Thursday, April 30, 2020

The New Silent Sentinels

The Silent Sentinels quietly protested the lack of women's suffrage in 1917.

Last week I saw a different trend during this pandemic.  

Whether I talked to friends or family, read blog or facebook posts, morale had dropped and despair had crept into people's rhetoric.

Perhaps it was the length of time in lockdown, or anxiety about money, or the vague feeling of insecurity that limbo creates.  But there was another factor that we can't discount--the images and footage of unmasked and armed people express their frustration at state capitals--and towards healthcare workers.

It seemed that during the weeks before the protests, folks attempted to face the epidemic and shoulder the burden together. The ugliness that filled our screens last week knocked the wind out of us many of us.   I'm not suggesting the protests were the only reason for the drop in morale; my friend Chris who is a therapist, suggested it was a likely combination of some if not all of the factors listed above.

What struck me in all of this was the healthcare workers who tried to block the demonstrators, donned only in their scrubs and masks in what can only be referred to as a Tiananmen Square moment.   And then I realized it:

They are the Silent Sentinels of our era.  

Like the Silent Sentinels, the healthcare workers at the protests were predominately women.  In 1917, the Silent Sentinels stood silently outside the White House and many simply held banners demanding the vote.  Similarly, the nurses did not engage in conversation with the protestors.  Many stood stoically with their arms crossed in front of them.  Some of them in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.  held up signs, "I don't want you in my ICU, Go Home!"  

Horror is horror and I'm fairly certain that Chris the therapist would agree.  I can't imagine being incarcerated in a rat infested jail and beaten and tortured.  I also cannot imagine devoting my career to healing and then have to helplessly witness patient after patient gurgle and gasp for their last breath.

I don't know how biker boys or screaming girls thought they could intimidate healthcare workers.  These nurses and doctors have confronted the devil and that demon's name is Covid 19.   All video footage of the workers share one commonality--a haunted horrified expression in their eyes and affect.  

None of these workers will be the same again. Most will deal with PTSD later on. We don't know what happened to many of the Silent Sentinels later in their life--there is simply no research available on many of them.  But  I do know that some of them had PTSD later in life.  Kate Heffelfinger of Shamokin, Pennsylvania for example, died in 1958 committed to a mental asylum.

Kate Heffelfinger

 Other healthcare workers are taking their own lives and making a choice like Silent Sentinel Annie Arniel who committed suicide in 1924.
Annie Arniel

My father used to tell me people always have a choice: be part of the problem or part of the solution.  This week, I witnessed people in my own neighborhood choose to be part of the solution--or at least express gratitude to counter the ugliness.  Some have put lovely signs in their front yards, others like me are on a budget so we put hand made signs on our doors with messages like:

Thank you Healthcare workers!  
Thank you Essential workers!  
We ❤ nurses and doctors!

I've hung photos of the New Silent Sentinels in my sewing room.  Their courage inspires me--in the hospitals and in the community.   Like many of you, I'm tired of sewing masks but it is the one thing I can contribute these days.

The Great Depression lasted 12 years; we are only in the opening months of the pandemic.  Still, there is hope on the horizon as Oxford scientists report they are seeing good results in a vaccine they are developing and other scientists are hopeful about possible cures.  Until then, we need to bring out the best of each of us.  We take care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors in whatever way we can.

I don't know who said this, but it isn't original:  "Hate is easy; love takes courage."

Thank you to all who have had the love and courage to enable the rest of us to continue living our lives.

Tomorrow we will return to celebrating our suffragists and share in Flower Fridays.

Stay safe and well!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Suffrage Cookbooks

"I made meatballs with ground Turkey tonight!  Delicious!" my cousin posted this morning.

Many folks, like Beth and her daughter, are experimenting with sourdough starter and make their own bread.

Last week I posted a photo of "Linda's Spinach Pie" on my other blog and got lots of requests for the recipe (if you want it, email me).

During this pandemic, food has become a frequent topic of conversation.  Many of us are posting what we've been cooking, sharing recipes, and hunting for new things to make for our families.  

I thought this might be the appropriate time to talk about Suffrage Cookbooks.

