PANEL, VIDEO, PODCAST: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage and the work of the San Francisco journalist, suffragist, and fiction writer Miriam Michelson

The Newseum celebrated the work of journalist, feminist, and novelist Miriam Michelson with a sold-out  panel June 25, 2019 that featured the author of a collection of Michelson’s work, Lori Harrison-Kahan, a professor at Boston College, with Anna Palmer, Playbook co-author and Women Rule Editorial Director, POLITICO; Shawna Thomas, Washington D.C. bureau chief, VICE News, and Michelson’s great-great niece, the journalist Joan Michelson as moderator. The latter day Michelson is a writer for Forbes and host of the podcast “Green Connections Radio” which also featured the book in the podcast linked here and below. Harrison-Kahan’s collection of Michelson’s writings is called The Superwoman and Other Writings by Miriam Michelson. Here is a brief biography of Michelson from the Jewish Women’s Archive.

Her 1905 book, The Yellow Journalist, which first appeared serially in the Saturday Evening Post, includes an installment titled “The Milpitas Maiden” (The Saturday Evening Post, Vol. 177, Iss. 52, June 24, 1905, pp.3-5,16), in which Michelson’s protagonist covers a suffrage convention. Michelson based the story on her experiences as a San Francisco Call reporter covering the 1895 Woman’s Congress of the Pacific Coast. The episode follows the series’s journalist-heroine Rhoda Massey as she competes with male reporters for a big convention scoop. Rhoda, a seasoned reporter for the San Francisco News, triumphs, thanks to her alliance with another “lady journalist,” a rookie reporter for the small-town Milpitas Mercury.

For further information on Michelson, read this interview with Harrison-Kahan on the New York Public Library blog and this piece for on how the seeds of the #MeToo movement were sown a century ago. See also Harrison-Kahan’s article on Michelson and Elizabeth Jordan, “The Girl Reporter in Fact and Fiction: Miriam Michelson’s New Women and Periodical Culture in the Progressive Era,” which appeared in the academic journal Legacy (Vol. 34, No. 2 2017, pp.321-338), and can be found in JStor at this stable link.

NEW RESEARCH, VIDEO INTERVIEW: Tiffany Lewis: “Mediating Political Mobility as Stunt Girl Entertainment: The Newspaper Coverage of the Suffragists Hike to Albany”

Tiffany Lewis (CUNY-Baruch) acknowledges that the welcome avalanche of mainstream press coverage of New York’s suffrage hikers indeed subverted aspects of the suffragists’ purpose. For as the women walked the 170 miles from New York City to Albany in December 1912, the press often mocked and made light of their trek. She further contends that by portraying their pilgrimage as a journey of “adventurous, determined, and emotional heroines of an action-packed serial,” the press managed to publicize, represent and domesticate the meaning of the women’s public mobility in a way that made their activism seem less alarming and more intriguing

In the video interview below, Dr. Lewis responds to the questions: What prompted you to write about this topic and what, during your research, surprised or fascinated you about what you learned? (This page will take you to all the synopses of articles in American Journalism’s special issue, “Women’s Suffrage and the Media.”) Here are the links to the article. Taylor & Francis opened access for the period, April 15-July 15, 2019.

Pages: 32-50
Published online: 11 Apr 2019

NEW HISTORIOGRAPHY, VIDEO, PODCAST INTERVIEWS: Linda Lumsden, “Historiography: Women’s Suffrage and the Media”

Linda Lumsden’s (University of Arizona) introduces our special issue of American Journalism, with a prodigious historiography of suffrage and the media research across the past half-century. Decade by decade, she traces the scholarly research trends—and gaps—from the recovery efforts in the 1970s, through the cultural-historical and media coverage analyses in the 1980s, to intersectional approaches of black feminist scholars in the 1990s that challenged earlier accounts. As the century turned, scholars considered suffragists’ contributions to consumer culture and cast a critical eye on the visual rhetoric of spectacle in the form of parades and the White House pickets. By 2017, as the national centennial celebration commenced, three new books reflected on “the golden media effect” of elites with style, money and celebrity-like appeal who became engaged with the movement in its final decade. Much suffrage media research has been piecemeal, Lumsden argues. She calls for fresh comprehensive examinations of how U.S. suffrage print culture drew women into the public sphere and changed them both. Listen as Dr. Lumsden discusses her historiography for this episode of the Journalism History podcast.

In the video below, Dr. Lumsden expounds briefly on what emerged from her work on the historiography of research into the subject of women’s suffrage and the media, from the 1970s through the decades until today. (This page will take you to all the synopses of articles in American Journalism‘s special issue, “Women’s Suffrage and the Media.”) The direct links to the article are below. Taylor & Francis opened full access for the period April 15-July 15, 2019.

