Tag Archives: Women’s History

This Unaccountable Stupidity

Dear Ballot Box:

Do you know that this interminable drudgery imposed on American mothers of petitioning–petitioning for the ballot–this humiliation of forever praying to their own sons to be allowed to enjoy their birthright with the men born of them, furnishes me with stronger evidence of the Darwinian theory than anything I am able to find elsewhere. Were it not for this relic which has no parallel in the history left us of the dark ages–of the long ago buried past,there would be little proof of such an age having once enshrouded the earth.

The brutish vulgarity which we see cropping out in men who ignorantly disgrace themselves by ignoring their own mothers, is conclusive evidence to me that the race must have come up through the long line of animal ancestry to the “man in the dugout,” and from thence to the men in our present Congress, some of whom still seem inclined to root, and grunt, and squeal, if others assert rights equal to their own: lest the visual line of their own pen be the world’s extent, and, if others should be allowed to enjoy like blessings, they would be crowded, off the stage of action. While there are other men on the same floor, who, I am proud to say, are infinitely in advance of all this, which is a promise and prophecy of the oncoming of those others, for which I thank God and take courage; and love to accept this theory because it gives us a better outlook–this law of eternal progress must in cycles of years lift the most sordid to a higher plane of nobler action.

I say, but for this, I could find no way to account for this unaccountable stupidity, this lack of power to comprehend the plainest possible expressions in the English language.


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Mrs. A. T. Ames, Deputy Sheriff of Boone County, Illinois

The New Woman in Office – January 1896

In January of 1896 the editors of Godey’s Lady’s Book produced an issue focused on the changing roles of women in American life. Articles included The Association for the Advancement of Women, A Woman’s Heart, Your Majesties, The New Woman, Athletically Considered, Women Inventors, The New Woman in Office, Artists in Their Studios, The Vassar Students’ Aid Society, Talks by Successful Women, and A Record of Realities

The excerpts below are from one of the most comprehensive articles, The New Woman in Office by Joseph Dana Miller. Mr. Miller gathered information from all over the country about female office holders and male reaction to women in these new roles.

The New Woman in Office

Ignore it as we will, deplore it as we may, the status of woman in society is undergoing, by the action of irrepressible forces, an astonishing and formidable change. Conservatism may frown upon the advance of woman into the domain of politics and government, but it can no more effectually bar her entrance into these fields than it can oppose itself successfully to the action of winds and tides.

The “new woman,” as she is called—a term which, outside of the caricaturist’s imagination, may be defined to mean a woman who entertains unconventional ideas of womanly independence and woman’s relation to society—feels that she is man’s helpmate in more than one sense, and whether as wife or spinster, has an interest in what goes on outside the household. She contends, with much show of reason, that exclusive devotion to the duties of, wifehood and maternity narrows her intellectual activities, and makes of her a merely sensitory animal. It is sometimes said that there is no insuperable objection to the entrance of unmarried women into political fields, but I think that statistics will confirm my present impression, which is, that more than half the women in public life to-day are married.


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Who is Nellie Bly?

The following extract from an interview with Mrs. Gen. Grant by Nellie Bly, printed in the N.Y. WORLD, October 28th, will show our subscribers who Nellie Bly is:

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

“I was somewhat nervous about my visit to Mrs. Grant. I only knew of her as the wife of the famous general; the successful hostess for eight years in the White House; the woman who had, in making a tour of the world, been received as a queen in every civilized land. Would anyone wonder, then, at my apprehension, when women of so much meaner light so often try to parry all attempts at approach? But I was wrong.

“My son tells me,” Mrs. Grant said, with a pleasant laugh, after greetings had been exchanged and she had drawn me by the hand to a chair and seated herself on a lounge, most cordially near, “that Nellie Bly is a little scamp”

“Oh, no, no,” I broke in, but holding her finger up playfully, she continued:

“That, not being content with exposing the Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum—yes, and benefitting it wondrously—and exposing Phelps, the great Albany lobbyist, she needs must go to Central Park and allow herself to be ‘mashed,’ and then tell all about it in THE WORLD , so that now none of the men dare wink at a girl while out driving, lest she be Nellie Bly .”

“Why, that’s a shame,” I replied, and we both laughed, I fear not altogether in pity of the men.


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New Historic Marker Honors Amelia Jenks Bloomer’s Childhood Home

Monday, September 17, 2012 –Nearly 50 people turned out for the unveiling of a historic roadside marker on Main Street in Homer yesterday, the marker recognizes one of America’s foremost social reformers who was born in the Village.