The first suffrage cookbook was published in the United States in 1886.  One researcher suggested that at least another half dozen were published until 1920.
The original Woman Suffrage Cook Book is now republished and sold on Amazon but you can view it for free on Google Books here.

The cookbooks raised much needed funds for the cause but more importantly, allowed women to counter the stereotype that suffragists were not family oriented and masculine.

In 1915, Pennsylvania suffragists published their own suffrage cookbook:
Yes you can read it for free here.

One of my favorite recipes can be found in this particular publication.

Pie for a Suffragist's Doubting Husband

1 qt. milk human kindness

8 reasons:
White Slavery
Child Labor
8,000,000 Working Women
Bad Roads
Poisonous Water
Impure Food
Mix the crust with tact and velvet gloves, using no sarcasm, especially with the upper crust. Upper crusts must be handled with extreme care for they quickly sour if manipulated roughly.
Have a great day and stay safe!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

1915: The Votes Are In!

In the fall of 1915, four referendums were held in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania; citizens (males) voted whether or not women should have the vote.

The suffragists lost in all four states.

In Massachusetts, the Antis couldn't spell properly, but they did lead an effective campaign.

In New Jersey, every county voted against suffrage.

New Jersey native, Alice Paul,pointed out that a federal amendment was needed instead of a state by state battle.  She would later lead the National Woman's Party (NWP)  A federal amendment would be the singular focus of that organization.

In New York and Pennsylvania, suffrage fared badly in urban areas but illustrated support in some of the outlying areas (with the exception of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which voted in favor).

One of the reasons why it fared so badly in these states was because voters feared an alliance that had been made in the late 19th century between suffragists and the Women's Christian Temperance Union.  Men feared prohibition would occur if women could had the vote.

In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia saloon owners waged their own campaign against women's suffrage.  Breweries (many located west of Philly) not only supplied beer but employed thousands of men.  
Neuweiler Brewery was one of five breweries located within  the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania.  There were 11 breweries in the urban areas of the Lehigh Valley in total:  Bethlehem and Easton each had another 3 breweries.

In all four cases, it was a setback for suffragists but they persisted.  As we mentioned during World War 1 Week, women's war efforts contributed greatly to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

New York altered their state constitution and women there gained full suffrage in 1917.

Women in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania waited for full citizenship until the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Have a nice day and stay well and safe!

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Suffrage Garden--and Flower Fridays

In early 1915, the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association (PWSA) introduced a new initiative to persuade men to vote in favor of women's suffrage.  It was called "The Suffrage Garden" and encouraged women to plant beds of yellow flowers to illustrate their support of the cause.  The gardens quickly became a nationwide phenomenon.

Yellow had long been established as the official color of women's suffrage.  The PWSA sold seeds of annual flowers that would provide yellow blooms throughout the growing season.  Even women in states where women were allowed to vote planted the gardens to show their support for their sisters in non-suffrage states.
This is a part of our history that has long been forgotten.  When I realized there had been suffrage gardens, I had to do my own research because there is very little information available.  It occurred to me as I was writing a (copyrighted) lecture on the gardens that in a sense, this kind of propaganda endured in communities more than other strategies.  The Justice Bell, The Suffrage Torch, and even rallies would come to an area and then move on.  The gardens on the other hand, provided a local reminder as every event, garden party and suffrage tea party used yellow flowers as a backdrop or decor.  

Yellow flowers were suddenly in great demand and as florists scrambled to provide the golden blooms, some suffragists sold their flower bouquets to businesses and then donated their profits to suffrage associations.  "Everyone Wants a Suffrage Garden" a syndicated article published throughout the United States,  described the efforts and inspired others to follow the initiative.

The gardens continued well into 1916 as more suffragists adopted the strategy in their states.  When the United States entered World War 1, these gardens were converted to vegetable gardens and enabled suffragists to supply vegetables as part of the war effort.

And now, let us discuss Flower Fridays.

