Everything – even voting – is better with food, according to the Washington Women’s Cook Book.
With publication of this cookbook in 1909, the Washington Equal Suffrage Association followed in the footsteps of a handful of other suffrage cookbooks; the first was the Woman’s Suffrage Cook Book, published in 1886 by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. They in turn were imitating charity cookbooks published after the Civil War.
Suffrage cookbooks served a number of purposes. In addition to plumping up suffrage coffers, they also helped spread the word about their cause. A third purpose was to allay concerns: giving females the vote would not bring about the collapse of hearth and home. Vote, bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan? You bet – it’s all in a day’s work of complementary tasks:
What is politics? Why, it’s housekeeping on a big scale. The government is in a muddle, because it has been trying to do the housekeeping without the women.
~Washington Women’s Cook Book, p. 41
Reicpes in the Washington Women’s Cook Book run the gamut from simple to challenging. On one end of the easy/difficult spectrum:
To Boil Water Without Burning.
To boil water without burning is a clever thing to do. Water to be palatable and healthy should only just come to a boil; that is, to the boiling point, then set aside, where it can be kept at this point until wanted for use. Water that is kept boiling soon losses [sic] its best flavor in the evaporation, and this leaves the old burnt material in the teakettle, and such water is not fit to drink.
Mrs. Jennie Jewett, White Salmon.
~Washington Women’s Cook Book, p. 186
Looking for something a bit more flavorful, I made the following for my daughter’s grad school voice recital reception last spring. We had several treats planned, but I still needed something sweet that was also gluten-free. Then I remembered seeing this recipe for a traditional German cookie. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up – a recipe from an old suffrage cookbook, gluten-free, and German. (The German part was a shout-out to my heritage and to another daughter, who was then having a grand time studying in Münster.)
Zimmersterne (Cinnamon Stars)
Whites of two large eggs, one-half pound of powdered sugar, one-half pound of unblanched almonds, chopped very fine or ground, one spoonful of cinnamon, grated rind of half a lemon. Beat the eggs to a stiff froth. Stir eggs and sugar together for fifteen minutes. Add almonds and small pinch of baking powder. Roll out about one-half inch thick. Cut in stars or small fancy shapes.
~Washington Women’s Cook Book, p. 172
Also factoring into my decision to try the recipe – it didn’t look too hard. I love to bake, but time was growing short and (more to the point), I don’t think I’ll ever be a contestant on The Great American Baking Show.
To save time, I bought Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour instead of grinding my own. It also meant I couldn’t over-process the almonds and end up with almond butter.
At some point, I noticed a shortcoming in the instructions – where’s the temp and the baking time? I know next to nothing about wood-burning stoves, but imagine there was some difficulty in standardizing temps back in the day. But still.
Thankfully, here in the twenty-first century, we have the Internets to turn to, so I thought the matter would soon be settled. Not exactly. I found Zimmersterne recipes calling for 300, 325, and 375 degrees. Baking times ranged from 6-8 minutes to 12-15 and even 20-25 minutes. AACK. I am such a rule-follower with recipes – at least the first time I try something. This lack of clarity unnerved me, but I pressed on anyway.
The dough is quite sticky and should definitely be chilled before rolling. As one recipe advised, put it in the fridge and then, “Sit down, relax and have a cup of tea.” Good advice, and not just when baking, wouldn’t you say? Other helpful suggestions: sprinkling powdered sugar to help minimize sticking and rolling between parchment paper.
I liked the online recipes’ direction regarding using a little reserved meringue to glaze it with, so that’s what I did. I also stuck the odds and ends into the freezer to rechill between batches.
Unfortunately, what I don’t recall now is how long I baked them. I think I baked them at 325 and for 12-15-ish minutes, but please don’t quote me on that. Here are the main recipes I consulted at the time: BBC Good Food
, and All Recipes
The cookies were a hit at the reception, I have to say. I haven’t made them since, but I’m getting the urge to as I write this. They would make a yummy Valentine’s Day treat. Let me know if you try either the Zimmersterne or the boiled water recipe, won’t you?
