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Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

August 26, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1960s-1970s, Political history

Women’s Equality Day is on August 26th – a date selected by Congress in 1971 to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting all women the right to vote across the nation. As you can tell from this series of video clips of Bella Abzug (D-NY), the Congresswoman who led the campaign to create this celebration, it took an outspoken woman to make this happen.

The observance of Women’s Equality Day also calls attention to our continuing efforts toward full equality (see more at the National Women’s History Project website).

This year the Kentucky Commission on Women (KCW) is sponsoring the showing of “Makers: Women Who Make America.” The PBS film documentary (3 one-hour segments) is narrated by Oscar-winning actress and activist, Meryl Streep, and gives an in-depth, bi-partisan examination of the women’s movement in America over the past 50 years.

Makers: Women Who Make AmericaThe film has 3 parts:

  • Part One: Awakening (the start of the post-WW2 women’s movement)
  • Part Two: Changing the World (1970s feminism and backlash)
  • Part Three: Charting a New Course (focusing in on the workplace and the “glass ceiling”)

According to the KCW’s website, the following celebration events took place across Kentucky this year:

August 19, 2013

  • The Greater Hardin County Women’s Network, 458 Congress Drive, Radcliff, KY 40160
    Contact: Nancy Chancellor-Cox 270-272-2281
August 25, 2013
  • All Nation Worship Ministries, 110 Wisely, Radcliff, KY 40160
    Contact: Jeannette Stephens 270-300-5728
August 26, 2013
  • Morehead State University Student Activities, 150 University Blvd., Morehead, KY 40351
    Contact: Shante Hearst 606-783-2668 or Laken Gilbert 606-748-4864
  • League of Women Voters of Louisville, 115 S. Ewing, Louisville, KY 40206
    Contact: Pat Murrell 502-895-5218
  • Midway College Student Affairs, 512 E. Stephens Street, Midway, KY 40347
    Contact: Jessica Combess 859-846-5390
  • Lexington Public Library, 140 East Main Street, Lexington, KY 40507
    Contact: AnnaMarie Cornett 859-231-5501
  • Gateway Community & Technical College, 525 Scott Blvd, Covington, KY 41011
    Contact: Kathy Driggers 859-442-416
  • Campbell County Library, 1000 Highland Avenue, Ft. Thomas, KY 41075
    Campbell County Library Event Flyer.docxCampbell County Library Event Flyer.docx
    Contact: Joan Gregory 859-802-8785 or Karkie Tackett 859-781-1844
  • University of Kentucky, Main Building, Visitors Center UK Women's Equality Day Flyer.pdfUK Women’s Equality Day Flyer.pdf
    Contact: Randolph Hollingsworth 859-257-3027
  • JCTC-Downtown, WIN Committee and Women’s & Gender Studies, Louisville
    Contact: Jill Adams 502-213-2364
August 27
  • Coalition of Labor Union Women MLWPC FLYER.doc MLWPC flyer 2013 (4).doc
    UAW Local 862, 3000 Fern Valley Road, Louisville, KY 40213
    Contact: Virginia Woodward 502-541-5526 or Vera Newton 502-364-3973
  • University of Kentucky Panel of Scholars: Discussing the Status of Women Today—Local, State, National and Global  Women's Equality Day 2013 - Tuesday.pdfWomen’s Equality Day 2013 – Tuesday.pdf
    Contact: Randolph Hollingsworth, RSVP Institutional Diversity 859-257-9293
  • Women of Daviess County, Owensboro Area Museum, 3870 W 2nd (60W), Owensboro, KY 42301
    Contact: Rachel Foster 270-314-1226

Citizenship

January 26, 2013 in 1920s-30s, Political history

Citizenship in the context of Kentucky women’s  history is a complex issue because it creates a division with women about their roles in society; namely whether women deserve the right to vote on a human rights basis, or whether, because women are mothers and have a different and natural sexuality to them that the voting booth is not a suitable place for respectable, gentlewomen.

In Emma Guy Cromwell‘s “Citizenship” she takes another look  into what  a women’s role is not only as it pertains to suffrage but also her role as a citizen of her country. While she speaks generally at first of more basic ideas such as naturalization versus  natural born citizens and the idea of civil rights that are available to all citizens of a nation, in reference to America specifically, she says,” Our country is a land of freedom and opportunity, and it is our duty to help uplift the government, and as citizens we must study  conditions and know how to govern and be governed. We must be familiar with our national and state Constitutions, for they are the fundamental principles by which we are governed. We must know how to make laws and how to have them executed. We must keep posted on the issues of the day, and know something of the standing and character of our public men and women” (Chapter 1). With this she calls men AND women to become better informed of the nation and its inner workings in order to be the best citizen possible. In that way all people can vote in the most educated maner.

