Tag Archives: Women’s History
Howe

The Association for the Advancement of Women in 1896

Among the hundreds upon hundreds of women’s organizations, of whose making there is no end and into whose many forms the much-talked of “woman movement” has crystallized itself, there is one unique and interesting society of which little is heard, though it is of ripe age–twenty-two years–and counts its membership in every section of the country.

From Canada to Florida, from Maine to California, are women to whom the initials “A.A.W.” stand for a new inspiration in their lives, and among its hundreds of members are included women of world-wide fame, from its president, Julia Ward Howe , author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” down. From the fact that its working methods are somewhat unlike those of most women’s clubs, the only time when the Association for the Advancement of Women challenges universal attention, is when it calls its members from the East and the North, the South and the West, to its annual convention in some representative city. For the rest of the year it works so quietly–though none the less effectively –that to many of the outside world a brief account of the Association, its membership, and its work, will come as interesting news.

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NE-Kitchen

Reverend Wayland’s Model Woman

The following from the pen of the Rev. H. L. Wayland should not be a mere fancy sketch, but the reality with every born woman. He knows one such he tells us. Let that one stand the prophecy of all women in the future. We do not expect much of humanity, and so do not realize much in man or woman. “According to your faith be it unto you,” is one of the truest and sublimest utterances in human language, and one of the most important. And the principle runs through all human action and aspiration. We expect nothing, we aim at nothing, we arrive at nothing, is true of an awful proportion of the human race. The Hot Wells of Bath, England, have brought multitudes there to die as well as to be cured during the centuries, and the Old Abbey church is filled with mural and other monuments of the departed, but scarcely a name known to fame appears among them all. And a satirist there has left this tracing to be read as his estimate of them:

“These walls adorned With monument and bust,
Show how Bath’s waters serve to lay the dust.”

Over how many cemetery gates might not the substance of this be placed? And the satire will be just until loftier ideas of human possibility and perfection are entertained.

Men sometimes say of a caged lion, if he only knew his strength, how soon he would be free! So of the man, if he only knew his power, his possibilities, how quickly he would burst the second death cements that now hold him, and leap to loftier life and action? Who shall speak the new word of life to stir the stagnant souls of these unburied dead, that make our nation and the world of man so like the vision of the Hebrew prophet: a valley of dry bones! Who shall cry with his fervor and his faith too, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live!”

But our readers shall not lose Mr. Wayland in these musings of our own. It should be impressed on the mind and heart of universal humanity that the rare models like this described below, and all the sublimest attainments ever yet reached by saint or sage, are but the beginning, not the end, of what every mortal man and woman will one day reach in the earthly life, not the heavenly, where it doth not yet appear, even in a few models, what we shall be.

Mr. Wayland says:

I know one lady (I use the singular number not unadvisedly), and she is not compelled by her circumstances, who makes housekeeping an art, who studies chemistry and physiology, that she may adapt her table to the comfort and health of her family; who is the mistress of her servants, and not their unpaid dependent; who knows when the work of the house is done, and if it is not done is able to show the servants the reason of their failure; and with all this, she is not a drudge, with a soul confined to pots and pans, but a sensible, pleasing and truly religious woman, who, while enhancing the happiness of her family and doubling the income of her husband, alike by reducing his expenses and freeing his mind from vexing cares, yet is also reading the best books, is serving God, and dispensing charity to man. One such woman I know; pray how many do you know?

Source: The Revolution, August 13, 1868.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Newspapers Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily, The Revolution, and the National Citizen and Ballot Box.

Top Image:  Brooklyn sanitary fair in 1864  as shown in New England Kitchen.

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3b08655u_1

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-Nelly-Bly

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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