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Enid Yandell, Kentucky Artist-Activist

March 22, 2013 in 1960s-1970s

Cross-posted from the Kentucky Foundation For Women’s Hot Flash: E-News For Everyone (Marc 22, 2013)

IN HONOR OF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH KFW CELEBRATES KENTUCKY SCULPTOR ENID YANDELL

“It is the development of character,
The triumph of intellectuality and spirituality
I have striven to express.”

Enid Yandell speaking of her aims
In sculpting “The Struggle of Life”
For the Carrie Brown Memorial Fountain

Born in Louisville Enid Yandell (1870-1934) studied at Hampton college and in Cincinnati. With the support of her parents, Yandell continued to develop her skills through apprenticeships with established sculptors such as Lorado Taft, Phillip Martiny, Fredrick McMonnies, and August Rodin.

Yandell and several other women, who became known at the White Rabbits, were hired by Taft to help design sculptures for the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893. In 1897 Yandell created a forty-two foot statue of Pallas Athena for the Nashville Centennial exposition. She became the first woman to be accepted into the national sculpture society. Yandell created several acclaimed sculptures in Louisville that survive today including: Daniel Boone and Hogan’s fountain in Cherokee Park, and the wheelman’s bench on the corner of Third Street and Southern Parkway.

Yandell founded the Branstock school in Massachusetts, a summer art school that taught wood carving, drawing, illustration and painting, which continued until her death. She actively supported women’s suffrage, did humanitarian work with war orphans in France after WWI, and worked for the Red Cross. Today, the Filson Historical Society holds the Enid Yandell collection, containing photographs, papers, and busts by the important sculptor. For more information visit: http://filsonhistorical.org/2009/10/06/happy-birthday-enid-yandell/#more-447

Yandell’s legacy lives on through the Louisville women’s sculptural collective Enid. The group was founded in 1998 based on the desire to give greater representation to women sculptors in Louisville. Members range in age and training, supporting one another to create and exhibit their work. For more information about recent Enid exhibitions visit: http://looklouisvilleart.com/enid-2013.

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Cromwell and Citizenship

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

In 1920, a booklet was published by a female activist named Emma Guy Cromwell. The booklet was entitled “Citizenship: A Manual For Voters“. I found Cromwell’s definition of citizenship quite accurate: “A citizen is one who has the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the community, state and nation, and as a duty should equip himself so as to render the best citizenship possible.” The part of her definition I agree with the most is the specification that a citizen has a “duty to equip” themselves.

There are many ways I believe a citizen can be “equipped”. The most important of these, which Cromwell outlines, is the ability to educate oneself about your government. Cromwell states: “The citizen who does not possess some knowledge of his government and its workings will become a prey to the demagogue, or of individuals who are anxious to advance their own interest at the expense of the people.” It was important for women in the beginning of the twentieth century to be informed, because they were fighting for the right to vote, and voting without knowledge undermines the purpose of a government ruled by the people.

I have always believed that as citizens we are provided with so many rights and privileges, and as Cromwell states, it is our duty to give back to our government by informing ourselves and doing what we can to further promote democracy. I think that if you aren’t willing to do something to change a situation, you shouldn’t be allowed to complain about it, and we are lucky to live in a country that provides the right to speak our minds.

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.

Votes for Women

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

After reading Emma Guy Cromwell’s Manual for Voters, I now understand that my duty to vote is much more of a big deal than previously thought.

I already knew that voting is a right that comes with our citizenship to the United States and that it is important to take part in deciding who our leaders will be, but as a woman, I see that it is more important for me to take advantage of an entitlement that was once reserved solely for men.

The issue of women’s suffrage first gained recognition with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. At this landmark gathering of prominent women—including Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—there was much discussion centered on the exclusion of women in society. Because the struggle for women’s rights was long-fought, I think it fitting to show appreciation for the perseverance and diligence these women had by participating in elections. It is a privileged to be able to vote and we as women should not ignore our past or be indifferent to the choosing of our country’s governors.

According to Cromwell’s Manual, our citizenship to this nation gives us many freedoms and protection from the government, but our relationship with America should not be one-sided. In exchange for the rights we are entitled to, we must do our duty by voting in return. Cromwell stated that, “we must be familiar with our national and state Constitutions.” I will not pretend that I know the Constitutions very well, but reading the Manual made me realize how important it is to stay informed when it comes to politics. When one is ill informed, it becomes more difficult to form a personal opinion or even understand the truth to “government and its workings.”

I think that many Americans do not have all the facts when it comes to making political decisions. Some choose not to participate at all or vote based on the little information they do know. I believe that it is important to stay objective when entering the political sphere because bias can easily sway one’s views toward a certain direction.

To conclude, I will end with a personal story. I voted in my first presidential election last November. I have always heard that one vote really does not make a difference in the outcome, but I still believe it does. I especially believed it when I watched the second inauguration of our president this past Monday. Seeing the man I voted for made me proud that I could be part of a milestone moment as a woman voter and as a citizen of the United States.

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.

 

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.

Josephine Henry; dedicated activist

December 9, 2010 in 1960s-1970s

From her earliest days Josephine Henry worked for human rights, especially for women. One of her goals was to get the state of Kentucky to recognize women as their own person once they were married. In 1890 Kentucky was the only state left in the United States where a married women had no right to own any property. This includes clothes, land property, and even wages that a married woman made. Unfortunately this was actually still a law in Kentucky so she worked hard to change that.

