American History · biography · history

The Riders of the Orphan Train ( 1854-1929)

I took a bit of a hiatus from the blog as it has been difficult to find the motivation to research and write. It has been a bit of a struggle to find topics I am passionate with especially with the worries of the past year. I recently took a trip to New York City and I found a bit of that passion once again. I visited Ellis Island and it was a great museum where I learned quite a bit. One small information blurb at the museum really caught my attention. From 1854-1929 the Orphan Trains delivered about 200,000 children to different homes in the American West. I thought this was incredible and I quickly wanted to learn more.

Due to the influx of immigration during the late 19th century, large east coast cities (like NYC and Boston) were having problems with large masses of orphaned children living on the streets. In New York City, it was estimated that there were about 10,000-30,000 children living on the streets. These children may have been abandoned by parents who no longer wanted them/could not afford them or some, sadly, lost their birth parents due to disease (typhoid/yellow fever epidemics), addiction, malnutrition/poverty, or freak accidents (especially through dangerous work accidents). These children were force to turn to desperate measures to survive. They formed gangs who would steal in order to stay fed and clothed. They may have terrorized some of the neighborhoods, but they were just trying to survive in the difficult world they were born into. They were often taken advantage of and arrested as adults. There were some poor houses, asylums, and orphanages that were formed to try and control this, but these were overcrowded and abusive. These children were given no help to better their lives at this place. There was minimal education opportunities, food, and attention.

UNK conference highlights Orphan Train Movement | Local News |  kearneyhub.com

Charles Loring Brace founded the Children Aid Society. He felt that there was a better way to control the homeless situation and try to actually help the children who were alone. He thought that they would have better opportunities if these children were sent West with the goal of finding a family to take them in. Many families who had moved West needed the help on their farms and homesteads that these children could provide. It seemed a win-win for both sides.

Social Welfare History Project Brace, Charles Loring
Charles Loring Brace

On September 1854, the first train was sent out to Dowagiac, Michigan. By the end of the program, over 30 states accepted new children. Most were located in the Midwest. Fliers were placed out in advance at the towns that the trains were arriving in order to search for families where the children could be placed. Some were placed with families in advance, but others it was whoever came to make a bid for them upon their arrival. Many of the children had no idea where they were going once they boarded these trains and this would be a very upsetting time for them. For others, this was a grand adventure. Overall, the children themselves did not have much choice in where and who they were going to.

Orphan Trains' Brought Homeless NYC Children to Work On Farms Out West -  HISTORY

When the trains arrived in town, prospective “parents” came from miles around to see. The children would finally get off the train upon arrival and be stunned (and possibly frightened) to see the crowds craning their necks to see if there would be a child they could bring into their family. The Daily Independent of Grand Island, Nebraska (1912) reported, “some ordered boys, others girls, some preferred light babies, others dark, and the orders were filled out properly and every new parent was delighted.” The children were often inspected and encouraged to “show off” including singing, dancing, etc. Sometimes there was a lot of competition for a certain type of child (boy vs girl, ages, appearance, etc). After selected, the children were given a new outfit and a bible to start off their journey. Lee Nailling was one of the children who left on one of these trains from New York City. He left with his two brothers and spoke about his arrival:

“Then we were instructed to go stand at the front of the church, where a lot of adults began coming in and crowding around us.  I picked Gerald up and glared at the milling adults.  Leo grabbed hold of my leg as a tall man dressed in overalls approached us.  The man reached out and felt my arm, I stared straight ahead, “A bit scrawny,” he commented, then moved on down and chose number 30.

Number 30’s face turned white as he left the line with the man.  A smiling woman wearing a flowered dress joined them.  Then they walked to a table filled with papers, where some of the caretakers were sitting.  Soon other numbers were called out, and by the time we left that afternoon to board another train, several of the children were gone.

Two days later my brothers and I had survived several lineups in many different towns.  Each time we were inspected I was terrified we’d be chosen, and then when we weren’t, I was angered and believed that people thought we weren’t good enough.  But I was relieved that we were still together.  I’d seen other brothers and sisters separated, and as I listened to their loud sobbing, I wondered “How can I stop them from separating us?” (https://orphantraindepot.org/history/orphan-train-rider-stories/lee-nailling/)

Orphan Trains Head West - Fishwrap The official blog of Newspapers.com

In the end, Nailling was separated from both his brothers. This was a common occurrence during the program as many families could only afford to take in one child. He was moved between a few families before finally finding his permanent home with the Nailling family in Texas. In this case, he found a loving family who longed for a son and found the happiness that he sought. In a lot of cases, the children did find new loving homes who adopted them as their own children. Every family who participated in this program were required to clothe and educate the children who they fostered and many did adopt the children who went with them. There were many pros to the program. The children had an opportunity to received education (and possibly higher education depending on the family), they could find a loving household, they would be fed and clothed, they would be safer than living on the streets and could overall obtain a better life.