Pages: 4-31
Published online: 11 Apr 2019


NEW RESEARCH, INTERVIEW, PODCAST: Amy Easton-Flake: “Fiction and Poetry in the Revolution and the Woman’s Journal: Clarifying History”

Amy Easton-Flake (Brigham Young University) analyzes—in tandem for the first time—the literary works that appeared in the Revolution, the organ of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and the Women’s Journal, published by the American Woman Suffrage Association. Easton-Flake finds that the fiction and poems were an integral part of each journal’s polemics as the fiction and poems they published articulated and advocated their organization’s respective views of the new woman and the changes most needed for her advancement. Listen to Dr. Easton-Flake talk about her research for the Journalism History podcast.

Here, Dr. Easton-Flake (Brigham Young University) responds to the questions: What prompted you to choose this topic and what surprised or fascinated you as you conducted your research? (This page will take you to all the synopses of articles in American Journalism’s special issue, “Women’s Suffrage and the Media.”):


“My article focuses on the poems, short stories, and novels that appeared in the early years of the Woman’s Journal (1870-71) and the Revolution (1868-May 1870). I am fascinated by the many novels written for and against woman’s suffrage, and the ways in which they complemented more polemical genres by personalizing political conflict, fostering sympathetic identification, and providing a safe space for authors to imagine and illustrate female citizens and how suffrage would improve or hurt families and society.  For those interested in the topic, Leslie Petty’s Romancing the Vote (2006) and Mary Chapman and Angela Mill’s Treacherous Texts: U.S. Suffrage Literature, 1846-1946 (2011) are must reads.


“I decided to specifically focus on the literary works appearing in the Woman’s Journal and the Revolution for a couple of reasons. First, blanket stereotypes about the American Association and National Association are well known, but the reality is much murkier as many of these stereotypes do not hold up under a close analysis of the pages of their journals. In focusing on the literary works and the polemical texts that surround them, I hoped to bring clarity to what defined and separated these two organizations. Second, knowing that Elizabeth Cady Stanton had approached Harriet Beecher Stowe to write a suffrage novel and to take over as editor of the Revolution (Stowe turned down the offer), I was intrigued to see how Cady Stanton had used literary works to further the causes she promoted in the Revolution.


“What most surprised me during the research process was how many poems in each of the organs did not have an overtly polemical message (in contrast, most of the short stories are overtly polemical). This is particularly true of the Woman’s Journal where of the 160 poems that appear in the journal during its first year of publication only eight (a mere 5 percent) deal with women’s rights, wrongs, or advancing in some way women’s place beyond that of wife and mother. This fact caused me to re-think the many different ways that literary works could contribute to a polemical agenda. For instance, in this case, including poetry that celebrated the feminine ideals widely embraced in nineteenth-century America, Lucy Stone implicitly but repeatedly argued that the AWSA’s aims and goals were not revolutionary but in fact compatible with middle-class sensibilities.


“Turning to the Revolution we find many more poems that have an overtly polemical message, but we also find a number of well-known poems on ideal love by famous authors such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Shakespeare, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Analyzing how these re-published poems on ideal love were not at odd with the polemical pieces calling for women’s rights or attacking inequities in the marriage state but in fact complementary was one of the most exciting parts of the research process. Likewise, discovering that the two novels Cady Stanton published in the Revolution focused on men’s mistreatment of women within the private sphere rather than woman suffrage also spurred new insights on what separated and defined the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association.” Below are the links to the article. Taylor & Francis have provided open access for the period April 15-July 15, 2019:


Pages: 32-50
Published online: 11 Apr 2019

Frances E. W. Harper: A Black Suffragist, Abolitionist and Author

In a piece for the Women’s Media Center, English professor Koritha Mitchell exhorts the reader to learn about Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Mitchell’s piece on Harper’s life is a good place to start that education.

Harper was a dedicated activist, poet, public speaker and author who fought for suffrage, the abolition of slavery and civil rights.

Mitchell highlights Harper’s split with suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She writes:

Even though she commanded considerable audiences, Watkins Harper remained subject to racism, making her refusal to abandon predominantly white organizations all the more admirable. In 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton effectively left the American Equal Rights Association because it was supporting the Fifteenth Amendment, which would institute black male suffrage before white women won the vote. Refusing to follow Anthony and Stanton, Watkins Harper noted that she could not rely on white women to prioritize the concerns of their nonwhite sisters.

Indeed, Stanton had drawn a clear line years earlier, in the December 1865 issue of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. She explained that white women had been staunch supporters of securing “freedom for the Negro.” However, in light of emancipation, the Negro is no longer “lowest in the scale of being,” and “it becomes a serious question whether we had better stand aside and see ‘Sambo’ walk into the kingdom first.”

