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Profile in Courage: Rose Winslow

26 Aug

Rose Winslow, born a citizen of Poland under the name of Ruza Wenclawska, immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was just an infant. She grew up in a working class family; her father worked in coal mines and steel factories. By the time she was eleven years old Rose was working in a textile factory. She lived and worked in New York City, eventually becoming a union organizer as well as a factory inspector. When she was nineteen she had a bout with tuberculosis which kept her from working for two years and would later cause her to collapse of exhaustion after speaking at protests.

She became involved in the Women’s Suffrage Movement when she joined the National Women’s Party. Once a member she actively took part in protests, picketing, and spoke to numerous crowds. During her involvement, Rose was imprisoned twice, once at Occoquan Workhouse and second at the DC jail. While in the DC jail she led a hunger strike alongside Alice Paul. They, like many other women of the suffrage movement, sacrificed their bodies and freedom for the goal of women’s suffrage.

Her journal, “Jailed for Freedom”, written about her time spent in prison was later reprinted in ink by Doris Stevens. She wrote of her horrible experiences in the prison during her hunger strike. She wrote, “One feels so forsaken when one lies prone and people shove a pipe down one’s stomach.” This statement, written about the force feedings that took place numerous times during these hunger strikes, documents the brutality faced by the women. As awful as her life must have been in these prisons, she was persistent and dedicated to her cause keeping her focus on future generations of women with the hopes that we would not have to suffer for our rights like she did. While in prison she spoke of her hopes, “All the officers here know we are making this hunger strike that women fighting for liberty may be considered political prisoners; we have told them. God knows we don’t want other women ever to have to do this over again.”

Rose Winslow spent some time in trade organization for women in the Women’s Trade Union League and the Consumer’s League. In her last three years when she was able to work she spent it campaigning for women’s suffrage. She also campaigned in anti-Democratic conventions with Lucy Burns, another advocate of women’s suffrage. Rose was an active spokeswoman in working women’s delegation to President Wilson. However, she is most well known for her involvement in the prison hunger strikes described above.

A final thought on women’s suffrage spoken by Rose Winslow. “I feel so happy doing my bit for decency. For our war, which is after all, real and fundamental.”


26 Aug

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Profile in Courage: Julia Ward Howe

26 Aug

Julia Ward Howe was born in New York City during the year 1819. She grew up privileged and her name possessed great strength socially. Samuel, her father, was a very involved, successful Wall Street banker, and her mother, also named Julia, was a published poet who passed away during the birth of her seventh child. Raised in a wealthy environment, Julia Ward Howe managed to become educated, and she secretly became acquainted with impressive writers of that time.

Consumed by the death of her father and sister-in-law, Howe quickly betrothed Samuel Gridley, a man well recognized for his social work. After marrying, Howe settled into the role of domestic motherhood; however, that was not a position she willfully accepted. Gridley had expectations for his new wife. Along with controlling her behavior, Gridley also took control of Howe’s estate, and she did not possess control of what was left of her affairs until Gridley’s death in 1876.

Howe, desperate for independence and exploration, dealt with a suffering marriage. She was not allowed to work outside of the house, and this was very problematic. In 1852, the couple separated. During this time Howe behaved as though she was not married, ignoring her husband’s wishes and publishing some of her work, beginning with the anonymous collection of poems “Passion Flowers.” The poems themselves were not well liked by the public, but what the poetry represented and the idea of female publication was exciting to readers. Much of the poetry explained the relationship between Gridley and her. This caused Howe’s marital dilemmas to escalate, but she had uncovered a method of coping with her perpetual depression.

It was at this point in her life that Howe became an advocate for women’s rights, abolition, prison reform, and education. Through her work in these areas, Howe became affiliated with several of Boston’s elite. This helped her writing career. Gridley felt strong opposition to Howe’s work. Yet, he needed her. Howe participated as the author and editor of Gridley’s “The Commonwealth,” a short lived newspaper venture.

In 1861, Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was published, bringing her instant celebrity. She was then one of the most famous women of the 19th century. Her work continued, but it was with the death of Gridley in 1876 that her new life began. From that point on, Howe was an impeccable force in women’s suffrage, utilizing her fame to bridge the gap between society and reform.

In addition to all this, Howe co-edited the Women’s Journal and created the American holiday Mother’s Day. She was the first woman inducted into the Society of Arts and Letters, and her biography, written by her children, won a Pulitzer Prize. Through her work as a suffragette, literature, and musical contributions, Howe became a female icon of the 19th century. Looking at her life, multiple men of stature applauded her, some even referring to Howe as “The Queen of America.” Howe passed away in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, having just reached her nineties in the year 1910.

Inez Milholland

26 Aug

Inez Milholland was born on March 3, 1886 to rather wealthy parents. Her father, John Milholland, was a newspaper editorialist and a reformer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).   In July of 1913 Inez married Eugene Jan Boissevain, a Dutch businessman. They had no children since there marriage was rather short.

Inez went to schools in both Germany and England, attending Vassar College in Hudsen Valley, NY. While at Vasser Inez was a track star. She graduated in 1909. She then went on to apply to law school at Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge but was denied because she was a woman. She was admitted into the law program at New York University Law School. She graduated from NYU Law School with her LL. B degree in 1912. Afterwards Inez was admitted to the bar and joined the New York Law Firm Osborne, Lamb, and Garven. She handles criminal and divorce cases.

Inez had many causes that were dear to her. Her interests were prison reform, world peace, and equality for women and African Americans. Inez was a member of the NAACP, the Women’s Trade Union League, the Equality League of Self Supporting Women in New York, the National Child Labor Committee, and England’s Fabian Society.

She is most well-known for the picture of her sitting on top of a white horse. This picture was taken during the Suffrage Parade that was held in Washington, D.C. in 1913. This parade was scheduled to take place a day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

During World War I Inez travelled overseas as a war correspondent for a Canadian newspaper. She wrote pacifist articles that eventually got censored by the Italian Government and had her removed from the country. In 1915 she was on Henry Ford’s Peace Ship, she ended up leaving the ship because it was 3norganized and there were disagreements amongst the passengers. Later on in 1916  Inez was on a tour of the Western United States, speaking for women’s rights. She had already been diagnosed with pernicious anemia, despite her health she continued speaking. On October 22, 1916 Inez collapsed while giving a speech in Los Angeles, CA. She died on November 25, 1916.