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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.

 

Melissa Gentry-Mapping Indiana Women’s Suffrage Movement

Mapping Indiana Women’s Suffrage Movement

By Mary Hursh

 

The women’s suffrage movement spanned decades. In 1911, the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana was formed and became the propelling force for the right to vote. Women from all walks of life participated in the many marches, campaigns, and demonstrations that finally resulted in the passage of the l9th Amendment granting women the right to vote.

Chautauqua-Wawasee, in partnership with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, the Syracuse Public Library, the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities, has a number of events and expert speakers planned for Syracuse to highlight and educate about right-to-vote movement.

On August 26, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., the Oakwood Resort will host the first speaker in the women’s suffrage centennial celebration.  It is free to attend.

Melissa Gentry, from Ball State University, will map the Indiana women’s suffrage movement and its leaders in her presentation titled “From Seneca Falls to Seymour and South Bend: Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History.”

“I create Indiana history maps for the Ball State University Map Collection for use by K-12 teachers and research. So, it seemed natural to create a map about Indiana suffrage. For me, picturing where some significant event happened or where a popular speaker like Sojourner Truth visited or where a suffragist lived connects me to the story. A map is a good visual aid to show how the cause of suffrage was happening in small towns, on farms, working class families, African-American churches, and prominent club women in big cities.” For Gentry, seeing the diversity of cultures and geography is an important part of the story.

Gentry chose her topic because one of the important women of the suffrage movement in Indiana was from South Bend. Her name was Emma Barrett Molloy (1839-1907). She became the first female newspaper co- editor in northern Indiana in 1867 for the South Bend National Union. She also wrote articles for other national newspapers and some popular women’s suffrage journals. She traveled the country as a public speaker for the cause of suffrage after the Civil War. “This was revolutionary for that time since most women did not participate in the public sphere, especially politics,” said Gentry.

Gentry, who holds degrees in history and geography, is the supervisor, of the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection. She has worked at the university since June 2001.

“I provide instructional sessions and programs for English, education, social studies, history, architecture, urban planning, women’s studies, geography, and even art classes for various professors. Through my work with the Library of Congress’ Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, I attended the opening reception for the Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the vote exhibition opening reception in June 2019 in Washington, D.C., where Nancy Pelosi was the main speaker.”

Gentry credits her grandmother, who worked for Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, the author of Title IX and the Equal Rights Amendment, for her interest in women’s history.

This article is the fifth 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.

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.

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).

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!