BOOKS LIKE “AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION” BY MARGUERITE KEARNS & HISTORIC MARKERS ADD TO OUR KNOWLEDGE OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE CAMPAIGNING
An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights by activist granddaughter Marguerite Kearns adds significantly to the already diverse body of material emerging about the important social justice and activist movements in the United States—specifically the campaigns for suffrage and peace.
SPOTLIGHT ON EDNA BUCKMAN KEARNS AS MEMOIR RELEASED
Edna Buckman Kearns and her family bring to life the many ways in which entire families contributed to the women’s suffrage movement.
“The addition of these perspectives to the nonfiction record is an encouraging sign that lends depth and perspective to the stories circulating among the tens of thousands of activists who campaigned for women’s voting rights,” says Marguerite Kearns.
Her book has been released by SUNY Press (State University of New York) during June of 2021.
A STORY ABOUT EDNA KEARNS AND HOW SUFFRAGE AND PEACE ACTIVISM INFLUENCED A FAMILY
The Kearns memoir highlights intergenerational activism and how volunteerism in prior generations was often a family affair where benefits contributed to the incremental development of shifts in the larger culture.
Quaker women and family involvement were significant in the early women’s rights movement, and this grounding and commitment to equality, nonviolence, and social activism didn’t disappear during the 19th century. An Unfinished Revolution is the story of a Quaker family told through the lens of one family, as well as the intergenerational activism in the suffrage and peace movements of the early 20th century.
A STORY OF HOW MEN LIKE WILMER KEARNS MARCHED IN THE MEN’S DIVISION OF SUFFRAGE PARADES
“This work is a compilation of the documents, photos, and writing by my grandmother,” Marguerite Kearns says. “It highlights her accomplishments, and brings to life the struggle of how activism plays an important part in family life. The reader will discover the family’s secrets and scandals, as well as accomplishments in the day-to-day activism in daily life.”
“There aren’t many former suffrage and peace activists still around to contribute to this emerging body of literature,” Kearns continued. “I was fortunate to have my grandfather tell me of his experiences of marching in the men’s divisions of the women’s rights parades. He was also there to tell me about the involvement of my maternal activist grandmother who died before my birth.”
She explains that her grandfather’s ancestors and family members participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War before he became a peace activist himself and a Quaker after marrying Edna May Buckman in 1904. They moved from Philadelphia to New York City where their activism is well documented there and on Long Island.”
The Spirit of 1776 suffrage campaign wagon is in the permanent collection of the New York State Museum.
Marguerite Kearns’s commentary notes that “… my grandmother considered herself a Quaker first and an activist second.” She explains that the commitment by Edna Kearns to what she called The Cause was infused with spiritual values that informed and grounded her personally. These concerns intersected with other themes such as nonviolence and a belief in the unity of all people.
To label tens of thousands of activists with one paintbrush, Kearns believes, doesn’t shed light on the “difficulties and complications of a decentralized movement” representing those from the left to the right who agreed on one point only—that women should vote. “This is why studying a larger decentralized movement through the lens of one family provides distinct insights on a larger movement that operated within a social and economic order that valued hierarchy over equality,” she adds.
SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT WAS DIVERSE AS WITNESSED BY WILMER KEARNS AND EDNA KEARNS
Marguerite Kearns says that there were hundreds of women’s voting rights organizations, and they operated in the context of a fragile coalition.
“When I was very young, few people other than a few scholars were knowledgeable about the suffrage and peace movements that were marginalized and considered boring and irrelevant in the larger sweep of American history. Now, so much material is being unearthed, and interest is at an all-time high. It’s thrilling and respectful of all the US women and men who worked for decades and then turned the effort over to future generations.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Unfinished-Revolution.com, the author’s web site for the book from SUNY Press.