Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tea and a Giveaway!

Tea and rebellion are part of our American heritage.  So it isn't surprising that one of the marketing strategies used by suffragists highlighted colonial history by selling tea themselves.  This particularly clever campaign came out of California in 1911 when suffragists there tried to obtain the vote for themselves.

One of the ways that the women combined fund raising with propaganda was by selling tea.  Two different groups in that state sold packages of tea.

"Equality tea" was sold in Northern California.
The packages were sold at grocers, by mail, and at fairs.  I like the way the group chose this pretty woman to be advertised as one of the women selling tea:

The suffragists in northern California even opened a tea room at their party headquarters.

"Votes for Women Tea" was sold in Southern California.  I couldn't find an image of the packages but I do know that Mrs. R. L. Craig, a well known grocer, was a driving force for suffrage and selling the tea.  She was also the only woman in the local grocer association.

California suffragists were lucky.  In October of 1911, California became the sixth state to grant women the right to vote.

This story may give you an idea for a quilt.  I have made numerous tea cup quilts and I know there are free patterns for paper-pieced and appliqued patterns for tea cups.

Today we are also sponsoring a giveaway!  Many of us experience what I call a "February Funk" this time of year.  Would two packs of batik charm packs perk you up?  Well we are sponsoring a giveaway that will end on Saturday night.
Just for fun, tell me what warm drink cheers you up this time of year!  Leave a comment on this post or email me at
Have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 27, 2020


A lot has been going on and I wanted to update all of you on some of the latest suffrage news.

First off I have received wonderful emails from many of you and even photos of the quilts you are working on!  We are delighted with your enthusiasm!  

I love the ingenuity and creativity I'm seeing in your photos.  I won't post photos of the quilts until after the July 4, 2020 deadline but I will share with you one creative solution that Kathleen C. shared with us.  It's fairly difficult to find ribbon with yellow, white and purple.  Enter Kathleen C. who made this wonderful ribbon by combining three kinds of ribbons to get the absolutely perfect combination:
She glued the ribbons together and it makes a wonderful suffrage pin!

If you are sponsoring or planning a suffrage event, you may find Kathleen's ingenious idea helpful!

Next on the agenda are some dates that I will be doing speaking on various suffrage topics. 

Suffrage Gardens and the 1915 Campaign
Yes, there were suffrage gardens!  Invented by Pennsylvania suffragists, the gardens became a nationwide phenomenon.  I will warn you that there is very little information about the gardens on the web (I'll be doing a blog post on them in late May) which is why I copyrighted this particular lecture.  

Now I know that many quilters are gardeners as well.  You may wish to know more about the gardens and I'll be giving this lecture at a variety of places including two public venues:

Schwenfelder Library and Heritage Center:  March 11, 2020

Historic Bethlehem:  May 2, 2020

By the Chimney No More:  Women and Quilting from 1865 to 1920

Historic Bethlehem:  June 13, 2020

Beth and I are giving this lecture at many quilt guilds this year but if you are unable to attend the lecture at your guild or your guild hasn't booked us, feel free to contact Historic Bethlehem for a ticket.  My understanding is they are announcing the programs in February, so I would wait until next month to contact them.

Suffrage in the Valley

Historic Bethlehem:  August 15, 2020

This lecture discusses some of the suffrage work that was done in the Lehigh Valley.  We chose this date because it is so close to the actual centennial.  Discussion will include local suffragists, prominent suffragists who visited this area, and other aspects of the suffrage cause.

Looking forward to seeing some of you at these events!  Have a wonderful day and keep those emails coming!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Fashion Police

Women generally don't like men dictating to them and they really don't like men dictating what they should wear.  In 1913 a new fashion emerged and v-shaped and round necklines were introduced and quickly condemned in some religious circles, even in Europe.

Enter Louis H. Capelle of Cincinnati, Ohio.  A state representative, he introduced a bill to "prescribe the fashions to be worn by the women in the state of Ohio."  Capelle sought to form a commission who would dictate women's garments--in particular to limit the neckline to "not more than two inches of the neck, below the chin."  Other regulations included a ban on transparent stockings, and to ban lace and embroider on dresses "through which the color of the skin may be distinguished."
There was even going to be a commission formed to oversee women's garments.  The commission would consist of men between the ages of 30-50 and for some reason, "not more than 2 of them would have to be married and of good moral character.  One of the members had to be an ordained minister, one a parent of not less than three children, and the third a social settlement worker."  Ohio it seems was to have their own fashion police force.
Now normally I wouldn't place an article about this on this blog but apparently it made national headlines and was a topic of discussion in suffrage circles around the country.  Even the Women's Christian Temperance Union scoffed at the plan as evidenced by an article published in Ohio and Mrs. Albaugh, a prominenet temperance leader:

But the best comment of all came at a Suffrage Sewing Circle in New York.   The women lamented the lack of input Ohio women had in their legislature while they hemmed "dusters", long cleaning aprons.  They were about to embark on a housecleaning venture to raise money for the cause.  Mrs. Ella Guilford a well known suffragist made a hilarious comment and it was syndicated throughout the country:

The Capelle Act was neither debated nor introduced for a vote.  

Monday, January 20, 2020

Lifting as We Climb

As our country celebrates Martin Luther King today, I thought it would be a great day to celebrate some of the African American suffragists who fought for our right to vote!

