Grandmother Edna had a hard time saying “no” when it came to campaigning for Votes for Women. And she was a particularly soft touch when suffrage activist Rosalie Jones asked for volunteers to march to Albany. It’s quite a boat ride from New York City to Albany, not to mention the journey by train. But Rosalie really meant it when she asked for others to march alongside with her, out in the street, facing the winter weather.

A demonstration like this made good copy, and the suffragists were clear about the importance of staying in the forefront of the news. They marched out of New York City the first week of January in 1914, determined to speak to the governor about appointing poll watchers for the upcoming 1915 state suffrage referendum. Only a handful actually made it from start to finish, but this shouldn’t be surprising. These days we stay home when snowflakes fall. Anybody demonstrating on the streets so soon after New Year’s Day would inevitably attract attention.

Both my grandparents started out on the march, along with daughter Serena Kearns, who was nine years old. They finished the first leg of the journey, and then Edna rushed home to write her story and deliver it to the Brooklyn Eagle where she published a column and edited special suffrage features. The NY Times had a straight-forward version of the event, while Edna’s accounts focused on the Votes for Women issue and human interest. While the Hudson Valley press had been primarily positive, a few Hudson Valley papers such as the Kingston Daily Freeman criticized the women for not being of sound mind.

Edna used the experience as a reference in her speeches and newspaper writing.

8 Responses

  • Kayla Lehman

    Just goes to show that persistence will win out in the end.

  • Bridget Ransem

    Will you make a video that I can use for a party with my friends?

  • Helen Ledbelly

    It’s rare to come across such a blog. Oh, I don’t mean there aren’t lots of blogs out there. Only that they aren’t so tightly focused.

  • Numerous people are benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  • This is the same Rosalie Jones who led a march of suffragists from NY to DC in 1913, complicating Alice Paul’s plans for what turned out to be a very successful parade the day before Wilson’s inauguration. (I get this information from the fairly recent biography of Paul by Mary Walton.)

    I’d like to add that the 1915 referendum in NY failed, but this was followed by an enormously important victory in 1917. So the march described in this post was part of an extremely successful campaign.

  • Tara

    As the mom of a 9-year-old, I’m particularly impressed that they took Serena along. Unless she was a particularly wonderful kid, the whining must have been pretty significant…

  • Tom B.

    I like how you say that Edna is everyone’s grandmother. It gets across the obvious ….how it took tens of thousands of activists like her to make American history rock and roll.

  • Belinda Dallas

    We’re sissies by comparison.

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