Caroline Severance’s name isn’t among the list of those remembered as suffrage pioneers, but this photo shows Caroline second to the right with Susan B. Anthony in Los Angeles in 1905, along with Charlotte Wills and Rebecca Spring. The image suggests that Severance traveled in high-powered circles. Caroline grew up in the heart of what’s considered today as the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. or the Finger Lakes region. Caroline Severance’s life and work are summarized in detail and featured in the “History of American Women” blog where we’re reminded that after moving to California her activist work there earned Caroline the distinction of being a key player in the movement for equality. Attention to suffrage history is increasing as the 2020 national suffrage centennial approaches. Here’s the link to the article about Caroline’s life. Read it and reflect on Caroline and scores of others like her who devoted their lives to freedom. PDF.
Attention to suffrage centennials doesn’t exist in isolation. Be on the cutting edge of those who are rocking the ‘Cradle” of the U.S. women’s rights movement. Visit LetsRockTheCradle.com
There’s considerable spinoff from suffrage centennials, including a rash of new creative energy related to the suffrage movement subject matter. One example is books, whether self published or from mainstream publishing houses. The years 1912 to 1914 are addressed in a self-published novel from the UK, Suffragette Autumn Women’s Spring by Ian Porter. This story begins aboard the Titanic as it’s sinking, an important scene which protagonist Ruby later realizes is the genesis of her evolving into a suffrage activist. Ruby and Nashey are left traumatised and horrified – not just by the disaster of the Titanic’s journey itself, but by the failures of the ship’s officers. Readers then travel with the main characters to New York, and on to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The novel finally unfolds in suffragette London, 1912-1914. The militant struggle for Votes for Women becomes a stage for action. Ruby becomes involved in Mrs Pankhurst’s WSPU where she’s imprisoned and involved in a hunger strike. Through the five p’s – publicity stunts, protests, political speeches, prison torture and police tactics – the novel highlights the lengths to which the women and the government pressed the issue. The main character questions the direction of the movement and out of this suffragette autumn emerges a women’s spring.
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If you’re interested in suffrage centennials, whether for sport, pleasure, for educational purposes, a suffrage centennial gets its juice and its momentum from special observances of women’s history. The date may be different in countries around the world, but the ritual and significance is enhanced by becoming aware of Women’s History Month or other observances such as International Women’s Day. The deeper and rich significance of these celebrations is particularly meaningful when there’s a message of struggle and freedom won by women. It’s all too common for centennial celebrations to be no more than a flash in the pan in a world overrun with images and messages. Don’t lose heart. There are increasingly more events and celebrations. The internet has many resources, including an excellent resource from the Library of Congress with a teacher’s guide, primary documents, and images. This link has valuable course outlines actually used in college and university programs. Dust off your teapot and invite people over for a special tea party with home-baked goodies. Don’t let Women’s History Month (March) or International Women’s Day (March 8) pass without some special recognition!
This year, 2014, is the centennial of a part of English suffrage history about which little is known: how the militant wing of the suffrage movement organized a secret society of “Amazons,” known as the Bodyguard. It was group of about 25 athletic, dedicated women trained in the martial arts who provided security escorts for suffragette leaders released under the Cat and Mouse Act. Largely self-taught in the crafts of espionage and subterfuge, they made effective use of decoy and deception tactics and occasionally resorted to street brawling with the police. The Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons trilogy is inspired by their adventures. To complete article.
The word is just getting around about how hot suffrage centennials can be. A great example is the aftermath of the 2013 suffrage centennial honoring English suffragette and martyr Emily Davison. The 2013 centennial of her dramatic death received considerable attention. And the observance isn’t over yet, now that’s there’s a wider audience. Suffrage centennials honor the past, and they are opportunities to weave in the present day and a vision for the future. On February 13, 2014 at 6 p.m. in the Jubilee Room, Houses of Parliament in London, the play “To Freedom’s Cause” will be performed, along with a debate about the influence of Davison’s legacy on feminism today.
Supporters will be invited to sign a petition to erect a statue in Parliament and the debate will be opened on Twitter, using the hashtag #Emilymatters.
“To Freedom’s Cause,” was premiered in 2013 at the time of the Davison centennial. For more information, check with play creator Kate Willoughby who calls herself “a temporary suffragette,” and someone who has fallen in love with Emily Davison’s story. The play lays out the powerful tale of the people who came into contact with Emily, those who changed her life and whose lives she changed. Music and song are important elements. The suffragettes were known for their singing. It helped to keep their spirits up during the long spells of imprisonment.