This spring, I had hoped to encourage readers and locals to place a container of yellow, purple, and white flowers outside their front door as a symbol of gratitude to our foremothers.  The original suffrage gardens consisted of yellow flowers but the Woman's National Party (NWP) had not yet emerged as a militant suffrage force.  NWP colors--as you might 
remember--were yellow, purple and white; this group of women were beaten, spit on, arrested, and even tortured for their desire to obtain full citizenship in this country.

Nina Allender, the illustrator for the NWP newspaper, The Suffragist, frequently used the Suffrage Garden as a metaphor for the women's struggle.
Nina Allender's final illustration of the garden after the 19th Amendment had been passed.

I'm not encouraging you to go out and buy flowers for a container this year.  As a matter of fact, I encourage you to stay in and stay safe.  But joy and gratitude are important parts of the human experience; these qualities assist in keeping us whole and healthy.  

Diversions and coping strategies are integral to surviving these dark days.  So here is what I am suggesting:  why not take photographs of yellow, purple and white flowers and share them with us for Flower Fridays?  Each Friday until our centennial of ratification on August 18, I'll be posting flower photos.   As you take a walk in your neighborhood, work in your garden, or sit in your backyard, snap a photograph.  Let us fill the internet with flowers and gratitude during these bleak days.  It's a simple project but we can all participate--and yes even dandelions are acceptable 😊

Beth, my partner in the By the Chimney No More lecture, has shared a photo to initiate Flower Fridays.  She admits readily that she kills every plant she tries to grow but her husband is a great gardener and got their orchids to bloom this spring.  They just happen to be yellow, white and purple:

A neighbor shared this photo from her daily walk:

Finally, feel free to share flower photos with a single color of yellow, purple, or white or variations:

You can email me your photos to or post them on Fridays on my facebook page:  I'm Mickie McLaughlin with this image for my portrait:  

Dear friends, stay well, stay safe and have a good day.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Justice Bell

Pennsylvanians rarely agree on anything politically but there are a few things we all love:  quilts, cheese steaks, soft pretzels and yes, we love the Liberty Bell.  Here in the Lehigh Valley we even have a deeper attachment: the bell was hidden in the basement of a church here during the revolutionary war.  
The Liberty Bell shrine in Allentown PA.

In 1914, Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger of Philadelphia commissioned a replica of the Liberty Bell to present to the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association (PWSA).  Called "The Justice Bell" it was smaller than the Liberty Bell, made of bronze, did not have a crack, and had the words "ESTABLISH JUSTICE" insribed on the bell.  Most of the press in Pennsylvania and other states hailed the new bell; a ceremony at the foundry where it was cast was held in Troy, NY and was even covered by the "moving pictures" for press footage.

The completion of the bell was fortuitous and just in time for the 1915 campaign.  It weighed 2,000 lbs. and a special cart had to be built to endure the weight.  Throughout the year, the bell was taken to all 67 counties in the state.

The bell was met ceremoniously everwhere it went and provided the suffragists with a steady stream of publicity.  It was here in the Allentown area in August of 1915 and featured prominent speakers everywhere it was taken.

The bell would not be rung until women had achieved full suffrage.  In September of 1920, after the 19th amendment had been ratified, there was a huge ceremony for the ringing of the bell.  Nearly a hundred women and girls participated in the  pageant.  At 4 p.m. on September 25, the bell was rung at Independence Hall.  Throughout the state of Pennsylvania bells were rung in nearly every county simultaneously announcing a new era for women.

The Justice Bell still exists and is housed in the Valley Forge Chapel.  This year a replica of the bell was made to travel throughout the state.  Unfortunately with the pandemic, this will most likely be cancelled as well as most other suffrage ceremonies.  

But wait, there is something we can do this year.  Tomorrow I will tell you about another strategy that Pennsylvania suffragists initiated in 1915.  And I will encourage you to do your part--it's easy and safe--to honor our foremothers and their struggle to insure our full rights of citizenship.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Suffrage Torch Goes to New Jersey

1915 was an exciting year in New Jersey for suffragists.  Much of their strategy centered around rallies which were held around the state.

Women post signs for rally with Dr. Anna Shaw as the key speaker.

The women in New Jersey also adopted some measures found in other states; I will discuss their response to one Pennsylvania strategy in the days to come.

