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 “A Look at Women’s Suffrage in Indiana” with Marsha Miller

 A look at women’s suffrage in Indiana with Marsha Miller

By Mary Hursh

   Over the past month, area residents have learned quite a bit about the woman’s suffrage movement which began in 1848 and culminated with the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote on August 26, 1920.

Speakers and events sponsored by Chautauqua-Wawasee and the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Humanities have introduced readers of the Mail Journal to many of the women involved in the fight for the vote. On September 5, Marsha Miller will present a program titled “From Amanda to Zerelda: Hoosier Suffragists Who Raised a Ruckus.”

Miller’s presentation to be held at the Syracuse Community Center on Saturday, September 5 from 2-3:30 p.m., will detail the “ruckus” caused by women involved in the suffrage movement.  She describes it by saying “I have done a version of this program for several years. I will present a timeline which highlights the many ways women were stopped from speaking and expressing the need to have the vote. Nationally, women endured many hardships in the long struggle for the vote including forced feedings and standing as silent sentinels for hours on end trying to bring their cause to light.”

The “Amanda” in the title refers to Amanda Way (1828-1914), and the “Zerelda” in the title refers to Zerelda Gray Wallace (1817-1901). Way was deemed the mother of the women’s rights movement in Indiana and a founding member of the Indiana Woman’s Rights Association (1851). Wallace was the first lady of Indiana from 1837-1840. She formed the Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis and lobbied heavily to win the vote. She instigated several letter-writing campaigns, gathered petitions, and gave several speeches in support of suffrage, including in front of the U.S. Senate Committee (1870).

Miller’s presentation will feature historical costumes and suffragists songs. She says “People will not know the songs, but they will know the melodies. Suffragists created songs, poems, stories and plays. The lyrics to their songs were matched to tunes everyone would be familiar with, especially the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The songs helped to stir up positive and patriotic emotions which caused audiences to think favorably about women getting the vote.” Terre Haute personages Ida Husted Harper (1851-1931) and Eugene (1855-1926) and Kate Debs (1867-1936), will also be featured. Harper was the biographer of Susan B. Anthony and co-editor with her of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. Eugene and Kate Debs were supporters of full equal rights for women through their involvement with politics.

“I hope the audience on Saturday will take away some basic facts about suffrage as it was in Indiana. There is so much history hiding in local archives, on microfilm, in a historical society or a folder of clippings. I hope the people listening to my presentation will make it a point to look at primary sources in the library to learn about this state-wide movement,” said Miller. 

(*** To view lecture on Saturday at 2pm eastern time via Zoom, please click here***)

Women in the suffrage movement used many techniques and strategies to present an organized front. “ When I visited the Sewall-Belmont House ( now the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument)  in Washington, DC., I learned that women kept cards of information on U.S. legislators, so in their lobbying efforts, they knew what legislators were for or against suffrage and if the legislator was a Republican or a Democrat.” Telegraphs, letters, and eventually phone calls were used as networking tools to get the word out to women. Their planning was unbelievable.”

Marsha Miller earned her bachelor of arts in history from Central Michigan University and her masters of library science from the University of Michigan. She was the periodicals reference librarian at Arkansas State University for five years and has been at Indiana State University since 1985 as a research and instructional librarian. There she is tied specifically to the College of Health and Human Services where she works with social work, physical education, occupational and physical therapy and sometimes nursing. “I also work with our School of Music which gives me the most personal joy, as I am a clarinetist, and with our Multidisciplinary Studies Department, which houses our Gender Studies program, part of the reason and inspiration for my development of this presentation.”

“There are so many interesting things to learn about suffrage. I now have a stack of books to read to learn what women did after they got the vote. I enjoy reading about Ida Husted Harper. I have been purposely collecting children’s books on women’s suffrage. One interesting book I read on the subject is The Hope Chest, by Karen Schwabach, written about the final weeks of suffrage ratification in Tennessee. Two little girls are the main characters. I have been collecting children’s books on women’s suffrage from the 80s and 90s.”

In keeping with her interest in suffrage, Miller contributes articles to the monthly publication called Terre Haute Living Magazine. “This year, I will have one article in that publication from August through November.”

Miller has spent a lengthy period of time at Indiana State University. “I feel that I can make a difference here at Indiana State University. In my main role, I have conducted more than 4,800 library/research instruction sessions. I have been able to serve on a number of campus committees. Currently I am working with our University College Council, which works with first-year students within our Foundational Studies program.  

This article is the seventh 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.

 

The Convention at Seneca Falls — The Beginning of the Suffrage Movement By Mary Hursh

The Convention at Seneca Falls — The Beginning of the Suffrage Movement

The power and the enticement of the right to vote brought over three hundred men and women to the tiny hamlet of Seneca Falls, New York, in the summer of 1848 to attend the first women’s rights convention organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two abolitionists who had met at the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention in London. These women realized early that to achieve reform, women needed to win the right to vote. The idea for the convention began when Mott and Stanton, along with Martha Wright and Mary Ann McClintock, were invited to tea at the home of Jane Clothier Hunt, a wealthy philanthropist and abolitionist, in Waterloo, New York. The ladies talked about the need to improve the social standing of women as well as the need for women to have the right to vote.