With musical fanfare and an extensive history Homer Town Historian Martin Sweeney and Cortland resident Pamela Poulin unveiled the latest historical marker in Homer, this one dedicated to the early beginnings of women’s rights and temperance advocate Amelia Jenks Bloomer.

Through her research Poulin was able to determine that Jenks Bloomer was born in Homer in 1818 and lived at 43 Main Street. The young Jenks Bloomer was educated at the Homer academy on the Village Green. At age 22 she married the owner of the Seneca County Courier Newspaper and became a writer.

Read more at New Historic Marker in Homer Recognizes Women’s Rights Leader.


Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Jenks Bloomer

Amelia Jenks Bloomer’s The Lily, the first newspaper for women, was issued from 1849 until 1853 under the editorship of Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894).

Published in Seneca Falls, New York and priced at 50 cents a year, the newspaper began as a temperance journal for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848.

The Society’s enthusiasm died out, but Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper.

Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies”, but after 1850 only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.

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A Fashion Plate

Chit-Chat of Fashions, May 1844

“Transparent muslin, the cheapest of all materials, is one of the prettiest, too, for summer’s wear, and with the addition of some bows of delicate coloured riband, or a bouquet of fresh flowers, forms a most becoming dress. The lowness of the price of such a robe enables the purchaser to have so frequent a change of it, that even those who are far from rich may have half a dozen, while one single robe of a more expensive material will cost more; and having done so, the owner will think it right to wear it more frequently than is consistent with the freshness and purity that should ever be the distinguishing characteristics in female dress, in order to indemnify herself for the expense.

“I was never more struck with this fact than a short time ago, when I saw two ladies seated next each other, both young and handsome; but one, owing to the freshness of her robe, which was of simple organdie, looked infinitely better than the other who was quite as pretty, but who, wearing a robe of expensive lace, whose whiteness had fallen into ‘the sere and yellow leaf,’ appeared faded and passe.

“What a multiplicity of pretty things we women require to render us what we consider presentable! And how few of us, however good-looking we may chance to be, would agree with the poet, that loveliness needs not the foreign aid of ornament, but is when ‘unadorned, adorned the most.’ Even the fairest of the sex like to enhance the charms of nature by the aid of dress; and the plainest hope to become less so by its assistance.

“Men are never sufficiently sensible of our humility, in considering it so necessary to increase our attractions in order to please them, or grateful enough for the pains we bestow in the attempts. Husbands and fathers are particularly insensible to this amiable desire on the part of their wives and daughters, and when asked to pay the heavy bills incurred in consequence of this praiseworthy humility and desire to please, evince any feeling rather than that of satisfaction. It is only admirers, not called on to pay these said bills, who duly appreciate the cause and effect, and who can hear of women passing whole hours in tempting shops, without that elongation of countenance peculiar to husbands and fathers.

“I could not help thinking with the philosopher, how many things I saw to-day that could be done without. If women could be made to understand that costliness of attire seldom adds to beauty and often deteriorates it, a great amelioration in expense could be accomplished.

“Be wise then, ye young and fair; and if, as I suspect, your object be to please the lords of creation, let your dress in summer be snowy-white muslin, never worn after its pristine purity becomes problematical; and in winter, let some half dozen plain and simple silk gowns be purchased, instead of the two or three expensive ones that generally form the wardrobe,-and which consequently soon not only lose their lustre, but give the wearer the appearance of having suffered the same fate.

“And you, O husbands and fathers, present and future, be ye duly impressed with a sense of your manifold obligations to me, for thus opening the eyes of your wives and daughters how to please without draining your purses; and when the maledictions of lace, velvet, and satin sellers, fall on my hapless head for counsel so injurious to their interests, remember they are incurred for your’s!”

Lady Blessington

Chit-Chat of Fashions - May, 1844

Chit-Chat of Fashions – May, 1844


Collection: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Publication: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Date: May, 1844
Title: Chit-Chat of Fashions
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About Godey’s Lady’s Book

Godey’s Lady’s Book was published by Louis A. Godey from Philadelphia for 48 years (1830–1878). Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale (author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb“) was its editor from 1837 until 1877 and only published original, American manuscripts.

Our collection provides the complete run of Godey’s Lady’s Book, and is the only one containing the color plates as they originally appeared. Our search and retrieval system allows searchers to limit by Image Type, which includes chromolithograph, color plate and color plate fashion, as well as advertisement, cartoon, drawing, engraving, fashion plate, illustration, map, mezzotint, portrait, sheet music, table and woodcut.

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