Born in Boston in 1871 to Mary Russell (Collins) and James Rodney Wood, she attended St. Agnes School in Albany, N.Y., and taught school for eight years before attending Radcliffe College, where she was a co-ed intercollegiate debater. In 1898, she and fellow student Inez Haynes Irwin invited Alice Stone Blackwell, a leading feminist and suffragist and daughter of Lucy Stone and Henry B. Blackwell, to address Radcliffe students. She secretly married Charles Edward Park before graduating summa cum laude.
A frequent speaker, she joined the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA). After attending her first National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) meeting as nearly the only young woman, she committed to engaging students in the suffrage movement. She organized a College Equal Suffrage League (CESL) with Inez Haynes Irwin, visiting women’s colleges in Massachusetts to form local chapters. In 1908, she traveled nationally on behalf of CESL and, with Bryn Mawr College president M. Carey Thomas, established the National CESL. In 1901, she co-founded and served as executive secretary of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government (BESAGG).
Following her marriage to actor and theatrical agent Robert Hunter, Park also became a playwright. Keeping her dedication to suffrage, during this period, she traveled aboard to learn about women’s rights in other countries.
As a NAWSA leader from 1912-1915, she worked in Massachusetts to formulate suffrage campaign strategies, implement NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt’s “Winning Plan.” Although the fight for the 1915 Massachusetts suffrage referendum was unsuccessful, her leadership prompted Catt’s invitation to move to D.C. and chair the NAWSA Congressional Committee.
In a parallel effort to that of the National Woman’s Party under Alice Paul, Park led suffragists from all over the country in lobbying for a suffrage amendment to the Constitution. She coordinated with NAWSA state affiliates, oversaw a detailed record of the personal lives and interests of members of Congress, and established a lobbying model characterized by meticulous instructions, absolute propriety, and respect for U.S. Representatives and Senators. In fact, their lobbying decorum was so open and above board they were called “The Front Door Lobby” by the Congressmen themselves — a major contrast to the “backstairs” methods by some business and other interests.
After woman suffrage was won, she served for four years as the first president of the National League of Women Voters. She also chaired the Women’s Joint Congressional Committee (WJCC), a coalition of ten women’s organizations that included the League. During her tenure, WJCC lobbied successfully for such federal legislation as the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act.
After becoming ill in 1924, Park moved to Maine but continued to write plays under both her own name and pseudonyms. After her playwright husband’s death in 1928, she served as a League of Women Voters legislative counselor and continued to lecture on topics that included advocacy for a World Court. In 1939, her play Lucy Stone was performed in Boston.
In 1943, with former secretary of BESAGG Edna Stantial, she prepared and gave her suffrage and League papers, the Woman’s Rights Collection (WRC), to Radcliffe College. This collection became the core of what is now The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women, one of the major repositories of women’s history in the United States. In 1960, her book recounting the NAWSA lobbying experience, Front Door Lobby, was published posthumously.
Sources: Park, Maud Wood, 1871-1955. Maud Wood Park Papers in the Woman’s Rights Collection, 1870-1960; item description, dates. M-91, folder Pa-#. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University,http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~sch01035, view on November 12, 2015. Edited by Edna Lamprey Stantial, Maud Wood Park, Front Door Lobby (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960). Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
By Whitney Stohr
Late last month, the outdoor and sporting gear retailer REI made headlines with the announcement that the store would remain closed on Black Friday. Rather than opening their doors on Friday morning to crowds of door-busting, deal-hunters, REI is encouraging people to forego the year’s biggest shopping tradition and, instead, #OptOutside.
REI President and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, explained: “We’re a different kind of company — and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”
For those planning to spend the day in the great outdoors, why not make your adventure an educational one?!? Here are six options to #OptOutside while learning more about women’s suffrage history.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Dress warm, Bostonians, for a walk on the Women’s Heritage Trail. The self-guided “Ladies Walk” honors three important historical figures: Abigail Adams, who famously reminded her husband and Founding Father John Adams to “remember the ladies,” Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American female poet, and suffragist Lucy Stone, founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association’s Women’s Journal.
For more information about the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail and stops on the Ladies Walk, visit: http://bwht.org/ladies-walk/.
