Announcing TPMSA’s 2015 National Essay and Creative Content Contest

2015 Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association
National Student Essay and Creative Content Contest

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FAIRFAX, Va. (August 5, 2015) The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPSMA) announced the start of its First Annual National Essay and Creative Content Contest open to any currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate student. TPSMA will recognize the top three entries in two categories: 1) Research Essay, and 2) Creative Works. First-place winners will receive a cash prize of $500, in addition to recognition on TPSMA’s social media pages and credited publication on the organization’s official blog site. Second- and third-place winners will also receive recognition. All entries must be received by 11:59pm on Friday, October 30, 2015.

Please review the attached Rules & Guidelines and Entry Form documents for more information. Submit entries to Whitney Stohr at wstohr@suffragistmemorial.org.

 

Rules & Guidelines — TPSM Student Contest Guidelines
Contest Entry Forms — TPSM Student Contest Forms

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August 3, 2015 · 11:48 PM

TPSMA Launches National University Campus Affiliates Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2015

CONTACT:
Whitney G. Stohr
509-844-1185
wstohr@suffragistmemorial.org
http://www.suffragistmemorial.org

TPSMA Launches National University Campus Affiliates Program

Virginia non-profit raising funds to construct national memorial honoring women suffragists invites individual college and university students and student groups to participate in awareness raising and fund development

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FAIRFAX, Va. (August 3, 2015) The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPSMA) launched a new program to engage college-age students in efforts to honor the generations of activists who persevered through the 72-year struggle for women’s suffrage, that began with the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, and culminated in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. The TPSM University Affiliates Program urges students to assume an active role in the development of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, and encourages student involvement and activism on U.S. college and university campuses nationwide.

TPSMA is a non-profit organization committed to building a national memorial commemorating the suffragists by 2020, the year that will mark a century since the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. This goal can only be accomplished if the necessary awareness and funds are raised; therefore, the addition of a young, enthusiastic demographic of supporters will be invaluable to the organization’s success.

“I am thrilled about the launch of this program,” said Whitney Stohr, TPSMA Media & Marketing Committee. “This is an opportunity for TPSMA to build support for the memorial and teach young adults about the suffrage movement. The path to democracy was long and hard, and women’s true role in that struggle is not always taught in history class. It is important that students recognize how courageously people have fought for voting rights in this country.”

Lauriane Lebrun, TPSMA online communications associate and Southern New Hampshire University honors student, added, “One of my favorite aspects of this program is the room it leaves for students to be creative and really make it their own. Raising funds for the memorial is the main goal of course, but the affiliates program has the potential to be that and more. I’m hopeful that students will be inspired and empowered as they learn about the suffragists, and that the program will encourage discussions about how gender equality has evolved over the years.”

Students can join the affiliates program as individual members or as members of a campus-based TPSM student group. Annual dues, once paid, secure the new affiliate’s membership, along with opportunities to participate in fundraising events and awareness-raising campaigns. As affiliates, students will be invited to enter contests, submit content for publication on TPSMA’s blog and social media pages, help educate their peers about women’s rights and history, and reflect on the women’s suffrage movement in a variety of ways.

Registration of student affiliate members and student groups for the 2015-16 academic year opens August 3, 2015 and will be accepted on a rolling basis. Annual membership dues are $19 per student.

For more information or to register, contact Whitney Stohr at wstohr@suffragistmemorial.org.

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Update:  To register as an individual or Campus Affiliate Group, please complete the following form to provide contact information for student Affiliate members; then direct students to TPSMA’s website to complete payment of the required annual dues of $19 per student: http://www.suffragistmemorial.org/join/.

Registration Form:  TPSM Affiliates Program – Campus Group Registration

Press Release:  TPSM University Affiliates Program – August 3, 2015 

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How Do Millennial Women Feel About the Women’s Suffrage Movement?

By Lauriane Lebrun

Before I became an intern for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, I didn’t spend much time thinking about the history of women’s voting rights.  I had seen Iron Jawed Angels (2004) and learned some basic facts about the suffrage movement in school.  Yet, until recently, I was rarely prompted to think about the suffragists, their struggle, what they 1accomplished, and how it all affects us today.

I decided to reach out to some of my peers and ask them to share their thoughts about the movement.  Maya Benson from Lunenburg, MA and Aubrey S. from Seattle, WA generously volunteered to serve as my interviewees.  Maya is a Political Science major attending Wheaton College in Norton, MA.  Aubrey attends Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH, where she is working on a double-major in Creative Writing and Communications.  Read on to see their thoughts on gender equality, women’s history, and voting!

