Tag Archive | Woodstock

Visit Woodstock, New York & find out about Charlotte Perkins Gilman!

Woodstock, New York has women’s suffrage ties! on Vimeo.

Find out the real story about Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her role in the founding of the Woodstock art colony at the turn of the 20th century.

Article by Marguerite Kearns: “Charlotte Perkins Gilman: a Woodstock founding mother” on HudsonValleyOne.

Suffrage CentennialsimagesFollow SuffrageCentennials.com on our Facebook page, Twitter, email subscription, and the Quarterly Newsletter. Sign up for email on this web page. Keep up to date with postings, audio podcasts, and videos. Plan for your suffrage centennial event in 2020. Remember Inez Milholland, the U.S. suffrage martyr from now through 2020 (InezMilholland.wordpress.com). And support the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial.

The Women in Black, 25+ years of peaceful vigils move toward a centennial observance!

Women in Black, 2015. Photo: Olivia Twine.This feature is part of a continuing series of articles highlighting women’s history of Woodstock, NY that was reinforced by a resolution of the town board in August 2015. Woodstock became the first community in New York State to officially honor its women’s history in support of the upcoming 2017 state suffrage centennial and the nation’s 2020 suffrage centennial. Woodstock’s Women in Black parallels the dramatic visual rhetoric of the American suffrage movement as their peaceful vigil heads in the direction of a centennial observance in the future. Olivia Twine’s articles and photographs about women’s history appear in local, regional, and New York State publications.

by Olivia Twine

Their numbers vary, but a contingent of the international movement for peace, Women in Black, have been demonstrating on the Woodstock, New York village green almost every Sunday afternoon since the first Iraq war began in 1991. For the first few years, and even on the coldest of winter days, the women (and occasionally a man or two) stood, mostly alone, holding their signs. As Woodstock’s popularity as a tourist destination revived in recent years, the stalwart group became part of a scene as busy as a Bruegel painting and only slightly less sensual. When controversies sharpen with crises in the Middle East, the women are occasionally confronted by (mostly men) demonstrating in support of war.


The women activists are well-versed in political history, and they don’t pontificate. “We stand up in silence,” said Renee Englander, a participant in the Woodstock group since the beginning. “We are silent because words cannot express the tragedy of war and hatred. The message of peace is not difficult to understand.”

Although they don’t engage in political discussion, literature is available to explain the positions and the history of Women in Black. The movement originated in Jerusalem in January 1988 when a group of Israeli women courageously stood together at a busy intersection to protest the occupation of Palestine. They drew inspiration for a public vigil from the mothers of Argentina who circled the main square carrying pictures of their missing loved ones and for wearing black from the South African Black Sash movement in opposition to apartheid.


“Solidarity vigils” sprang up in other countries. By 1990, the Women in Black had gained a reputation as a movement of women of conscience of all nationalities and denominations who advocate for justice, civil society, and peaceful co-existence. They stand against policies that kill, destroy cities, force migration, and annihilate human relations. “We oppose all forms of local and global violence: war, terrorism, inter-ethnic conflict, militarism the arms industry, nuclear weapons, racism, neo-Nazism, violence against women, and violence in neighborhoods,” the literature states.

One recent weekend, Englander was among several women demonstrating adjacent to Grandpa Woodstock, a living symbol of the post-Woodstock Festival era now available for photo ops. The weekly drum circle was getting started. An informal procession of young folks pranced to the beat on their way to the bus stop. The crowd of weekend visitors waiting for transport back to New York City gathered across the street, a built-in audience for activities on the Green. A photographer focused on Grandpa Woodstock as I angled to photograph the Women In Black. (It’s difficult to get a shot without backing into traffic or standing across the street and including cars in the frame.)


A photo of Grandpa Woodstock appeared a few days later in the New York Times, accompanied a September 4 article by Corey Kilgannon highlighting the irony of the Woodstock Nation era which represented the mutual sharing of resources now marketed to promote commercial success for the town.

Grandpa Woodstock expresses those humanitarian values to anyone who wants to listen. Does that idea attract visitors, or is it the accompanying suggestion of life as a timeless party? It’s all good as long as activists like Women In Black, who share a commitment to justice and a world free of violence, are able to share their vision of peace, compassion, and justice. On Saturdays, their place is taken by a Mennonite group known as Families for Peace. On balance, the Woodstock Village Green is a peaceful place which represents the town, standing side by side with commercialism.

Suffrage CentennialsimagesFollow SuffrageCentennials.com on Facebook page, Twitter, email subscription, and the Quarterly Newsletter. Sign up for email on this web page. Stay up to date with postings, audio podcasts, and videos. Plan for your suffrage centennial event. And don’t forget to pass on women’s suffrage storytelling to the next generation. Suffrage Centennial videos on Vimeo.