Naturally, there were those who abused the system as well and some of the children did not find the same success. Some families did take in the children because they were solely looking for additional labor help. Some children were mistreated and abused (verbally and physically) which caused many to become runaways. Some were threatened to report that everything was okay to the Children’s Aid Society representatives who came to check up on them. Those who were against the Orphan Train program found too many similarities to slavery with these children being “auctioned off”. The orphans were also held to a much higher standard than the families natural born children (likely because they were viewed as obtaining a product). A lot of the children moved between different houses as they were returned by their foster family. These could be for the smallest instances (they did not like the child’s attitude, an instance of stealing a cookie, was not the appearance they were looking for, etc). This could cause a lot of damage to the growing child’s self image. Some children had to be moved for more practical reasons such as financial costs or sickness.

By 1830, the amount of Orphan Trains had greatly decreased. There was a lot of criticism by those who fought against child labor and those who felt the system was very akin to slavery. With new laws protecting children, transporting them to be placed across state lines became illegal. Additionally, more welfare programs began to be developed to support families and children. State and local governments became more involved to prevent children ending up on the street and the population of orphans was greatly reduced. In 1912, the U.S. Children’s Bureau was established as well whose goal was to accomplish all that was stated above.

The Orphan Trains definitely had many pros, but also some cons as well. Some children were so young when they were transported they did not even learn that they were aboard the Orphan Train or that they had birth parents until later in life. Many of the children transported went on to have good lives (and likely lives that they would never have had if they were left on the streets). Some went on to have careers and attend university, many were married and had families of their own, and many were able to make their new state their home. Fred (Engert) Swedenburg was six years old when he was transported and then adopted by the Swedenburg family in Nebraska. He had been given up by his family in New York due to “scandalous neglect”. He lived a happy life and was lucky enough to have his sibling adopted by a family only 20 miles away. He was treated as the Swedenburg’s true born son and even received inheritance. Yet, when asked later if he could go back and have a choice in riding the train to Nebraska, this was his response:

“When asked by one boy if he had a choice would he ride the train again to come to Nebraska. Swedenburg slowly shook his head and said no. Swedenburg asked the boy how he would feel to be taken from his family and put in a new home and the boy’s face fell as he looked at the floor.”( https://orphantraindepot.org/history/orphan-train-rider-stories/fred-engert-swedenburg/)

Did any of your ancestors ride the Orphan Trians?

Sources:

https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/blog/orphan-trains-brief-history-and-research-how

https://www.pbs.org/video/university-place-brave-journey-orphan-train-rider/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/nov98/orphan.htm

https://www.history.com/news/orphan-trains-childrens-aid-society

biography · european history · history

Agnes Keleti- The Amazing Story of the Oldest Living Olympic Champion

I was watching the open ceremonies for the Olympic games this past week and was introduced to an amazing woman. Agnes Keleti is the oldest living Olympic champion and turned 100 years old this year. She was a 10 times Olympic medalist and five of those were gold. She lived through a lot of difficulties during her life, but in the end she came out on top. I find her to be very impressive and I wanted to highlight her here.

Agnes Keleti, a mais velha campeã olímpica, comemora 100 anos de idade

Keleti was born on January 9, 1921 in Budapest Hungary. At age 16, she won the National Gymnastics Championships and was on the fast track for the 1940 Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, these games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. Keleti has more pressing worries though than just missing her chance at the Olympics. She was Jewish and her country was now under Nazi occupation. In order to survive, she took the identity of a Christian girl (using false paperwork). She refused to wear the gold star that was required by the Nazi’s to identify those with Jewish heritage. She managed to escape with the use of the false documentation and found safety in a remote village where she worked as a maid. Fortunately, she survived (her mother and sister did as well by going into hiding separately). Many of her family members (including her father) were not as lucky and lost their lives after being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. I cannot imagine how terrifying this would have been and how brave she was to take these risks in order to survive.

