Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Women's History Month

This is the last week of Women’s History Month, a month dedicated to women’s long struggle for equal rights as well as celebrating the historical contributions to society they made.  The month observation started in the United States as a day - International Women’s Day, and eventually became Women’s History Week in various places in the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. Eventually in 1986, Congress passed a statute designating the Month of March as Women’s History Month.

Abigail Adams
It’s been a long battle over the years going back to Abigail Adams. She was intelligent, had strong political viewpoints and was a prolific letter writer. Because of these qualities she is one of the most documented First Ladies. A March 1776 letter to her husband John Adams and the Continental Congress is well-known and often quoted. In it she requests that to “. . . remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.” The letter didn’t change her husband’s or the Congress’s minds, but those words lived on in the hearts and minds of women. 

Abigail and John Adams believed that slavery was evil and a threat to the American democratic experiment. Harriet Beecher Stowe also believed this and bravely fought for the slaves’ freedom with her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We all know what she accomplished with that book. When she visited Abraham Lincoln in the White House in 1863 to urge him to remember the slaves, he greeted her as “the little woman who wrote the book that made this Great War.” A strong woman in many ways, she supported her family with her writing while her preacher husband went on rural retreats for long periods to sooth his nerves. Harriet Beecher Stowe considered slavery a masculine enterprise, and thought women with their feminine conscience were better able to see the evil of slavery. In a way Abigail Adam’s threat of a women’s rebellion came through, albeit in the form of a subtle or not so subtle advocacy against the laws of slavery. A little aside here, more writers of books and novels during this period were women than men, but how many women writers of this period are taught in literature classes? Not many.

Susan B. Anthony 
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) with a Quaker upbringing was very active in the anti-slavery movement. In 1848 when working as a teacher in Canajoharie, New York, she became involved with the teacher’s union after discovering that male teachers had a monthly salary of $10.00 while female teachers earned $2.50 a month. From this as well as her temperance and anti-slavery reforms she started the battle for women’s rights. She’s probably the best known of the suffragists of her generation. But it was through meeting Elizabeth Cady Stanton and hearing a speech by Lucy Stone, that they formed the National Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1869. All students of history know what a long hard battle that was. As a final tribute to Susan B. Anthony, the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote was named the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was ratified in 1920.

Harriet Taylor Upton 
Another woman, not as well-known as the three mentioned above, was Harriet Taylor Upton. She was born in Ravenna, Ohio and moved to Warren, Ohio which is only a few miles from where I live. She was a key organizer and the first president of the Suffrage Association of Warren, and was a member of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1890. In 1880, her father was elected as a member of the United States Congress, succeeding President James Garfield in the position. Her father’s position gave Harriet the opportunity to meet leading political leaders of the day, including Susan B. Anthony. She brought the headquarters of the organization home to Warren from 1903 to 1910.  Her home remains as a National Historic Landmark. Although she died in California in 1945 at the age of 91, recently her remains were brought home to Warren and are buried here.
Harriet Taylor Upton House in Warren, Ohio
Although women have made great strides in our country and many others, there are still gaps. Women earn only 77% of what men do. Teachers in a field which is preponderantly female except for higher education are paid far below what they should for the amount of education they have and the additional classes they are required to take. Administrative positions in higher education have been traditionally staffed by men although that has evened out in English departments, which is now close to 50-50. Women are only recently making gains in business. In investment banking only 18% of the managers are women. Of the fortune 500 companies there are only 23 CEO’s who are women. Not much, but still higher than it’s been in the recent past. And in government and other fields that have been dominated by men over the years women are making gains, too. We are slowly and steadily making progress.

What inequalities between the genders have you seen or experienced?
What advantages do women have today that our mothers or grandmothers didn't have?


Shari Randall said...

Hi Gloria,
Such an interesting post. Thank you for the introduction to Harriet Taylor Upton. We hear about the "major" figures in history, but these women in the trenches, working locally, also had a huge impact.

jan godown annino said...

Thank you Gloria. Fabulous post. And the neat thing about WHM info, is that these are go-to resources all year 'round.

Here are some equally cool online tributes.
I have participated in

And I glom onto the real photo images and stories of grit, criminal treatment, unpunished, of women on the public streets and hardship jail time in Washington,D.C. meted out to those who expressed a desire to... vote. This is in Ann Bausum's fabulous WITH COURAGE AND CLOTH

Again brava! for a mighty fine post.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, if I didn't live in Trumbull County, I probably wouldn't know about her either. There was more I could have written about her, but space is limited in blogs. Across the road from her house is a lovely Woman's Garden put in commemorating other women in our county. People have purchased bricks with their mother, a friend or other woman in memory of them that make up a center paved area and the walks leading to it.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Jan, for stopping by and especially leaving some links I'll check out. And, I'm going to check out that book, too. Like I mentioned in my post above, I could have written a thesis paper or a book even on these courageous women.
Another good book is FOUNDING MOTHERS; THE WOMEN WHO RAISED OUT NATION by Cokie Roberts. I highly recommend that book, too.

KM Rockwood said...

The most loyal voter I knew was my grandmother. Some of her favorite stories concerned marching for women's voting rights, and she voted in every election from 1920, the first one in which women were given the vote in all states, until her death. No one in the family, male or female, would ever dare to admit to her that they had neglected to vote in an election.