Notes Kate Willoughby: “Emily’s final, iconic act involved the King’s jockey, Herbert Jones. A celebrated sportsman at the peak of his career, Herbert’s life would decades afterwards end in tragedy. However, Herbert’s later life has often been misrepresented and so in “To Freedom’s Cuase’ I seek to redress this.
“Over the years there has been a great deal of speculation about Emily’s motivation for stopping Anmer, the King’s horse: Was it suicide? Was it naïve? Or was it just an accident? ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ offers some insight into the exact truth of the situation.
“Working on ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ has been a labour of love and I would like to thank everyone who has helped me develop this fresh retelling of Emily Wilding Davison’s story. A fun-loving, vivacious woman, whose courage, in the face of adversity, can inspire us all.”
The Montana Historical Society has grabbed the reigns in terms of the celebration of its suffrage centennial during 2014. Their campaign slogan, the Year of Women in History, is upfront about coming at the subject matter as an underdog. Women have been left out of Montana history is the statement entering the year-long celebration and the goal is to spark a wider recognition of women in history, not only educated women who have been high achievers, but also women from all walks of life who have left a trail behind them.
“Women have not been at the center of power, so when we tell history from the perspective of people in power, we often leave women out,” said MHS Historical Specialist Martha Kohl in an article for the Sidney Herald. Native American women were not included in Montana’s 1914 victory, something the suffrage centennial celebrants are determined to do something about. African-American women are highlighted, as well as a wide variety of the many activists it took to make it possible for Montana women to vote.
The website has already been launched and it’s a fine example of possibilities for other states as well as the upcoming U.S. suffrage centennial in 2020. Funding for the website and other aspects of the project are provided, in part, by Montana’s Cultural Trust. Pay a visit. It’s worth it. Subscribe. The diversity of the articles so far is a stunning example of possibilities. Photo: Montana Historical Society.
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Boff Whalley, contemporary musician, has written a musical about an English suffragette that was inspired after seeing a friend’s collection of her grandmother’s suffrage memorabilia that’s now 100 years old. “Wrong ‘Un” will open in mid January 2014 and tell the story of Annie Wilde, a mill worker who campaigned for women’s right to vote. The friend’s grandmother went to Holloway prison and served time for the crime of women demanding democratic participation in the affairs of government. The persistent resistance pushed some English activists to take bold steps to win their cause. The UK has had numerous events and celebrations about their suffrage movement during the past year. There a telly suffrage sit-com underway, “Up the Women,” and a major motion picture in production. Hurray for suffrage celebrants in the UK. They take their suffrage movement history seriously. For more information about “Wrong ‘UN,” see: #1. #2.
The Montana women are calling their suffrage centennial, “Women’s History Matters.” And with photos from the Montana Historical Society, they’ve come roaring around the bend with a great web site and a year’s program for all of us to look forward to. Martha Kohl, who’s heading up the year-long observance, said that an experience at several recent conferences really turned her head aorund. She asked audience members to write down the names of five Montana women in the 19th and 20th century. This was a challnge. Is it because there were no Montana women who could be distinguished for anything? Hardly. And this is precisely what “Women’s History Matters” will be setting out to correct. For more information.
Teignbridge youth parliament members have planted a tree to honor the suffrage centennial of activist Emily Davison’s death. The controversial act of Davison throwing herself in front of the King’s horse to draw attention to an injustice has fascinated people in the UK, especially in this 100th year since Davison’s death. There have been numerous womens suffrage exhibits, performances, demonstrations, books and films associated with this suffrage centennial. This tree planting is yet another example of the attention being showered on this important part of English history. Tree planting was an important part of the suffrage movement. The women who served hard prison time for the cause were encouraged to plant a fir tree at Eagle House near Bath. Only one of these trees remain. For more information: #1. #2.
Nevada’s suffrage centennial officially started on October 31, 2013 and it will continue through 2014. Women’s right to vote was a long process beginning in 1869 when the Nevada State Legislature approved a constitutional amendment allowing women the vote. The 1871 legislature failed to ratify the amendment as did the subsequent 12 legislatures.
For the next 40 years, women were as politically active as they could be by lobbying their male representatives and in some instances running for various school boards. In 1911, Nevada native Anne Martin, home from recent suffrage activities in Great Britain and Bird Wilson, a lawyer practicing in Goldfield spearheaded the campaign to get Nevada women the vote. Their dedication and hard work paid off when the 1914 legislature ratified the amendment and the voters approved that amendment in a general vote on November 3, 1914. Women voted in Nevada for the very first time in 1915. Stay up to date with the Nevada Women’s History Project’s web site.