2. Occoquan, Virginia
Nestled along the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Northern Virginia lies Occoquan Regional Park, a 400-acre recreational space, which will soon undergo a planned redevelopment, and future site of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. When complete, the memorial, near the site of the original Occoquan Workhouse where suffragists were imprisoned and beaten for picketing the White House, will be a noteworthy addition to the park’s new cultural area.
Learn more about Occoquan Regional Park at http://www.nvrpa.org/park/occoquan/.
(Not in Northern Virginia? Check out the other trails forming the expansive Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail at: http://www.nps.gov/pohe/.)
3. Portland, Oregon
Whether rain or shine, Portland’s Washington Park offers a nice outdoor space to spend the day. Be sure to visit the bronze monument to Sacajawea, the nation’s first, designed by sculptor Alice Cooper and paid for with funds raised by local suffragist Sarah Evans and other women. Present at the 1905 unveiling were prominent suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Abigail Scott Duniway, and Eva Emery Dye.
Learn more about Washington Park and the Sacajawea monument at: http://bit.ly/1JN8YYu.
4. Seneca Falls, New York
In 1848, a group of over 300 women’s rights advocates traveled to Seneca Falls to attend the country’s first Woman’s Rights Convention. On Friday, as you walk around town, let your mind travel back in time to the birth of the women’s rights movement.
Stop by the Visitor Center at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park to learn more about the 1848 Convention and the related Declaration of Sentiments. Continue your walk to the Wesleyan Chapel where the Convention was held, and on to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, former home of the suffrage pioneer.
Visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park website for more information: http://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm.
5. Spokane, Washington
On the morning of June 28, 1909, a group of suffragists stepped off a Northern Pacific Railroad train in Spokane. The ladies were traveling to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in Seattle and were welcomed at the train depot by local suffragists Emma Smith Devoe, president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association, May Arkwright Hutton and La Reine Baker. (Learn more about the suffragists’ time in Washington State here.)
Leaving the Northern Pacific Depot, the suffragists visited the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, the Amateur Athletic Club, and the historic Davenport Hotel. Commemorate the suffragists’ 1909 visit as you wander through downtown Spokane, or when hiking the nearby Spokane River Centennial Trail, formed from several of the city’s historic and abandoned railroad rights-of-way.
6. Washington, D.C.
Thanks to the National Women’s History Museum, those visiting our nation’s capital over the Thanksgiving holiday can spend the day trekking across the city in search of historic sites. Luckily, the
museum has created a self-guided tour, called “In Their Footsteps: Woman Suffrage Historic Sites in Washington, D.C.,” with stops at Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Capitol Building and White House, and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, former headquarters of the National Woman’s Party.
To access the complete self-guided tour, visit the National Women’s History Museum website: http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/activities/womans-suffrage-tours.
How will you #optoutside for women’s suffrage history?
Historic sites abound! Much of the day-to-day advocacy on behalf of women’s suffrage happened in cities and towns across the country. Each state has its own local heroes, pillars of the suffrage movement. While this list offers several options, there are no doubt many other ways to #optoutside for women’s suffrage history.
How do you plan to #optoutside this Friday? Let us know in the comment section below!
(1) Becker, P. 2008. Prominent suffragists arrive in Spokane on June 28, 1909. HistoryLink.org.
(2) Sacagawea Historical Society. Historical Landmarks. Sacagawea-biography.org/.
Whitney Stohr is Social Media Chair for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association and a member of the organization’s Media and Marketing Committee. Find her online at http://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneystohr/and twitter @WStHendricks.
The film Suffragette (2015) is a period drama set in Britain in the early 1910s that tells the story of the fictional suffragette Maud Watts (played by Carey Mulligan) and her growing involvement in the UK’s suffrage movement. The film was released in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2015, and in the U.S. in select theaters on October 23, 2015.