At 27, Keleti prepared to compete at the London 1948 Olympic games, but was injured and was unable to compete that year. It was not until she was 31 that she finally got her chance at the 1952 Helsinki games. At 31, she would have been one of the oldest gymnasts. Gymnastics is a sport where it is more difficult to compete in the elite level as one ages. The average age of the athletes at the time was 23 years old (today the average is 19 years old). Despite this “disadvantage,” she won 4 medals (including one gold in the floor exercise). Yet, Keleti was not finished.

Holocaust survivor, 10-time Olympic medalist Agnes Keleti awarded Israel  Prize – International March of the Living

At age 35, she competed at the 1956 Olympic games in Melbourne. By the end, she was the most successful athlete of those games. She won six medals in total with four of these being gold. She won gold in the floor, bars and balance beam individual events and placed second in the all around competition. At the time, she was the most decorated athlete. During these games, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary (her home country) and she had to seek political asylum in Australia. She remained there the rest of the year and helped coach Australian gymnastics.

Agnes Keleti: The incredible voice of an Olympic centenarian

In 1957, she moved to Israel. She did not return to Hungary until 2015. In Israel, she married and had two children. She worked as a physical education teacher and helped coach and advise Israel’s national gymnastics team until the 1990s. Besides her Olympic accomplishments, she won the national championships nine times more before retiring in 1956. In 1954, she became world champion in uneven bar. She has been inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the Hungarian Sports Hall of Fame, the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Keleti’s life has been incredible and she is such an amazing woman. She has shown her strength and perseverance as she lived through much hardship, but still managed to accomplish her goals. She is still finding the joys in life at 100 years old.

Sources:

https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/en/news/agnes-keleti-the-incredible-life-of-the-worlds-oldest-surviving-olympic-champion

https://olympics.nbcsports.com/2021/01/09/agnes-keleti-gymnast-oldest-olympian/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81gnes_Keleti

Ancient History · Asian History · biography · history

Empress Zenobia: Rebel Queen

Empress Zenobia is an example of a strong and ambitious woman of the ancient world. Unfortunately, not many sources survive to tell her story. Zenobia ruled the city-state of Palmyra from around 267 AD to 272 AD and, after leading a rebellion, she united much of the Eastern portion of the Roman empire under her banner. Though she was defeated in the end, her legacy lives on throughout history and she is viewed as an iconic leader.

Regal Facts About Queen Zenobia, Scourge Of The Romans

The city of Palmyra was a trade center. It was located in modern day Syria and benefitted from the use of the silk road. The land surrounding the city was also fertile and good for farming. Many different cultures and ethnicities settled in Palmyra which created a melting pot of languages, traditions, and religions. The city became very wealthy from the silk road trade, tradesmen who ran businesses there, and from agricultural production. Most of the wealth was made through taxes and tariffs on those who traded within the walls. In 64 B.C.E., Palmyra was conquered by Rome and became a Roman city state. This left the city in a very privileged position within the empire. They were left mostly independent and profited off exclusive trade with Rome. A Roman garrison was located in the city which boosted its popularity and brought more traffic to spend cash at local businesses.

ISIS in Palmyra | The New Yorker
Palmyra, modern day

Zenobia was likely born in the 240s CE to a wealthy and powerful family. She claimed she was a descendant of Cleopatra and the Ptolemy dynasty of ancient Egypt. At a young age, she married the King of Palmyra, Septimius Odenathus. Being born in a privileged position, Zenobia was well educated. She was fluent in at least three languages (Palmyrene, Greek and Egyptian) and had a grasp on politics. King Odenathus became King of one of the most powerful cities in the Eastern Empire. Rome relied on these border groups and city-state allies to protect them from outside invaders ( at this time, the Persians). Rome was have problems by the 250s/260s CE. Rome had trouble holding together their Eastern borders as their enemies began to pick at their territory. It was the same at the Northern border as well. This was part of the difficulty of maintaining such a large empire and why key allies were important. In 260 CE, Emperor Valerion was captured by the Persians which was a huge blow to the empire. As a result, many terrirotirs found an opportunity to rebel and finally break away from Rome. Confidence in the Empire began to dwindle. King Odenathus proved his loyalty and united some of the smaller groups to support the new Roman emperor and defeat the Persians. This approach was successful and Palmyra was viewed as a loyal province.

