Tag Archives: Women’s History
Womans Trib - Emma

More Women’s History: The Woman’s Tribune, 1883-1909

The Woman’s Tribune, with its motto in the masthead: “Equality Before The Law,” was launched by Clara Bewick Colby from her home in Beatrice, Nebraska in August 1883. The Woman’s Tribune and Colby as publisher – also editor, typesetter, and correspondent — would become one of America’s most outspoken proponents of Women’s Suffrage and political rights.

Clara Bewick Colby

Clara Bewick Colby

The Woman’s Tribune’s audience included many of the leading activists within the Women’s Suffrage movement, as well as potential suffragist converts among women in the trans-Mississippi West. Colby worked hard to establish the newspaper’s philosophical identity at a time when the Suffrage Movement was characterized by opposing, often vitriolic, factions.

Susan B. Anthony, on more than one occasion, considered The Woman’s Tribune as the organ of the National Woman Suffrage Association, even though the Tribune was never formally affiliated with any national group.

As the second-longest-running woman suffrage newspaper, it was significant for several reasons –

  • Unlike many other Suffrage newspapers, the Tribune was designed as a general circulation newspaper.
  • Colby believed that her newspaper should connect suffrage to other issues of importance and interest to women, particularly to the rural women of the Midwest and West.
  • Political and international issues were presented in the newspaper – Colby was the first officially-recognized woman war correspondent representing a woman’s newspaper during the Spanish-American War.
  • The Tribune was probably the first woman’s paper fully published by a woman.
  • Highly regarded by Suffrage Movement leaders. Elizabeth Cady Stanton considered it “the best suffrage paper ever published” and allowed it to serialize two of her most important works, her autobiography and The Woman’s Bible.

This collection comprises the complete run of all 724 issues subdivided into five parts by date range:

  • The Woman’s Tribune, Part I: 1883-1887
  • The Woman’s Tribune, Part II: 1888-1892
  • The Woman’s Tribune, Part III: 1893-1897
  • The Woman’s Tribune, Part IV: 1898-1902
  • The Woman’s Tribune, Part V: 1903-1909


The New Woman, Athletically Considered (1896)

This extensively illustrated article by W. Bengough appeared in the January 1896 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

The New Woman, Athletically Considered by W. Bengough

Our attention has been called to the “new woman” so frequently of late, and in such indefinite terms, that it is of some interest to inquire whence she came and whither she is going.

We are inclined to suspect that the professional paragrapher, ever upon the alert for some new thing, is to a great extent responsible for the prominent place which she has taken in public attention. He was her discoverer and christener, and in the capacity of advance agent he has created public interest and curiosity, and, without doubt, has made such a fad of her newness that the genuine “new woman” is in danger of being lost amid a myriad of shallow imitators.

Let us not be deceived. The “new woman,” as I mean the term, is not a temporary fad, but, on the contrary, the inevitable product of evolution. She has been slowly developed from carefully scattered seed, which, fifty years ago, amid the jeers and mud-throwing of scandalized conservatism, a small band of determined “new” women started out to plant, making the first efforts to obtain some recognition of the then scouted idea that women were men’s intellectual equals if only given an equal chance. These were the property called “strong-minded” women of our fathers, and results have proved that the name was well chosen, but it has become an honored title instead of a contemptuous one, as originally intended.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.



Little Ella and the Beggar (1856)

This short Christmas story appeared in the December 1856 issue of The Lily:

“Go away you naughty little beggar—you shall not sit on my father’s steps—go right away,”—and the angry little speaker wrapped in her warm furs, eyed the shadowy thinly clad child with no friendly expression as she took up her little bundle of broken bread and stole timidly off the marble steps where she had stopped for a moment to rest her tired little feet. “And don’t you ever come here again,” continued the child, springing down one or two of the steps, and frightening the other so much by the movement that she began running, and in her haste to escape, she slipped upon the ice and fell, at which her little tormenter burst into a peal of merry laughter.

“Was that my little daughter Ella that I heard speaking so unkindly?” uttered a grave voice behind the still laughing child. The merriment was stilled, and little Ella dropped her eyes, abashed by the reproachful glance cast upon her by her father who had been an unobserved spectator of the scene.