During the month of October, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association remembers suffragist Rose Schneiderman (b. April 6, 1882 – d. August 11, 1972) as our Suffragist of the Month. [Written by Annie Schneiderman Valliere, grandniece of Rose Schneiderman]:
Rose Schneiderman was born Rachel Schneiderman in Savin, Poland in 1882 and immigrated to the United States in 1890. Her father, Samuel, died of meningitis two years after their arrival in New York City leaving three children and a pregnant wife. Deborah Rothman Schneiderman did her best to support her children, Rose (eldest), Harry, Charles, and Jane (Jennie). She took in boarders, sewed and washed for neighbors, and even worked as a janitress. Still, for a time, she was forced to place her three children in an orphanage. When Rose returned home, her mother worked nights so that Rose could attend school. But in 1895, when her mother lost her job, thirteen-year-old Rose was forced to leave school and enter the paid workforce. For a short time Rose was a department store clerk and then worked sewing caps.
In 1903 Schneiderman helped organize a New York City local of the United Cloth and Cap Makers and took the lead in getting women elected to the union. The next year she was elected to the union’s executive board, the highest position yet held by a woman in any American labor organization. From 1905 through the 1950’s Schneiderman was one of the most active members of the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) rising to national president. Also an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union from 1914 to 1916, she is best known for her leadership in the Girls Shirtwaist Strike in 1909 and her landmark speech after the Triangle Fire in 1911.
Rose Schneiderman was a well -known suffrage speaker from 1907 through 1920. She was the head of the industrial section of the New York Women’s Suffrage Association in 1917 and a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). She traveled the east coast and the mid-west speaking for suffrage on behalf of the NAWSA. Schneiderman, a Jewish immigrant at four feet six inches tall with striking red hair was one of the few working-class, non-native born women traveling the country speaking on behalf of suffrage. She was a founding member of the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women in 1907 with Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Leonora O’Reilly, labor leader and dynamic suffrage speaker. Schneiderman, Blatch, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, well known writer and women’s activist, had spoken about suffrage together including at Cooper Union in 1907. In 1909 Schneiderman was one of a star-studded suffrage group who spoke in the graveyard across from Vassar College to about 50 students, professors and local citizens of Poughkeepsie, NY. Inez Milholland Boissevain organized the lecture banned from the Vassar campus by President Taylor.
In 1912 Rose was asked by the NAWSA to help rally support in Ohio. As a 1912 poster states, ”Gifted Young Lecturer Presents Woman’s Question from the Industrial Point of View.”
From these lectures in Ohio came Schneiderman’s well known statement, “What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist–the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too. Help, you women of privilege, give her the ballot to fight with.” (1912, Cleveland). There is much debate as to whether Schneiderman actually came up with the phrase “bread for all and roses too.” But she expanded on the short phrase in her classic rhetorical fashion. M. A. Sherwood wrote to H. Taylor Upton, treasurer of the NAWSA, regarding Schneiderman in Cincinnati, “…But no one has touched the hearts of the masses like Rose Schneiderman…Strong men sat with tears rolling down their cheeks.”
On April 22, 1912, New York senators debated the suffrage question with suffragists at Cooper Union. A New York senator stated, “Get women into the arena of politics with its alliances and distressing contests–the delicacy is gone, and you emasculize them.” Schneiderman’s response included the following, “Women in the laundries, for instance, stand for 13 or 14 hours in the terrible steam and heat with their hands in hot starch. Surely these women won’t lose any more of their beauty and charm by putting a ballot in a ballot box once a year than they are likely to lose standing in foundries or laundries all year round… We want to tell our senators that the working-women of our state demand the vote as an economic necessity. “
On February 2, 1914, Schneiderman, and four other activists, Glendower Evans, Margaret Hinchey, Rose Winslow and Melinda Scott lead 300 to 400 working class suffragists and their allies from a mass meeting of the NAWSA to the White House. Schneiderman and the four other activists spoke to Woodrow Wilson in his chambers, pleading with him to support women’s suffrage.
Schneiderman helped organize the first International Conference of Working Women in 1919. In 1920 she ran but lost the race for the US Senate on the New York Labor Party ticket. She began advising President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt on labor issues, and in 1933 FDR appointed her to the Labor Advisory Board for the National Industrial Recovery Administration, as the only woman member. Schneiderman was Secretary of the New York State Department of Labor from 1937 until 1943. Her memoir, All for One, was published in 1967. She lectured widely before diverse audiences and served on various boards, ending her long life as one of the most respected spokespersons and activists for improving the conditions of working people.