In 267 CE, Odenathus was assassinated along with his eldest son from his first marriage. The reason for this has been lost to history. Some suspect that Zenobia may have had cause (with the death of her husband and his eldest son, then her own son would be next in line), but Odenathus likely made many enemies with his support of Rome and the new emperor. After the sudden death of her husband, Zenobia acted quickly. This was key to prevent a sudden power vacuum. She quickly brought the assassins to trial and then execution. Her son, Vaballathus, was then set up as King. Since he was a minor, Zenobia ruled in his stead as regent. It seemed the popular support was there for Zenobia to become Empress. It is clear that she was ambitious (especially with her later rebellion against Rome). She also likely had a lot of influence during her husband’s rule and definitely learned much about governing Palmyra. She was to become Empress during Palmyra’s prime years.

From what is known of Zenobia, she was a very capable leader. One of her most famous achievements is creating a larger empire independent from Rome. She was in charge of a large and strong army and had the wealth to back them up. She was very involved with her generals and they were one of her most important counselors. Apparently, she may even had drank, socialized, and rode with them for battle and training. Beginning in 270 CE, Zenobia and her armies (led often by her general Zabdus) invaded some of the most prosperous Eastern provinces. She controlled Arabia, Judea, and Syria. One of her biggest wins was the conquering of Egypt, where her army of 70,000 defeated 50,000 Roman soldiers. Alexandria was now part of her empire. By 271, Zenobia controlled an empire that stretched from Libiya/Sudan to northern Turkey. Yet, Zenobia was very successful at ruling such a large empire and mix of people.

Palmyrene Empire - Wikipedia
Map of Zenobia’s empire at its peak

As stated earlier, Palymyra had always been a melting pot of various languages and cultures. She worked to understand and appease different groups of people within her empire. She successfully was able to intigrate herself into the different religious groups, political groups, and ethnic groups. She also portrayed herself in different ways depending on what groups held sway. Sometimes she may be portrayed as a Syrian monarch, or a Roman empress, or a Hellenistic Queen. She also created images that associated herself with her alleged ancestor, Cleopatra. Zenobia was also very interested in education and the continuation of learning. She gathered many intellectuals to her court and surrounded herself with new ideas and differing perspectives.

Due to the lack of sources, it is difficult to know exactly why Zenobia turned against Rome. There are some theories, but we may never know for sure. One theory posed by historians is that she wanted to prevent universal domination of Rome, but there is no evidence to back this up. She could have been looking to protect the commercial interests of Palmyra due to the instability of Rome and its northern borders. Another reason would be for independence from Rome. Palmyra was strong enough and in a good position to leave and form their own empire. I believe it is likely that latter reason for her break from the Roman empire. I think she likely realized that they could be independent and did not need to rely on another for protection. They did not need to share their wealth with another. There were probably many other reasons that were lost to history.

Ancient coin featuring Zenobia’s likeness

With great power comes those who wish to take it from you (or in this case, take it back). Naturally, Rome was not happy with what was going on in their former Eastern Empire. They had lost control over some of their wealthiest provinces and their former city-state ally was now their enemy. The new emperor, Aurelian, was not going to let this stand. Emperor Aurelian gathered his troops to start an invasion in the year 272. The Romans quickly took back many of the provinces that had been lost as Zenobia quickly began to gather her troops towards her to focus on Egypt and Syria (where Palmyra was located). At Antioch, Zenobia and Aurelian met to commence the Battle of Immae. This ended in Zenobia’s defeat where she fled to Emesa. To keep her image strong and, likely, to boost moral, she began to spread the rumor that they had captured Aurelian.

Aurelian - Wikipedia
Emperor Aurelian

Aurelian quickly caught up to her and they fought again at the Battle of Emesa. This was a close battle as the Palmyrene heavy cavalry forced the Roman cavalry into a defeat. High on the feeling of victory, the Palmyrene’s chased after the Romans and broke formation only to fall into their trap as the Roman infantry was waiting for them. They were slaughtered. Zenobia and what remained of her army had to retreat back to Palmyra in order to regroup. Naturally, the Romans followed and laid siege to the city. In the end, Zenobia and her son were captured and transported to Rome where they were paraded through the streets in humiliation. It is not known what became of Zenobia and her son after this. There has been some theories that she was forced into a retirement and lived her life in a comfortable villa, but the most likely ending is that she was executed.

Palmyra’s citizens did attempt to revolt again after coming back under Roman rule, but it was never successful again. Aurelian made sure that its citizens were forever put back in submission. He destroyed much of the city, looted its temples, and even murdered its residents. Rome would rebuild Palmyra to its own standards.

