The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement

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January 9

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber.

Carrie Chapman Catt

Emily Jane Newell Blair, American feminist, suffragist


QUOTES from Ms. Piggy of Sesame Street and the Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage.

Carrie Chapman Catt, women's rights leader

Carrie Chapman Catt      Born 01-09-1859, Carrie Chapman Catt. Very young, Carrie Lane noticed that her mother did not go to vote when her father did and she developed a lifelong devotion to the cause of women's suffrage. An amazing administrator, she showed her ability early on.
      She taught school to earn college tuition, and in 1880 received a bachelor of science degree from Iowa State College. She became high school principal at Mason City, Iowa, in 1881. Within a few years she was elected superintendent of schools - one of the first women to fill such an office in the United States. After one year of marriage to Leo Chapman, editor and owner of the Mason City Republican, he died of typhoid fever in 1886.
      It was then that CCC began speaking and organizing activists for the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association and broke onto the national scene like a rocket. In 1890 she married George W. Catt, an engineer who believed in women's rights. Legend has it that she demanded six months to devote exclusively to women's suffrage each year. Her husband agreed and said he would provide the funds to enable her to carry out the work.
      Ten years later, Susan B. Anthony handpicked Catt to succeed her as president of the American Woman's Suffrage Association.

      Carrie Chapman Catt had traveled all over the United States giving speeches and organizing suffrage groups. She was considered the most fitting successor to Susan B. Anthony who personally turned the reins of the women's suffrage movement over to her in 1901.
      However, Catt's husband became seriously ill and she resigned her post to care for him. Rev. Anna Shaw took over from Catt and the organization went into a decline because, as loved and respected as Shaw was, she was not an organizer or administrator.
      Following the death of George Catt, CCC traveled extensively even to Europe and India to discuss women's suffrage and to organize the movement internationally. In 1913 Catt took charge of the suffrage movement in New York and directed two intensive campaigns. New York State enfranchised women in 1917. The end was in sight.
      However, by 1916, the American Woman's Suffrage Association was at war with itself under Shaw's failing leadership with a great deal of the impetus of the suffrage movement falling into the hands of radicals who were making noise but not getting the votes of Congress. Catt was persuaded to return and direct the organization. She was 57 years old in an era when a woman of 40 was considered old.
      And direct the main suffrage movement she did in a manner some say was more military than feminist. Catt had one goal: suffrage. And she would get it for all women in the United States in whatever way she could. Some are unfairly second guessing her today in a different climate and different situation. Let her be judged by those who knew her best: her organization grew to an amazing 3.5 MILLION women and men.

      How women of the time viewed CCC can be seen in such things as Mrs. Frank Leslie (virtually a self-made millionaire) willing $2 million dollars to Catt PERSONALLY to get suffrage passed. Catt used what was left of the money (after a protracted legal battle with the Leslie family) to set up the Leslie Publicity Bureau - one of the most remarkable examples of public relations and idea selling this nation has ever seen. Leslie's money was used for information not salaries.
      Under the direction of Ida Harper, information, instructions, and ideas roared like a torrent to every part of the nation. No group of suffragists was too small to get personal attention, help, or direction. The ranks and power of the suffragists swelled.
      With World War I looming on the horizon, the differences between the radical demonstrations of Alice Paul and the acute political acumen of Carrie Catt came into hard focus. Catt supported the war effort and the American soldiers overseas; Paul demonstrated and refused to allow her supporters to aid the war effort.
      Catt, the single-minded who would maneuver, politic, slip and slide every which way to get suffrage passed, recognized that women were seen by men as helpless, in spite of their everyday hard work. Her plan was to show men that they were capable - and to force politicians to be grateful.
      While Paul and her followers picketed outside the halls of power, Catt and her followers lobbied and twisted arms inside, and collected markers. Catt's followers worked in war plants, joined the military, plowed fields, and proved to the men that they were capable of taking responsibility.
      When WWI drew to a close, it was pay-back time. A grateful and very reluctant President Wilson who never personally approved of women's suffrage went before Congress and endorsed women's suffrage. Catt and her women's army of lobbyists had given him no choice. In 1919, a federal constitutional amendment went to the various states for ratification.

      Few books on the suffrage movement describe the delegations of women sent by Catt to lobby the Congress. Almost every American woman of any fame or noted ability was part of Catt's army.
      Her amazing organizational skills, plus her ability to gain respect and admiration, welded together the largest and most effective civil rights organization in the history of this world - and changed the face of democracy by enfranchising 51% of the population of the United States. Ever the forward seeing, two years before the vote was ratified she organized the League of Women Voters to help women learn how to vote and participate in the political process. The league is still active and holds seminars on teaching women to run for political office.
      Following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Catt stepped out of public life. She was 61. She refused to write her memoirs or cooperate with biographers which allowed the more radical segments of the suffrage movement to become better known and take much of the credit.
      Instead of doing PR, Catt spent her time in the cause of peace. In 1925 Catt enlisted leading women's groups in the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War and remained active in the peace movements along with Jane Addams and others such as Emily Balch. After World War II, she worked to have women placed on United Nations commissions. She died in New Rochelle, N.Y., on March 9, 1947. Catt is buried in New York City alongside Mary Garrett Hay with whom she lived from 1905 until Hay's death in 1928. They share a single headstone which reads: "Here lie two, united in friendship for 38 years through constant service to a great cause."