Although later a firm opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment along with other well known industrial feminists such as Frances Perkins, she contributed greatly to the passing of the women’s suffrage laws in New York and nationally.
Sources: Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZ62-112772).
By Whitney Stohr
The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is raising funds to erect a memorial honoring the suffragists who fought for and won women’s right to vote. For seventy-two years, since the first Woman’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, many women (and some men) actively participated in the movement and all deserve to be honored and remembered for their role in American history. These women were pioneers, rabble-rousers, and dedicated social activists, who yearned for equality and were unrelenting in their fight for political rights. So dedicated were they to social activism that, even after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, many remained active in the public sphere, promoting civil rights and educating women about their new political power. This piece highlights the inspiring, post-suffrage activities of five suffragists known both for their involvement in the suffrage movement and for their later accomplishments.
1. Alice Paul, heroine of the Silent SentinelsAlice Paul was one of the key players of the late suffrage movement, the daring leader of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), and General of the Silent Sentinels, whose pickets outside the White House in the late 1910s ended in their imprisonment and brutalization at the Occoquan Workhouse. Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Alice continued her advocacy for women’s equality when, in 1923, she introduced the first Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), stating “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” She was later involved in the creation of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and successfully led the coalition responsible for the inclusion of the sexual discrimination clause in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Read more about Alice Paul at http://www.alicepaul.org/.
2. Carrie Chapman Catt, pillar of the suffrage movementRising through the ranks of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), Carrie Catt became President of the organization in 1900, and after briefly stepping away from NAWSA, re-assumed leadership in 1915. Her efforts, combined with those of the NWP, were instrumental in the eventual ratification of the 19th Amendment. Post-ratification, Carrie worked to educate the recently-enfranchised, female demographic, and founded the League of Women Voters in 1920, which now includes over 800 state and local Leagues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.
3. Dorothy Day, suffragist and social workerBorn in Brooklyn in 1897, Dorothy Day developed a passion for social justice early in life. As a journalist involved in the suffrage movement, Dorothy was arrested in 1917 while picketing outside the White House with the NWP and joined the Silent Sentinels in a hunger strike when imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse. Co-founder of the influential newspaper, The Catholic Worker, and leader of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy is best known for her work in the post-suffrage years.
Learn more about Dorothy Day and her later activism at http://www.catholicworker.org/.
4. Harriot Stanton Blatch, heir to activismThe daughter of pioneering suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist Henry Stanton, Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch was raised by two activist parents, and added substantially to her family’s legacy through her own involvement in the suffrage movement and home front war efforts during WWI. After leading the wartime Food Administration Speakers’ Bureau and the Woman’s Land Army, Harriot published “A Woman’s Point of View” in 1920, making the case for women’s continued involvement in peace efforts. Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Harriot twice ran for political office: in 1921, for Comptroller of the City of New York, and later, in 1926, for the Senate.
Learn more about the life and accomplishments of Harriot Stanton Blatch at http://www.biography.com/.
5. Ida B. Wells, crusader for justiceAlready an experienced activist when she became involved in the suffrage movement, as a young, African American woman in the South, Ida B. Wells was arrested on a segregated train when she refused to move to the car reserved for black passengers. In her early career as a journalist, Ida wrote on issues of race and politics in the South and initiated an anti-lynching campaign, for which she received numerous death threats, causing her to move north to New York City. As a suffragist, Ida founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago and marched in the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC. She continued to fight for equal rights for the remainder of her life, and in 1930, launched a campaign for a seat in the Illinois State Legislature, becoming one of the first black women in the U.S. to run for public office.
Read more about the activist life of Ida B. Wells at http://www.biography.com/, and check out this article by Lynn Yaeger on Vogue.com to learn more about influential African American suffragists (“The African-American Suffragists History Forgot,” published October 21, 2015).
 Alice Paul Institute, http://www.alicepaul.org.
 Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, http://suffragistmemorial.org/suffragist-month/.
 Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, http://suffragistmemorial.org/suffragist-month-2013/.
 National Women’s History Museum, http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/harriot-eaton-stanton-blatch/.