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LL: Do you feel like you are well-informed about the women’s suffrage movement? Was it taught in any of your history classes?

MB: I feel like I learned about the women’s suffrage movement somewhat in history classes growing up.  By the time I got to high school, my history class was AP U.S. History, and we mainly focused on events that would be on the AP test at the end of the year.  Women’s suffrage was focused on as much as I feel like it should’ve been.  When I got to college, my first semester I took an Intro to Women and Gender Studies class that really helped me grasp what the women’s suffrage movement was like, and how it has impacted women today. Within that class we learned about both the good and the bad of the movement, such as the racism that the women acted upon.

AS: I think I could be more informed about the suffrage movement. I understand the basics, but I don’t think it was well-taught in any form of history class I had — both World History and U.S. History. If there was a class purely on suffrage, feminism, and gender equality around the world, I would have taken that in a heartbeat because I think knowing all of the information about history is important.

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LL:  Do you vote? Why or why not?

MB: I try and vote every election, no matter what. Sometimes being in college away from home can make it more difficult because I have to receive absentee ballots, but I try to always have my voice be heard. Voting is really the one thing as American citizens we can do to have our voice and opinions be heard. After all the people in this country have done to have representation and suffrage, it is absolutely ridiculous that only about half the people in the country vote during even the most important elections.3

AS: I vote. I think it’s important to participate in the decisions of the country I am in. If someone doesn’t vote, I don’t think they have a right to complain about the political decisions made because they decided to not participate. So many people think their vote doesn’t matter, and in politics it does, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

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LL: Do you think it’s important to know about women’s history? Why or why not?

MB: It is very important to learn about women’s history, specifically because the history we learn in school is normally men’s history, and is told through the male perspective. Women have done so much for the world, and many times their impact is not noticed because of their gender. Women’s history is just as important as men’s history.

AS: I think it’s important to know about women’s history because women have always had an active role. Women inspire other women, and support other women. Representation is important, and I think by learning about women’s history, girls are inspired to follow in their legacy because they have role models.

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LL: Do you think the suffragists would be satisfied with the status of gender equality today?

MB: I think that the suffragists would, in some cases, be satisfied with the equity between genders today, simply because when they were fighting for voting rights, they tried to ask for as little as they could, because that gave them a better chance to win. Nowadays, I think that there are so many more issues with gender inequality that they would not have even thought of, let alone wanted to fight for.  It is up to the feminists of this generation to find those areas of improvement and work for them as hard as the suffragists fought for our right to vote.

5AS: I don’t think suffragists would be satisfied with the status of gender equality. They would be glad for some of the steps taken and the changes made. But they would also see that there’s still so much more to do with LGBTQ+ rights, and the inequality for people of color. I imagine they would have celebrated that a marriage between same-sex couples was to be recognized by all 50 states. But the next day they would have started work on the next thing.

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LL: How do you think the suffragists would feel about the number of women turning out to vote today? (According to CNN, 65.7% of eligible women voted in the 2008 U.S. election.)

MB: I think that suffragists would be appalled by how few people vote, no matter what the gender. With gender inequality still a pertinent issue in today’s society, it is important for women to not only vote, but also vote for their best interests to try and enact change.

AS: The suffragists would probably think: “We fought for you to have the right to vote. You should ALL vote. Use your vote and your voice to enact change. Don’t be complacent with the way things are.” But at the same time, figure out why women aren’t voting. Is there some inequality there? What is stopping them from voting? Because perhaps there is a valuable reason as to why 100% of women aren’t voting.

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LL: What does gender equality mean to you?

MB: To me, gender equality means feminism: men and women not being treated differently 7based on their sex or gender.

AS: Gender equality means that no matter who you are (sexuality, gender, race, religion, socio-economic status, politically, etc.) you are treated as a person, and have rights as a person.

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6Lauriane 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.

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19th Amendment Giving Circle established by Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s great-great-granddaughter

July 19, 2015

Today is the 167th anniversary of the of the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY., held on July 19-20 in 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the most prominent suffragists in US history, drafted the “Declaration of Sentiments” adopted at that convention, which is considered the foundational document for the suffrage movement. For the rest of her life, she was devoted to the cause teaming up with Susan B. Anthony. Her daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch followed her mother’s path and also became an innovative leader of the suffrage movement.