Additionally, New York suffragists decided to share The Suffrage Torch and allow it to raise awareness in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  in August, a special ceremony was scheduled for the NY to NJ hand-off --by boat--in the middle of the Hudson River.  

The press and even "moving cameras" were present.  Boats were decorated and officials from New Jersey also attended.  The New York tug called "Holbrook" chugged across the waters towards the New Jersey dock and waited to be met by the Jersey tug, "The A. W. Smith".  And then the New York women waited and waited.  The New Jersey tugboat did not even leave the dock and as the New Yorkers waited a good 30 minutes, it was learned that the NJ tug had not applied for the proper permit.  Fortunately, a suffrage supporter managed to smooth things out with the steamboat inspectors so that the ceremony could--eventually--go on.
Mrs. Havmeyer of  New York passes the torch to Mrs. Van Winkle of New Jersey.

Local newspapers reported this episode as part of the "Jersey Jinx."  A number of vexing problems had been encountered by New Jersey suffragists.  Not the least of this was a major problem in February, when misplaced commas nearly killed legislation.

This is true, one comma that was misplaced in the paperwork that went from the state house to the state senate almost killed the bill.  The legislation had to be returned to the assembly, re-voted and sent to the senate again.  Newspapers speculated that it seemed that the suffragists were "hoodooed" (great word, means bewitched or bring bad luck).

If this is all that happened, this would be a nice blog post about a tribute to The Statue of Liberty and a nice torch was made and passed around.  But it isn't...
A week after the New Jersey suffragists had taken charge of The Torch, it was stolen from an automobile.  Harriet Stanton Blatch was mad as heck stating:  "Mrs Havemeyer and I guarded the torch in New York and never let it out of our sight.  We even took it to bed with us."  Speculation ensued suggesting the Antis had stolen the torch and a reward of $80 was offered.  A few days later the torch was found by a Wall Street lawyer in a Philadelphia trolley car and returned to the suffragists.  The lawyer declined the reward and the ladies made him an honorary member of the Women's Political Union.  

Yeh!!! The Suffrage Torch is found!  And then...can you believe it....

The torch had been lost again.

A $25 reward was offered for the return of The Torch.

How or where it was retrieved is unknown but it did end up being given from NJ to Easton PA on September 2.  The trail of Torch ends here.  It does not appear to have toured Pennsylvania beyond Easton.  I can't find any more information about the torch--whether it still exists or not or if it's in the collection of a museum.   If you know it still exists, please let me know.

Have a good day and stay safe!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Suffrage Torch of New York

Suffragists from New York state had a symbol of their struggle which they used during the 1915 campaign.  The Suffrage Torch of Liberty went well with the theme of the Statue of Liberty and it was literally carried throughout the state.

The torch was a magnificent piece of carved wood it and was taken through every county of New York during the summer of 1915 and crowds gathered close to the speakers to get a look at the torch.  Each town and city had special ceremonies and speakers promoting the cause of women's right to vote.  Harriet Stanton Blatch herself often participated as a speaker; she was the daughter of suffrage founder, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Another speaker, famed art collector Louisine Havemeyer, stated that the torch "was like the one in our harbor, it stood for liberty and freedom--the freedom we are seeking."  

Havemeyer herself loaned her art collection to a gallery to raise funds for the cause that year.

In May, a suffrage baseball game was held between the Giants and the Cubs that benefited the suffrage organizations.  Suffrage propaganda was given  out at the game and even the score cards requested that the men "give women their turn at the bat."

Various special days were held to illustrate that women should have the vote:  A Grandmother's Day, A Beautiful Baby contest, and even a Happily Married Day to show that men could be content partnered with a suffragist.

By far, the most popular campaign in New York was the Suffrage Torch.  I've never been able to find what happened to the torch but tomorrow, we will learn more about some of the adventures of the mighty torch.

Have a great day and stay well!

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Massachusetts Bluebird

During our Suffrage and Animals post (here) I mentioned that the Bluebird signs were part of Massachusetts 1915 campaign.  One of the things that was integral to the suffrage campaigns in these states was that the women chose benign forms of propaganda so as not to offend the male voters in the autumn referendums.   