In 1894 she succeeded in her many years of lobbying when the Kentucky legislature passed the Married Woman’s Property Act. This act gave women in Kentucky who were married the right to purchase property, keep their own wages and to be able to write a will of their own. Josephine Henry was able to accomplish this task by attending and speaking in front of the General Assembly and even the members of the 1890 Constitutional Convention. After getting attention spread throughout the state, the act was able to be formed and passed into law for the state of Kentucky. This is so important because of the new laws that allowed women more rights and control of their own lives and continued the larger national efforts for woman’s suffrage.


For more information, see the University of Kentucky Libraries, Special Collections and Archives
Laura Clay papers accession #46M4
Madeline McDowell Breckinridge papers accessing #52M3 and #60M49

See also:
– Close, Harriet M. (23 February 1908). “Mrs. Josephine K. Henry”. Blue Grass Blade (Lexington, Kentucky): pp. 2. Retrieved 16 March 2010. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069867/1908-02-23/ed-1/seq-2
– Dew, Aloma. “Josephine Kirby Williamson Henry,” pages 80-81 in Kentucky Women: Two Centuries of Indomitable Spirit and Vision. Eugenia K. Potter, ed. Louisville: Big Tree Press, 1997.
Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Law of Property in Early America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

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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.

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.

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Women in the 1940s and 1950s…possibly forgotten?

September 22, 2010 in 1940s-1950s, Economic history, Social history

When thinking about influential women in the United States and Kentucky history we can go back the 20s when women were fighting for the right to vote. We also look at the 60s where the major feminist wave took over and women were fighting to be seen as equal competitors with men. So it leaves us with the question what about the 40s and 50s? What were women doing then that would be influential to our society today? When looking back at the way women were portrayed in movies such as “Pleasantville” and television during that time they were still seen as the caregivers and taking care of the home while the husband goes off to work to provide for his family. Many women during this time were actually working in factories, underpaid and unappreciated.

The working-class woman during this time was earning substantially less money than a man doing the same job. These women in a way set a groundwork for the generations to come and the struggle for equality in the work place. These women were protesting for equal wages while getting laid off, beaten and scrutinized while doing so. They formend unions to fight for equality, if these acts were to not have happened during the 40’s and 50’s than who’s to say women wouldn’t still be trying to fight for equality in the workplace and other places.

The struggles that these women went through is something that our generation and generations to come will never have to experience. Although the right to vote was granted for these women there was still struggle to find equality. The most inequality was found in the West and the South for women during this time. The South of course being traditional and not wanting women to go to work because that was a man’s job. It almost seems like the men during this time were scared that the lines between masculinity and feminity would become blurred and they were scared for women to start becoming their own person and having an identity. There was a need for social reform during this time. Although the 20’s gets all the attention for women gaining the right to vote and the 60’s gets attention for the feminist movement, women today would not enjoy the advantages they get if it weren’t for the 1940s and 1950s. These times truly set the groundwork for the feminist movement of the 60s and the equal work place we enjoy today.

http://www.cluw.org/docpages/WorkingClassWomenandUnions.htm
This website gave helpful information and a guide as to how the 1940s and 50s for women went about.

New Women of Kentucky

September 21, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Political history

Starting in the 19th century and continuing all the way up until today, women have been creating and demonstrating themselves in ways that are new to a society historically dominated by men. These new women of the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century have shown themselves to men across America, that they can be an independent, intelligent and powerful force. Certain women believed that the lifestyle of a submissive, quiet housewife was not the life they wanted to live. Emma Guy Cromwell and Mary Elliott Flanery from Kentucky were two of these new women.[1]

Historical Marker about Mary E. Flanery at Elliott Hall, 2716 Panola St., Catlettsburg, KYThese women believed that they were capable of contributing more to their communities. They wanted to provide service and influence positive change throughout the region, including the continued suffrage of women. Flanery sought a higher education and was able to attend Barbourville College in West Virginia and the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lexington Kentucky.  She was forced to fight a gender barrier while seeking a higher education because at the time it was rare for young women to attend college, let alone two different colleges that were mostly filled with men. Flanery also participated in several women’s clubs, which were positive for all women involved. They were able to go out into the community and make a difference with the work by clubs such as Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and the Cattlesburg Women’s Literary Club. By helping other women become more independent through education, Flanery was making a difference with these clubs. Mary Flanery also demonstrated her will to improve women’s disposition in Kentucky by involving herself in political life. She became the first women in the Kentucky legislator just one year after women received the right to vote in 1921.

Emma Guy Cromwell

Emma Guy Cromwell

On the other side of the state Emma Cromwell was also doing everything she could to raise the social, political and importance of women in Kentucky society. She too sought higher education and left her home in Kentucky to travel to Gallatin, Tennessee to attend Howard Female College and shortly after completion began teaching school back in Scottsville, Kentucky. She adamantly participated in women’s clubs like D.A.R., Y.W.C.A. and the Parent Teachers Association (P.T.A.) and was elected to state librarian 24 years before women could even vote in 1896. Cromwell pursued a political career after the death of her husband and became the first women to be elected to a statewide position when in 1923 she became the secretary of state for Kentucky and in 1927 she became the first women to be the state treasurer. Both of these women were dedicated to making women of both Kentucky and the United States more prominent, intelligent and important through club work, the spread of education and the ability to reach out to numerous women across the state due to their political careers.


[1] Rebecca S. Hanly, “Emma Guy Cromwell and Mary Elliott Flannery: Pioneers for Women in Kentucky Politics,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 99 (Summer 2001), 289.

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