[Sources: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/2008/0707/p17s01-lign.html; http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/07/18/156983942/long-before-social-networking-community-cookbooks-ruled-the-stove; http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/05/454246666/how-suffragists-used-cookbooks-as-a-recipe-for-subversion]
On November 7, 2016, I assumed the only personal downside after the election the next day would be my regret that I had frittered away months of blogging opportunities as historic events unfolded and we elected our first female president. Boy, was I wrong.
In any event, today seems like a good day to jump in with reviews of couple of recent picture books about suffrage.
Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote
, by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Nancy Zhang (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016).
As there are women’s marches
scheduled this year the day after
inauguration, it seemed fitting to review this book now. Alice Paul made a big splash with a women’s suffrage march in 1913 in Washington, D.C., the day before
Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated.
Some of the things Alice Paul did in her lifetime:
√ She stole the show from Woodrow Wilson. When the president-elect arrived in D.C. for his inauguration, everyone was at the parade.
√ She became the first to picket the White House. All was peaceful, but as the U.S. was drawn into WWI, some began to view the picketers as un-American.
√ After she and others were arrested (for obstructing the sidewalk!), she led her fellow detainees on a hunger strike.
√ She survived brutal force-feedings and kept on fighting the good fight.
√ After the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, she went on to write the Equal Rights Amendment.
Robbins touches on how Paul came to support suffrage and wisely skims past the imprisonment horrors. It's important information, no question, but too much for a picture book audience. He simply writes, “The police put the women in handcuffs and took them off to jail. Just as Alice hoped they would!”
The book also portrays Margaret Wilson’s role in convincing her father, Woodrow Wilson, to support suffrage, something I wasn’t aware of until I read the book. Miss Paul and the President
captures Paul’s persistence during the last decade of the suffrage fight. It serves as a solid introduction to this lesser-known suffrage star. The illustrations are lively and fun – thoroughly enjoyable. I hope this book brings more recognition to such a notable woman.
* Special thanks to Katie, Stephanie, and Justine, for teaching me so much about Alice Paul. Back in 2003, these sixth graders (my oldest daughter and two friends) made a documentary about Alice Paul for National History Day
. And special thanks to Mrs. Roberta Moore, their teacher extraordinaire, for inspiring and guiding them.
Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles, by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (Candlewick Press, 2016).
Around America is simply rollicking good fun. It’s the story of Nell Richardson and Alice Burke on their cross-country “Votes for Women!” tour. The women set out on their journey on April 6, 1916, in a little yellow car, carrying a “teeny-tiny typewriter, an itsy-bitsy sewing machine … and a wee black kitten with a yellow ribbon tied around its neck.” (In backmatter, Rockliff explains that yellow was the color of suffrage.)
Why a typewriter? “If anyone said women didn’t have the brains to vote, then Nell would dash off a poem right then to prove they did.”
And the sewing machine? “If anyone said they should cook and sew and leave running the nation to the men, then Nell would whip an apron up while Alice gave a speech to prove they could do both.”
The book vividly describes the women’s adventures on unmapped and unpaved roads. For example, they got lost in a blizzard and stuck overnight in an icy stream. They also tagged along in a circus parade and impressed people with their automobile knowledge. Of course, by the time the yellow car rolled back into New York City on September 30, 1916, the cat was full-grown: “They arrived to a grand welcome … and a great big yellow cake. (The cat ate seven slices, as reported in the next morning’s Tribune.)”
The words and the illustrations work so well together, and I loved everything about this book. It left me smiling and energized. I need that today. Come tomorrow, January 21, I’ll be remembering Alice Paul, Nell Richardson, Alice Burke, and countless, often nameless, others who decades ago so bravely paved the way. I'll think of them when I'm at the Women’s March in Sioux Falls. Meanwhile, my daughters will be at marches in three other locations. I don’t know what it means for us to participate – I just know that I’m glad we are.
Despite Bernie Sanders’ visit to South Dakota last week, as well as Bill Clinton’s upcoming visit this week, South Dakota – state of my birth and where I live today – is, undeniably, a flyover state. Generally, not much happens here that lands in the national news. Admittedly, a lot of people (of a certain age) like it that way.
But we’ve had our moments of excitement. Who would guess that South Dakota’s woman suffrage history is rich? I mean RICH, a downright mother lode. You know that Pat Benatar song, Love is a Battlefield
? Love’s got nothing on the suffrage battlefield of South Dakota. Verstehen Sie?*
[*German for “Do you understand?” It’s a clue about why winning the vote for women was such a long slog here – a topic for another time
Suffrage hotbed that South Dakota was, in 1890, a 70-year-old Susan B. Anthony crisscrossed the state campaigning for suffrage for six months. Six months! A few of the things she put up with: blistering heat during a dusty, drought-plagued summer, buggy conditions (both the insect variety and also the transportation variety – not comfy), hostile crowds, political infighting, and pinching babies (they pinched her, not the other way around).
Despite SBA’s efforts and those of many other local and national campaigners, the good (white male) voters of South Dakota* defeated the measure. This loss constituted good practice for failures that would be repeated in 1894, 1898, 1910, 1914, and 1916.
[*These white male voters were citizens of the state, but not necessarily American citizens. They were voting legally, believe it or not.
Enough background. Let’s get back to my original tantalizing (I hope) headline question: How are suffrage, South Dakota, and The Wizard of Oz
Somewhere along the spectrum of common knowledge and obscure fact is this nugget: Oz
author L. Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota, from September 1888 through April 1891 (it was still Dakota Territory when he moved here).
Around the time South Dakota became a state – November 1889 – Baum began to publish the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer
. He was an outspoken advocate for women’s suffrage and repeatedly said so in the pages of the newspaper. Baum was also an officer in the Aberdeen Equal Rights Society.
I’m not sure if he had already come to his suffrage beliefs by the time he met his future wife, Maud Gage, or whether the beliefs followed. You see, Baum’s mother-in-law was Matilda Joslyn Gage, a nationally renowned suffrage leader. Gage campaigned in South Dakota in 1890, and in fact lived with her daughter and son-in-law from time to time.
Gage may not be a household name these days, but she should be; in addition to being a suffragist, she was an active abolitionist who offered her home as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Gloria Steinem has described her
as “the woman who was ahead
of the women who were ahead of their time.” Wow. Like Mr. Slinger in the Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse
, that’s about all I can say. Wow.
Gage is credited with convincing Baum to write down his children’s stories, and the rest, as they say, is history. But like a good infomercial, I’m here to give you more. More information beyond the well-known yellow brick road, that is.
The second book in the Oz
series, The Marvelous Land of Oz
, introduces General Jinjur, a girl who commands the Army of Revolt, an all-girl army who wish to seize the throne of Oz, “because the Emerald City has been ruled by men long enough, for one reason.”
When the soldiers arrived at the gates of the city, Jinjur told the Guardian of the Gates, “We mean to conquer the Emerald City!”
He responded, “What a nonsensical idea! Go home to your mothers, my good girls, and milk the cows and bake the bread.”
Needless to say, the “good girls” didn’t listen. Jinjur and her soldiers quickly captured the Emerald City “without a drop of blood being spilled,” and “the Army of Revolt [became] an Army of Conquerors.
If only it had been that easy for Gage, Susan B. Anthony, and the many tireless local suffragists in South Dakota!
The Marvelous Land of Oz, by L. Frank Baum; illustrated by John R. Neill (1904); public domain.
For more information on Baum, Gauge, and Oz, see Great Plains Quarterly
, “The Wonderful Wizard of the West: L. Frank Baum in South Dakota, 1888-91
, by Nancy Tystad Koupal. Read more about Gage’s life at the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation’s website
Baum's photo: Library of Congress; Photo by Dana Hull, 1908; https://lccn.loc.gov/91732241
Gage's photo: Public domain; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMatildaJoslynGage.jpeg
Did you know of the connection between Baum suffrage? Let me know what you think.
Thanks for commenting on my blog, Betty! Look for my book to come your way soon.
Pocket Magazine, 10 Cents Complete in Each Number. [New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1895] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2015645369. (Accessed April 20, 2016.)