We are excited to have as an honorary board member, Coline Jenkins, who is a direct descendent of these great women. She is issuing a challenge to you to join the “19th Amendment Giving Circle.”

e2134fa7-3316-48e4-bc97-5d02fe2bb796“Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch are my great-great grandmother and great grandmother, respectively.  In their honor as pioneering suffragists and in honor of the full woman’s suffrage movement, I create the 19th Amendment Giving Circle. My pledge of $1,000 is a challenge to attract 19 other supporters who each pledge $1,000 or more.

As November 12, 2015 is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 200th birthday, on this day, we the people of  the 19th Amendment Giving Circle will turn our pledges into donations to the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial.”

Become a member of the “19th Amendment Giving Circle” and support the construction of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial by clicking on this link. Please list the amount of your pledge and under COMMENTS that you want to be included as part of the giving circle. Your contribution of $1000+ will also ensure your name is included on our Donor Wall at the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial.

With thanks,
Board of Directors
Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association

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What is Empowerment?

By Lauriane Lebrun

Empowerment.  From “empower” (em-pou-er). “1) To give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means. 2) To enable or permit.”pic1

I have been thinking about this word a lot.  As one will find in the design plans for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, “empowerment” is set to be the memorial theme.  But what does this word really mean?  Does the definition above do it justice?  Or is there something more to the concept of “empowerment,” something that goes beyond the “legal and official”?

I like this definition from the Self Empowerment and Development pic2Centre, which digs a little deeper.  It describes empowerment as a number of capabilities that can be summarized with the statement “’I am personally responsible for my life and where I find myself.’ If I don’t like it, I have the power to change it and I have the right to do just that.  Through the proper use of choice I can change my life.”

So, according to the first definition, to be empowered is to be given power.  And the second definition suggests that to be empowered is to recognize the power one already possesses.  I think that for the suffragists, both of these elements—but mostly the latter—were necessary to success.  Before any government official had a hand in “giving” women the vote, women themselves had to realize that voting was their inalienable right.  Empowerment was a process that started with recognizing the potential for a better future.  The suffragists were then tasked with garnering enough strength, courage, and determination to make change happen.  Finally, they were empowered in the legal and official sense with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

My issue with the first definition is that it fails to take this process into account.  It pic3suggests that the oppressed are empowered only at the will of the privileged.  It brings to mind images of children getting permission from their parents to go play outside.  The personal side of empowerment—the notion of making change happen for oneself—is left out.  The suffragists weren’t simply given the vote because they asked for it.  They forced their way into a position of power.  They made politicians see reason.  They empowered themselves.

  • The Empowerment Process: Taking a Stand

Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote: “The general discontent I felt with woman’s portion as wife, mother, housekeeper, physician, and spiritual guide, the chaotic condition into which everything fell without her constant supervision, and the wearied, anxious look of the majority of women, impressed me with the strong feeling that some active measures should be taken to remedy the wrongs of society in general and of women in particular.  My experiences at the World Anti-Slavery Convention, all I had read of the legal status of women, and the oppression I saw everywhere, together swept across my soul, intensified now by many personal experiences.  It seemed as if all the elements had conspired to impel me to some onward step.”  And so, onward she went, empowering herself to, as she put it, “do and dare anything.”

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  • The Empowerment Process: Proving Them Wrong

On November 19, 1868 in Vineland, New Jersey, women spent the day voting in the presidential election—sort of.  As a form of demonstration, women set up their own ballot box at the polling place.  A reporter from The Revolution wrote: “Young ladies, after voting, went to the homes of their acquaintances and took care of the babies, while they came out to vote.  Will this fact lessen the alarm of some men for the safety of the babies of enfranchised women on election day?”  Events such as the Vineland women’s vote (which had an impressive turnout of 172 female voters) empowered suffragists by proving the opposition wrong.  While anti-suffragists predicted that women voters would neglect their children in favor of politics, these suffragists made it perfectly clear that they were capable of managing both going to the polls and taking care of babies.