This ties into other things that help to better classify citizenship. Among these are also the ability to give an informed vote, paying taxes and natural birthright to the nation. Cromwell identifies in  her introduction an interesting idea that women should be involved in the election process while still understanding their role as women. Said another way, women should utilize their vote to instill in Americans what the most important unit  is in America, the family in the home. With this, it can be seen that as long are women are informed (just as it would be assumed that men were) then their vote would  help them fit the mold as American citizens, just as their birthright and contribution to society grants them their citizenship.

In light of Cromwell’s ideas on the woman in the household, one could one could easily argue that with the women being mothers to the “great citizens of tomorrow,” as denoted in the  separate spheres theories in both America and Western Europe, that women’s contribution to society might even be greater to that of men because they are molding the minds of the future. That said, as long as American women remember that the unit of the home, offering intelligent and well-informed loyalty to the statehead, is the most important function of a woman, then the right for women to vote to extend their citizenship should be given. Overall, Kentucky women had a delicate balance to reach between their maternal expectations and their rights as US citizens.

Citizenship

January 24, 2013 in 1920s-30s, Historical Decades

Citizenship by Emma Guy Cromwell is a pamphlet describing what it means to be a citizen of the United States and an overview of how our government works on local, state, and federal levels.  Cromwell stresses the importance of understanding the system to be better involved in the system.  The pamphlet is a guide to being a responsible citizen.

 

Cromwell strongly believes in the responsibility of voting.  She even writes

“Every citizen should study the ethics of his government, think for himself, and form his own opinion.

A person with no public opinion on public affairs is a coward and unpatriotic.”

Women have earned the right to vote and if they don’t utilize their right there is no point in having it.  As a responsible citizen, everyone should vote to express their opinion so the political leaders that are chosen represent the entire population.

 

Cromwell’s primary audience are new voters and since the 19th amendment was newly ratified, women were her main targets.  Cromwell believed that women should be rational when making political and public decisions, but should also consider their past experiences in the home.  Cromwell writes that

“…the chief end of all good government is to improve and protect the home, the church, and the community…”

With that idea, women would be perfect voters because they have the greatest experience in the home.  Approximately 27 million women were eligible to vote so the vote of women should greatly propel the nation.

 

Cromwell stresses that the United States Constitution is the supreme law.  On several occurrences she explains that the federal laws are above state laws.  Many states tried to keep women and African Americans from voting and this pamphlet taught new voters that the do in fact have the right to vote, regardless of what their state says.

 

The pamphlet has a four part call to action.  This call to action is directed primarily at women but includes all voters.  The first part is that everyone with the right to vote should.  Second, citizens should help manage public affairs and if they are elected, they should be ready to hold that office.  Her third point is that citizens should understand public questions so they can vote intelligently and criticize justly.  Finally, all citizens should pay their taxes.

 

Emma Guy Cromwell’s pamphlet was important at the time of publication to guide the new voters and citizens of the United States.  The information found in the pamphlet is still pertinent.  Some of the information is dated, however, chapters that give overviews of the government systems, particularly federal government, is still useful and many current citizens could learn a great deal about our system of government.

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Emma Guy Cromwell on Citizenship in the U.S.

January 24, 2013 in 1920s-30s

In Emma Guy Cromwell’s “Citizenship: A Manual for Voters” she argues that not only is the ability to vote a privilege, but also a necessity if one wishes to be a good citizen in American society.

At the time of publication, women had just been given the right to vote. It is likely that many women did not believe they needed to vote, or knew little about what voting entailed. This pamphlet was created not only to inform and educate readers about voting, but to also convince the audience that a proper citizen is a citizen who votes.

Cromwell stresses that one can only be a good citizen if they understand and participate in the government. She claims that it is an American’s civic duty to understand how the government works. The more a citizen knows, the better they are able to serve their country. Not only does she believe that a person who is unaware and does not participate in the government is an unfit citizen, but also that “a person with no opinion on public affairs is a coward and unpatriotic” (31).

