The Monday Reading Club of Glens Falls, NY
Study Clubs were all the rage amongst middle & upper class women in the late 19th & early 20th centuries. Glens Falls boasted at least nine different study clubs, with other women's organizations hosting similar activities.
The Monday Reading Club formed in 1905, and was like many such clubs around the country. They met bi-weekly at the home of a hostess, and another member served as the presenter of the designated topic. They rotated both positions throughout the club year which usually began in the fall and ended the following spring.
The 1921-22 theme of the Monday Reading Club, “Our Country”, was chock full of suffragists. This was only one year after equal suffrage became to law of the land with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 1920. Oddly, this particular club did not have any suffragists among its members, and even had the local anti-suffrage leader, Jeannette Roosa Davis, as its president from 1914-17.
Oct 3, 1921: Lodice P. Patterson (Mrs. Charles L.) on Mary Antin
A Jewish immigrant, Mary Antin (1881-1949), published her autobiography, The Promised Land, in 1912 and lectured widely in favor of assimilation, as well as Progressive views like equal suffrage. In 1916, when Glens Falls native, Charles Evans Hughes, ran for president of the United States, he declared he was in favor of a national equal suffrage amendment. Enlisting the help of a number of progressive women, including Antin, to serve on his National Hughes Alliance Women’s Committee, the women travelled around the country by train campaigning for Hughes.
Nov 14, 1921: Lina Baldwin (Mrs. William) presented on Helen Keller
Deaf and blind after an illness at two years old, Helen Keller (1880-1968) learned sign language, and braille from teacher & mentor Anne Sullivan. Keller was and advocate for the blind, equal suffrage, and one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Nov 28, 1921: Sarah F. Sherman (Mrs. Roswell) presented on Julia Ward Howe
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) is best known for writing the words to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. She was an ardent abolitionist and suffragist co-founding the American Woman Suffrage Association with Lucy Stone in 1869.
Jan 2, 1922: Blanche (nee Griffin) Jenkins presented on “Laws of New York State Relative to Women”, and Georgianna D. Stickney (Mrs. Lewis F.) presented on Frances Willard
Under its president, Frances Willard (1839-1898), the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) officially supported woman suffrage in 1881. Not a proponent of equal or universal suffrage, Willard supported testing to ensure voter eligibility.
Jan 16, 1922: Mary M. Sawyer (Mrs. Joseph) presented on Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was born in Adams, MA. She spent her formative years in the hamlet of Battenville in the town of Greenwich in nearby Washington County. While mainly a temperance activist to start, Anthony became a fierce advocate for woman suffrage after meeting Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She would spend the next half a century traveling the country giving speeches to secure equal suffrage for women, as well as men.
Feb 13, 1922: Mrs. Edward Reed presented on Jane Addams
Jane Addams (1860-1935) was an activist and social reformer who co-founded the first settlement house, Hull House, in Chicago in 1889. She was active in woman suffrage, child labor laws, and co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Addams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
May 8, 1922: Edith K. Liddle (Mrs. John) presented on Frances H. Burnett & Harriet Beecher Stowe
Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was born in England, but came to the US in 1865. The author is best known for her children’s books The Little Princess, and The Secret Garden Burnett joined a group of writers in signing a women’s suffrage petition in 1910.
(The Secret Garden on display from the Children’s Book collection, The Folklife Center, Crandall Public Library.)
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an abolitionist, suffragist, and author best known for her 1852 bestseller Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
(Life and Deeds of Self-Made Men on display from the Holden collection, The Folklife Center, Crandall Public Library.)
May 22, 1922: Mrs. E. J. Twichell presented on Anna Howard Shaw
The Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) became active in the suffrage movement after meeting Susan B. Anthony in 1887. Shaw spoke in Glens Falls while attending the 32nd Annual New York Woman Suffrage Association Convention at Rockwell House & Ordway Hall in 1900. Shaw was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1904-1915. Lucy Anthony (Susan B. Anthony’s niece) was her partner for thirty years.
Online resources used to write this post include nyhistoricnewspapers.org, newspapers.com, ancestry.com, Elisabeth Freeman and the 1916 Hughes Women's Campaign Train, and a very useful website by Donald Ross on Women's Study Clubs in Minnesota.
I also consulted the Women's study clubs collection, 1905-1958, Glens Falls City Directories, Warren County cemetery indexes, the Crandall Public Library Photograph Collection, 1863-2000 & the biographical vertical files held in the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.
Portions of this blog post first appeared in the exhibition, "Beyond Suffrage: Women’s Clubs in Greater Glens Falls, NY", January - August 2020, in the Folklife Gallery, Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, NY.
Suffragist Susan B. Anthony is featured in the Folklife Gallery exhibition, Equali-tea: Suffragist Tea Cozies in Redwork, A Suffrage Centennial exhibition.
Tisha Dolton is Librarian/Historian at The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Her areas of interest are suffrage music, suffragists of Warren and Washington Counties, local women and minority populations, and embroidery.
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