Despite the unfortunate ending to Zenobia’s career, she has had a long lasting legacy to the modern era. She has become an icon of Syrian nationalism and is on one of their bank notes today. She is remembered as a brave, strong, and virtuous queen She is remembered for her enthusiasm and ambition. She is remembered for fighting for independence and standing up to a goliath of the ancient world. She is also an example of a strong woman in a time when this was not necessarily the norm. She proved to be a strong and intelligent ruler in her own right. I found her acceptance and willing to adapt to many different cultural groups as very impressive and forward thinking. She did not try to change their ways, but tried to work with them to create a more united empire.

Zenobia on a 1998 Syrian banknote — What'shername

Sources:

Palmyra and Its Empire: Zenobia’s Revolt against Rome by Richard Stoneman

“Zenobia: The Warrior Queen of Palmyra.” Documentary by History Time. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtyDxe6bSIo&ab_channel=HistoryTime

biography · english history · european history · history

The Strength of Queen Katherine

In this post, I wanted to focus on Queen Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII of England. With all the focus on Anne Boleyn, Katherine is typically remembered for her struggles later in life. She is remembered as the old, unattractive, stubborn woman who was being replaced by her young and vivacious lady in waiting. In reality, Katherine of Aragon was an extremely strong woman, a very popular queen and a role model for many of her subjects. She was intelligent and educated. She was also loyal to a fault. She was born of Queen Isabella (who was the queen of Castile in her own right) and King Ferdinand. She was trained for queenship since she was a toddler and prepared entirely for her role as a leader. She was integral to the success at the Battle of Flodden. It is easy to see why she remained popular with England’s subjects even after the King had decided to put her aside.

Continue reading “The Strength of Queen Katherine”
Ancient History · art history · Asian History · history

Women and the Evolution of Writing

I started to learn Japanese a couple months ago. It has always been something I wanted to do, but I had never really had the motivation until now. I have always wanted to travel to Japan and that is one of my main goals in studying the language (it is also something to look forward too once the COVID pandemic has died down). I believe it is really important to learn at least some parts of the language and culture of the place you want to travel to. It will enrich the overall experience.

One important part of studying Japanese is familiarizing oneself with the writing system. A combination of three different systems are used: hiragana, katakana and kanji. I wanted to know more about why three systems were used, so I began to research. To my surprise, I actually discovered a very interesting piece of women’s history.

Continue reading “Women and the Evolution of Writing”
American History · english history · history

When Christmas was Banned…

The holidays this year have been a struggle. Many did not even expect the holidays would have been affected when the pandemic started in March . Gatherings will be smaller or over video chats and the holidays will not feel like the big event that they have usually been. Yet, it also gives us sometime time to focus on the things we are grateful for. Christmas could never truly be cancelled, right?

Well, actually, Christmas has been banned in previous centuries. It was banned in both the United Kingdom and early America. In 1647, Parliament decreed that Christmas was no longer considered a feast day or a holiday. This was under the rule of Parliament/Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, who was placed in power as a result of the English Civil War and the beheading of Charles I. This regicide brought the Puritans (some of the most extreme Protestants) to the forefront of politics. Puritans believed that the whole celebration and overindulgence of the season was wrong. To them, there was nothing in the bible that stated there should be a celebration like this on December 25. In fact, the date December 25 originates from a pagan festival (the date of the winter solstice) which was just adapted to the Christian rhetoric during the early medieval era. The bible was the word for the Puritans and they had a strict adherence to it. Christmas should be like any ordinary day. There would be no large feastings, merry making, rowdy behavior, drinking to excess, decorations (idols), or any other “sinful” activities. They also disliked these traditions as they felt that the Catholic influence was still too strong on the Church of England.

Continue reading “When Christmas was Banned…”
American History · art history · history

Fashion Statement: The Bloomer and its Impact on the Women’s Movement

While doing research for my series on the suffragist movement in the United States, I came across a very interesting trend that was briefly popular during the mid-19th century. Elizabeth Smith Miller debuted the “Bloomer” costume in 1851 . Miller was working in her garden and became irritated when her long and heavy skirts got in the way of her work. As she was now thoroughly fed up, she decided to take a pair of scissors and cut the skirt to a shorter version. Underneath the skirt, she would wear a wide pair of trousers which allowed her more comfort and freedom to complete her tasks. This outfit soon became a hit among the early feminists in the budding suffragist/women’s right movement. This new fashion trend pushed the boundaries of the feminine norms of society (despite being short lived) and it is easy to see why it became popular with suffragists. The Bloomer walked so future fashion trends of the 20th century could run. I really have never looked deeply into fashion history before, but it is fascinating how through this mode of art/expression women were able to convey what they wanted and resisted against societal norms.

