Suffrage Movement in Kentucky Discussion

Suffrage Movement in Kentucky Discussion December 1995


Query From Pat Gannon-Leary 18 Dec 1995

Our university is holding a Celebration of Women event next March and a colleague and I are planning a poster workshop on the history of the suffrage movement in Kentucky. One of the strands of the event is the topic Men and Feminism and we have found some documents from a en's club which argue for and against female suffrage. If anyone knows of any potentially relevant references/sources which we may not have discovered and would be willing to share these with us, we would be most appreciative. TIA.



>From Genevieve G McBride 18 Dec 1995

Re: Pat Gannon-Leary's query: Two links to Kentucky which I found in my research on Wisconsin were both at Berea College. One--which actually was found by another member of this list, Catherine Cleary--was Maria Goodell Frost, spouse of the president of the college, whose sister was Rhoda Lavinia Goodell, the first woman admitted to the State Bar in Wisconsin. Their father was a well-known abolitionist editor, the Rev. William Goodell of the New York City Principia, before the family moved to Wisconsin(and then Maria married and moved to Kentucky). The William Goodell family Papers are in the Hutchins Library at Berea College; see also Cleary, "Lavinia Goodell, First Woman Lawyer in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Magazine of History, 74 (Summer 1991), 242-271. Second was Berea College home economics pioneer Prof. Nellie Kedzie Jones, an active suffragist in Kentucky and then in Wisconsin, where she came to assist in establishing the University of Wisconsin's "domestic science" program--which, in large part owing to her work, would gain recognition as a force in the field by 1920 or so. See McBride , "On Wisconsin Women: Working for Their Rights from Suffrage to Settlement(U of Wisconsin Press, 1993), 185--but more useful may be the home ec program files in our State Historical Society archives.

Good luck--and, as I recall, Kentucky has a good story to tell, as a state whose women had at least a partial ("school") suffrage as early as 1838? I'm just past the Kentucky portion of Donald's Life of Lincoln and wonder: Was that in any way owing to the problems of land claims in early Kentucky? i.e. did men have land-ownership reasons for enfranchising women so early?

As for men and feminism, I'm not sure whether by "relevant" sources, you're seeking only Kentucky-related sources. If not, I also found (and note in the work above) several similar instances of men's (and boy's) debating societies taking "pro" as well as "con" on the topic of "female suffrage." Generally, the "antis" were adjudged to have won--until, in one town, women asked to present the "pro" side for themselves--and, for once, won! BTW, such debates--solely by men and/or by male vs. female debating societies-also apparently were not uncommon at colleges and universities, so you might (again) look to Berea and other campus archives, student newspapers, etc.

>From Jennifer McDaid 20 Dec 1995

The Library of Virginia's Equal Suffrage League Collection contains some material relating to the Men's League for Equal Suffrage, including pledges to support a suffrage amendment signed by some prominent Virginia men. If you think these might be helpful, I'd be glad to copy some samples for the exhibit.