Some of these women you have heard of--like Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)
After the Civil War, Tubman continued to work for full equality of all human beings and supported the suffrage movement.

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery and endured terrible cruelties until she escaped in 1827.  

Her actual birth name was Isabelle Baumfree.  She became a minister and a well known speaker during the religious revival period of the 19th century.  She was an abolitionist, supported both women's suffrage and temperance, and civil rights.  She was also the first African American woman to win a court case against a white man.  Her son had been sold illegally to a planter in Alabama.  She won the case and her son.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Her most well known speech is referred to as "Ain't I a Woman?" and I think you might be interested in learning about the Sojourner Truth Project and the efforts to actually quote her actual speech.  You can read about that here.

There is a reason why African American feminists are bitter about how suffrage is often relayed.  Too often the stories told (even on this blog) focus on white suffragists.  Suffrage remained segregated by race throughout the struggle.  A good case in point is the 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington D.C.  When 60 African American women wanted to join the parade, it created a controversy.  Southern suffragists threatened to abandon participation.  It was only when the Male Suffrage League (yes there was one and that is a later blog post) volunteered to march between the African American women and the white women did the southern suffragists agree to march.  The African American women were relegated to the end of the parade.
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

One of those women marching was Ida B. Wells a prominent suffragist who had also challenged lynching.  When an article of hers was published in Memphis that opposed lynching, threats to lynch her was so great that she could not return to Memphis.  We will talk about her more later this year.

Thursday, January 16, 2020


In case you missed it yesterday, the state of Virginia became the 38th state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.  

And of course, it's controversial.

So here's the story.  Alice Paul did not rest on her laurels after the 19th Amendment was ratified.  Instead she began working on what was originally called the Lucretia Mott Amendment (see here for more on Lucretia) or the Equal Rights Amendment.  By 1923, the amendment was introduced into Congress.  The amendment did not pass and by the 1940s it was renamed the Alice Paul Amendment.   

In case you hadn't realized it by now, any legislation empowering women appears to take a long time to become law. 

So the saga continued until 1972 when both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives passed the bill.  Just like the 19th Amendment, 38 states were required to ratify the amendment.  It seemed a no brainer at the time.  What could be so debatable about this:

Section 1 Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2 The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3 This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Except of course, it was controversial.

In the midst of the debate, a cartoon of the time appears to mimic the same kind of propoganda that resisted the suffrage movement.

A woman named Phyllis Shafley headed up a STOP ERA campaign.  You can read about it here.  Be sure to check out the irony in the article--Shafley herself earned a salary but believed that women should be at home and not earning a living.  What the STOP people did was actually galvanize a lot of young women (including myself) to support "Women's Lib" as it was called at the time.  I even sewed this symbol on a jacket I had at the time:
The bill had 10 years to be ratified (the 7 year time limit was extended 3 more years) and fell three states short.  

In an unprecedented turn, five states even rescinded their approval of the bill:  Kentucky, Idaho, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota.  I still haven't found any constitutional scholars who can agree if that is even possible.

So here we are.  100 years after gaining the right to vote.  It's our Centennial and if it no longer binding that Virginia's vote counts, then let's re-introduce and the bill and pass it on this historical year.  I suggest you call or email your representatives and tell them that you want to see this amendment passed.

I recommend reading this particular article which in many ways summarizes much of what this blog has relayed and why we still need this amendment:
Virginia votes on the Equal Rights Amendment again.  And it's debt settling time.  Read it here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Suffrage Dramas--as in the Theatre

By the twentieth century, suffrage was a topic that was illustrated in dramas.  One of the most famous plays was by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (author of The Yellow Wallpaper) who wrote the play Three Women and Something to Vote For.

Here is an article from my own hometown about a different play that was produced here in 1917:

What do you notice about this article?  
I noticed that the emphasis was on the male actors and not the idea of suffrage....

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Bee

"Fancy work" was the name often referred to decorative needlework  done on a variety of textiles.  Just about everything you could think of was embellished.  I've even seen ads for embroidery patterns for bags to hold soiled handkerchiefs :)
Here are a few things from my collection:
Splasher--usually hung above a basin and wash pitcher to protect the wall from bathing water.

Tobacco bag

Pin cushion

Button Bag

  So it isn't surprising that suffragists used their sewing skills to raise funds for the cause.  Selling different sewn objects was often a lucrative money maker at bazaars.

From Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Sunday, January 5, 2020

If you live in Ohio...

Good Morning!  We are all recovered from a hectic holiday week and I hope you are doing well!

If you live in Ohio and are near Ohio State University, you may want to visit the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library.  The Library is featuring an exhibit of women cartoonists called Ladies First:  A Century of Women's Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art until May 3rd of this year.
Nina Allender 1873-1957

Among the artists featured is Nina Allender.  She was the illustrator for the The Suffragist magazine published by the National Woman's Party.  I've already used some of her illustrations here .

Image result for nina allender changing fashion illustration

The Smithsonian website published an article about the exhibit here.   You can read about the hours the exhibit is open and more about the location at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum here.

You may not realize it but Allender in particular contributed to attracting younger women to the suffrage cause.  A great piece on the "Allender Girl" can be found here.

Have a great day!