DEEDS NOT WORDS: 100 Years of the Vote for Women

Series sponsored by CT Humanities

Presented by: Avon Historical Society, Avon Free Public Library and Avon Senior Center, November 2019 – November 2020

The trio of Avon’s Historical Society, Library and Senior Center has received a $4,030.00 grant from CT Humanities to help fund the first half of a year-long series entitled DEEDS NOT WORDS: 100 Years of the Vote for Women. This series will focus on events that contributed to the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  It will run from November 2019 to November 2020 with events at the Library and Senior Center; this grant funds the first six months of events.

POSTPONED: Due to concerns related to COVID-19, the events for March and April 2020 have been postponed indefinitely

 

 

POSTPONED: Due to concerns related to COVID-19, this event has been postponed indefinitely. Dramatic Performance! 1:00 pm, March 28, 2020: Meet Susan B. Anthony: Failure is Impossible! Dramatic performance by Sheryl Faye. Susan B. Anthony was a women’s rights activist, and she devoted her life to racial, gender, and educational equality. She is one of the most famous women in American history, she played a prominent role in the women’s suffrage movement; the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote and she also was in support of women’s labor organizations and for a woman’s right to own property. In 2020 we celebrate not only 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, we’re also celebrating Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday! The show is 45 minutes plus questions.

Sheryl Faye is a full-time actress, a goal she has worked her whole live to achieve. Besides performing a variety of historical women for schools, libraries, historical societies, senior centers, and others, she also writes and performs with StageCoach Improv. She has been the voice of several characters for Sony Play Station games and for a variety of medical CD ROMS. She recently shot a national print ad for Vicks cold/flu and continues to keep busy working on films, television and theater throughout Boston and New York.

CANCELED: Debate! Suffrage is the BEST idea/Suffrage is the WORST idea: Which side would you have picked 100 years ago? Monday, March 30, 2020  4:30 pm pizza & soda; Debate begins at 5:00 pm. “Because 90% of the women either do not want it, or do not care.“ –National Association Opposed to Women Suffrage vs. “Because it is fair and right that those who must obey the laws should have a voice in making them, and that those who must pay taxes should have a vote as to the size of the tax and the way it shall be spent.“ –Alice Stone Blackwell. These are just two of the arguments for and against suffrage for women during the early part of the 20th century. These and other arguments will be presented in a brief debate format by the “History of Women in America” class from Tunxis Community College, taught by Cynthia Riccio, Adjunct Professor of History.

CANCELED: Movie! 1:30 pm, April 1, 2020: Susan B. Anthony Archival photographs and dramatic recreations of Anthony’s fight for women’s rights (1995 ; NR ; 50 min.)

POSTPONED: Lecture and Book Signing! 2:00 pm, Saturday, April 4, 2020: The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote. The story of how and why a group of prominent and influential men in New York City and beyond came together to help women gain the right to vote. Special lecture and book signing with Brooke Kroeger.  The Suffragents is the untold story of how some of New York’s most powerful men formed the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, which grew between 1909 and 1917 from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states. Brooke Kroeger explores the formation of the League and the men who instigated it to involve themselves with the suffrage campaign, what they did at the behest of the movement’s female leadership, and why. She details the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s strategic decision to accept their organized help and then to deploy these influential new allies as suffrage foot soldiers, a role they accepted with uncommon grace. Led by such luminaries as Oswald Garrison Villard, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and George Foster Peabody, members of the League worked the streets, the stage, the press, and the legislative and executive branches of government. In the process, they helped convince waffling politicians, a dismissive public, and a largely hostile press to support the women’s demand. Together, they swayed the course of history. Books will be for sale at this event.

Lecture! 7:00 pm, May 5, 2020: The 19th Amendment in Connecticut, by Honorable Henry Cohn.

In the late 19th Century, the women’s rights movement split between those favoring a time-consuming, state-by-state legislative approval, and those who took to the streets and risked arrest, to obtain a federal law on votes by women, mandatory for every state. The divisions among various factions did not resolve until after World War I, when all factions committed to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The U.S. Constitution required ratification by 36 states, and the suffragists were faced with objections in several states.

This talk will focus on the ratification effort and will rely on historic documents from our state archives. It will describe the role that Connecticut played in this effort as opposed to other states, such as Tennessee. This fascinating story includes descriptions of government officials both “pro” and “anti” suffrage, as well as the confrontations between the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements. The talk ends on a happy note with the 19th Amendment in effect for the vote for president in 1920.

