News & Ideas

Writing from the Library (Fall 2019)

Cover of Susan Ware's book Why They Marched

Schlesinger Library collections helped researchers elevate lesser-known heroes of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. 

Schlesinger Library collections helped researchers elevate lesser-known heroes of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. 

Elisabeth Israels Perry 
After the Vote: Feminist Politics in La Guardia’s New York (Oxford University Press, 2019) 

By the end of his three terms in office, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia had appointed dozens of women to key roles in his administration. These lawyers, board members, and deputy commissioners are the stars of Perry’s final book, in which the author illuminates a rich legacy of political experience and wisdom. Among the collections she consulted were the Caroline Klein Simon Papers, the Elinore Morehouse Herrick Papers, the Mary Elizabeth Dreier Papers, and the Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch Papers. 

The scholar Karen Pastorello, writing for the Gotham Center for New York City History, said, “The crowning achievement of Perry’s life’s work is to create a compelling narrative from the perspective of the New York City women who participated in the struggle to address the needs of women in whatever ways they could. With keen insight, Perry illuminates the origins of the broader fight for women’s unity and equality.” 

Perry, who died in November 2018, was most recently professor emerita of history and women’s and gender studies at Saint Louis University.

Susan Ware 
Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote  (Harvard University Press, 2019) 

Ware’s research helped her see a turning point in US history through the eyes and actions of the overlooked. The result is a narrative of 19 activists—a number that honors the 19th Amendment—whose shared passion was made stronger by racial and religious diversity. Ware, the Library’s Honorary Women’s Suffrage Centennial Historian, consulted numerous collections while working on Why They Marched. As she writes in her acknowledgments, “The fingerprints of the Schlesinger Library are on practically every page of this book.” 

“Like a curator, Ware chooses her objects carefully and annotates them with purpose,” wrote Casey Cep of the New Yorker. The author “does not shy away from some of the controversies often hidden when studying suffragism, namely racism, and is able to give both a broad and detailed look at the movement,” according to a starred review in Library Journal. And in another starred review, in Publishers Weekly, Ware is praised for delivering “a must-read for those interested in women’s and American history.”  

Kate Clarke Lemay (editor), Susan Goodier (contributor), Martha S. Jones (contributor), and Lisa Tetrault (contributor) 
Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence (Princeton University Press, 2019) 

Published as a companion to an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Votes for Women celebrates the contributions of unsung suffragists while demonstrating through nearly 200 illustrations how photography strengthened the movement. The book is informed by several Schlesinger collections, including the Susan B. Anthony Papers, the Blackwell Family Papers, the Charlotte Perkins Gilman Papers, and the poster collection of Alice Park. 

“The women in these pages are absolutely awe-inspiring,” said the novelist Sue Monk Kidd. In the Washington Post, the book was praised as an “excellent and extensive catalogue.” According to Smithsonian magazine, Votes for Women provides “evidence that the history we’ve relied on for decades, delivered in grade school civics classes, was in part myth, and a literal white-washing of some of the movement’s key players.” 

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