Tag Archives: suffrage

Block Forty-Nine: An Arc

An Arc Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceAn Arc: Bending Towards Justice, signals the end of Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Barbara Brackman, quilt and textile historian, has generously given us a block a week for forty-nine weeks, accompanied by short history lessons focusing on women’s suffrage around the world.

Admittedly, the subject is one that fires my interest, and although women are enfranchised in many countries, voting isn’t the end of story.  We still have a long road ahead of us before we can say that we are truly on an equal footing with men, not only in the workplace, but in our daily lives.  This last bit is what helped me finish the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project in a way that I’d not imagined.

Grandmother's Choice Barbara BrackmanDuring the course of the project, I’d been busily planning the layout of my quilt, tweaking the overall concept until I was well satisfied with the design, or so I thought.  Additional fabrics were selected for the setting squares, my math was double-checked, and I settled in to begin the final step of making a quilt top.  As I progressed, my excitement faded, the quilt was not making me happy.

I tried different fabrics and values in the setting squares, but still, no happiness was forthcoming.  I persevered, sure that I had hit some kind of wall in the design process and it would work itself out by the time I was ready to add the borders.  I kept laboring on it until at last – huzzah! – the field was finished, and there it hung on the design wall.  What was my reaction?  I turned my back on it and walked away.  The quilt top was flat, bland, and uninteresting.  Boring.  Time to work out the problem without the disappointment of the unfinished quilt top staring back at me.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice I continued to check in on the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr group from time to time, watching as the completed quilt tops came trickling into the group photo pool.  I missed the camaraderie of our Saturday morning group.  Together, we had worked through the challenges occasionally thrown our way, applauded each other’s successes, commiserated and made gentle suggestions when we failed.

One day, I was musing and drifting, thinking about all the women we had learned about over the course of the last year, when the proverbial light bulb finally winked on.  We didn’t win the right to vote through the work of any single woman, but through the execution of the battle plans of many women working shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve a single goal.

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceThere was a large problem with my quilt, but the solution was simple – scratch the setting squares – all of that extra fabric simply made them shine out as individuals.  The blocks in my quilt needed to be set together, shoulder-to-shoulder so to speak.  You know what happened next… all of the sewing needed to be undone.

My trusty seam ripper and I became the best of friends for a time, but this has allowed me to become reacquainted with some of my favorite blocks.  Many of the instructions that Barbara gave us have found a permanent home in my pattern book to be used another day, in another quilt.

My version of the “Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights” quilt project finishes at approximately 68″ x 79″ – or 172.7cm x 200.6cm.

GC5

Block Forty-Eight: Fair Play

For Every Fighter A Woman Worker by Ernest Hamlin Baker. Photo Credit Library of CongressForty-eight blocks down, and only one block remaining.  This week’s block in Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project is in remembrance of the Canadian women who stepped forward during World War I to support the war effort both at home and abroad.  They not only filled the labor force vacancies left by the men that went to war, but also as nurses at the battle lines.  In fairness, Canada awarded women the right to vote in 1917 for the services they provided.

Our foremothers in the United States were no less patriotic, yet they were still denied the right to vote.

WWI ranks highly among the most deadly conflicts in U.S. history.  We suffered a casualty list of 323,155 during the 19 months that constituted our involvement in WWI.  The need for trained nurses was great.

Anticipating the possibility of war, the American Red Cross Nursing Service was organized in 1901 by Jane Arminda Delano, a professional nurse who also possessed outstanding administrative skills.  Jane Delano created the service by uniting the American Nursing Association, the Army Nurse Corp, and the American Red Cross.

Jane Arminda Delano, 1862-1919WWI Nursing poster by Howard Chandler ChristyAnd I Was Talking About What?

I nearly always get derailed by WWI posters, the propaganda and iconography are so compelling.  My first experience with this art form was during a visit to the National WWI Museum at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri; a recruiting poster by Fred Spear that shamelessly depicted innocent victims of the torpedoing of the R.M.S. Lusitania on 7 May, 1915.  Simple, yet effective.

lusitaniaThe American public did not want to become involved in a war in Europe, but propaganda posters, a popular method to attract attention and fire patriotism, were soon being seen across the nation.  James Montgomery Flagg, one of the first great propaganda artists, was commissioned to wake America up with a bugle cry for Liberty.

wakeupAnd our government wasn’t kidding about every man, woman, and child.  J.C. Leyendecker, known for his Arrow© collar and shirt illustrations, depicted a young Boy Scout arming a warrior-like Lady Liberty with sword and shield.