Read Weiss’s book, The Woman’s Hour ahead of time to learn more about this state-by-state process.

Lecture presented by Honorable Henry S. Cohn. Judge Henry Cohn was appointed to the Connecticut Superior Court in 1997, and is presently a Judge Trial Referee.  He has served as elections attorney, deputy secretary of the state (briefly secretary of the state) as well as an assistant attorney general and adjunct professor at UConn Law School.  He is co-author of a legal history of the Hartford Circus Fire and has written and spoken extensively on a variety of topics.

Movie! 1:30 pm, May 6, 2020: America’s Victoria: Remembering Victoria Woodhull Chronicles the life of one of the most important and unrecognized women in US history (2007 ; Rated G ; 2 hrs.)

Movie! 1:30 pm, June 3, 2020: Mary Poppins  Walt Disney’s classic film provided the first exposure to the suffrage movement for many children (1964 ; Rated G;    2 hrs. and19 min.)

All events in the DEEDS series are free and open to the public.  A full listing will be posted on the Library’s website, www.avonctlibrary.info and throughout social media of all three organizations.  In addition, all Avon events will be posted on the Connecticut Commission on Women’s Suffrage (www.votesforwomenct.com) & CT Humanities (www.cthumanities.org) websites.

Call for original suffrage items!  If anyone has any original suffrage items they are willing to share for our exhibits, please let us know.  We are looking for personal items such as sashes, signs, letters, photos, etc. In 2020 there will be space available in locked exhibit cases in the Library for two suffrage exhibits.  Please let the Avon Free Public Library (860-673-9712) or Avon Historical Society (860-678-7621) know if you are willing to loan items for display.

Completed programs:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019  9AM – 4PM: Tour and Lunch at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT. Trip via motorcoach to visit their “From Corsets to Suffrage: Victorian Women Trailblazers.”  The lunch will be at the Post Road Diner. Cost is $55.00 per person with lunch paid on your own. RSVP as soon as possible to www.avonrec.com Any questions, please call:  860-675-4355. 

Wednesday, October  23, 2019, 6:30 PM: A presentation entitled “Taverns, Temperance, Teetotalers, and Tommy Guns: The Long History of Prohibition” by Dr. Francis Coan of Tunxis Community College and Stephen McGrath, adjunct history professor at Central Connecticut State University. This event is designed to give background and context as to what was happening nationally that gave rise to women’s concerns about society. Learn about the ubiquity of alcohol consumption in early America, the rise and influence of the temperance movement during the nineteenth century, and the progressive roots of Prohibition.  

Prohibition was one facet of old-stock American, rural, Protestant rule in the 1920’s that brought about severe restrictions on immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and the rise of organized crime. By the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, the nation acknowledged prohibition to have been a colossal failure; against this backdrop rose the suffrage movement. 

Movie! 1:30 pm, November 6, 2019: Suffragette  In 1912 London, a young working mother is galvanized into radical political activism supporting women’s right to vote. Starring Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, and Helena Bonham Carter (2015 ; PG-13 ; 1 hr. 46 min)

Movie! 1:30 pm, December 4. 2019:  Iron Jawed Angels  The story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns played by Hillary Swank and Frances O’Connor (2004 ; NR ; 2 hr. 3 min.)

December 9, 2019 6:30 PM:  A lecture entitled “Fashioning Women’s Suffrage,” a discussion on how suffragists used dress and other outward symbols to promote their cause, by Professor Heather Prescott, History Department, Central Connecticut State University and member of the Connecticut Commission on Women’s Suffrage.

In addition, the art gallery of the Avon Library will offer an exhibit from November through December 2019 showcasing highlights of the suffrage movement. 

“DEEDS” SERIES LAUNCH EVENT – Saturday, November 16, 2019 3:00 PM – A distinguished lecture presentation by Susan Ware, author of Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote (May 2019). A pioneer in the field of women’s history and a leading feminist biographer, Susan Ware, an Organization of American Historians (OAH) Distinguished Lecturer, is the author and editor of numerous books on twentieth-century U.S. history.  Her newest book, Why They Marched, uncovers a broader and more diverse story of suffrage, providing a fresh account of one of the most significant moments of political mobilization in American History. Feminism and women’s rights are an ongoing struggle with no clear endpoint in sight and the women’s suffrage movement is a vital part of that story.  Books will be available at this event. Additional sponsorship for this event is provided by the Connecticut Bar Association. 