A local monthly newspaper runs a section with articles from 100 years ago. An on-going theme is the "ridiculous" movement to give women the vote. Obviously it would never pass, and men needed to assert their God-given authority over their wives and daughters. Another ongoing theme is the horse vs. automobile debate. Once again, it was quite obvious to those who wrote the articles that horses were way superior to automobiles, and there was no doubt that, once the fad had passed, the great majority of vehicles on the road would be horse-drawn.

Warren Bull said...

There are so many notable women that it's impossible to name them all in one blog. Sacagawea and Harriet Tubman played important roles in expanding freedom for women. I recently read an article about letters of recommendation. Regardless of the gender of the writers men were more often described as "leaders" and women were described as having "leadership potential."

carla said...

We've come so far, yet we have so far to go. I wish Abigail Adams and Susan B Anthony were still around to guide us.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, what a remarkable woman your grandmother was. I have no idea if my grandmothers on either side voted.

Our local newspaper has a 99 years ago today column in the Sunday paper, but I've never seen anything against the women like you find in your paper. It's either because Harriet Beecher Stowe was such a strong local person, or today's editors are only putting in a few items of news that day.

Warren, I so agree with you. The two you mentioned are ones I would like to have included, too, including others, but blogging space is limited. The letters of recommendation you mentioned is so wrong, but I'm not surprised by it.

Carla, wouldn't it be great to go hear both of them speaking? I think if someone wrote a play where these two women and others came back as ghosts to talk to the audience comparing what they see today with what they experienced, and what still needs to be done would be a fascinating play.

Chris Roerden said...

Marvelous post! Among the women to remember: Matilda Joslyn Gage, the first woman voter of Fayetteville, N.Y., in 1880, 40 years before the 19th amendment. In fact, 1000s of women in New York State voted throughout the 1880s and 1890s, long before woman suffrage was recognized. How could this be? Visit the website of the foundation established in her honor:, and read some of the excellent books listed there.
As for discrimination I experienced…In 1960 when my husband was transferred "upstate" from NYC (where I'd been an editor 10 years) I applied for a job with a local nonfiction publisher, who insisted on paying me the same as the female office staff (so they wouldn't be jealous, he said) instead of the all-male editorial staff, even though I was their first true editor (the guys were all content specialists). I was put on probation, then got my raise, but when I later left the job I was replaced by a man at twice my salary! That made me a decided feminist 10 years before I even learned about N.O.

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you for this post, Gloria. It's important to remember these brave women and what they endured in their struggle for equal rights. I'd also love to hear what Susan B. Anthony would say if she were alive today. Perhaps she would ask why a women president hasn't ever been elected in the US.

Gloria Alden said...

Yes, Kara, I'll bet that's what she'd ask, too. I'm hoping it will come soon. Look at how many other countries have had women leaders - well still not enough, but you would think we would have been one of the first.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Wonderful post, Gloria. Thanks for reminding us of the ladies whose work ensured that women's voices were heard and counted.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Love this post, Gloria! It's amazing how short a time ago it was that some of the worst abuses of women were still embedded in our laws. In my own state, Missouri, it was only in the 1980s that the law changed so that marriage was not an absolute defense against charges of rape, even if violence was used or there were witnesses or the couple were separated but not yet legally divorced. The same with laws that allowed a man to keep his own earned or inherited money or property for his own use and to take money earned or inherited by his wife, as well, without allowing her any part of it. And Missouri was not the last to repeal those laws.

When I ran a university women's center, I worried because so many young women thought all that was a century or more in the past and they didn't need feminism--only to come back after a few years in the work world wanting help in dealing with pervasive, institutional sexism. I used to try to tell the younger ones who thought there was no need for feminism that a huge backlash was just waiting to smash all the gains of recent decades, just as it had done with the earlier women's movement. And I look around at the politicians now and what they say and try to pass into law and know that I was prophetic.

Patg said...

Great post, Gloria. Women must keep up the good work, because it is not only men who work against us, but some women. I knew women in my youth who refused to handle money or pay bills because they claimed they weren't suppose to, that was man's work, and you dare not offend their manhood. Pure ugh!
What rights do we have that our grandmothers didn't, well how about deciding how many, if any, children we would have.

Gloria Alden said...

Thanks, Paula. It's something even we women to take time to think about often, especially if we're not experiencing any inequality.

Linda, I was upset when I saw and heard young women ignoring what their grandmothers and others had fought for, and thinking feminism wasn't important. Unfortunately there are still women, who think it's their religious duty to be subservient to their husbands, and it's not only in other countries, either. I get very upset about the politicians, who are passing laws in too many states that take away women's rights. For instance, that idiot who insisted if women are raped they can't conceive.

You're right, Pat. I agree with you, totally.

Jim Jackson said...

My family came from the same general upstate New York as Susan B. Anthony. She and others of the movement spoke at the Jackson Health Resort in Dansville, NY– of which two of the original three partners were women, one of whom was a doctor! (Founded 1858)

My great-great grandmother (Dr. Katherine J. Jackson) was the 1877 valedictorian of the college of the New York Infimary headed by Dr. Emily Blackwell.

My grandmother graduated from the University of Rochester at a time when women chemistry students (of which she was the only one) had to use a separate laboratory from the men!

~ Jim

Anonymous said...

The photo you have tagged as Susan B. Anthony is not Susan B. Anthony--it's Lucy Stone: