The history of the suffragettes can often be misled or embellished as time has passed. While it is good to recognize the accomplishments and successes of our ancestors, it is always important that we recognize their controversies, the problematic pieces of how they achieved success. In recognizing the problems of our predecessors, we can work on accomplishing change that includes those that have been excluded or pushed back. In the Sanctuary’s research of suffragette history, we are seeking out the stories of LGBTQ+ inclusion, racial disparities, domestic violence, sex workers rights, reproductive justice, gender economic inequity, and voting rights. And few are aware of the hunger strikes, forced feeding, and brutal beatings that women picketers endured during sustained protests in Washington, D.C.
Our history books omit the story of the powerful influence of Seneca Mothers of the Hodinöhsö:ni’, whose matriarchal society inspired the early suffragettes in their fight for gender equality. We hear little of the abolitionist roots of the suffrage movement. With this Spirit of the Suffragettes Festival we wish to share this ignored history.
As the Sanctuary has recently learned, thanks to the Ganondagan State Historical Site, Visit Rochester, and a blog from History of American Women, the commonly known suffragettes, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, had visited the Seneca Mothers of the Hodinöhsö:ni’ and learned how their society works: a matriarchal approach to government, home, and economy. In this tribe, women were the center vote for their government power, the women owned property and were the heads of their households, and their children derived their identity and clan membership by their mothers. These women and the tribe they came from are not accredited in our history books or in the common understanding/knowledge of women’s history and women’s suffrage in the United States.
Historical Activists / Suffragettes
Mary Jones (1803 – ???? ; event of notoriety: 1836) Black person who used sex work to steal money from white upper class men. She was arrested in 1836 and was depicted as “The Man-Monster”. Today, LGBTQ+ historians have depicted Mary Jones as a transgender woman, rather than a cross-dresser like past historians and people of the time described her. Even though in her testimony she explicitly states “I am a man,” she also states that she’s always presenting herself in women’s dress and lives her life as a woman. Mary Jones got away with larceny by using a piece of cow (likely leather), held up by a girdle, as a prosthetic vagina during sex. According to Tavia Nyong’o, the term “Man-Monster” was likely more referring to the fact that Mary Jones was a black person having sexual relations and thieving from white men rather than her dressing as a woman. (information collected from Transas City, Out History, and Digital Transgender Archive) While Mary Jones herself was not a suffragette, she is recognized in many spaces as one of the first known transgender people in the United States.
Harriet Tubman (1820 – 1913)
Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 – 1902)
Amelia Bloomer (1818 – 1934)
Hester C. Jeffrey (1842-1934)
Rosalie Gardiner Jones (1883-1978)
Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972)
Mary Burnett Talbert (1866-1923)
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Frances E. C. Willard (1839-1898)
Emma Willard (1787-1870)
Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931)
Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)
Rose Winslow (1889 – 1977)
Harriet May Mills (1857 – 1936)
Harriet Stanton Blatch
Carrie Chapman Catt