The Suffrage Cause and Bryn Mawr - More Speakers

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)

Carrie Chapman Catt.  C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College LibraryCarrie Chapman Catt was one of the most widely known activists in both the national and international suffrage campaigns. She served as president of the NAWSA for two separate terms, first from 1900-1904 (succeeding Susan B. Anthony) and again after Anna Howard Shaw's retirement in 1915. Catt was the NAWSA president when the federal amendment was ratified on August 26, 1920. Catt was extremely active in the international suffrage movement as well as the American campaign. She helped found the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) in 1902 at the 34th annual convention of the NAWSA in Washington, D.C., and was president from 1904 to 1923. The organization eventually represented thirty-two different countries.

Although M. Carey Thomas was in contact with Catt on numerous occasions from 1901 onwards, Catt did not come to Bryn Mawr until 1921, when she gave the first set of lectures in honor of Anna Howard Shaw. To launch the series, Thomas arranged to have Catt address the campus in five large and lavish meetings in the gymnasium (now the Campus Center). Thomas was very explicit as to the type of content she hoped Catt would include in her speeches:

The following suggestion for lectures is of course entirely subject to your revision. Mrs. [Caroline McCormick] Slade and I had very little time to talk them over and you have probably seen her since but I think that we both felt that a course of lectures addressed to new citizens would be of great interest. It seems to me that the historical development of government was treated more or less well in connection with the fight for suffrage but that the actual conditions of practical politics were necessarily left until women got the vote. In political discussions with even the most intelligent of the Bryn Mawr students I find that they are very ignorant of conditions as they are and rather inclined to take a romantic point of view.
Letter from M. Carey Thomas to Carrie Chapman Catt. M. Carey Thomas Papers, Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College Library.

This exhibition would not be possible without the generosity of the estate of Carrie Chapman Catt. Most of the photographs in the exhibition come from photo albums in the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers (Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College Library). The albums contain approximately 815 photographs and a limited amount of printed matter, mostly newspaper clippings, documenting the history of international woman's suffrage. These materials and others related to the suffrage movement were a gift to Bryn Mawr College in 1947.

Maud Wood Park (1871-1955)

Maud Wood Park.  C. C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College Library Maud Wood Park (Radcliffe College '98) was the founder of the National College Equal Suffrage League (NCESL). Park started branches of the NCESL in thirty different states, and can be credited for inspiring the establishment of Bryn Mawr's chapter during her campus lecture in the spring of 1907.

The presence of Bryn Mawr's own student branch of the NCESL, and Thomas's status in the organization and in women's education in general, meant that the most renowned pro-suffrage speakers came to Bryn Mawr. Maintaining the prestige that Susan B. Anthony's 1902 visit had established, the campus welcomed every NAWSA president other than Elizabeth Cady Stanton; famous American and English pro-vote leaders, both male and female; and even the most notorious of English radical suffragists. Their visits and the chapter's activities were reported in campus publications, particularly the Alumnae Quarterly, and discussed in alumnae club meetings.

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Jane Addams.  C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College LibraryJane Addams founded Hull House in Chicago and was also highly active in the suffrage world, serving as a first vice president of the NAWSA from 1911 to 1914. She was one of the most frequent suffrage speakers on Bryn Mawr's campus and she, like Catt, was engaged to present Anna Howard Shaw memorial lectures.

One of M. Carey Thomas's first major projects as President of the NCESL was to organize a speaking tour by Jane Addams. Because of her national reputation, Addams was considered an ideal person to recruit students for the NCESL. Her tour was concentrated in the east, the area that caused the most trouble for the suffrage movement and where the colleges, including some of the Seven Sisters, were considered most entrenched in tradition.

On May 7, 1908, Thomas wrote to Addams, describing the effects of her talks:

It is impossible for me to tell you in the brief time at my disposal . . . how greatly your lectures have helped the suffrage cause. We receive from every quarter unanimous testimony to the conviction you brought home to your hearers. People who have been unwilling to consider the subject before are now warm believers in it. One of your most important disciples is now Professor Vida Scudder of Wellesley. After your address at Bryn Mawr, twenty-nine students who had been unconvinced capitulated; and it has been so everywhere. Miss Garrett and I are delighted with the results. . . .

Max Eastman (1883-1969)

Men's League for Women's Suffrage. C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College LibraryDuring the suffrage era there were a large number of progressive men and men's organizations working actively for the suffrage movement both in the U.S. and abroad. Their participation in the campaigns is reflected in the visits of at least four prominent men to Bryn Mawr's campus: Max Eastman, an American, and the British suffragists Philip Snowden, Laurence Housman and F.W. Pethick-Lawrence.

Eastman was a prominent Socialist and was associated with the culture of radical artists and intellectuals in Greenwich Village. He helped found the Men's Equal Suffrage League in 1910. Eastman was President of the Men's Equal Suffrage League of New York State when he delivered his talk at Bryn Mawr in 1913, titled "Woman Suffrage and Why I Believe in It." The Lantern reported that "the result of his speech was a number of converts to woman suffrage." Eastman's sister, Crystal, was a prominent member of the Congressional Union and the National Woman's Party.

Antoinette Funk (d. 1942)

Antoinette Funk (at left) participating in a suffrage demonstration, Chicago, June 1914.  C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College LibraryBy 1915 Antoinette Funk, a lawyer from Chicago, was the executive secretary of the Congressional Committee of the NAWSA. She was part of the committee that replaced Alice Paul's Congressional Union once it separated from the NAWSA. Funk gave a December 3, 1915 speech, "The Best Arguments for Woman Suffrage," for the Bryn Mawr's College Equal Suffrage League.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College LibraryCharlotte Perkins Gilman was an active and eloquent suffragist, making her a natural and frequent speaker at NAWSA events. She later served on the advisory boards of the Congressional Union and the National Woman's Party. Gilman spoke at Bryn Mawr twice, once on "Women and Democracy" in 1911, and again in 1915 on "Women and Economics."

Helen Robertson '16 described Gilman's 1915 lecture in a letter home:

It was a very interesting lecture and if people were looking for an advocation of sensational views in her they must have been disappointed. She is radical enough to be sure, but she certainly wasn't sensational. Her idea was that the human masculine and feminine were too different to live happily together and the reason they were so different was the ages of economic dependence of the woman on the man and that if women refused to be economically dependent and went out and lived their own lives the world would be a better place. That was only the outline and she filled in with a considerable amount of sense and sentiment and also of course radical ideas like having specially trained people look after the babies of people who weren't made to look after their own. It was really quite interesting and she was a very good speaker.

Gilman wrote extensively on women's social and political issues and was recognized by her contemporaries for her 1898 book, Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution. She also wrote a well-known book of suffrage songs and poems that was published in 1911. Gilman is most widely known today for her 1892 feminist story, "The Yellow Wallpaper."

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