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Helen Gougar – Reformer in the Suffrage Movement

Helen Gougar — Reformer in the Suffrage Movement
By Mary Hursh

Helen Mar Jackson Gougar (1843-1907) was an advocate for women’s
suffrage as a lawyer, writer, and lecturer.
Gougar was admitted to the bar by the Tippecanoe County Circuit
Court on January 10, 1895, and in 1897, she was admitted by the
Indiana Supreme Court. As a lawyer, she directly challenged injustices
through the legal system. She attempted to vote in 1894 but was
denied and filed suit against the county election board. She argued for
the constitutional rights of women of Indiana before the county court
in 1895 and the Indiana Supreme Court in 1897. She challenged
suffrage restrictions on the basis that the Indiana Constitution did not
specifically prohibit women from voting. The Tippecanoe County
Superior Court ruled against her and women’s suffrage on April 20,
1895.
As a lawyer, she filed suit against Western Union in 1881 for delivering
the more important telegraphs sent by men before those sent by
women. She sued those who attacked her in the press and tried to
discredit her advocacy of suffrage and temperance causes.
Gougar spent much of her life as a writer. In 1878, she began writing a
weekly column for the Lafayette Daily Courier called “Bric-a-Brac:
Literature, Science, Art and Topics of the Day.” Her focus was on
temperance and social sciences at first. By 1879, she wrote about
women’s suffrage. She argued that it was unfair for ambitious,
educated, politically aware women to be denied suffrage while so many
men voted by party line. She became editor and proprietor of the
Lafayette paper, Our Herald, in 1881. “We shall aim to present facts

and arguments from time to time that will tend to remove undue
prejudice, and educate both men and women to see the justice and
necessity of making the women of our State citizens with full rights and
privileges to protect themselves and distribute their taxes by the use of
the elective franchise.”
The lectern became a familiar home for Gougar early in her life. In
1881, she argued for women’s rights through the American Woman
Suffrage Association. In 1882, she spoke at the National Suffrage
Association convention in Washington, DC. In 1883, she delivered 40
lectures in 40 days with topics such as women before the law and
woman suffrage as a national necessity. She was credited by the
Indianapolis News for delivering 200 lectures a year for 20 years. She
spoke without notes and directly addressed her opponents’ views point
by point. In 1886, she spoke in favor of women’s suffrage in front of the
United States Senate. In 1888, Elizabeth Cady Stanton described Gougar
as the most effective speaker in the movement.
The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the
right to vote in all elections. The House and Senate passed the
amendment in 1919. The Indiana General Assembly ratified it in
January 1920.
This article is the third in a series on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial sponsored
by Chautauqua-Wawasee, Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public

Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities. All events are free
and open to the public.
Chautauqua-Wawasee is a non-profit organization which provides life enriching
programs for the northern Indiana region.
Mary Hursh is a freelance writer who lives on Syracuse Lake with her husband
Stanley.

Chautauqua-Wawasee Presents the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration

On Aug. 26, 1920, Hoosier women won the right to vote. At first glance, the meaning behind that statement is simple. But the real story goes much deeper. In Indiana, almost seventy years passed between the first calls for women’s voting rights and the passage of the 19th Amendment. And, though momentous, 1920 is just one milestone in a long and ongoing journey, and access to the voting booth is just one part of what it means to be an equal part of the democratic process.

Starting this Spring and Summer, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial is being celebrated throughout Indiana and America.  August 26 has been designated Women’s Equality Day.  Syracuse has designated the week of August 23-29 as “Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration” with Chautauqua-Wawasee putting on a number of events, teaming with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities.

The first program is a presentation by Melissa Gentry titled “From Seneca Falls to Seymour and South Bend: Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History” which asks the question “What can we learn by mapping Indiana’s women’s suffrage movement and its leaders?”  Her program, based on “story maps” reveals that Indiana—and Hoosier suffragists in particular—were ideologically, economically, racially, and socially diverse. Melissa’s multimedia story maps depict some of the people and places connected to the history of women’s suffrage.  Melissa Gentry is the Map Collection Supervisor at the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection, where she provides instruction programs and curates special exhibits at Ball State University and the Muncie community. This first program will be held at Oakwood Resort Inn on August 26, from 6:30-7:30.

The following Saturday, August 29, will feature two programs, one in the morning, and one mid-day.  The morning will be a Children’s program, led by Margo Wilson from 10:00 to 11:00 at the Syracuse Public Library.  Following that, starting at 11:30 an Ice Cream Social is planned for Lakeside Park at the gazebo.  The Ice Cream will be provided by Joe’s Ice Cream.  The event will also feature suffragists and brief historical presentation by Beth Beams.

The fourth program will be a presentation by Marsha Miller titled “From Amanda to Zerelda: Hoosier Suffragists Who Raised A Ruckus”.  This presentation explores the chronological history of women’s suffrage in Indiana through historical costume and a suffragist song, or two! Marsha introduces Hoosier women who helped shape the movement, including Amanda Way, Grace Julian Clarke, Mary Garrett Hay, Helen Cougar, Zerelda Wallace and May Wright Sewall with a special focus on Ida Husted Harper and Eugene and Kate Debs.  Marsha Miller has taught more than 4,800 information literacy sessions at Indiana State University and coordinates library social media.  This presentation will be at the Syracuse Community Center on September 5 from 2:00 to 3:30.

More details will be provided by a series of historical articles starting later this summer.  Stay in touch here or on our Facebook www.facebook.com/ChautauquaWawasee.  Chautauqua-Wawasee is a Syracuse-based non-profit organization that provides cultural enrichment and entertainment through programs focused on the Arts, Education, Faith and Recreation.

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Women’s Suffrage Centennial

On Aug. 26, 1920, Hoosier women won the right to vote.

Starting this Spring and Summer, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial is being celebrated throughout Indiana and America.  August 26 has been designated Women’s Equality Day, and Syracuse has designated the week of August 23-29 as “Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration” week. Chautauqua-Wawasee will be putting on a number of events, partnering with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities.  Stay tuned!  More details to follow!