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  • The Empowerment Process: Not Giving Up

The years 1918-1920 are often skimmed over in reports of the suffrage movement.  For the suffragists, however, these were a long, grueling two years.  The Silent Sentinels’ pickets and imprisonment, along with several other factors, had done much to gain support in favor of the Nineteenth Amendment.  Still, many anti-suffrage politicians wouldn’t budge.  It was often a “so close, yet so far” situation; for example, on February 10, 1919, the amendment was just one vote short of passage in the US Senate.  Later, when women’s suffrage had been ratified in thirty-five of the requisite thirty-six states, it almost seemed as if one last state was too much to ask for.  On June 2, 1920, Delaware nearly brought the struggle to an end when the upper legislature voted to pass the amendment—but then the lower chamber voted against it.  It is probably an understatement to say that the suffragists were disappointed and worn out at this point.  Even after the fateful vote on August 18, 1920 in Tennessee, opposition continued.  At last, on August 26, 1920, women were—“by legal and official means”—empowered to vote in every US state.  But I’m willing to bet they felt empowered in a few other ways, too.  They’re still empowering us today.

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Additional Sources:
Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States by Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick, 1996

6Lauriane 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.

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July 2015: Suffragist of the Month

Meet the July 2015 Suffragist of the Month: Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947). Brought to you by the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association.

Carrie-Chapman-CattCarrie Chapman Catt is one of the key leaders of the suffrage movement. She succeeded Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) from 1900 to 1904. She again assumed its presidency in 1915. This can be viewed as the beginning of the final push after a long struggle. By 1915, NAWSA had grown large and powerful; with 44 state auxiliaries, each with local branches, the total membership was more than 2 million.

When Mrs. Catt assumed the presidency of NAWSA, she was convinced that pursuing a federal amendment was the only way to achieve voting rights for all women and proceeded to turn the focus of the organization to the federal amendment. She put forth a plan to the leadership that called for simultaneously working for the federal amendment and the state by state approach. Later called her “Winning Plan,” it was as follows:

  • Women in states with presidential suffrage would work to pass a federal suffrage amendment
  • Women who believed they could successfully amend their state constitution would press for a referendum.
  • Most states would work toward presidential suffrage, which the legislature could decide.
  • Southern states would work toward primary suffrage.

This formed a compact that had to be signed by at least 36 state suffrage associations. Thirty-six was the number of states needed to ratify a federal amendment.

When the US entered World War I and when asked to support the war, in typical Catt fashion, she said NAWSA would add the war effort to its duties. Mrs. Catt created war effort departments within NAWSA including Food Conservation, Protection of Women in Industry, and Overseas Hospitals. They also collaborated with other women’s organizations in these efforts. Mrs. Catt, herself, was also “commandeered” for service in the Women’s Division of the Liberty Loan Committee. But suffrage work continued, particularly in Congress as first Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin took her seat. NAWSA participated in hearings held in that session by the Woman Suffrage Committee of the Senate. Although Congress had a “gentleman’s agreement” not to take up any non-war legislation, the House of Representatives did create a Woman Suffrage Committee as the Senate had already done. However, NAWSA volunteers were not always available for suffrage work on the amendment because many had volunteered for war service on the home front. Women’s support for the war effort was one argument used in favor of suffrage.

When the House passed the amendment on January 10, 1918, after a Congressional speech of support by President Wilson and much effort by suffragists, Mrs. Catt was very present. She led NAWSA’s visits to give personal thanks to supporters. She was received by President Wilson for congratulations and thanks shortly after the vote.

When the Amendment was finally passed by both houses of Congress (on the third try) in 1919, she and NAWSA worked coast-to-coast for its ratification by at least 36 states. During the ratification process, she led the effort to use the legacy of NAWSA to create “a mighty political experiment”–a League of Women Voters–to educate the electorate in a non-partisan manner, to register voters, and to encourage women to run for office.

Mrs. Catt’s exceptional organizational skills, networking ability, and personal influence were vital to achieving American women’s right to vote. And her political vision endures today with the still influential League of Women Voters.

Mrs. Catt was also active in the international suffrage movement. In 1902 she co-founded the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, still active today as the International Alliance of Women, and served as its president until 1923.

Sources:
Maud Wood Park, edited by Edna Lamprey Stantial, Front Door Lobby (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964): p. 11.
Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Carrie Chapman Catt Collection.

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7 Suffragist Men and the Importance of Allies

By Lauriane Lebrun

Male allies were vital to the success of the women’s suffrage movement.  As members of a privileged group, men had the advantage of being influential and respected in most areas, especially at the polls and in government.  While some used this against the suffragists, others reasoned that giving women the vote was the right thing to do.  Many 1helped support the movement by writing, speaking, and voting in favor of suffrage, signing petitions, and funding projects.

Today, campaigns like UN Women’s HeForShe encourage men to continue participating in the fight for gender equity.  According to the HeForShe strategy overview, “[T]he achievement of gender equality has two pre-requisites.  The first is cultural and social change – or, men’s and boys’ acceptance of the importance and benefit of a gender-equal society, which is more likely to occur when ‘[men] can see positive benefits for themselves and the people in their lives’.  The second is institutional change.”

Read on to get to know some of the earliest HeForShe activists: the suffragist men.

1.  Frederick Douglass

Better known for his work as an abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was also a supporter of the women’s suffrage 2movement.  In 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton was criticized for her plan to read the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, only Douglass supported her.  After the convention, he wrote, “All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman; and if that government is only just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land. Our doctrine is, that ‘Right is of no sex.’”

 

32.  George Francis Train

George Francis Train supported Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony by providing his services as a speaker and by developing, launching, and funding The Revolution, their women’s rights newspaper.  Train also helped out by writing articles for The Revolution.

 

3.  Thetus W. Sims4

Tennessee Congressman Thetus W. Sims showed his intense dedication to women’s rights when, in 1918, he showed up to vote in favor of suffrage—with an unset broken arm and shoulder.  Sims powered through the pain and stayed for the entirety of the voting process so that he could attempt to persuade any hesitant congressmen.

 

54.  James Mott

James Mott, husband of suffragist Lucretia Mott, worked alongside his wife as a women’s rights activist.  Mott served as chairman of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, and was one of the men who signed the Declaration of Sentiments.

 

5.  Daniel Anthony

Daniel Anthony was a dedicated women’s rights advocate and an important role model for his daughter, Susan B. 6Anthony.  When Susan was a child, her school refused to teach girls math, so her father opened a school where girls and boys were taught as equals.  Daniel Anthony also ran a store where he refused to sell alcohol.  Like many temperance advocates, he believed that the illegalization of alcohol would lead to fewer incidences of drunken husbands beating their wives.  Finally, Daniel Anthony showed his support for suffrage with his signature, which was included on the Declaration of Sentiments when it was adopted in Rochester.

 

6.  Henry Blackwell

7When Henry Blackwell married Lucy Stone, their vows included the declaration that their marriage “implie[d] no sanction of, nor promise of voluntary obedience to such of the present laws of marriage as refuse to recognize the wife as an independent, rational being, while they confer upon the husband an injurious and unnatural superiority.”  Blackwell was not only a supporter of women’s suffrage, but also an activist.  In 1867, he and Lucy went on a speaking campaign across the frontier, facing strenuous travel and unsavory living conditions.  He served as an editor of what would eventually become the official newspaper of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the Woman’s Journal.  Later in life, Blackwell continued his impressive work as an advocate when he joined Susan B. Anthony on an extensive campaign through South Dakota—despite his age (sixty-five) and blazing hot summer conditions.

 

7.  Francis Minor

Francis Minor, husband of suffragist Virginia Minor, was a lawyer and a women’s rights advocate.  In 1869, Minor wrote a pamphlet declaring that—based on the wording of the Fourteenth Amendment—national women’s suffrage was already legal.  When his wife attempted to vote and was refused in 1872, Minor used this argument in a lawsuit against the registrar.  The case made it to the Supreme Court, and although the unanimous opinion was not in favor of the Minors, the lawsuit did manage to help out Susan B. Anthony.  Anthony, who had also attempted to vote in 1872, was sentenced to a fine of $100, which she declared she would never pay.  She didn’t—due in part to the fact that the legality of her case was in question at the time because of the Minors.

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Additional Sources:

 

6Lauriane 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.

 

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July 7, 2015 · 8:43 PM

Why Today’s Young Women Need to Know About the Suffragists

By Lauriane Lebrun

In a world where women’s history lessons typically don’t go into much depth, and where many individuals don’t even know what the word “suffrage” means, today’s young women are too often missing out on the benefits of knowing about America’s suffragists.  But, what good will reading an Alice Paul biography, watching Iron Jawed Angels, attending a lecture about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or visiting the Susan B. Anthony House do for the modern young woman?  Read on to find out!

  • Self-Esteem Boost, Anyone?

Women today are constantly bombarded with the pressure to be perfect.  Rather than focusing on our strengths, the media tend to give more attention to our weak points—body image issues, rejection, anxiety, fear of failure, etc.  And then there are those incredibly fine lines between bossy and powerful, sexy and slutty, quirky and crazy, sensitive and strong that we are supposed to walk on a daily basis if we want to be accepted.  Dealing with these pressures can make womanhood not particularly beneficial to the good old self-confidence, and can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and generally not-so-great feelings.