Continue reading “Fashion Statement: The Bloomer and its Impact on the Women’s Movement”
American History · biography · history

Timeline of Women’s Suffrage : 1848-1920. Part 2

See Part 1 : historynavigator.org/2020/09/03/timeline-of-womens-suffrage-1848-1920-part-1/

New Women

Today in history…27 February | english3batz

The turn of the century brought about a new era of suffragists. The previous generation attempted to fight for their suffrage rights while still trying to fit into the roles that society made for them. They wanted to fight for progress, but also could not afford to stand out in ways that may look badly on the cause as they would lose support. For this reason, the old generation of suffragists did not encourage street speaking, marches, or acts of civil disobedience. Victoria Woodhull (a woman who I profiled two years ago: historynavigator.org/2018/06/18/victoria-woodhull-first-female-presidential-candidate-and-activist/ ) was a woman ahead of her time and was a very popular figure. She was bold and headstrong. She even announced her candidacy for president in 1870 (prior to women receiving the vote!). Woodhull was a divorcee and lectured about women’s rights and their sexual freedom. It was the free love portion and her spiritualism beliefs that cause the suffragists to want to disassociate from Woodhull’s brand. They knew that this would be a discouragement to any politician who may have sided with their cause. Society was not ready to accept women’s suffrage AND their sexual freedom. Just like with the temperance movement, the women of the older generation were still very concerned with appearances despite their activism.

Yet, in the wake of the 20th century, the world was changing. In Great Britain, the “suffragettes” were making loud scenes to get what they wanted. The suffragettes held parades, gave speeches, performed skits, participated in hunger strikes , and , sometimes, even performed acts of violence. American suffragists, like Harriot Stanton Blatch (daughter of Cady Stanton) , traveled to Great Britain and were influenced by what they saw there.

Continue reading “Timeline of Women’s Suffrage : 1848-1920. Part 2”
American History · biography · history

Timeline of Women’s Suffrage : 1848-1920. Part 1

Last week, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America. It is an amazing milestone to hit and to honor, but, on the other hand, it is shocking to think that the female citizens of this country have only had the right to vote for one hundred years. There are so many stories, people, and events that went into the long fight for the 19th Amendment, but in these next two posts I have compiled the events and stories that I feel were most important and encapsulated the movement.

Seneca Falls Convention, July 1848

 The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 sparked the women’s suffrage movement in America. The event was organized by five women: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Mary M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, and Jane Hunt. It took place in the small town of Seneca Falls, New York. This convention was an early introductions, worldwide, of the concept of women’s suffrage. But how did this convention suddenly come about?

The abolition of slavery was one of the first political movements that women participated in and were able to exercise political agency. Beginning in the 1830s, American women were speaking out against slavery in public lectures. A woman’s role, during this period, was to be stowed away in the “private sphere”. They were to be dutiful wives and take care of the children.  Being regulated to the household, women never had a chance to reach out further and participate in the public sphere. They were barred from taking an active role in politics. To society, their opinions were unimportant. After a woman married (which was expected of them) they would lose any few freedoms they had and were dependent on their husbands. Married women had virtually no property or financial rights and the option of divorce was near impossible. The ideal “True Womanhood” of the period was a wife/mother who was pious and submissive. By the eyes of the law, women were dependents rather than a true citizen.   

Continue reading “Timeline of Women’s Suffrage : 1848-1920. Part 1”
American History · biography · history

Arrested for Voting: Susan B. Anthony’s Fight for Suffrage

August 2020 marks 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed. This amendment provided women with the right to vote in the United States. It is hard to believe that it was not until 1920 that the female citizens of America received a right that should have been automatic as a citizen of the country. This right is often taken for granted today and it can be difficult to imagine a time when a woman would actually be arrested for voting in an election! It is important to remember this anniversary and to remember how hard the women who came before us fought. They fought so we could participate in government and in the decision making of this country. It is critical that we exercise this right every opportunity we have. During August (and likely the months beyond), I would like to highlight some of the tactics the suffragettes used to have their voice heard, famous standouts, and highlight how much hard work was put into the movement.

Continue reading “Arrested for Voting: Susan B. Anthony’s Fight for Suffrage”