 Biography.com, http://www.biography.com/people/ida-b-wells-9527635#synopsis.
Whitney Stohr is Social Media Chair for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association and a member of the organization’s Media and Marketing Committee. Find her online at http://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneystohr/ and twitter @WStHendricks.
The annual Silent Sentinel Award honors a person who has been instrumental in advocating for women’s rights in the United States. It highlights and honors outstanding individuals who share common traits with those who stood firmly to secure the 19th Amendment, which prohibits the government from denying any citizen the right to vote because of gender. The Silent Sentinel award was named for the women who stood silently outside the White House in 1917, urging the nation’s leaders to grant women the right to vote. They were subsequently arrested and imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia, where they were beaten and force-fed, events which proved to be a pivotal turning point in the suffrage movement.
The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association was pleased to honor Ms. Richardson as this year’s recipient at the September 17th Silent Sentinel Award dinner. Ms. Richardson served as the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service from 1993 to 1997 and was the first woman with executive rank in the Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS. The award was presented by Rebecca Cooper, Executive-in-Residence at American University’s Kogod School of Business and former host of WJLA-TV’s “Washington Business Report.” Emmy-winning journalist, Jan Fox, president of Fox Talks, LLC, served as Master-of-Ceremonies. Both Ms. Cooper and Ms. Fox are members of TPSMA’s Honorary Board of Directors.
Attendees heard the history of the suffrage movement and the importance of building a memorial to the women who persevered over 72 years to win the vote for American women. The dinner program included talks by Honorary Board members Edith Mayo, curator emeritus of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (“The Best Kept Secret: Suffrage History”) and Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, curator of the Virginia Capitol and executive director of the Capitol Square Preservation Council in Richmond, Virginia (“Everyday Echoes: Why this Memorial”).
A photo album from the dinner can be found on the TPSMA website at www.suffragistmemorial.org.
Thank you to our sponsors!
Dr. Sandra Treadway
Su Webb (reception sponsor)
Emily McCoy (buffet sponsor)
Copy General – Sterling, Va.
Jyothi Sunkari (videography)
Kathy Strauss (photography)
Though born in Delaware, Kathryn Lincoln considered herself a Philadelphian by the time she became active in the suffrage movement. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Sociology, she worked at the State Home for Girls in Trenton, New Jersey, then was employed by the Traveler’s Aid Society in Philadelphia before going to Washington, D.C., to join the “Silent Sentinel” demonstration of November 10, 1917.
Picketing of the White House had begun on January 10th, and arrests had been common since June 22nd, but Lincoln’s introduction to the picket line was still on a remarkable day. The authorities hoped that long sentences imposed on previous pickets would put an end to the demonstrations, but it had the opposite effect. Never before had so many as 41 pickets been arrested at once, and the military precision with which each of the five contingents alternately marched to the East and West gates of the White House impressed even the usually hostile crowd.
Lincoln was in the second detachment of nine protesters whose objective was the West Gate. After refusing to give up their right to peacefully protest, all were arrested, loaded into the “Black Maria” police van and taken off for booking, then each released on $25 bail, pending trial.
After the usual courtroom farce, all those who went to trial on November 14th were convicted of “blocking traffic” on the wide Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk. They refused to pay their fines, so she and almost all the others were immediately, and as it would turn out, illegally, sent to Virginia’s Occoquan Workhouse. Sentences ranged from six days to six months, with Lincoln getting 30 days.
When Superintendent Whittaker and a number of guards burst into the room where the women were to be processed, Lincoln recognized him immediately: “He has stiff white hair, blazing little eyes, and a dull little birthmark on the side of his face,” she wrote in her diary.
After Superintendent Whittaker had his guards grab Dora Lewis, spokesperson for the group, and take her out of the room “like a dressmaker’s dummy” according to Lincoln, she herself was just as rudely thrown into a cell directly across from Eunice Brannan. When she tried to give some encouragement to Brannan, Whittaker became furious, and with clenched fists said: “… I’ll gag you and put you in a strait jacket for the night. Now get away from that door.”
After four days in a cold cell, and without having eaten any food, Lincoln noted: “My back seems to be breaking and the dull pain in my head becomes unbearable.” The next day she was taken to the prison hospital, where she could hear what she believed to be nearby sounds of force-feeding, and wondered if she would be next.