Spurred on by the motto of a Hunt grandfather, “ Faith without works is dead,” the women decided to move forward with their cause and send an advertisement to the Seneca County Courier inviting all readers to attend a convention planned at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls where the conditions and rights of women would be the topics of discussion. The chapel, after all, had been the scene for many reform lectures over the years.

Wright, McClintock, Hunt, Stanton, and Mott met supporters on July 19, at the Wesleyan Chapel. The first day of the convention was especially for women who gathered to hear Stanton read the Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions, listing injustices inflicted on women. The document urged all women to organize and petition for their rights.

Nearly forty men attended the second day of the convention on July 20, including Frederick Douglass. The convention passed twelve resolutions that day including the ninth resolution calling for female enfranchisement.

The document listed sixteen abusive laws and practices that violated women’s natural rights such as withholding rights given to natives and foreigners; withholding the right to vote; withholding the right to own property. The declaration emphasized that rules of marriage, divorce, education, religion and even moral laws were all designed to destroy a woman’s confidence in her own powers. Stanton emphasized that these laws were enacted without the consent of the governed since women were denied the franchise. This convention marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement.

The Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions was modeled on the Declaration of Independence. Stanton’s opening paragraph reads, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man…we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” The document goes on to refuse allegiance to a tyrannical government and to insist on equal status so women can enjoy their natural rights. Both documents were written to help people live in a more just society. The Declaration of Independence was signed by fifty-six men and the Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions was signed by sixty-eight women and thirty-two men of a total of three-hundred attendees of the convention. Seventy years after the Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions was adopted, the l9th Amendment was passed by Congress granting women the right to vote.

This article is the second 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 Women’s Suffrage Centennial Program

On August 26, 1920, Hoosier women won the right to vote after years of demanding that their voices be heard. 

During the month of August, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial will be celebrated throughout Indiana and the United States. The Town of Syracuse has designated the week of August 23-29 as Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration week. Chautauqua-Wawasee will be hosting a number of events and will team with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and the Indiana Humanities to bring area residents a glimpse into the events leading up to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. “It is hard to believe that women had to fight so hard for so long for the passage of the 19th Amendment. And sad that so many of the early suffragists did not live long enough to celebrate their victory,” said Mark Knecht, Chautauqua-Wawasee President. 

“From Seneca Falls to Seymour and South Bend: Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History” will be the first program presented by Melissa Gentry on August 26 at 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Oakwood Resort Inn in Syracuse 

Gentry is the supervisor of the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection. Since 2001, she has been providing instructional programs and has curated special exhibits for Ball State University and the Muncie community. Gentry will give listeners insight into important Indiana women in the suffrage movement and share her paper maps which picture events and people and places in the movement to secure the vote. 

On Saturday, August 29, Margo Wilson, children’s librarian at the Syracuse Public Library, will host a program for children at the library from l0-11 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., an old-fashion ice cream social is planned for Lakeside Park. The featured speaker will be Beth Beams, Chautauqua-Wawasee’s program director for the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration. Syracuse’s Joes Ice Cream is providing the ice cream. 

Marsha Miller, research librarian at Indiana State University, will present the fourth and final program at the Syracuse Community Center on Saturday, September 5 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Her topic will be “From Amanda to Zerelda: Hoosier Suffragists Who Raised a Ruckus.” Through costume and song, Miller will introduce the audience to women such as Amanda Way, Grace Julian Clarke, Mary Garrett Hay, Helen Gougar, Zerelda Wallace and May Wright Sewall.” 

All programs 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, with final ratification of the 19 thAmendment to the U. S. Constitution, 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 the right of women to vote 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 in 2020, and now extending into 2021, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial is being celebrated throughout Indiana and America. In 1973, August 26 was designated as Women’s Equality Day by Congress. 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 (‘mother of Indiana suffrage’), Helen Gougar (feisty publisher and lawyer based in Lafayette), Zerelda Wallace (one of the founders of Indiana’s Equal Suffrage Society), and women who moved into the national suffragist sphere, including May Wright Sewall (educator, and civic organizer), and Ida Husted Harper (journalist; close friend and biographer of Susan B. Anthony). As a librarian, Marsha Miller has taught more than 4,800 information literacy sessions at Indiana State University and coordinates library social media. She works closely with ISU’s Gender Studies Program and is a board member for the League of Women Voters of Vigo County. This presentation will be at the Syracuse Community Center on September 5 from 2:00 to 3:30. She will bring a variety of historical pictures and other items of interest and even books for children.

More details will be provided by a series of historical articles.  And details are available here or  our Facebook site (www.facebook.com/ChautauquaWawasee).