminism found a bovine cause célèbre

 

In the early morning of January 8, 1874, a momentous procession moved along the quiet Main Street of the small New England town of Glastonbury, Connecticut. Led by an implacable town official, who doubled as constable and tax collector, seven Alderney cows plodded toward the auction block, their reluctant progress urged by four men, a dog, and a drum.