Before the end of November, public pressure caused all the suffrage prisoners to be released. Her ordeal certainly didn’t discourage her from further activism, as she did work for the National Woman’s Party for several months, and she won a coveted “Prison Pin” from the party as well.
On May 3, 1918, she and Mollie Condon, an organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and then the National Woman’s Party, arrived in Reno, Nevada, to “study practical politics” and help elect Anne Martin as the first female U.S. Senator. Though the campaign was unsuccessful, Martin still got 18% of the votes cast, despite running against the two major party candidates as an Independent.
By January, 1920, Lincoln was living in New York City, earning a salary as an “organizer,” so her commitment to activism never wavered despite prison time and a campaign setback.
Though her life after 1920 is a mystery, she did leave us with a clear insight into her feelings about being a part of the great struggle for equality that still continues all these years later:
“A Picket Song
By Kathryn Lincoln.
I will sing to the Cause of Woman,
That unites from every walk in life,
That inspires to any sacrifice,
That brings from the ends of a great country Women of all ages, Who place a remote freedom for every sister Above a near personal liberty, And above the cant of criticism.
And the Cause has brought
The light of freedom to their eyes,
And strength to battle for a world to come, Which broad vision, They who have not received the magic touch Cannot conceive.”
(Published in The Suffragist, February 16, 1918, page 12.)
“A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot” by Mary Walton, pages 197 – 201;
“Jailed for Freedom” by Doris Stevens, pages 193 & 364;
New York Times, November 11, 1917, “Arrest 41 Pickets for Suffrage At the White House,” Page 1 Col. 1;
Los Angeles Daily Times, November 11, 1917, “Suffragists Arrested at Capital,” Part 1, Page 3, Col. 1;
Nevada State Journal, May 4, 1918, “Come from East to Study Politics,” Page 8, Col. 4;
1920 U.S. Census, Richmond Borough, NY, S.D. 3, E.D 1544, Sheet 15 B;
Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014.
By Lauriane Lebrun
On August 26, I hosted a chat and simultaneous viewing of the film Iron Jawed Angels via the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association’s Twitter in celebration of Women’s Equality Day and the 95th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment’s ratification. To everyone who watched and tweeted along: you’re awesome! Thank you so much for making this event fun, insightful, and informative.
Did you miss the event? No worries – you can still find all the tweets by visiting our Twitter page or by searching #IJAwithTPSM.
Read on for a recap of the chat, including commentary (from myself and other event participants) on the content and historical accuracy of Iron Jawed Angels.
Iron Jawed Angels: How Accurate Is It?
Overall Iron Jawed Angels does an excellent job of depicting a specific time period in the suffrage movement. The film takes place mainly from 1913 to 1920 and focuses on the militant tactics of Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party (NWP). There was, of course, much more to the movement in terms of time, events, and strategies, and many more suffragists that could have been portrayed in more detail. Given the typical runtime of a movie, however, the amount of information included in Iron Jawed Angels is impressive enough. It should nevertheless be noted that the film is not an exhaustive account of the entire women’s suffrage movement. (If you want to learn more about the parts of the movement that were not depicted in the film, I recommend reading Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States by Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick, and Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists by Jean H. Baker. These books served as two of my main sources for fact-checking Iron Jawed Angels.)
Even where the film breaks from fact and veers off into fiction, it does so with a purpose. The fictional characters of Emily Leighton and Senator Thomas Leighton serve as an effective portrayal of marriage and parenthood in the 1910s. Ben Weismann, also fictional, is incorporated as Alice Paul’s made-up love interest. While Ben’s presence adds drama and romantic appeal for viewers, it also provides a reason for the characters of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns to discuss how they feel about love, marriage, and children. These details humanize the suffragists, and bring to light historical truths such as the fact that Alice Paul remained single throughout her life.