Such remarks may have sparked Harper’s 1866 observation: “I do not believe that white women are dew-drops just exhaled from the skies. I think that like men they may be divided into three classes, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.” Always uncompromising, Harper continued to command respect. She spoke at the 1888 International Council of Women convention. This gathering was organized by Anthony and Stanton’s National Woman Suffrage Association for the purpose of linking women’s organizations from around the world. (It still exists today.)

Read Mitchell’s full piece at the Women’s Media Center here.

WNYC had a segment on Harper’s clash with white suffragists in July 2012.

To learn more about the life of Harper, here are some links to scholarly work, including some free articles:

Frances Watkins Harper and the Search for Women’s Interracial Alliances, chapter five in Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Full PDF for free here.

Harper, Historiography, and the Race/Gender Opposition in Feminism, Pilot Scholars. Full PDF for free here.

Reconstructing the Nation: Frances Harper, Charlotte Forten, and the Racial Politics of Periodical Publication, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society. Full PDF for free here.

The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, Anita HillAmerican Literature.

“The White Women All Go for Sex”: Frances Harper on Suffrage, Citizenship, and the Reconstruction SouthAfrican American Review.

“In the Sunny South”: Reconstructing Frances Harper as SouthernSouthern Quarterly.

“Are Women People?” The Poetry of Alice Duer Miller

“Are women people?” It’s a question you may have seen floating around the Internet lately, an absurd line calling attention to patriarchy, sexism and the dehumanization of women.

But the line did not come out of nowhere. It has a very specific history that begins with Alice Duer Miller.

Miller was a Barnard College-graduate who made her mark as a writer for publications like Harper’s and Scribner’s. She also advised the New Yorker and wrote screenplays. Later in life, she wrote the story-poem “The White Cliffs,” a work published in 1940 that encouraged the U.S. to join England in World War II. It became her most famous work and was turned into a movie.

The line “Are women people?” is the title of a series of pieces she wrote for the New York Tribune, the newspaper owned by the Whig Party advocate Horace Greeley, from 1914-1917, the year New York voted to give women the right to vote.

Those columns featured Miller’s poetic, satirical send-ups of those who were anti-suffrage. For instance, here’s Miller’s poem “Why We Oppose Pockets for Women”:

1. Because pockets are not a natural right.

2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did they would have them.

3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them.

4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets.

5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.

6. Because it would destroy man’s chivalry toward woman, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.

7. Because men are men, and women are women. We must not fly in the face of nature.

8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters. We see no reason to suppose that women would use them more wisely.

The Hairpin has printed more of her columns here.

Miller’s “Are Women People” poems were collected and published in a book called Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times. You can read the entire book for free here on Project Gutenberg, a website featuring free books for download.

A pair not published in the book concern the abrupt resignation of Dudley Field Malone in September 1917 from his plum patronage post in the Woodrow Wilson administration, expressly to protest the president’s unwillingness to support the federal women’s suffrage amendment. Three years later, Malone would marry Doris Stevens, the suffrage leader and Alice Paul’s aide de camp. This is the poem that appeared in the Tribune on September 16, 1917:

Some men believe in suffrage

In a peculiar way,

They think that it is coming fast

But should not come to-day.

And others work and speak for it,

And yet you’ll sometimes find

Behind their little suffrage speech

A little axe to grind.

They put their Party interests first,

And suffrage well behind.

Of men who care supremely

That justice should be shown,

Who do not balk at sacrifice,

And make the cause their own,

I know, I think, of only one,

That’s Dudley Field Malone.


And, a month later, on October 14, 1917. she wrote of Byron Newton, Wilson’s choice for Malone’s successor at the port:

To Byron R. Newton

“Every true woman knows . . . Those things which God Almight and Nature designed them to do . . . ” Anti-suffrage interview of Mr. Newton

O, Mr. Newton, are you really sure

You know what each true woman knows and thinks?

No wonder that you go your way secure,

A wise young Oedipus to that old sphinx.

The woman question: it cannot perplex

Your intuition: many men are loath

To boast of understanding either sex,

But you, I gather, understand them both.

You, if I read you rightly, understand

Not only all that women know and hope,

But everything which God and Nature planned

In evolution. So, we cry with Pope:

‘Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night:

God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light.”


She ends her column with the following:

“The former Collector of the Port Dudley Field Malone resigned his post because the Administration was not taking a sufficiently active stand on woman suffrage. The new Collector is a violent anti-suffragist. If the Administration becomes more aggressive in its suffrage policy, will Mr. Newton show the same sincerity and courage that Mr. Malone showed—and resign?”


You can also read her columns in original newspaper form by utilizing the Fulton History website. Search “Alice Duer Miller” “Are Women People” for a list of her newspaper poems, which you can then read in PDF form. If you know the newspaper page and date of the column, you can also search by that.