So, where do the suffragists come in?  I’m not saying that they will solve all of these issues, but I do believe that learning about some of history’s most powerful women can make the modern woman feel proud and empowered.  When I consider women like Lucy Burns, Helen Keller, and Mabel Vernon, I’m not thinking about whether or not they had nice skin and perfect eyebrows, and I’m not thinking about if they dressed in unfashionable clothes or if they flirted with “too many” people.  But I am thinking about how Lucy co-founded the National Women’s Party, Helen spoke and wrote in favor of women’s rights despite being deaf and blind, and Mabel ensured publicity for the Silent Sentinels as they protested outside the White House.  I’m thinking about how the women who came before me have changed the world, and how the women of today can, too.  Don’t let society get you down, ladies—the suffragists didn’t, and things eventually worked out for them.

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  • The Suffragists Can Show You How to Make Your Dream a Reality.

Statistics regarding gender inequality in certain industries can be pretty daunting for young women.  According to the US Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration, just 25% of STEM jobs were held by women as of 2011.  In 2013, Catalyst reported that women hold a mere 4.6% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies.  And, as this hilarious-yet-disheartening video explains, “in the past few years, only 93% of popular films were directed by men, and run the worldonly 80% were written by them.”  I’ll let you do the math on that one.

Back in the days leading up to 1920, the suffragists faced some similarly terrifying stats.  For example, when Alice Paul began her suffrage work in the US in 1910, women could only vote in five states.  Ten years later, after a whole lot of work, bravery, and hardship, Alice was able to see her dream of national women’s suffrage come true with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.  Teaching young women about the suffragists is important, therefore, because they exemplify the importance of chasing our dreams—even when the numbers are against us.

  • Woman Up!

The suffragists were tough.  Take Alice Paul, who sacrificed her own health by participating in multiple hunger strikes to add momentum and publicity to the suffragists’ cause.  Or look to Susan B. Anthony, who traveled across New York in the freezing, snowy winter of 1855, collecting signatures for a petition.  Or Inez Milholland, who served as one of the movement’s leading orators, even after her doctor warned that strenuous activity would be a hazard to her health.

Despite modern campaigns such as #LikeAGirl, the stereotype that men are physically, mentally, and emotionally tougher than women continues to persist.  By learning about the suffragists, especially from a young age, girls will see that you don’t have to be a boy to be brave and strong.

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  • Together Everyone Achieves More.

Girls are often socialized to compete with one another.  From middle school cliques to workplace gossip, tearing each other down is an all-too-common practice.  Maybe it makes us feel better about ourselves as we try to achieve impossible standards.  Maybe it ensures we fit in with the right crowd.  Maybe it reflects the pent-up aggression that we are taught to suppress because it’s not “ladylike.”  Whatever the reason, women competing against other women is not productive; in fact, it’s harmful, and it ought to be stopped sooner rather than later.

The suffragists are an excellent example of what women can accomplish when they empower one another and work as a team.  The success of the suffrage movement relied heavily on the unique helpstrengths that each individual activist was able to contribute.  Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for example, had a particularly effective partnership because they used their differences to their advantage: Susan brought the organizational skills, practicality, and focus; Elizabeth Cady provided passion, creativity, and boldness.  In this way, Susan, Elizabeth Cady, and others were able to make change happen far more successfully than they ever could have alone.  As Alice Paul put it, “The movement is a sort of mosaic.  Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.”

Additional Sources:

6Lauriane 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.

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5 Reasons Why I Support the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial (And Why You Should, Too!)

By Lauriane Lebrun

1.  The Suffragists Deserve It. Seriously.
       Anyone who successfully maneuvers the long, arduous process of getting a constitutional amendment passed probably deserves a memorial to begin with.  After all, most people are not particularly fond of change, so convincing an entire nation to alter its principal legal document is no small feat.  The suffragists were challenged to do much more than 1speak and write persuasively, however.  On March 3, 1913, for instance, the women’s suffrage parade down Pennsylvania Avenue was interrupted by angry crowds.  The marching suffragists were verbally and physically attacked, while police stood back and watched.  For many women’s suffrage activists, working to win the vote also meant being imprisoned and then using hunger strikes as a form of protest (WARNING: link contains some graphic content).  According to the Smithsonian Institution’s HistoryWired, “force-feeding has little to do with nutrition; a tube is forced up the nose and down the throat of the victim and liquid poured through it into the stomach.  It is a painful procedure and can cause illness or even death.”  On November 14, 1917—also known as the Night of Terror—the jailed suffragists endured beatings and were locked in the cold, dark, dirty cells of Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia.  To sum it up: the suffragists didn’t just win the vote for women, they fought and suffered for it.  It seems that constructing a memorial in their honor is the least we can do today to say “thank you.”