The film is also “effectively inaccurate” in terms of chronology. For the sake of a smooth storyline and practical runtime, the dates of real events are rearranged in the film. These two timelines exemplify this technique:
- Night of Terror
- Watchfires of Freedom
- Alice Paul arrested at Suffrage Pickets
- Alice Paul arrested at Suffrage Pickets (October 1917)
- Night of Terror (November 1917)
- Watchfires of Freedom (began January 1919)
Here are some other goofs and inaccuracies that were mentioned on Twitter. As you can see, though, there are only a few, which goes to show that the film is pretty factual overall.
Iron Jawed Angels: Discussion
While participants of the Twitter event shared plenty of factual information, they also engaged by sharing their personal thoughts, opinions, and photos. One common trend I noticed in several tweets involved honoring and reflecting on the past and connecting it to the present—which is what the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial is all about.
Meet the August 2015 Suffragist of the Month: Dorothy Jones Bartlett (June 12, 1870 – July 21, 1956), by Paige Hackett, her great-great-granddaughter.
Dorothy Jones was born June 12, 1870 in South Trenton, NY, to Edward G. Jones of Wales and Ann Lewis Jones of NY. She was one of 13 children, 9 of whom survived to adulthood. Little is known about her early years other than her education at Whitesboro, NY. At age 24 she married Walter J. Bartlett in New York Mills, NY, June 5, 1895. She was described as brilliant, vivacious, and stubborn, all traits which made her an asset to the women’s suffrage movement, which she joined in 1913 as the first suffragette from Windham county. In 1917 at the picket lines in front of the White House, she was surrounded by other women bearing banners with slogans, while she happened to be holding an American Flag. As President Woodrow Wilson and other officials approached the group, a police officer demanded she give him the flag. She stalwartly refused and was arrested. The women were sentenced to 60 days in the Occoquan Workhouse or a $25 fine, which nearly all refused to pay.
“Some of the things we were subjected to would bring the blush of shame to the cheek of any true American,” she recalled. “We even were refused permission to buy, with our own money, milk and eggs that were needed by us to protect our health after being nauseated by feeding on wormy cereals and tainted meat. Men prisoners were allowed the privilege of buying tobacco and cigars because ‘it was not against the law,’ but there were no such favors for us.” During her time there she lost 13 ½ pounds. The workhouse superintendent was tyrannical and would revoke prison privileges over the slightest offenses such as complaining about the lack of fresh air. Their quarters were vermin-infested and unsanitary. “Why they even took away my wedding ring,” she said.
Dorothy was one of several women who refused to work at the workhouse, claiming political prisoner status. This status was not recognized by the board and she was sent to jail in Washington D.C. where she was placed in solitary confinement for 13 days. “When we were removed from the workhouse to the jail we hurried out in such a rush that we were not even given time to take along our night dresses and we had to sleep without such undergarments for a week.” The food in the jail was abominable… “we were fed pork 18 times in thirteen days and yet the food cards distributed say not to use pork or any kind of meat more than once a day. But we were forced to eat it and only half cooked at that… Catholics in the District of Columbia jail were refused fish on Friday and were forced to live on bread as they would not eat meat.” While in solitary, “we had no exercise, were not allowed books, to write letters or see friends.”
After her 60 day imprisonment, Dorothy made it her mission to make her experiences public knowledge. “The story of what we have been through has never been fully told, but I shall go from one end of the state to the other and I shall tell it to all who will hear,” she said. Her shrewdness and political savvy were essential in gaining publicity for the suffrage movement.
She was the first woman from Windham County, CT, to be elected to the General Assembly and remained there for six terms. She was a force to be reckoned with in the Legislature. She became friendly and conversed with Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a member of the Putnam Board of Education for 12 years. She was member of the Windham County Inquiry Board. She was the first president of the County Democratic Federation of Women’s Clubs.
A Modern History of Windham County Connecticut, A Windham County Treasure Book. Volume II, edited by Allen B. Lincoln. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1920.
“Good Afternoon- A Personal Chat with Art McGinley.” The Hartford Times (Hartford, CT), March 27, 1941.
“Putnam, Mrs. Dorothy J. Bartlett Narrates Experiences in Workhouse and District Jail With Other Pickets Arrested in Washington.” The Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, CT), Nov. 7, 1919, p. 9.
“Jail at Brooklyn Superior to D.C. Institution.” The Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, CT), Nov. 17, 1917, p.15.