Are Women People?
includes a number of list poems, modeled after oft-repeated arguments against woman suffrage, such as this one
from the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite list poem from Alice Duer Miller's book -- I love them all, and as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve got a bit of a writer's crush on her. But since April 21 is Poem in Your Pocket Day
, my choice for this post is easy -- a list poem about pockets and women’s suffrage.
What’s that? You never knew there was a connection between the two topics? (Neither did I, I must admit.) Ah, let us read and learn, Grasshopper. Alice Duer Miller figured out the relationship a century ago.
Respond with a comment below, and I’ll pick one person at random to receive a copy of my latest book, Presidential Politics by the Numbers. Enter by April 30; I’ll draw for the winner on May 1. If you include a suffrage list poem of your own à la "Why We Oppose Pockets for Women," I'll give you a bonus entry. I’d love to see an entire poem, but I’ll settle for a couple of items.
When someone mentions a 19th or 20th century suffragist, do you conjure up an image something like this? Stuffy maiden aunts with a bun of gray hair – no ears showing – who had sworn a solemn oath* to never smile or – gasp – laugh until women got the vote.
Think of the pictures you’ve seen of the venerable and supreme suffrage leader, Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). She starting campaigning for suffrage in her early 30s and kept it up for more than half a century -- and still didn't get to see success in her lifetime. She famously said "failure is impossible," but, yikes, what a long slog.
Susan B. Anthony, ca. 1900. Library of Congress: https://lccn.loc.gov/2004671946
I suspect a photo of a smiling SBA is about as likely to surface as a bottle of hooch at a 19th century temperance meeting. Other suffragists don’t exactly appear to be a laugh a minute, either. Of course, I realize this quirk isn’t attributable to suffrage, but rather the photography practices of the day.** Another contributing factor – it seems that many of the most familiar photos show leaders in their later years, further lending a serious note, in my opinion. (I’m not exactly a young pup, so I think I can safely say that.)
Anyway, I believe these photos and the very serious cause suffragists fought for could cause reasonable people to conclude that humor was perennially absent. But then along comes Alice Duer Miller to destroy that stereotype of dour suffragists.
The multi-talented Duer Miller wrote verse for the New York Tribune in a column called Are Women People? Many of these columns were reprinted in her 1915 book with the same title.
Alice Duer Miller, ca. 1920. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAlice-Duer-Miller.jpg (public domain photo)
New York: George H. Doran Company. 1915 (public domain). The book is subtitled "A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times."
It took me forever to write this short blog post because, I'll admit, I went all fan-girl when I discovered Duer Miller and her pro-suffrage/feminist poetry. I definitely kept going down one rabbit hole or another in search of more info.
Since this is National Poetry Month
, I’ll aim to share more of her verse and her life in the next few weeks. (I'm really looking forward to Poem in Your Pocket Day
-- April 21.) Here are a couple of selections from Are Women People?
to get things rolling.
This little ditty is from pages 34-35. See *** below to find out why she's apologizing to a fellow poet.
So, am I the only one who is captivated by Duer Miller’s writing? Are you surprised that humor had a place in the suffrage movement?
*Many early suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, were Quakers, and Quakers were opposed to oath-swearing, so maybe they came up with a clever alternative?
**The lack of smiling faces old photographs isn't merely because of lengthy exposure requirements. Check out this Smithsonian video
and this Guardian article
for some context.
***Often referred to as the “The Hoosier Poet” or the “The Children’s Poet,” James Whitcomb Riley was famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here Duer Miller is riffing on his poem, A Life-Lesson
, which begins with these lines:
There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your doll, I know …
Running for president in 1916: Democrat and incumbent Woodrow Wilson vs. Charles Evans Hughes, former Supreme Court justice and Republican.
Harris & Ewing, Copyright Claimant. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2012647854. Harris & Ewing, Copyright Claimant. Charles E. Hughes, Republican candidate for president. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2012646826.
Who could vote in 1916? White males of all sorts -- requirements that they had to be property owners had long been banished. Males of color? Supposedly they could vote. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, said so, after all. However, decades later, true suffrage remained a chimera for most non-whites.