News notes from the Suffrage Centennial front!

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News Notes about women’s history features suffrage movement storytelling! on Vimeo.

There’s more awareness and recognition than ever of the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And individual states have been celebrating their accomplishments over the past few years. A bill to create a New York State suffrage centennial commission was approved during the 2015 legislative session by both houses. But the commission has no funding and lacks the governor’s signature. Stay tuned for news updates!


The Upstate New York Women’s History Organization (UNYWHO) conference is set for Saturday, September 19, 2015 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. The event is cosponsored by the Women’s Rights National Park. Sessions include women’s digital histories, U.S. women’s wartime activism, Women in WW I, second-wave feminism, colonialism and power, sexuality and the law, feminist documentary, and evidence and inference in women’s history. The New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial Conference is set for October 1, 2015 at the Holiday Inn, Waterloo/Seneca Falls, NY), 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The New York Council for the Humanities and Generations Bank are conference partners with the NYS Cultural Heritage Tourism Network.


Woodstock, NY is the first community to pass a local resolution supporting the NYS women’s suffrage centennial observance in 2017. Other towns and cities are expected to gather support on the local level.  The “Spirit of 1776” suffrage storytelling series moved forward when Wilmer Kearns entered the narrative, as told by Bess, Edna’s best friend. Check out the two-part series about suffrage activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a revealing perspective by Wendy Bird: Part I, Part II. Four states have upcoming women’s suffrage centennial celebrations. The September program at Suffrage Wagon Cafe will feature the new book by Kenneth Florey about American woman suffrage postcards published by McFarland.

Suffrage CentennialsimagesFollow SuffrageCentennials.com on Facebook page, Twitter, email subscription, and the Quarterly Newsletter. Sign up for email on this web page. Stay up to date with postings, audio podcasts, and videos. Plan for your suffrage centennial event. And don’t forget to pass on family storytelling to the next generation. Suffrage Centennial videos on Vimeo.


PART II: Charlotte Perkins Gilman & “The Yellow Wallpaper” still read today!

Editors’ Note: This is the second part of the two-part article about Charlotte Perkins Gilman by Wendy Bird, an advocate for social justice and equality of opportunity and a strategic consultant for non-profits, government, and philanthropy.

GilmanSliderby Wendy Bird

Part II 

What is One to Do?:

Like the haunting “nevermore” of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “what is one to do” in “The Yellow Wallpaper” becomes a chilling rallying cry against the injustices of the “rest cure.” Disenfranchised and isolated, the unnamed woman feels she cannot be heard over the voices of her husband and brother, both doctors. In her words, “Personally I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?” The woman senses that her husband’s profession may actually be impeding, rather than aiding, her recovery and wellbeing, saying, “John is a physician, and PERHAPS–(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)–PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?” For the woman, her husband’s belief that she is not sick and, therefore, not in need of quality medical care, as opposed to just “rest,” cannot be overcome: “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression–a slight hysterical tendency–what is one to do?” As the protagonist becomes increasingly upset (“I am getting angry enough to do something desperate”) and ultimately goes insane (“I’ve got out at last”), the reader is left to wonder if something might have been done to prevent the tragedy after all.

Girl Power Matters:

Gilman adds complexity to the story by introducing Jennie, John’s sister. Rather than serve as an ally to the ailing woman, Jennie inadvertently contributes to the woman’s demise by upholding the unwanted isolation and inactivity of the “rest cure” and, by extension, the “men know best” stereotype. Before long, “Jennie sees to everything.” Like John, Jennie tries to escalate control over the woman: “Jennie wanted to sleep with me–the sly thing! but I told her I should undoubtedly rest better for a night all alone.” Just as she begins to fear her husband, the woman begins to fear her sister-in-law, saying, “even Jennie has an inexplicable look.” Without anyone to support her ideas and suggestions, the woman’s isolation extends beyond the physical into the mental and emotional.

Innovative Storytelling:

Gilman uses several strategic literary devices to advance her point of view. First, Gilman presents the protagonist as a woman without a name. By the end of the story, we know the names John, Jennie, Mary, Henry, and Julia, but not the name of the ailing woman, underscoring the woman’s sub-status treatment. Second, Gilman uses the wallpaper as a metaphor for the stifling treatment of John and Jennie, enabling the woman to criticize her family without drawing the ire of conservative readers. For example, echoing John and Jennie’s relentless oversight, the woman says, “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere.” Finally, Gilman uses familiar language to draw readers in and win their trust, making her ultimate denouncement of the “rest cure” more compelling. Initially, for example, John and Jennie are described as “loving,” “dear,” “sweet,” and “careful,” as to be expected from family members. The woman would never prioritize her own needs over those of her husband: “of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim.” The woman even expresses gratitude for her husband’s treatment, saying, “it is lucky that John kept me here.” Like the woman, the reader is drawn in by the false promises of the “rest cure” and, in turn, also shocked and dismayed by its tragic consequences.