Cromwell believes “if we enjoy the good things in this life without doing our part then we are cowards” (57). American citizens are given many privileges, taking the time to educate one’s self on how the government works and then voting is a small price to pay for what is received in turn. In other parts of the world people are forced to obey a government in which their opinion does not matter. “We are living in a democratic government which is a priceless heritage and a great blessing to mankind” (57).  The right to vote was not easy to earn – especially for women.  Americans should not only feel obliged to exercise this right, but should also be grateful for the opportunity.

The factual information in the pamphlet, in addition to the personal opinion, back up Cromwell’s belief that voters should be informed. There is a great deal of information on how local, state, and federal government work, as well as topics like voting registration and political parties. Her efforts to make this information easily accessible to the uninformed citizen reaffirm her dedication to the topic. Putting together a document such as this would have taken a large amount of time and research.

In 1920 there were 27,011,330 women voters who had been given a voice in the government for the first time. Hopefully, Cromwell’s words inspired them to follow in her footsteps and give back to the country they belonged to.

*** Sources ***

Cromwell, Emma Guy (1920). Citizenship: A Manual for Voters. Frankfort, Kentucky: Emma Guy Cromwell

US History: Roaring Twenties and Prohibition.” Wikibooks. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2013.

Citizenship

January 23, 2013 in 1920s-30s, Political history, Religious history, Social history

Image of the pamphlet, Citizenship: A Manual for Voters by Emma Guy Cromwell

Citizenship: A Manual for Voters by Emma Guy Cromwell

Without question, the definition of citizenship is continuously modified in America to suit those who identify themselves as United States citizens. The residents of this nation have continuously sought out representation and have constructed a governmental institution for support and stability and thus guidelines developed regarding conduct within the nation. In Emma Guy Cromwell’s Citizenship: A Manual for Voters, citizenship largely refers to the duty of citizens to vote, particularly an appeal to women who had recently received the right. Additionally, women of this time were encouraged to have a political opinion and to apply their skills and abilities to aid the community. Today, citizenship encompasses similar trends which particularly parallel the history of women in Kentucky.  Today’s understanding of the term acknowledges civic activity while coming to relinquish national religious sentiments in order to uphold the rights of both genders recognized by the government.

Cromwell undoubtedly believed in the value of defining a model citizen in the effort to construct an ideal society. Her values however, included duties “to improve and protect the home, the church and the community” (Introduction). She includes men and women in this scope but does not neglect the inequalities in representation as she plainly states the division of labor within the state and national governments. Voting has been largely expanded since the publication of this document, however, the ideals Cromwell establishes hold much weight in today’s society in term of political apathy. When women earned the right to vote, Kentucky established the League of Women Voters which encouraged women “to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy”. While the discrepancy of Cromwell’s era fell among racial tensions, the complex issue today is separated by age groups. The youth are seen as the most likely group to invoke change in today’s society but also compose the most apathetic group. Cromwell suggests, “We are not patriotic unless we respond to the call of our government” and that “a person with no opinion on public affairs is a coward and unpatriotic” (Chapter V). Citizenship is recognized as the “rights to have rights” (Citizenship in the United States) and encompasses the duty of all eligible people to exercise their political rights including the power of electing officials.

Portrait of Emma Guy Cromwell

Emma Guy Cromwell

Furthermore, an emphasis on strong community involvement and an encouraged plea to promote relevant global issues has taken root in addition to the existing promotion of local civic issues. Environmental concern has been factored into the national political agenda today and has also come to be part of the definition of citizenship as the right of a citizen to take up interest in issues of national concern. For example, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization promotes women who “are empowered as decision-makers and leaders, especially in environmental and sustainable development arenas”.

Most notably, Cromwell consistently acknowledges the governmental body’s commitment to religion as it should defend the church. She explains, both the state and national conventions are “opened with prayer” (Chapter VI). This has largely been abandoned in today’s definition of citizenship because the ideal citizen would respect the differences that define Americans and various communities. Kentucky’s government, in particular, has revised its documents to acknowledge and respect the separation of church and state especially as it pertains to the sector of public education, to which all students are entitled. (See Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky).

Resources:

Cromwell, Emma Guy (1920). Citizenship: A Manual for Voters. Frankfort, Kentucky: Emma Guy Cromwell. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25598/25598-h/25598-h.htm.

