Last weekend I was privileged to speak at the Phinehas S. Newton Library in Royalston, MA, which offered me the chance to explore the lives of some wonderful Massachusetts suffragists. Although my research has concentrated primarily on women from New York and Long Island, New York women certainly did not corner the market on devotion to the suffrage cause. Rather, the efforts of all women, from Maine to Florida, and out through the western states wove a deep web of cooperation and interdependence that eventually was responsible for the success of the suffrage movement.
Lucy Stone represented the women of the early days of the suffrage battle. Born in West Brookfield, MA, in 1818, she first worked for abolition, and later for suffrage. A colleague of both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she worked with them at the National Woman Suffrage Association, but later parted ways with them and formed the rival American Woman Suffrage Association. The women were finally reunited in 1890 with the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Lucy Stone had a fierce desire for an education, and after many years of struggle finally graduated from Oberlin College, becoming the first women in Massachusetts to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Despite her laudable work for suffrage and women’s rights, she is probably best remembered for her refusal to take her husband Henry Blackwell’s name after marriage, retaining her maiden name, and prompting women who followed her lead to be called “Lucy Stoners.” She died in 1893.
MAUD WOOD PARK
Maud Wood Park was born in Boston in 1871. In her senior year at Radcliffe College she heard a speech by Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, daughter of Lucy Stone, which inspired her to join the Massachusetts Suffrage Association. She and fellow student Inez Haynes Irwin later founded the Equal College Suffrage League, which operated under the premise that the young women of that day owed a debt of gratitude to the women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton whose work for suffrage and equal rights now allowed the younger women the freedom to enter universities and professions. It was now up to those younger women to take up the cause, and “pay their debt to the pioneers.”
The College Equal Suffrage League formed chapters throughout the states; Maud Wood Park went on to work in Washington DC with Carrie Chapman Catt, and eventually became the first head of the League of Women Voters in 1920. She died in 1955.
FANNY BULLOCK WORKMAN
Although Fanny Bullock Workman is best known as a mountain climber and adventurer, she was also a strong supported of the woman suffrage movement. Daughter of Alexander Hamilton Bullock, governor of Massachusetts from 1866 to 1868, Fanny was born in Worcester MA in 1859. With her husband William she traveled extensively through the Himlayas and Southeast Asia, and was photographed placing a “Votes for Women” banner on a mountain in the Karadoram range.
In India, in 1906, Fanny set an altitude record of 22,810 feet for a woman climber. When this achievement was challenged by another woman climber, Fanny hired a team of French surveyors to measure the mountain and legitimize her claim. Fanny Bullock Workman challenged the customary restrictions placed on women in the 19th century, thus paving the way for many women explorers to follow.