Movie! 1:30 pm, January 8, 2020: The Divine Order  The Suffrage movement in Switzerland where women got the right to vote in 1971 (2017 ; NR ; 1 hr.36 min.)

Lecture! 2:00 pm, January 30, 2020: “The 19th Amendment: A Tale of Suffrage, Sacrifice & Success” presented by Mariann Millard.  The grass-roots story of women’s suffrage is a fascinating and a remarkable one: how it happened, who the players were, the obstacles they faced, the setbacks and personal hardships they endured, and the nail-biting race in the final state necessary to ratify the amendment. Lively and engaging, this presentation is designed to better understand and appreciate how difficult and how long the fight was for all women to become fully-fledged citizens of America.

Movie! 1:30 pm, February 5, 2020:  Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan  B. Anthony  Two women, one allegiance (1999 ; NR ;  3 hrs.)

Music! 2:00 pm, February 21, 2020: From Seneca Falls to the 19th Amendment: Songs of the Woman Suffrage Movement. Held at the Avon Senior Center, 635 West Avon Rd., Avon, CT 06001. Music presented by Rick Spencer and Dawn Indermuehle.  The struggle for woman suffrage was an important and hard-fought step toward gender equality. Music  was one of the significant tools used in the crusade for a woman’s right to vote. Songs were composed to advance (and to oppose) the agenda that culminated in the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This program presents some of the most engaging and interesting songs of the movement, with historical commentary, in commemoration of the approaching centennial of a woman’s right to vote. Please note that due to the 72 year struggle for woman suffrage, (1848-1920) this program runs 70 minutes.  (snow date: Friday, February 28. 2020, 2:00 pm). A sign language interpreter will be present at this event.

Lecture! Wednesday February 26, 2020 at 6:30 pmMeet Isabella Beecher Hooker: one of Connecticut’s suffragettes. 

Tempest-Tossed is the first full biography of the passionate, fascinating youngest daughter of the “Fabulous Beecher” family—one of America’s most high-powered families of the nineteenth century. Older sister Harriet Beecher Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Brother Henry Ward Beecher was one of America’s most influential ministers, and sister Catherine Beecher wrote pivotal works on women’s rights and educational reform. And then there was Isabella Beecher Hooker—”a curiously modern nineteenth-century figure.” She was a leader in the suffrage movement, and a mover and shaker in Hartford’s storied Nook Farm neighborhood and salon. But there is more to the story—to Isabella’s character—than that.

Susan Campbell is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a widely read Hartford Courant columnist, and the author of three books. She’s worked across the media landscape as an award-winning print journalist, a regular commentator on WNPR, and a guest on CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” the BBC, WTNH-TV, and the local news show “Face the State.” She is also part of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, an award-winning health and safety website.

Her work at The Courant – where she was a staff writer and columnist for 25 years and is currently a freelance columnist – has been recognized by the National Women’s Political Caucus, the New England Associated Press News Executives, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Society for Professional Journalists, among numerous other organizations. She’s also written for Connecticut Magazine, Salon.com, the Ms. Foundation blog, and Patheos.com. A sign language interpreter will be present at this event.

Movie! 1:30 pm, March 4, 2020: One Woman, One Vote  PBS documentary chronicles the 70 year struggle leading up to the passage of the 19th Amendment   (2005 ; NR ; 1 hr.) shown with : Equality Contemporary women introduce women of the past (2007 ; NR ; 30 min.)

The Avon Newsletter, a World War II collection, is now available online!

The Avon Newsletter- WWII newsletter headlineExplore 14 pieces of WWII history.

Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Avon Library, Katie Kukiolczynski, CCSU MA History graduate, was hired to process, scan, and summarize the World War II newsletter collection with the Marion Hunter History Room of the Avon Library.

This collection consists of 14 resident-created newsletters spanning the years 1943-1946. The newsletters were intended for Avon soldiers, and were sent to them wherever they were stationed, either at home or abroad, as well as to their families in Avon.

In addition to uploading the actual newsletters, Katie detailed military commendations and created highlights of each issue. Some of these highlights include personal accounts from soldiers experiences in battle, their military training, details of what it was like where they were stationed, and even their experiences to how drastically things changed after the war ended in places like Germany.

The newsletters also included some local town gossip and news for soldiers to stay up to date on current happenings around town, so Avon was always a part of them wherever they were.

View the collection here!