Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1800-1925: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview
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eastern United States and Europe, Kate Richards O'Hare Cunningham managed to forge a loyal following in the Great Plains. She sought to expose the deplorable conditions in which many Americans lived by painting rich, compelling pictures of the poor and downtrodden in her speeches and her writings. Her personal, intimate portraits of people used and discarded by the capitalist system forced her audiences to recognize the impact capitalism had on human beings. Her fiery words and vivid depictions of destitute Americans convinced thousands of midwestern men and women that the solution to poverty and inequality could be found in the principles of the socialist cooperative commonwealth.


Because Frank O'Hare destroyed much of her correspondence, no complete collection of Richards O'Hare's work exists. The Frank P. O'Hare Papers, Missouri Historical Society, Columbia, contain copies of her prison letters, some information about her speaking schedule, letters they wrote to each other, and some of her essays. Mimeographed copies of her prison letters are available at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe, the University of Missouri Library, and the University of Oregon Library. The Anne Henrietta Martin papers, California Historical Society, include some correspondence. Some of her essays were printed in the National Rip-Saw, a St. Louis-based socialist newspaper, renamed Social Revolution in 1917.

Kate Richards O'Hare: Selected Writings and Speeches. Eds. Philip S. Foner and Sally M. Miller . Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982. ( SWAS)

Richards Kate. The Sorrows of Cupid. St. Louis: National Rip-Saw, 1912. HOW

Kate O'Hare's Prison Letters. Girard, Kan.: Appeal to Reason, 1919. HOW

In Prison. 1923. Intro. Jack M. Holl. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976.

Biographical Sources

No complete biography exists; several historical essays treat specific aspects of her life. However, these sources are not always consistent on details. Where there is disagreement, I have relied on Basen, which appears to be the most complete.

Basen Neil. "Kate Richards O'Hare: The 'First Lady' of American Socialism, 1901- 1917." Labor History 21 (Spring 1980):165-199.

Bronco Harold. "The Family Album: Kate Richards O'Hare." World Tomorrow 9 ( February 1926):55-56.

Cobb William H. "Commonwealth College Comes to Arkansas, 1923-1925." Arkansas Historical Quarterly 23 (Summer 1964):99-122. Covers her association with the college.

Flynn Elizabeth Gurley. The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926). New rev. ed. New York: International Publishers, 1973.

Foner Philip S., and Sally M. Miller. Introduction. Kate Richard O'Hare: Selected Writings and Speeches. Eds. Foner and Miller. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982, pp. 1-31. Summarizes her career in socialism.

Ginger Ray. The Bending Cross. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1949. A biography of Eugene V. Debs.


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