2.  The Memorial Will Be Educational — And That Is Absolutely Necessary.
True Story: Shortly after being accepted as a new intern for TPSM, I—being the bookworm that I am—hurried off to the nearest bookstore to find some reading materials on women’s suffrage.  I checked the American history section: nothing.  Women’s studies, perhaps?  Nope.  Okay… biographies?  The children’s history section?  Suffice it to say I 2searched high and low, and then went online to order some books instead. On a related note, when I think back to the history courses I took in school, I don’t recall learning much about women’s suffrage.  I did take a women’s literature class in my senior year of high school that involved watching a video on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and memorizing the date August 18, 1920.  This course was an elective, however, so my peers who didn’t take it may still be unaware of the importance behind those names and the significance of that date.  What I’m suggesting here is that opportunities to learn about the women’s suffrage movement are available, but not necessarily easy to find.  The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial is already adding to the resources on this topic with its online presence. The addition of a physical memorial—complete with thorough educational content on the overall movement and the individual suffragists—will have an important role in shrinking the information gap even more.

3.  Perfect Timing, Perfect Location.
      TPSM’s goal is to have the memorial up and running by 2020, which will mark one hundred years since the 3passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.  What better way to celebrate a century of women’s voting rights than with a memorial commemorating the suffragists and their bravery?  In addition, the memorial will be located in Occoquan Regional Park, formerly part of the D.C. Prison Complex where the suffragists were imprisoned.  This will give visitors to the memorial a more “real” connection to the events they are learning about as they stand where the suffragists once stood.

4.  A Reminder — and a Reason — to Vote. 
Underneath all the heroism and struggle and triumph of the women’s suffrage movement is the one simple word that started it all: voting.  The suffragists wanted a say in4 the laws that governed them.  They wanted to have opinions that mattered just as much as any man’s.  According to CNN, 65.7% of eligible females voted in the 2008 US election.  This number may seem fairly high, given the popular notions that “voting is such a hassle” and “politics are annoying.”  But the suffragists—after all they did to secure this right—would probably wonder: why aren’t 100% of eligible women casting their ballot, now that they are allowed (and even encouraged) to do so?  The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will be a reminder of the importance of voting, especially as a woman.  Hopefully, it will inspire visitors to get informed about the issues and the candidates and head out to the polls.  Voting is a right we haven’t always been able to exercise so, now that we’ve got it, why not use it?

5.  A Place for Reflection on the Past, Present, and Future.
The plans for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial design include an informational station entitled “Forward into Light.”  This is set to be the final station of the memorial, and will address “events after universal woman suffrage became law, the continuing need for vigilance and reform, and the quest for full equality.”  In order to move forward and make our world better, it is important to understand our past.  The “Forward into Light” station will encourage guests to reflect on the suffragists’ passion, courage, and determination.  It will inspire visitors to question the status quo, to pinpoint problems and fix them when possible.  Finally, it will serve as a reminder that patience and persistence can lead to success—just follow the suffragists’ example.

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Additional Sources:
https://suffragistmemorial.wordpress.com/tag/night-of-terror/
http://www.suffragistmemorial.org/suffragist-history/
http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9803/suffrage.html

6  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.

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June 16, 2015 · 8:25 PM

June 2015: Suffragist of the Month

Meet TPSMA‘s June 2015 Suffragist of the MonthBeatrice Reynolds Kinkead (November 8, 1874 – November 11, 1947)

Beatrice Reynolds Kinkead of Upper Lake, California, 100 miles north of San Francisco, was a continent away from the infamous Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, but it was almost inevitable that she would eventually journey from one place to the other. The same kind of drive and commitment that led her to excel in academics would carry over into her work for the suffrage movement.