If you have access to academic databases, you can read English scholar Mary Chapman’s analysis of Miller’s poetry and politics in this piece for the journal American Literary History. You can also search for that article on JStor.

The Journal of American Culture published this analysis of Miller’s humorous poetry.


“A Tract in Fiction”: Woman Suffrage Literature and the Struggle for the Vote


This paper examines some of the ways suffragists used literature to negotiate empowerment in the context of their political campaign. The texts under scrutiny functioned as political tools on many levels: they mocked and subverted male authority, they expressed women’s views, they tried to educate and galvanize supporters. They point to a belief in the power of the word to change the world, both on paper and in the streets.

The full text of this article is available to download from the European Journal of American Studies website.

Women’s Magazines in the 19th Century

Article abstract:

As women became key consumers of household goods in the 19th century and gradually expanded their roles into spheres outside the family, popular culture publications directed at this audience grew dramatically. Most of these publications took some stance on women’s suffrage, and a surprising number were pro-suffrage, since women’s magazines offered women their first socially accepted professional opportunities, so that working professional women formed the staffs and controlled the contents of many women’s magazines.

Eventually, the suffrage movement itself created magazines whose sole purpose was to carry the suffrage message to women. Part I of this article explores the growth of a new mass medium that gave women power as a cultural force, in magazines targeted toward women, while Part II examines how one specialized publication, Lucy Stone’s Woman’s Journal, popularized the suffrage message.

A preview of the article, as well as options for renting or buying the full text, is available from Wiley Online. Academic libraries are also likely to have a copy of the article; you can check WorldCat to see if there is one near you.

Analyzing the Effectiveness of The Remonstrance, an Anti-Suffrage Publication

Elizabeth Burt examines the publication The Remonstrance, a journal published by the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women, a women’s group strongly opposed to the suffrage movement.

This is the abstract for the article:

This article examines the anti-suffrage ideology, rhetoric, and structure of The Remonstrance, the publication of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. As a countermovement publication, The Remonstrance was principally reactive, that is, driven to respond to suffrage claims and strategies. Basic themes illustrated the ideology of the anti-suffrage movement. Further, the anti-suffrage ideology was reflected in the organizational structure of both the MAOFESW and The Remonstrance. Although they changed over time, they failed to keep step with the broad social changes affecting women’s lives in the early twentieth century.

Burt concludes by writing that while the publication may have voiced a majority view when it began in 1890, “over the next thirty years they became rhetorically and strategically trapped by their negative and reactive stance.” The Remonstrance, she argues, was unable to create new and persuasive arguments against women’s voting rights, and therefore failed to develop a mass base of support that could defeat the suffrage movement.

This article is only available in academic databases. You can access it by searching for it on EBSCO Discovery Service or by going to this link, where you can buy short term access. The article can also be found at many libraries; find one near you using WorldCat.

You can read a copy of a The Remonstrance issue at the Library of Congress.

For more information on women who opposed suffrage, see this academic article in The History Teacher or this PhD dissertation on anti-suffrage activism in New York.

For more information on how periodicals covered suffrage, see Sheila Webb’s article on The Woman Citizen; Linda Steiner’s chapter “19th Century Suffrage Periodicals: Conceptions of Womanhood and the Press”; the book Women’s Periodicals in the United States: Social and Political Issues Tracy Kulba and Victoria Lamont’s article “The Periodical Press and Western Woman’s Suffrage Movements in Canada and the United States: A Comparative Study“;  the book A Voice of Their Own: The Woman Suffrage Press, 1840-1910; Linda Steiner’s “Finding Community in Nineteenth Century Suffrage Periodicals“; “A New Generation,” in Women of the Washington Press: Politics, Prejudice, and Persistence; and Women and The Press: The Struggle for Equality.

The Male Madonna and the Feminine Uncle Sam: Visual Argument, Icons, and Ideographs in 1909 Anti-Woman Suffrage Postcards


In 1909, at the height of the woman suffrage controversy and during the golden age of postcards, the Dunston-Weiler Lithograph Company of New York produced a twelve-card set of full-color lithographic cartoon postcards opposing woman suffrage. The postcard images reflect, and depart from, verbal arguments concerning woman suffrage prevalent during this period. They reflect arguments against suffrage that highlighted the coarsening effect the vote would have on women. The postcards also present an argument that was absent in the verbal discourse surrounding suffrage: that men (and the nation) would become feminized by woman suffrage. Accordingly, these postcards offer a productive location in which to explore how the icons of the Madonna and Uncle Sam, as well as non-iconic images of women, were deployed to reiterate the disciplinary norms of the ideographs of <woman> and <man>.

You can purchase a copy of this article via Taylor & Francis Online. College and public libraries are also likely to have access; check WorldCat to see if there’s one near you.