With its masterful storytelling, Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” raised serious questions about the “science” behind the “rest cure” and amplified a voice still hear too little in women’s health care: a woman’s. Other writers such as Virginia Woolf also criticized the treatment, laying the foundation for improved understanding of women’s health needs and effective treatments moving forward.


In 1935, suffering from incurable breast cancer, Gilman chose to use chloroform to end her life on her own terms. In a note she left behind, Gilman described her choice as a human right: “When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one” (Radcliffe Magazine). While still controversial in health care today (as recently evidenced, for example, by Brittany Maynard in “My Right to Death with Dignity at 29”), in death, as in life, Gilman exercised autonomy and the power of choice

The original collection of the “Papers of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1846-1975” is located at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. For more information and the online collection, please visit the “Charlotte Perkins Gilman Digital Collection.”


Part I of the article series on Charlotte Perkins Gilman by Wendy Bird.

FREE AUDIO of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The Woodstock (NY) town board in August passed a resolution honoring Woodstock women in history, including Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and affirming the NYS suffrage centennial celebration in 2017. This is the first time a local community has taken such a step, and it’s likely that other towns and cities will do the same.

Suffrage CentennialsimagesFollow SuffrageCentennials.com on Facebook page, Twitter, email subscription, and the Quarterly Newsletter. Sign up for email on this web page. Stay up to date with postings, audio podcasts, and videos. Plan for your suffrage centennial event. And don’t forget to pass on women’s suffrage storytelling to the next generation. Suffrage Centennial videos on Vimeo.

Part I: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one of Woodstock’s wild women who wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Editors’ Note:

Wendy Bird, M.P.P., is an advocate for social justice and equality of opportunity and a strategic consultant for non-profits, government, and philanthropy. This is the first part of Wendy’s two-part article about Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a well-known suffrage movement writer and literary figure who had roots in Woodstock, NY. She spent two summers in retreat writing at Byrdcliffe. In August 2015, the Woodstock town board passed a resolution honoring its women in history and expressing support for the state’s 2017 upcoming women’s suffrage centennial celebration.


Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Raising Eyebrows & Revolutionizing Women’s Health Care in the 1800s

Part I by Wendy Bird

Celebrated suffragist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) raised eyebrows and helped revolutionize women’s health care with her provocative and innovative short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” published in 1892 in The New England Magazine. The story chronicles the injustices and inadequacies of the 19th century “rest cure” for women, which isolated patients from family and friends and confined them to bed rest for extended periods of time. Gilman also used to the story to courageously challenge the popular notion at the time that, as doctors and husbands, men know best about women’s health and wellbeing.

In the story, an unnamed woman moves into a summer home with her husband John, a doctor, to help address her “nervous troubles” through the “rest cure.” Having recently given birth, the woman’s condition is today interpreted as a form of postpartum depression. At the time, however, there was little understanding of the condition or effective treatments. Alone and rendered completely inactive, the woman begins to see visions in the yellow wallpaper of her room and ultimately goes insane.

Gilman based “The Yellow Wallpaper” on her own negative experiences with neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell, who treated Gilman (then Charlotte Stetson) with the “rest cure” in 1887, following the birth of Gilman’s daughter Katharine (Thraikill, 2002). While a work of fiction, the real-life Weir is a looming threat in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” As the unnamed woman in the story describes, “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall. But I don’t want to go there at all.”


After “treating” Gilman, Mitchell advised her to give up writing, her passion, and concentrate exclusively on being a wife and mother as a way to maintain good health (Science Museum). Instead, Gilman went on to write “The Yellow Wallpaper” to dramatically illustrate the deficiencies of the “rest cure, as well as the influential non-fiction book Women and Economics (1898), which advocated for women’s economic independence and was translated into seven languages.

Dismantling the “Rest Cure”: In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman outlines how the “rest cure” systematically disenfranchises, isolates, and controls an unnamed woman in need of quality health care, resulting in her ultimate insanity.

  • Disenfranchisement: Throughout the story, the woman asserts her ideas that writing and companionship would greatly improve her health, but is dismissed. In one example, she says, “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.” However, her husband advises her to “check the tendency.” When the woman asks for the room downstairs that “opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window,” her husband refuses, choosing the nursery with barred windows upstairs instead. When the woman complains of the ripped up wallpaper in the room, her husband refuses to fix it, saying he doesn’t want to “give way” to her “fancies” or spend money renovating a rental. When the woman says the “treatment” isn’t helping and asks to leave, her husband again refuses, citing the lease agreement: “I told him that I really was not gaining here, and that I wished he would take me away. ‘Why darling!’ said he, ‘our lease will be up in three weeks, and I can’t see how to leave before.'”


