From Mother to Activist

October 7, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Political history

The idea of civic duty for a woman living in the late 19th century and early 20th century differed highly from woman to woman. Most women were happy with the lifestyle of the ‘stay at home mom,’ whose main concern was tending to the kids, the house and her husband. While this was popular for the majority of women, others simply could not continue living with women being subservient and unequal to the men.

            The lack of respect given to women from around the country, lead to the creation of the Women’s Club of Louisville by Susan Howes Cook, in the year 1890.[1] Many women across the country were forming similar women’s clubs to advance themselves in the political and economical realms of the world as well. Susan Cook, also known as Mrs. B.F. Avery, used her club to spread ideas of equal suffrage, free trade, municipal ownerships of public entities, labor rights, no capital punishment and war only for self-defense.[2]

She did not become political until her 6 children were grown. I found this extremely important because she did fit the ‘cookie cutter mold’ of a housewife and it wasn’t until her children were grown that she set her mind onto her personal responsibilities of influencing the equality of women around Kentucky and the nation.[3] After being a loving mother, she could no longer just stay at home. She became an activist and a leader for future women from Louisville and Kentucky. Mrs. B.F. Avery was a person for future women to follow and surpass in the women’s suffrage movement for Kentucky.  


[1] “Women’s Club of Louisville.” http://www.wcl1320.com/Woman’s%20Club%20of%20Louisville%20History.htm

[2] “Women’s Club of Louisville.” http://www.wcl1320.com/Woman’s%20Club%20of%20Louisville%20History.htm

[3]Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock Avery. “The Gorton Avery Clan, Vol. 1.” Cleveland: 1912.

3 responses to From Mother to Activist

  1. Sounds like many women with children could be inspired by Susan Cook by her order of priority she determined by raising her children first. She sends a message that it is okay to be a woman, have children , and not feel ashamed to stay at home to raise them. When they are grown, becoming active in civil rights should not be seen as too late to join in the fight.

  2. Well, there’s lots of ways that women can act in “political” ways even without going to club meetings or standing on street corners holding up protest signs… Think about it… women have been the largest consumer population especially in purchases for household consumption – so their choices in purchases and selection of service providers (or boycott of them) can be a very political act! Or, by keeping their children out of school to work and supplement the family income – this is also a political statement. Don’t ignore their political acts just because they never wrote a statement describing their politics. Women’s actions have long had social, political and economic impact – we just need to acknowledge it, think about it, and include it in a thoughtful way in the history of our country.

  3. Susan Cook although she waited for her children to be grown to become involved in politics is inspirational because it shows it is never to late to make a difference. She prioritized her life as a mother first, but still was able to impact the world.

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