“Was that your voice Ella?” repeated Mr. Hersey in a sterner tone.

“Yes papa—but it was only a little beggar girl—and she was so dirty. Mamma gave me leave to come out on the steps and play, and I expected Susan Linden to come too, and I’m sure I should not want her to see me sitting here with my pretty new pelisse on, and that beggar girl here too, and she had such a dirty bundle in her hand, papa. Why I think she was real impudent to come here and sit down with her old torn dress on our nice white steps, don’t you papa?” she added, emboldened by the smile which she saw playing for an instant on her father’s face.

“Is my daughter any better than the little beggar because she has on a cashmere frock and new pelisse, rather than a torn calico?” questioned Mr. Hersey.

“Why papa,” said Ella, “I always thought I was better than a beggar.” (more…)


What is Cruel Treatment? (1878)


Judge Sedgwick, of New York, has filed in a divorce suit an opinion that is novel as well as important to wives. Cruel and inhuman treatment forms one statutory cause for limited divorce, with alimony and care of children; but hitherto the current of opinion has been that this phrase signifies treatment of an exclusively physical nature.

The judge in referring to the allegations and evidence against the ill-treatment of the wife by the husband in Kennedy vs. Kennedy, said: “This constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment as meant by the statute, even if no bodily injury was done to her. There was sleeplessness and the consequences of nervous shock and derangement, which things are as definitely ‘bodily’ as the results of a blow, and last longer unless the blow is murderous. The plaintiff should have judgment for a separation.”

In this case the husband had employed his tongue as the sole weapon instead of his hand, a knife or stick.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

The rapid advance in public sentiment is truly wonderful. What a change from the time a man might beat his wife with a club or whip her with a stick as big as his thumb, down to this decision which forbids abusive language toward her. Great pains were taken in olden time to save a man from his wife’s tongue, in case she felt like using that little instrument in retaliation. There were stocks and the ducking stool for scolding wives, little implements of wife subjugation brought along by our puritan fathers to keep in due subordination the puritan mothers.

All honor to Judge Sedgwick for his decision against a husband’s cruel words, from which many a woman suffers whose husband prides himself upon the kindness with which he treats her; killing kindness, for no more “cruel and inhuman treatment” is possible than the tongue can give. Words kill.

Source: National Citizen and Ballot Box, September 1878

The Colored Woman of Today - 1897

The Colored Woman of Today: Some Notable Types (1897)

By Fannie Barrier Williams

There is something very interesting and wonderfully hopeful in the development of the woman side of the colored race in this country, yet no women amongst us are so little known as the thousands of bright, alert, cultured, and gracious colored women of to-day.

Mrs. Fannie Barrier Williams.

Mrs. Fannie Barrier Williams.

A little over a century ago colored women had no social status, and indeed only thirty years ago the term “womanhood” was not large enough in this Christian republic to include any woman of African descent. No one knew her, no one was interested in her. Her birthright was supposed to be all the social evils that had been the dismal heritage of her race for two centuries. This is still the popular verdict to an astounding degree in all parts of our country. A national habit is not easily cured, and the habit of the American people, who indiscriminately place all colored women on the lowest social levels in this country, has tended to obscure from view and popular favor some of the most interesting women in the land.

Mrs. Josephine Bartlett, Chicago.

Mrs. Josephine Bartlett, Chicago.

But in spite of these prejudicial hindrances and a lack of confidence the young colored women of this generation are emerging from obscurity in many interesting ways that will happily surprise those who have never known them by their womanly qualities and graceful accomplishments. Such women seem to have no relationship to the slavery conditions of the yesterday of history. In a surprisingly brief period of time they have been completely lifted out of the past by the Americanism which transforms and moulds into higher forms all who come under the spell of American free institutions.

It should also be noted that the thousands of cultured and delightfully useful women of the colored race who are worth knowing and who are prepared to co-operate with white women in all good efforts, are simply up-to-date new women in the best sense of that much-abused term. If there be one virtue that is conspicuous in the characters of these women it is the passion to be useful and active in everything that befits high-minded and cultivated women.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.


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