  • Isolation: Despite allegedly good intentions, John’s actions increasingly isolate the woman in the story. Twice, he prevents her from having the company of sought-after cousins Henry and Julia. The first time, the woman says, John “would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now.” The second time, the woman says, “I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there.” Meanwhile, John is away a good deal of the time on medical cases (“John is away all day, and even some nights”), a clear juxtaposition — and contributing factor — to the woman’s increasing isolation.
  • Control: Finally, as the summer goes by, John’s behavior becomes increasingly controlling, and the woman begins to question his true intentions. According to the woman, he “hardly lets me stir without special direction.” The woman is forced to lie down alone for increasing periods of time. As she describes, “I lie down ever so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can. Indeed he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after each meal. It is a very bad habit I am convinced.” As her condition worsens, the woman says, “I believe John is beginning to notice. I don’t like the look in his eyes.” As the summer draws to a close, the woman believes John is only “pretending” to be loving and kind. Eventually, these questions turn to cold fear: “The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John.”

COMING SOON: PART II OF ARTICLE BY WENDY BIRD. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is available online to read or to listen to an audio reading. A one-woman show of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is perfect for suffrage events and celebrations. Check out the Woodstock town board resolution honoring suffrage centennials and women in local history.

Suffrage CentennialsimagesFollow SuffrageCentennials.com on Facebook page, Twitter, email subscription, and the Quarterly Newsletter. Sign up for email on this web page. Stay up to date with postings, audio podcasts, and videos. Plan for your suffrage centennial event. And don’t forget to pass on women’s suffrage storytelling to the next generation. Suffrage Centennial videos on Vimeo.

Woodstock, NY: The town that loves its women! Resolution supports suffrage centennial celebrations!

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Woodstock, New York: Traveling to this distinct Hudson Valley town! on Vimeo.

The town of Woodstock, NY is planning special events during 2016 to honor its women’s history and prepare for the state’s 2017 suffrage centennial. Consider Woodstock as a travel destination!

On August 11, 2015 the Woodstock, NY town board unanimously passed a resolution to support New York State’s 2017 suffrage centennial by making a priority of sharing the story of Woodstock women with a larger audience. The resolution sketched out a plan for the town to promote and participate in the state’s centennial observance by sponsoring events and making a priority of educating the public about Woodstock’s women and how New York State is the “Cradle” of the U.S. women’s rights movement in the United States.

The Woodstock town board resolution expands local public support for the state centennial in 2017. Woodstock joins New York City which has made a similar commitment to the 2017 centennial through its Department of Records and Information Services. The city agency has plans to sponsor suffrage-related events and exhibits from now through 2020, the nation’s observance of 100 years of American women voting. During its 2015 session, both houses of the NYS Legislature passed bills to create a state suffrage centennial commission for 2017.


Resolution passed August 11, 2015: To Mobilize Recognition of Woodstock Women during the year 2017 and from now through 2020 to celebrate the New York State and National Suffrage Centennials.

“WHEREAS Woodstock, New York has a long tradition of artistic, literary and activist expression by women, and New York State is considered the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States, and WHEREAS 2017 is the centennial observance of the 1917 victory of women winning voting rights in New York State; and WHEREAS 2020 is the National centennial observance of the ratification of the19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guaranteed American women the right to vote;

 “AND WHEREAS local exhibits, programs, events and celebrations pertaining to women and their campaigns for equal rights contribute to overall happiness, raise spirits and morale, and contribute to local economic development through sustainable cultural heritage tourism and affirm the community’s commitment to equality that is part of our town history and heritage;

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Woodstock, New York prepare for the State 2017 and National 2020 women’s suffrage centennial celebrations by encouraging individuals and businesses, arts, cultural, governmental, service and political organizations and groups to plan and coordinate events pertaining to women and their accomplishments to be held during the years 2017 and from now through 2020, in addition to participating in regional and statewide networks promoting such initiatives, including the New York State Path Through History tourism network.”

THE WORD GETS AROUND: Hudson Valley Magazine. New York History blog.

Other SuffrageCentennials travel suggestions!

Combine Travel with Cultural Heritage Tourism on Vimeo.

Suffrage CentennialsimagesFollow SuffrageCentennials.com on Facebook page, Twitter, email subscription, and the Quarterly Newsletter. Sign up for email on this web page. Stay up to date with postings, audio podcasts, and videos. Plan for your suffrage centennial event. And don’t forget to pass on women’s suffrage storytelling to the next generation. Suffrage Centennial videos on Vimeo.