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Emily Jane Newell Blair

      Born 01-09-1877, Emily Jane Newell Blair, American feminist, suffragist, and political party activist was typical of the extraordinary women who convinced the American male to give up his total control of laws and society and make women's suffrage a reality in 1920.
      Married and living in Missouri, ENB began suffering the housewife discontent that Betty Friedan would write about 70 years later in The Feminine Mystique. Consequently, ENB began a writing career to take her out of the "narrow confines into a larger sphere." She used her writing money to hire household help that gave her far more time to write.
      She joined the suffrage movement in Missouri because women had "no property rights, no parental rights, practically no economic freedom since professions, trades, and business were closed to her." After she helped organize the League of Women Voters, she rejected its non-partisanship. She believed women could only gain equality by holding political office and becoming active and powerful in political parties.
      Elected as National Democratic Committee vice-chair with particular duties to organize women voters in 1921, she organized more than 2,000 Democratic Women's Clubs and built regional training programs for women party workers. She served on the committee until 1928, preparing a history of the Democratic party, an organization primer, and many leaflets that would show the way for women's political acvtivism.
      ENB had to leave college to care for her younger siblings after her father died. Her mother went to work to support the family - another example of women working outside the home in the normal course of events although HIStory tries to tell us women didn't work outside the home.

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B. 01-09-1802, Catherine Parr Traill, Canadian nature writer of frontier life and the beauties of the land.

B. 01-09-1856, Lizette Woodworth Resse published more than nine volumes of poems.

Event 01-09-1873, in the foremost scandal of the day, Victoria Woodhull, publisher, was arrested for writing that renowned preacher Henry Ward Beecher had committed adultery. The postal authorities charged her with sending obscene literature through the mail. She was acquitted of the charge. What made the event more newsworthy is that Beecher was subsequently sued for alienation of affections by Theodore Tilton. The jury and the public found Dr. Beecher innocent but found Mrs. Tilton GUILTY.

B. 01-09-1886, Ida Cohen Rosenthal, Russian-born American manufacturing executive, operated a small dress store in New York along with Ethel Bissett. To make their clothes hang better, the duo added tucks in front of the strips of cloth that were the brassieres of that time. The "cupped" bras became so popular that they organized the Maiden Form Brassiere company in 1923. ICR's mother ran a store in Europe to support the family because her father was a Hebrew scholar. Note that bras were designed and worn as beauty aids, not for any medical or health reason.

B. 01-09-1897, Felisa Rincon De Gautier, mayor of San Juan (appointment 1946), member of the Board of Commissioners and city manager. Women were enfranchised in Puerto Rico in 1932 and she became the leader of the liberal party.

B. 01-09-1898, Dame Gracie Fields, British singer reported to be the highest paid entertainer in 1939 was popular for her closeness to the people with her broad Lancaster accent. Best Known for Now Is the Hour, one of the most popular songs of the 1940's. She made movies in Britain and had her own radio show in the U.S. where lived during WWII because her husband had been threatened with internment in England.

B. 01-09-1903, Marcia Davenport, author. Her best known novel is Valley of Decision. Her mother was Alma Gluck, one of the greatest of all lyric sopranos and her great niece is actor Stephanie Zimbalist.

B. 01-09-1908, Simone de Beavoir, French novelist, educator, essayist, who was involved in many feminist groups; president of the League for the Rights of Women. Author of The Second Sex (Le Deuxiˆme sexe -1949, English trans. 1953) that has become a classic of feminist philosophy.

Event 01-09-1990, through a case filed in 1985 by Chinese-American Dr. Rosalie Tung, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down the university practice of keeping their tenured rolls and information secret. The decision said a university accused of discriminating in tenure must make the relevant personnel files available to Federal investigators. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which in 1972 Congress extended to educational institutions prohibits employment discrimination based age, sex, national origin, or religion. Dr. Tung had been denied tenure at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business which she left to became Wisconsin Distinguished Professor and director of the International Business Center at the University of Wisconsin.

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      "One need not be married to achieve status."
            -- Ms. Piggy's reply when asked what her marital status was.

      Secretary George, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage, stated after hearing Carrie Chapman Catt speak in 1919:
      "There isn't a man in Christendom that can answer that woman's arguments, but I'd rather see my wife in a coffin than going to vote."

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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again. The text of the documents may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use. Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are © 1998-2009 the liz library.  All rights reserved. This site is hosted and maintained by the liz library.