“Putnam.” The Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, CT), April 16, 1919, p. 11.
“Mrs. Bartlett Dies; Served in Assembly.” The Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT), July 22, 1956. p. 6B.
Photo from family collection.
By Lauriane Lebrun
In honor of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association’s Iron Jawed Angels viewing party (which I’m hosting on Twitter on August 26, 2015, the Nineteenth Amendment’s ninety-fifth birthday!), I decided to have a little fun with this blog post by creating a “suffragist memorial party” guide. If you love to entertain, think ninety-five years of women’s voting rights is a good reason to celebrate, want to educate yourself/your friends about the women’s suffrage movement, or would like to help raise funds for our national memorial, you’ve come to the right place. The party plans described in this guide can be used at any time. If, however, you just so happen to be free on August 26, I would definitely encourage you to combine your party with our Twitter event so that we can all celebrate together!
Step 1: Invite Your Guests… and Encourage Suffragist Attire!
What would a suffragist wear to the party? Well, if she was an activist in the 1850s like Susan B. Anthony, she might have opted for bloomers. This fashion, which Elizabeth Cady Stanton liked to call the “two-legged dress” was designed to both make a statement and make life easier for active women. While the mainstream fashions of the time called for women to wear long dresses, heavy layers of petticoats, and tight corsets, bloomers were loose and easy to move around in—perfect for the suffragists’ travelling campaigns. The New Dress (named after its creator, Amelia Bloomer) combined voluminous Turkish trousers with short skirts.
Then again, if you can’t talk your party guests into showing up in bloomers, you could also recommend wearing a 1910s-style outfit. This fashion will be more likely to match the attire worn by suffragists in Iron Jawed Angels, which takes place primarily between 1913 and 1920. (By the way, Alice Paul’s favorite colors to wear were purple, lavender, gray, and white.)
Step 2: Get Crafty
Prepare a unique party favor to give to your guests by making your own imitation suffrage buttons!
Step 3: Get Cooking
In 1867, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony went on a campaign through Kansas. There, they adopted the state flower—the sunflower—as a symbol of the suffrage movement. The color yellow also came to represent support for women’s voting rights. By the time ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment was underway in 1920, supporters could be identified by the color rose they wore: yellow for suffragists, red for the opposition.
Click here for a guide to decorating your own rose cookies… just makesure to include yellow icing!
You can also check out some recipes from The Woman Suffrage Cookbook by Hattie A. Burr. Inspired by the argument that enfranchised women would become too wrapped up in politics and begin to forget their domestic duties, the suffragists created this cookbook as an ironic fundraiser in 1886. Recipes include cheekily-named dishes such as “Rebel Soup” and “Mother’s Election Cake.”
Step 4: Put the “Fun” in Fundraising!
There are many quick and easy ways for you to turn your party into a fundraiser to help build the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask guests to pay to enter a drawing for a DVD copy of Iron Jawed Angels, or whatever other raffle prize you can offer.
- Ask guests to bring items for an auction.
- Host a jellybean count, or play one of the other fundraising games listed on punchbowl.com.
- If you’re up for a serious challenge and can spare the time, host a “hunger strike.” Ask guests to collect pledges for donations beforehand, then fast as a group for a set amount of hours. Use this time to reflect on what the suffragists endured at Occoquan Workhouse, and to remember their strength and sacrifice. Just be sure to do you research so that you can have a safe and healthy fast!
Step 5: Bring On the Entertainment
Keep guests busy with a rousing game of women’s suffrage trivia! You can also host your own open mic using Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Suffrage Songs and Verses.
Or, if your friends are very creative and would like to write their own poetry, songs, and short stories, encourage them to share their original work. (And if they happen to be a college student, they should also consider submitting their suffrage-themed works to our Student Contest by October 30 for a chance to win $500 and national recognition!)
Step 6: Have fun!
Have a great time, and please share your pictures with us on Facebook or on Twitter @TPSM2020! Also, be sure to use #IJAwithTPSM if you combine your party with our Iron Jawed Angels Twitter event.
Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists by Jean H. Baker, 2005
Lauriane Lebrun is a Summer 2015 Online Communications Associate with the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association and an honors student at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH.