Book Launch Scheduled for Spring 2019: America’s First Feminists

Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists. Available for purchase in Spring 2019.

The first book in the Ask a Suffragist series, Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists, will inform modern-day activists with lessons learned from some of the first American suffragists and feminists.

What can modern activists learn from America’s First Feminists?

Each chapter of each Ask a Suffragist book focuses on a modern question today’s activists might ask the great feminists of the past, answered with stories about diverse suffragists’ real-life experiences and quotes by suffragists—many of whom disagreed with each other. (Ask a Suffragist books celebrate diversity instead of neatly pointing readers into one right way of living.) The questions covered in America’s First Feminists include:

  • How can we make our voices heard?
  • Can we balance family life and activism?
  • Is religion compatible with a feminist movement?
  • How can men support a women’s movement?
  • How do we break the glass ceiling?
  • Can art inspire social change?
  • How do we define our priorities?

What time periods are covered in America’s First Feminists?

America’s First Feminists describes events that transpired during the 1830s through the 1860s, when the idea of equality for women was new and its supporters were vilified. Instead of laying out a comprehensive, strictly chronological history, this and other Ask a Suffragist books will focus on the stories that are particularly relevant for modern intersectional feminist activists, whether for inspiration and emulation or to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Who is that on the cover of America’s First Feminists?

That is renowned feminist, abolitionist, poet and novelist, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

Any other women of color in America’s First Feminists?

Yes. Women of color were vital to the first wave feminist movement.  Among the women of color featured in America’s First Feminists are Maria W. Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Mary Ann Shadd Cary and the women of the Forten-Purvis family, to name a few.

Any male feminists in America’s First Feminists?

Yes.  Some of the first Americans to support the first wave feminist movement were men, such as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Lenox Remond, Henry B. Blackwell and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Are only Americans in the Ask a Suffragist books?

The series focuses on American first wave feminism, but the United States of America is a nation of immigrants and is heavily influenced by the rest of the world.  Some of the women featured in America’s First Feminists, such as Ernestine Rose and Marie Zakrzewska, were immigrants to the United States. Some of the stories covered in America’s First Feminists transpired in other countries such as Germany, Poland, England and Canada.

But does America’s First Feminists also include the most famous suffragists of the era?

Of course.  Within the pages of America’s First Feminists,  you will get to know Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Santon and Lucy Stone as real people with personalities, strengths and flaws, going well beyond the facts you might find in an encyclopedia entry.

What about Alice Paul or Ida B. Wells?

They weren’t born yet during the time period covered in America’s First Feminists.  The American suffrage movement began about a hundred years before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 and the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924.  America’s First Feminists focuses on the first generation of first wave feminists. Subscribe to our email list to be the first to know when new Ask a Suffragist books are available with stories and wisdom from other generations of suffragists.

Why is the series called Ask a Suffragist, not Ask a Suffragette?

American first wave feminist activists called themselves suffragists, not suffragettes.  Although we use the term “suffragette” ubiquitously today, during the first wave feminist movement, the term “suffragette” was usually applied to activists in the United Kingdom, not Americans.

Does the Ask a Suffragist series only cover the issue of voting rights?

The Ask a Suffragist series discusses first wave feminism more broadly.  During the time period covered in America’s First Feminists, various suffragists were also working toward abolition of slavery, temperance, racial justice, expansion of educational and professional opportunities for women, the advancement of feminist theology in churches, and dress reform (the right to wear pants or bloomers instead of dresses and petticoats). For example, America’s First Feminists highlights the work of Harriot Hunt and Elizabeth Blackwell to open the field of medicine to women, Antoinette Brown’s journey to become the first woman ordained as a Protestant minister, and how Sarah and Angelina Grimké defied their slave-holding background to become abolitionists.

How can I learn more about the Ask a Suffragist series?

Learn more about the Ask a Suffragist series here.

How will I know when America’s First Feminists and other Ask a Suffragist books are available?

Subscribe to our email list.

You’ll also receive social media shareables on suffragists’ birthdays and on the anniversaries of important events in the suffrage movement.

And don’t worry. We won’t email you more than once a week and we certainly won’t share your information with anyone else.

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April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series, host of the Religious Feminism Podcast and a writer for the Exponent II. For more information about April, see aprilyoungb.com

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Book Launch Scheduled for Spring 2019: America's First Feminists