Like many others, she became involved in the suffrage cause during her college years. In 1893, while she was an undergraduate at the University of California, a coalition of Golden State suffragists, W.C.T.U. members, and even a number of groups that had never been involved in suffrage before, united to get the State Legislature to pass a school- suffrage bill allowing women to vote at any school election and run for any school office. But it never became law. The Governor said he had concerns about the constitutionality of the measure, asked a law firm to study the matter, and by the time the lawyers made their report, the deadline to sign the bill had expired, a great convenience to the Governor, but a source of great exasperation to suffragists.

Though Reynolds was busy with her studies, becoming one of the first women to earn a B.A. from the University of California on February 12, 1895, and an M.A. in 1897 (her thesis was “The Vague Supposition in Plato”), she still found time to help the cause.  In 1896, while still pursuing her M.A., and teaching in a San Francisco high school, she was quite active in the local suffrage league. That year, suffragists convinced the legislature to bypass the governor, and put woman suffrage directly on the ballot for the state’s (male) voters to decide.

Though the referendum failed, due to a massive, last-minute campaign by alcohol interests, everyone who took part gained experience, and had the chance to work with nationally-known suffrage advocates.  Even Susan B. Anthony spent a substantial amount of time in California during the campaign, and clearly would have been a great inspiration to Reynolds and all the local suffragists she encountered on statewide speaking tours.

Reynolds became a teacher of Greek and Latin at a high school in Centerville, then in 1898 moved East to teach at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She must have made quite an impression, because by 1899 she was teaching Latin at Vassar, and was a “Fellow By Courtesy” at Bryn Mawr.  But in 1900 she moved back to California, teaching Greek at a Los Angeles high school for one year, then Greek and Latin at a San Francisco high school from 1901 to 1903. It was during this time that she married James Alan Kinkead, on August 8, 1902.

The young couple soon moved to Montclair, New Jersey, where Beatrice would give birth to four children (Robin, James, David and Donald) between 1906 and 1911. Though busy raising a family, the New Jersey Suffrage Referendum of 1915 would bring another suffrage campaign to her doorstep, and she could not ignore the call to duty.

The loss of the referendum in New Jersey, as well as defeats in three other big Eastern states two weeks later, plus impatience with President Wilson’s failure to endorse nationwide woman suffrage now made the National Woman’s Party’s militant tactics and total focus on the Anthony Amendment more attractive to her than the state-by-state approach and polite lobbying of Wilson by the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

She first began going down to D.C. to be a banner- bearing “Silent Sentinel” picket along the White House fence on “New Jersey Day” in February, 1917. But the friendly spirit of those pre-war days was long gone by July 14, 1917, when she and 15 other picketers were arrested on false charges of “obstructing traffic” on the wide Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk.

After 6 months of widespread publicity for the Sentinels, and acute embarrassment for a President whose vigorous support for democracy worldwide was being conspicuously contrasted with his apathy toward bringing democracy to the female half of his own country, pro-Wilson judges set out to crush the dissenters through harsh sentences.

But jail terms of up to 60 days imposed for what – even if they had been valid – were trivial charges, backfired badly, so public sympathy for the pickets and outrage toward the Administration soon began to increase. Though willing to serve their full terms, the first pickets to be given lengthy sentences were quickly pardoned by the President, so Kinkead was in Occoquan for only three days.

In an interview given just after her release, she discussed her experiences in the prison, noting inedible food, crowded conditions, and the fact that the only water was in a bucket with a communal dipper.  She said that she accepted the pardon because she was told by the picket’s lawyer that President Wilson was about to endorse the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, and that since the pardon was unconditional, it would not interfere with her right to protest again. In fact, she noted: “All of the 16 who can will return. These women seek no notoriety. All could obtain it in more pleasant ways. They wish to stand for true democracy.”

Following the successful conclusion of the suffrage campaign, she spent the rest of her days as a translator of books, mostly for children, and generally about science. As the Second World War approached, she spent a good deal of time in the Soviet Union, and advocated greater cooperation between Americans and Russians against the growing threat of Fascism.

By the end of her life, she was back home in California, a state whose suffragists didn’t give up after the setbacks of 1893 and 1896, and who won the vote through a referendum in 1911, nine years before the 19th Amendment was ratified.

Sources:  After the Vote Was Won: The Later Achievements of Fifteen Suffragists by Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene., pages 118-122;  Becoming Citizens: The Emergence and Development of the California Women’s Movement, 1880-1911 by Gayle Gullett, pages 80-82 ; “Bryn Mawr College Program, 1905-6”; “Picket Tells of Prison Life,” New York Times, July 22, 1917, page 5; Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens, part 8.Winning The Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movementby Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr., pages 348-49.  Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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