Media-related Ephemera in the University of Rochester’s Trove of Suffrage Material

In March 2017, the University of Rochester acquired a number of never-before-seen letters, ephemera, and other documents sent to and collected by Isabella Beecher Hooker, a lecturer and activist who fought for women’s suffrage.

The letters, discovered in an attic, include missives authored by suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These letters, as well as newspaper clippings, petitions, resolutions, are digitized here.

The University of Rochester explained more about the documents in a press release:

A recently discovered trove of letters, speeches, petitions, photographs, and pamphlets—forgotten for a century in attics, barns, and on porches—now opens a window onto the quotidian details of that historic movement. Originally owned by suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker, the collection includes dozens of letters from fellow movement leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The collection has now found a new home in the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation (RBSCP).

Part of a notable family of reformers, Hooker was the daughter of the Reverend Lyman Beecher and a half-sister of social reformer and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, educator Catharine Beecher, and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe.

TIME magazine published  one of the discovered letters from Anthony and Stanton.

But it is not only letters contained in this trove. The collection includes newspaper articles and resolutions on women’s suffrage.

One of the documents in the collection is an 1871 resolution adopted by the Republican State Convention of Massachusetts. The resolution demands the right to vote for “all law-abiding, tax-paying American citizens, and will hail the day when the educated intellect and enlightened woman finds direct expression at the ballot box.” Read the resolution here.

A January 1872 newspaper article from The National Republican, available here, reports on a thousand women from Albany, New York who came to the U.S. Senate to protest “against female suffrage.”

Another document from 1872 (seen here), addressed to the “editors of the United States,” invites the media to publish pro-suffrage arguments in the aftermath of the U.S. Senate refusing to hear from them in person and not printing their arguments alongside a Senate document against suffrage.

Other documents that are not digitized, but can be found in person, are detailed here. They include a leaflet that “calls for the women journalists covering the Centennial Exposition to be properly recognized and allowed to practice journalism,” and a “letter to the editor like article from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Victoria Woodhull.”

For more information, read this New York Times article on the recently discovered documents, or watch a video produced by the university below.

To learn how to access this archival collection in person, click here .  You can access digitized copies of documents here.

Digital Exhibit: Arkansas Women’s Suffrage Centennial

This virtual exhibit is part of the Arkansas Women’s Suffrage Centennial, a project that “commemorates the 100th anniversary of the right to vote for women in Arkansas by promoting events, encouraging research and education programs related to women’s suffrage, and helping to preserve the history of women’s suffrage within the state.”

The exhibit features a number of galleries, which include information as well as photographs and original documents from the suffrage era and focus on topics ranging from African-American suffragists to suffrage fashion.

Of particular interest is the exhibit’s media gallery, which features documents, cartoons, drawings, and photographs and includes this delightful suffrage fashion gallery.

Library of Congress National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

This extensive digitized collection from the Library of Congress contains hundreds of suffrage-era resources related to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, a prominent American suffrage organization whose founders included Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The collection consists of a wide array of media, including books, pamphlets, scrapbooks, newspapers, and posters.

The following description comes from the Library of Congress overview of the collection:

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Collection is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign. They were collected between 1890 and 1938 by members of NAWSA and donated to the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress on November 1, 1938. The bulk of the collection is derived from the library of Carrie Chapman Catt, president of NAWSA from 1900-1904, and again from 1915-1920. Additional materials were donated to the NAWSA Collection from the libraries of other members and officers, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Stone Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and Mary A. Livermore.

The complete collection consists of a variety of materials—newspapers, books, pamphlets, memorials, scrapbooks, and proceedings from the meetings of various women’s organizations—documenting the suffrage fight.

The materials in the collection amount to approximately 65,683 pages and can be broken down as follows:

Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37,382

Memorials . . . . . . . . . . . . 278

Pamphlets . . . . . . . . . . . 4,165

Proceedings/Reports . . . 2,058

Serials . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21,800

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . 65,683

This online selection was based on a number of user groups in mind: students at both the high school and college levels interested in developing a basic understanding of the suffrage movement; teachers of courses at these levels; and advanced scholars engaged in research. In all cases, materials were selected that  best represented the NAWSA organization and its place in the woman suffrage campaign.

Users should note that the collection mirrors the biases of NAWSA’s membership. For the most part, it represents the concerns of well-educated, middle- and upper-class white women living in the North, and especially in New England. There is little in the collection to document the role of Southern women or women of color. Working-class women receive a slightly larger share of attention, but, for the most part, the collection details the experiences of the affluent white women who formed the suffrage campaign’s leadership cadre.

Click here to view other NAWSA-related resources from Women’s Suffrage and the Media.

The Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection

The Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection is a privately owned collection of over 1,200 postcards, books, periodicals, and more on the suffrage era.

Readers can browse the following collections:

Each item includes a detailed description, permissions, and citation information.

Some gems from the site include this 1924 clipping from The Literary Digest declaring suffrage a failure and this 1915 postage stamp labelled, “Votes for Women, Pennsylvania.”

About the collector (from the website):

Ann F. Lewis was Senior Advisor to the 2008 Presidential Campaign of Hilary Rodham Clinton. She served as White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton; as Vice President for Planned Parenthood Federation of America; as Political Director of the Democratic National Committee; and as Chief of Staff to then Congresswoman, now Senator Barbara Mikulski. Lewis has been a visiting lecturer at Brandeis University, and at the Annenberg School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was one of the founding members of the National Women’s Political Caucus.


Lucy Stone’s Letters on Suffrage, Abolition, and Labor

Lucy Stone was a famous abolitionist, suffrage activist, writer, and organizer. From 1843 to 1847, Stone attended Ohio’s Oberlin College, the first US college to admit both men and women.

Two of Stone’s letters, as well as one article she wrote, are preserved in the Oberlin College Archives. Typed versions of the documents can be found on the Archives’ website. They capture some of Stone’s thinking on slavery, abolition, women’s suffrage, and the labor movement.

The first document is a letter Stone sent to her friend and fellow Oberlin alumna Antoinette Brown Blackwell in 1870. The letter concerns an effort to consolidate two suffrage organizations, the National Woman Suffrage Association and Stone’s own American Woman Suffrage Association, despite their divergent political views. Stone urges Blackwell to attend a meeting to prevent this consolidation, though she does not fully explain her motive for doing so in the letter itself. The context for the letter is that Stone and Blackwell opposed suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton was not an abolitionist and opposed the 15th Amendment giving black people voting rights. Stone, then, wanted to prevent merging with Stanton’s organization, which would Stone felt would “besmirch” her own group.

The second document is an excerpt from an article Stone wrote about the women’s suffrage movement for an Oberlin publication. In it, Stone laments the fact that women and Confederate leader Jefferson Davis are now equal in the sense that neither can vote. She concludes by writing, “I stand here in Oberlin begging pardon for going beyond the limit of my subject to say, O men who have been so wise, so kind, and so just to women, take one step more and help lift us from peerage with Jefferson Davis.”

The third document is a letter about the Homestead Strike, when unionized workers went on strike at a Carnegie Steel Company plant. Carnegie brought in private security guards from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to break the strike, but their presence sparked a firefight with the striking workers. Stone expresses some conservative views, including this one regarding immigrant women’s hypothetical eligibility to vote: “When I saw what ‘furies’ the women made of themselves at the time of the Pinkerton slaughter it seems to me we must claim that women who are to vote must have been 21 years in the country first. In the time they may, free from old world ideas, have learned some self-control.”

The Oberlin College Archives website provides more historical context on Stone’s letters. You can view a timeline of Stone’s life, also courtesy of Oberlin, here.