On July 19, 1915, women posted 100,000 tin signs around the state to remind men to vote in favor of the women.  Considering all the photography that captures women's suffrage of the early 20th century, it's rather surprising that I couldn't find a photograph of the women posting the signs.  I did find this article and just as a note, sialis sialis is another name for a bluebird (still learning something new every day because of this blog).

The Massachusetts campaign is not one where I found a lot of information other than this sign.  That doesn't mean that they didn't have a strategy, I just haven't found a lot of studies on the suffragists' efforts.  One factor might have been that there were actually three different suffrage groups in the state:  the Massachusetts Woman's Suffrage Association (the oldest suffrage group), the College Equal Suffrage League (for college students and alumna), and the newest group formed in the early 20th century: the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government (BESAGG) which had become very active.

The BESAGG sponsored "Orange Day" and gave away oranges to folks in the hospital in March.  Throughout the year, they gained a lot of publicity for open air rallies that they sponsored in and around Boston.

Massachusetts was known to have the oldest suffrage group in the country yet it is surprising that the women did not choose more colonial themes for their campaign.  Is anyone else curious why they didn't sell something like Equality Tea (as a nod to the Boston Tea Party)?

Have a good day and stay well!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

"1915 Is Greatest Suffrage Year"

These days, states on the east and west coast are banding together to fight the pandemic epidemic.  In 1915, women from four states bonded together for full suffrage.  The "four sisters" as they were often called that year were Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.  Newspapers anticipated a change in the status of women:

Suffragists speculated that if these states granted women the right to vote that other non-suffrage states would surely follow:

Meanwhile, women in states with equal suffrage tried to support women in non-suffrage states.

It was the height of the Progressive Era.  Women had spent much of the new century focused on civic and community improvement.  Organizations had been formed to improve sanitation and hygiene; the women fought for "clean water" and "pure food" for their families.  Preeminent was their focus on children.  As women organized playgrounds, kindergartens, and organized child welfare conferences, friendships were established in different regions that helped improve strategies for progress.


There was also a mood in the United States that suffrage was inevitable.  The atmosphere would not make the women's fight any easier.  All four states had a suffrage amendment that passed through their state houses and senates; all that was needed was for (male) voters to agree and vote "yes" in a referendum scheduled in the fall.

Some of the greatest marketing strategies in support of suffrage were launched during this year.  Women in these states were on a mission; women in non-suffrage states watched to see which strategies might be successful.

It was my favorite year in suffrage history.  I hope it will be yours as well.

Stay well, stay tuned, and have a great day!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Suffrage Quilt: 1896

Thank you for touching base this week.  It's a relief to hear that so many of you are holding your own and staying safe!

I'm pacing myself this week because we have an exciting week coming up:  1915!!  It's my favorite suffrage year and we will have all kinds of fun posts next week.

After so many posts on suffrage sewing and quilting you probably thought I had emptied my supply of suffrage quilts but wait there's more!

The New York Tribune reported suffragist membership in the Brooklyn Woman Suffrage Association had increased--58 more members had joined the league, making the total number 174 women!  

The late 18th century and early 19th century was a time of a marked increase of women in the suffrage movement and this group is a great example.

The article went on to say this:

"When the meeting adjourned the members inspected a suffrage quilt, made by an old woman in New Hampshire.  The quilt is to be sent to Miss Susan B. Anthony when a sufficient number of votes at 25 cents each are received, and this money will be devoted to the furtherance of suffrage work in New York."   

Frequently when I find articles are found on suffrage quilts, there is very little description of the quilt style. But I will share a quilt from my collection that appears to be made about that time.  It's a quilt that we share during our By the Chimney No More program and in this post you can see a close-up.

This is a courthouse steps quilt, most likely from the 1890s.  During our program, we talk about the new use of black dyes that was developed during this decade.  Textile manufacturers featured the new black by printing bright patterns with the black background; we now refer to these fabrics as "neons" a reference to the 1960s and 70s neon craze.
The bright blue flowers on a black background are a great example of what we now refer to as "neons".  This quilter chose to feature the fancy new fabric in brighter logs on the perimeter of the center block.

Have a great day and stay safe and well!