About the Ask a Suffragist Book Series
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We are pleased to announce that Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists will be followed by three more Ask a Suffragist books, channeling the lived experiences of suffragists spanning 100 years—from about 1830 to about 1930—for modern inspiration.
Whose images are on the covers?
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a Civil War and Reconstruction era abolitionist, suffragist, poet and novelist represents her generation on the cover of Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists.
Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the first American woman to run for president, represents her generation on the cover of Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from Activists Who Built a Movement.
Mary Church Terrell, the founding president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, represents her generation on the cover of Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from Leaders Who Mobilized for Change.
Zitkala-Sa (also known as Red Bird and Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), an advocate of suffrage for indigenous people, represents her generation on the cover of Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from Fighters Who Won (and Lost) the Right to Vote.
What time periods are covered?
America’s First Feminists covers the 1830s through the 1860s, when the idea of equality for women was new and its supporters were vilified. Besides suffrage, these early activists fought for abolition, career opportunities and the right to wear pants instead of those exasperating dresses and petticoats.
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Activists Who Built a Movement covers the 1870s-1880s, when suffragists organized into thriving (but competing) groups and achieved early success in the West. Women’s rights activists expanded their toolkit to include protests, civil disobedience and court battles. Support increased but unity dwindled as differences of opinion about strategy and priorities divided the movement.
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Leaders Who Mobilized for Change transitions from the 19th century to the 20th, when a new generation revitalized the stalled suffrage movement and expanded its human rights vision. New initiatives sought to address working conditions and poverty, but racism tainted suffrage organizations led by white women, leading black women to form their own intersectional movements.
Fighters Who Won (and Lost) the Right to Vote covers the 19th Amendment victory and beyond, when women barred from voting by racial discrimination fought for their rights. Suffrage victories in the West and ultimately nationwide enfranchised many American women, but indigenous women still fought to be recognized as citizens and women of color mobilized against discriminatory voting laws.
How do the books address modern challenges?
A new, more diverse generation of feminists is raising questions about how to effect change. Everyday people are taking a stand against endemic sexual harassment, protesting healthcare decisions made by all-male Congressional committees, and joining movements like Black Lives Matter that call attention to the intersection of feminism and racial justice. The Ask a Suffragist book series channels the wisdom of the first generations of American feminists as exemplars and advisors to inspire these new feminists to find solutions relevant to our modern world.
Internet savvy Millennials with lots of entertainment options, working mothers with scant time to invest in leisure reading, and feminist activists with urgent causes to support aren’t going to take the time to read a dull history textbook. Fortunately, American suffragists lived radical lives that were in no way boring. Instead of droning on like an encyclopedia entry about dates, meeting minutes, and genealogy charts, Ask a Suffragist will emphasize relationships, strategies, and activism. Each chapter will focus on how suffragists addressed challenges that activists worry about today, such as balancing work and personal life, choosing their battles, and coping with setbacks.
Each chapter in each Ask a Suffragist book answers a modern question we might like to ask our activist foremothers, answered by lived experiences and words of wisdom from a variety of suffragists—many of whom disagreed with each other. Ask a Suffragist will celebrate diversity instead of neatly pointing readers into one right way of living, highlighting the stories of prominent suffragists as well as lesser-known suffragists from the Western states and suffragists of racial minority backgrounds. These diverse suffragists corresponded, cooperated and sometimes rivaled each other. Ask a Suffragist will examine how they navigated their complicated relationships, acknowledging the racism that plagued the suffrage movement and building awareness of the need for a more intersectional feminist movement today.The first book in the Ask a Suffragist series, America’s First Feminists, is available now. Get it today!
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