USA Bonds - Boy Scouts of America by J.C. Leyndecker.  Photo credit Library of CongressDon’t make the mistake that sex sells was an invention dreamed up by ad men of the television era, it’s been around a long, long, long time.  Howard Chandler Christy, a combat artist during the Spanish-American War, figured if the lure of action, adventure, and heroism in the recruitment posters didn’t float the boats of red-blooded American men, there was a good chance that the pretty girl next door just might do the trick.

Howard Chandler ChristyChristy devised a backup strategy as well… if sex didn’t sell, a pretty girl casting aspersions on American Manhood – Be A Man And Do It – was certain to compel the most craven of stragglers to the recruitment stations.

WWI poster by Howard Chandler ChristyWomen provided additional services to the war effort aside from being used as a reminder to the boys why they should fight.  With approximately 17,000 casualties per month, female nurses, ambulance drivers, clerks, and switchboard operators freed their male counterparts to fight.  Would you like some numbers?

America provided 21,480 U.S. Army nurses, all women, who served on the home front and abroad.  More than 400 of these nurses died in the line of duty.

The U.S. Army Quartermaster’s Service employed 283 bilingual women as telephone operators and stenographers.

13,000 American women enlisted in the Navy and Marines.  305 women served as Marine Reservists in a clerical capacity, while the yeoman recruits served as couriers, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, masters-at-arms, mess attendants, paymasters, recruiters, switchboard operators, and translators.  They received the identical pay, $28.75 per month, as their male counterparts and were treated as veterans after the Armistice.

Need more specific information?  Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first active-duty U.S. woman in a non-nurse occupation when she enlisted 17 March, 1917.  Walsh became the first woman U.S. Navy Petty Officer when she was sworn in as Chief Yeoman, 21 March, 1917.

Charles Dana Gibson and Clarence F. Underwood were recruited to create posters that helped fuel the the drive for volunteers and funding.

American Field Service by Charles Dana Gibson.  Photo credit Library of CongressBack Our Girls Over There by Clarence F. Underwood. Photo credit Library of CongressOn the home front, a women’s organization called The Woman’s Land Army of America employed over 15,000 women, many college educated, to replace farmers called up by the U.S. military.  A number of well known illustrators and artists provided propaganda posters for the Woman’s Land Army of America, including the man who became known as the the father of the American poster, Edward Penfield.

The Girl On The Land by Edward Penfield. Photo credit Library of CongressThe Woman's Land Army of America by Herbert Andrew Paus. Photo credit Library of CongressDid You Think That I was Off-Topic?

Canada may have seen the logic of enfranchising women who, in peace and in war, did so much for their country.  The United States, however, continued to ignore the lengths that American women were willing to go in service of their homeland.  American women waited 22 months after the Armistice before the 19th Amendment was ratified by Congress on 18 August, 1920.

Fair Play Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Blocks Thirty-One And Thirty-Two

What, another twofer?  Yes – seeing as how two weeks ago my iron did a full gainer off the ironing board (long story having to do with my bigoldfatone).  That one event put a halt to all things quilt related, and it took so stinkin’ long for the replacement dry iron to arrive.  Methinks the vendor made a tidy little profit on shipping costs judging by the length of time it took to get here vs. the $$ I paid.

Block Thirty-One: Tinted Chains

The title Tinted Chains, refers to the circumscribed lives of women who were bound to husbands, families, and homes; chattel, denied the right to voice an opinion at the polls.

I pulled in a new fabric, a medium gold plaid, to replace the orange fabric that I 86ed.  No matter how hard I coaxed, the orange just wouldn’t play nice.  I probably spent more time auditioning fabrics for the Tinted Chains block than it took to make, but I do admire the finished piece.

Tinted Chain Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Block Thirty-Two: Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie

The block is called Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie in reference to the Bull Moose (Progressive) Party’s use of the women’s suffrage plank in the failed 1908 presidential race.

Is it a necktie?  Or is it a doggy treat?  My first impression of this pattern was a dog bone – try as I might, I can’t get that image out of my head.  I’m all about the more traditional bow tie pattern, and I admit that I’ve reached the point where I actually kind of enjoy Y-seams, but I don’t mind adding a variation to my pattern book.

Mr. Roosevelt's Necktie Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Much can be done by law towards putting women on a footing of complete and entire equal rights with man – including the right to vote, the right to hold and use property, and the right to enter any profession she desires on the same terms as the man… Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it should be paid as highly.  Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

Block Twenty-Nine: Australia’s Star

A seven-pointed star for Australia.  You figure out the geometry on this block, I can’t, it’s well beyond my poor math skills.

Australia Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's Rights

This is version two – my first try ended up in the trashcan accompanied by a stream of invectives you’d do well not to even try to imagine.  I’m sure that a few choice words are still lingering in the sewing room, there’s a cloud shape hovering up near the ceiling, violet streaked with black.  Occasionally a rogue syllable comes tearing out of the cloud, goes bouncing off the walls, and just generally has fun hearing its own sly echo (insert gremlin-type cackle here)… oh the shame.

I’m glad I gave the block a shot – two shots to be precise – but I’m happier still that the block is complete.

Block Twenty-Seven: Grandmother’s Dream

Grandmother's Dream Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoicePlease don’t even ask me how many Y-seams are in this block, truthfully, I lost count.  Careful marking and pinning, s-l-o-w machine stitching, and a constant reminder to breathe got the block done.

It seems to me that my version of this block has a bit of the rosary about it.

All Barbara Brackman had to do yesterday morning was mention Caroline Garlinghouse Houghton’s three daughters: Katharine, Edith and Marion, and all thoughts of women’s suffrage fled my fluffy little head.

That was the exact moment when my brain vapor-locked, because I knew that the eldest daughter, Katharine Houghton Hepburn (a suffragist), just happened to be the mother of Katharine Hepburn (of silver screen fame).

I dutifully finished Barbara’s blog, but much as I love writing about the women’s rights movement, I love old movies more, and I absolutely adore Kate.

Yeah, I could have gone for one of the glamour shots, but Kate was so much more than just another pretty face.  On second thought, I don’t think that pretty is an adjective that should be used to describe her… pretty she wasn’t.  Kate was a handsome woman, her angularity was striking.  Her unique looks set her apart from other actresses of her era and was just one more item in her bag of tricks that she used to great advantage.

Of course her movies can make me laugh and they can make me cry, and sometimes I’ll even find myself doing both simultaneously, but Kate was exceptional at involving the watcher – if only vicariously – in an emotional gauntlet.

How about a top five list, done in no particular order?  Trust me, picking only five was tough, because all of her movies are personal favorites.

What’s not to love when Hepburn and Grant are teamed up?  Holiday (1938) is a classic meet-cute with an angle.  Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy meets girl’s eccentric sister.  This was definitely a movie that made me laugh with delight, but if you screen it, keep that box of Kleenex handy.

While watching Alice Adams (1935), I suffered acute embarrassment, the kind where you’d just just as soon melt away, somewhat like the ice cream Alice serves up to impress Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray).  Spoiler Alert: ice cream was not an outstanding choice for a leisurely dessert in a pre-central air summer heatwave.

I was so embarrassed for Alice that I was tempted to change the channel just so she could have some privacy.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959): screenplay by Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal (who had an uncredited appearance in the movie).  Oh, and what a supporting cast – Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and the always eerily odd Mercedes McCambridge.  This movie has more dark twists and turns than a roller coaster, and Kate nailed the performance of a cold and calculating woman.   She was the personification of an overprotective, controlling mother, who always managed to turn a blind eye to her only son’s many faults.

The realization of what lengths people can go to when spurred by avarice, even turning against family, absolutely chilled my heart.

Lucky you, I’ve shared two stills from Sylvia Scarlett (1935).  One of Kate as Sylvester…

…the second of Kate as Sylvia, and why yes, that would be Cary Grant costarring again.  [Note: Hepburn and Grant teamed up a total of four times in Sylvia Scarlett, Bringing Up Baby, Holiday and The Philadelphia Story.]

An undercurrent of fear brought on by helping an embezzling father stay one step ahead of the law, a naive first love, and perhaps best of all, a comedic line that dances throughout the movie.

Kate costarred with Burt Lancaster (yowza!) in The Rainmaker (1956).  A snapshot of a  single day in the life of a plain woman who reaches the conclusion that a lonely life stretches ahead of her.  Galled by bitterness when she realizes just how much her father pities her, and with no one to call her own, she sees herself an outsider, locked into a spinster’s limbo.  Lizzie Curry is a woman empty of hope until Bill Starbuck, an outrageously flamboyant flimflam man steps into her life.

Now your mileage may vary when it comes to favorite movies by Kate The Great, and some of you will wonder at the absence of a single Hepburn/Tracy vehicle – even though they teamed up in nine outstanding movies – but a major consideration in my selection process was the thought, if someone had never seen a Hepburn movie, which five would I recommend?

So t-t-that’s all folks, all that’s missing is a fade to black… but I have always favored a big finish whenever possible.

Block Twenty-Four: True Blue

I’ll try very hard to keep a lid on things today.  Barbara Brackman’s latest block, True Blue, recalls the term bluestocking which was applied to women (and men) of the 18th century.  Specifically, women that formed literary clubs.

Bluestocking (noun): a woman having intellectual or literary interests.  — Merriam-Webster

And we all know what happens when you educate a woman, they invariably begin to form opinions and get ideas of their own.  Ideas bigger than what’s for supper.  Bigger even than whether or not in their opinion broccoli is superior to green beans.  Next thing you know, they’ll want to discuss more than books or poems, they may actually become knowledgeable about finances and politics… my, my, my.

True Blue Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI did promise to keep a lid on it, didn’t I?  Oh, well.

Today’s block was a super easy block to complete, and a good thing for me that it was.  Another member of our Flickr group sent up a red flag on the instructions.  The block finished over-sized instead of at 8 1/2 inches (sigh).  So, it was a pencil, graph paper, and calculator for me this morning.

More distressing news, I’ve caught the bug – the Downton Abbey bug.  I’ve finished season one and began streaming season two today.  At this rate I’ll burn through season three as soon as it’s available on Amazon Prime, and where will that leave me?  Haven’t had to deal with the not-so-patiently-waiting-foot-tapping-is-September-ever-going-to-get-here? kind of anticipation since the Kiefer Sutherland series, 24.

Shucks – I survived eight off-seasons wondering what Jack would do next without turning into some kind of zombie that sits in front of a blank TV screen tearing old magazines into thin strips – I’ll survive this as well.

Block Twenty-Three: Girl’s Joy

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI need to quickly upload my photo and add a very brief narrative of the block which is also called Maiden’s Delight.

I suppose in the dumbing down process of the English language, maiden translates to girl, and delight equals joy – that seems simple enough.

But… once upon a time, I remember sitting in my truck, absolutely dumbstruck, while listening to an NPR program – unbelievable!  Somebody had come up with the bright idea to re-write Little Women by Louisa May Alcott in what they decided was a more user-friendly language.  A language that young girls of the late 20th century could better understand.

My guess is that there were too many words of more than one syllable for this person’s liking.

There was one stand-out idea for reworking Alcott’s book – scrapping Beth’s death scene and starting again from scratch – because what young girl of today would understand the allegory of Beth’s little wild birds flying away?  (I think it was at this point that my jaw dropped.)  Seriously?

I did a kind of hit-and-run internet search and couldn’t find anything except a few Cliff’s Notes versions, so hopefully the author couldn’t find a publishing house to pick up the book.  Either that or the book was published, but it so badly tanked sales-wise, that we’ve been able to erase it from our collective memories.

Thankyoulittlebabyjesus!

I’ll leave you with those semi-snarky thoughts because I’m bound for the barn.  I’m needing a shovel and a few tools – there’s a wee issue with a leaky frost-free hydrant that needs sorting out.  Oh wait, I was going to tell you why today’s block related to my ramblings on Little Women.

Did you know that Louisa May Alcott was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage, and that she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts?

And lastly – or finally, depending on your point of view – if you’ve not read Little Women, no matter your age, do yourself a favor and read it.  Do your daughters a favor as well, give them your copy when you’re finished – or better yet, read it together.

Headshot of Louisa May Alcott

Here are some Louisa May Alcott sources you might find interesting:

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Wikipedia

Orchard House

Obituary (from the New York Times)