And what of women? Some could legally vote, but most could not. It came down to geography. I got to thinking about this the day of the Illinois primary a few weeks ago. M
y eldest daughter in Chicago faced a daunting to-do list, including driving seven hours for an audition, yet she was adamant about voting before her trip. Inspired, I decided to do some time travel and examine the question based on her location, that of my other two-college-age daughters (Minnesota and Iowa), and mine (South Dakota).
In 1916, the 19th Amendment's guarantee of suffrage for women was still four years away. Both figuratively and literally, a lot of bloodshed was yet to come in suffrage skirmishes and on World War I battlefields. (The war played a significant role in advancing woman suffrage, as it was typically called.) Nevertheless, by 1916, several western states and one state east of the Mississippi allowed women to vote -- specifically, the right to vote for president, as women in some states had partial suffrage rights.
A century ago, suffragists couldn’t get behind Wilson's reelection campaign. His stance on woman suffrage was -- how shall I describe it? -- fluid. His suffrage phases encompassed the following (please permit me some leeway with the paraphrasing):
- Heck no. Women don’t need no stinking vote.
- I haven’t given it much thought; it’s not the federal government’s decision to make, but I reckon it’s okay if a state wants to allow it.
- Cripes, what is it with these women traipsing outside the White House and nattering on about suffrage? Arrest them!
- Rah! Rah! Votes for women! Congress, get your collective butts in gear NOW. Listen up -- I say it's “vitally essential” that we pass a suffrage amendment.
Suffragists demonstrating against Woodrow Wilson, Chicago 1916. National Woman's Party Records, Library of Congress; http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mnwp.276016
[What’s that, you ask? Did Wilson experience a true conversion or simply bow to political expediency? Good question.]
Anyway, in 1916, President Wilson was still firmly outside of the pro-suffrage amendment camp as he campaigned for re-election. The official party platform
purported to support woman suffrage, as long as it happened on a state-by-state basis. The Republican platform
said the same, albeit in more flowery language.
All I can say is that it’s a good thing women didn’t wait around for state-by-state suffrage, or some of us might still be disenfranchised today. In 1916, the quest for woman suffrage looked a lot like the proverbial tortoise and hare race – but stuck at the part where the tortoise looked to be the likely loser. By then, the battle for the ballot box was nigh on 70 years old.
The tortoises/suffragists seemed to get a boost when candidate Evans ventured beyond the official party platform and backed a federal amendment: “I think it to be most desirable that the question of woman suffrage should be settled promptly … for the entire country. My view is that the proposed amendment should be submitted and ratified and the subject removed from political discussion.” (From The New York Times,
August 2, 1916.)
Bain News Service, Publisher. Woman's Train. . Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2005022975.
Charles Evans Hughes – it sounds downright presidential, doesn’t it? Alack and alas … (although truth be told, I don’t know much about Hughes beyond what I’ve told you here).
Wilson’s campaign slogan was “He kept us out of war” (phrased, as you notice, in the past tense, and one that remained true only until April 1917). Wilson prevailed
in the general election – but barely – with a margin of less than 600,000 in the popular vote and just 23 in the Electoral College (277 to 254).
To get back to my original question: My 21-year-old daughters and I, in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, would have been voiceless on November 7, 1916. I suppose we’d have had to hope that my husband/their dad voted as we would have. One vote on behalf of four of us -- and no room for differing opinions, apparently.
My eldest, in Illinois, would have had the rare honor of voting. That's because in 1913, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to allow women to vote for presidential electors.
Allow me a short digression (again). Ironically, Illinois women could vote for president in 1916 but weren’t allowed to vote for governor and some other elected offices. And, to minimize the risk of cooties, they had to use separate ballots and ballot boxes, according to author and historian Mark Sorensen. Okay, I made up the part about cooties, but I didn’t make up the part about separate ballot boxes. (Sorensen’s brief history of woman suffrage in Illinois
makes for good reading.)
So, when could women vote in your home state, territory, or country? Check out this map
for further info for the U.S. And how would you have voted 100 years ago?