History, League of Women Voters of Kentucky

Women’s Leadership, WEDO

 

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by OneTon

Breckenridge Memory

November 19, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Intellectual history, Political history, Social history

Growing up in any city, it is human nature to memorize street names. I was raised in Louisville, Kentucky for the majority of my twenty two years. I lived in the east end of town, in a prosperous little city called Saint Matthews. I became very knowledgeable of my surroundings and the streets that I was constantly traveling on. Now that I am older and attending the University of Kentucky, I have had the opportunity to meet new and exciting individuals each day. I recently spoke to an older woman who lives in the neighborhood located on Henry Clay’s former Ashland Farm. The lady was a retired teacher who taught history at Breckenridge Elementary. As we spoke, she revealed impressive knowledge of Madeline McDowell Breckenridge who is one of many famous Kentucky women who fought for suffrage in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Once she dropped Mrs. Breckenridge’s name, I immediately remembered Breckenridge Lane in Louisville and finally understood the importance of the name.

Mrs. Breckenridge was born on May 20, 1872 in Woodlake Kentucky. She grew up on the Ashland Farm and was related to Ephraim McDowell and American Civil War Union General Irvin McDowell. Coming from such a distinctive family, she was raised in the spirit of emancipation and social justice. She received an excellent education in Lexington, Kentucky and Farmington, Connecticut. After that she studied from 1890 to 1894 at the State College (University of Kentucky). She married Desha Breckenridge, the editor of the Lexington Herald but never had children. On November 25, 1920, Madeline McDowell Breckenridge passed away due to Tuberculosis.

 In 1908, Breckinridge became chairman of the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs, performing that duty until 1912. She successfully lobbied to allow women to vote in Kentucky school board elections, and helped secure legislation to create a state library commission and a forestry commission. In 1912, Breckinridge became president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA) succeeding her cousin, Laura Clay, who founded the organization. The association became Kentucky’s leading women’s suffrage organization, advocating for women’s right to vote.

During World War I it became increasingly difficult for women to propagate their cause, as the eyes of the nation were focused on the war. Suffrage members thus increased their effort to re-evoke the interest in women’s rights. Breckinridge traveled across the American South, giving a series of speeches in all major cities there. After a long battle for the right to vote, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which allowed women the right to vote under official constitutional protection, was finally passed by Congress. Its ratification in Kentucky in January 1920 was largely credited to Breckinridge’s efforts. She lived to cast her first and only vote in the November 1920 election, dying that month at the age of 48.

Separate but not equal

September 17, 2010 in 1920s-30s

If in 1842, a white slave owner in Kentucky could leave his estate to a daughter he had with one of his slaves, ( Narcissa executors vs. Wathan et al Ky. 1842) why did it take so long for women in Kentucky to gain the rights they deserved. (Fathers of Conscience Jones 2009)The issue of the rights of women both black and white was being fought on both Judicial and legal fronts. Widows were granted the right to own property and women were proving to be quite capable of running the family business.
For a nation that fought for its independence it took a long time for “these truths we hold to be self evident” to be evident when it came to women suffrage. Nations like New Zealand (1893) and Australia (1902) granted women the right to vote before legislation would even be introduced in the U.S. congress. The fifteenth amendment, “Race no bar to vote” was ratified in 1870 it would then be 50 years before women can vote in the U.S. and in reality it meant only white women.
The roaring 20’s gave way to the great depression and women being the natural caregivers saw their role, in most cases out of necessity, expand to include bread winner and protector. See the effects that the abuse of alcohol had on the family, women successfully lobbied for the prohibition act.

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Emma Guy Cromwell as pioneer for women in KY

September 13, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Political history

http://apps.sos.ky.gov/secdesk/sosinfo/default.aspx?id=62

This website gives many facts about Emma Guy Cromwell’s life, including what she accomplished in her lifetime. It also has a great quote for her:

“Time has softened but has not dimmed this grief and I have found a panacea in hard work, and filled my life with duty and my heart with thought for others.”

This is a great description of her because she worked diligently to achieve a name for herself in Kentucky politics and paved the way for all women who would hold future offices in the state. She was spot on when she said that she filled her lifer with duty and her heart with thought for others because in doing all her work for woman’s rights she was trying to improve her own life as well as every other woman. Thanks to her we have many more opportunities and equal rights as everyone else that we might not have had if Cromwell had not stood up for what she believed in.

The fact that she held so many different positions in Kentucky politics really shows that she was not only focused on one subject dealing with the rights of woman, but that she wanted to improve all aspects of the subject as she possibly could. Thankfully, Cromwell wrote Cromwell’s Compendium of Parliamentary Law and an autobiography so we can continue to reflect upon all the ideas and beliefs that she held and forge forward with the rights of women, not only in the state of Kentucky, but everywhere else in the United States also.

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