Stop! Think for one moment. I ask you to consider just how massive the span of time that covers the course of seventy-two years. That was the expansive number of years it took for the struggle and fight by women in this country to achieve the right to vote.
The women’s suffrage movement was first launched in 1848. After decades of struggle, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was successfully achieved in 1920. This Amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote.
I have taken the following definitions for the words “suffrage” and “suffragette” from the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
The definition of suffrage is: “The right to vote in an election”.
On the front side of my featured postcard, it says, “Suffragette Vote-Getting, The Easiest Way”. The word suffragette means: “A woman who worked to get voting rights for women in the past when women were not allowed to vote”.
The back side of my featured postcard is unused, no writing, so I cannot be completely certain which of my three “leading ladies” it belonged to, see my posting Intro to my blog. However, my best guess is that it belonged to Aunt Etta who seemed to be very involved in civic organizations and such. As I was gathering background information for this blog, I gained much appreciation for my own ancestors that had a hand in the suffrage movement. To learn more about Aunt Etta, refer to my previous posting Intro to Aunt Etta And Her Great Adventures.
At the end of this blog, I have a list of “Works Cited” since I have used several sources for the information used in my details listed here today.
The featured postcard was published in 1909 by the Dunston-Weiler Lithograph Company and is Number 4 in what was a series of 12 anti-woman suffrage postcards. These lithographic cartoon postcards presented an argument that men would become feminized by woman suffrage (Palczewski).
The following quote was found in reference to this card:
In one card called “Suffragette Vote-Getting” for example, a woman campaigns by spontaneously grabbing a stranger while kissing him on the lips. Ultimately the effect is soft ridicule, not the vicious satire that appears on English postcards and occasionally on American examples as well (Florey 275).
Since the election is upon us, my goal would be to remind all of us, especially women, about the huge effort and fight it took for our ancestors to win the right for women to vote. Just think about those seventy-two years they fought for us to have that right–please honor their efforts by voting.
Rhode Island and the Independent Man
Since I reside in Rhode Island and I have a family tie to the statue that sits on top of our state house–a symbol of our independence–I thought the following postcard might be of interest.
The Rhode Island State House, located in Providence, was built during the years of 1895 to 1904. It has the fourth largest self-supported marble dome in the world.
The above Rhode Island State House postcard was postmarked July 16, 1909 and was published by A.C. Bosselman & Co., of New York. The card was printed in Germany. This card was sent to my grandmother Bertha James (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint (West Warwick), Rhode Island. If you would like to learn more about Gra Gra, see my previous blog posting Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital.
Below is a closer look at the publisher information on the back of the postcard.
Sitting on top of the Rhode Island State House is a statue known as “The Independent Man”. He was designed by George Brewster, a sculptor from Massachusetts. The statue originally began in New York City as a statue of Simon Bolivar and was composed of bronze and gold metal.
Mr. Brewster, the designer, formed a partnership with the Gorham Foundry, of Providence, where the statue was melted and cast into the “Independent Man”. The Gorham Foundry was started in 1831, by Jabez Gorham.
This statue was set into place on December 18, 1899 where it remained until 1975 when it was taken down for a one-year makeover in preparation for the Bicentennial. The repairs and gold leaf were done by the Paul King Foundry, in Johnston.
Gra Gra had often mentioned that her father was a moulder and that he had worked on the “Independent Man”–the one sitting on top of the Rhode Island State House. My great-grandfather, George Lang Parkhurst James was born on Cushing Street, in Providence, on February 25, 1869 and died on March 15, 1926. He was a son of Charles Henry and Julia Ann (Moore) James. He was a Moulder by trade, first learning by working at the Providence Locomotive Works. He went on to work for other foundry places in Providence, including the Gorham Foundry, before moving to the Riverpoint section of West Warwick in 1905. To read more about his parents Charles and Julia, please see my previous post Intro to Grandma Julia and the Bitgood’s Pine Knoll Laboratory.
There will be more details about my great-grandfather and his family in future blogs but I will make brief mention here that he was very musically inclined. In addition to his trade as a moulder, he was sought after in the music world to furnish baritone and banjo solos. At times, he was a professional entertainer. Again, I will be sharing more stories and background as time goes on.
This old photo shown below, which previously belonged to my grandmother, has written on the back “Providence before the State House was built” so it would be from prior to 1895. It gives a glimpse into this area at that time, some of these buildings remain today, notice the church steeples in the background.
In closing, as we move forward to Election Day may we be reminded of those in the past that have fought for our independence and the right to vote. Whatever your choice, at least make the effort to vote. After the results, may we all go back to being kind to our friends and neighbors.
Until next time…
Florey, Kenneth. American Woman Suffrage Postcards: A Study and Catalog. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015. books.google.com. Accessed 06 November 2016.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. www.merriam-webster.com. Accessed 06 November 2016.
National Archives. www.archives.gov/historical-docs/19th-amendment. Accessed 06 November 2016.
Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA. www.uni.edu. Accessed 06 November 2016.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorham_Manufacturing_Company. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhode_Island_State_House. Accessed 06 November 2016.
http://www.rhody.com/the-man-atop-the-statehouse. Accessed 06 November 2016.