Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Nineteenth Century American Feminist

Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Nineteenth Century American Feminist

Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Nineteenth Century American Feminist

Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Nineteenth Century American Feminist

Synopsis

Matilda Joslyn Gage was a woman's rights activist during the 19th century, committed to the woman suffrage movement. This book brigns needed attention to Gage's life and work and explores her impact on women's rights. Using an advanced and distincitve form of feminist thought that encompassed an incisive analysis of patriarchy, Gage even criticized the church as patriarchy's prime sponsor. In fact, Gage connected all of women'ts oppression, including prostitution, marriage customs, divorce, rape, and custody rights to patriarchy. It is perhaps for her radical theory that Gage's arguments remain salient and controvesial today. An overdue addition to the scholarship on the role feminists like Matilda Joslyn Gage have played in history, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of United States history, women's history, and women's studies.

Excerpt

Practically every year of my childhood in Aberdeen, South Dakota, grade school classes embarked on field trips to the Dakota Prairie Museum. There we would run a printing press, churn butter, find out about the prairie ecosystem, and learn about Matilda Joslyn Gage's significant role in the nineteenth-century woman suffrage movement. One area of the museum is a re-creation of her suffrage parlor using her furniture, and there we would see flyers and pamphlets and hear of her important contributions to the movement. When we returned to the classroom, the little history we did read concerning the woman suffrage movement did not include Joslyn Gage. Even so, I grew up believing that Joslyn Gage played an important role in the battle for suffrage, despite what histories of the time might state.

This perspective lingered in my subconscious until I encountered a speech by Joslyn Gage in Karlyn Kohrs Campbell Man Cannot Speak for Her (1989). The well-developed arguments in this speech reflected thorough research and a sharp mind, and her contention that church control was the greatest evil of the time was a surprisingly controversial stand for 1890. I wanted to know more about her ideas and her involvement in the movement. The answers were not easy to find, and, through the years, I depended upon the assistance of many people.

Reconstruction of Joslyn Gage's importance in the nineteenth-century woman's rights and woman suffrage movements requires a good deal of diligence. Upon describing my project, I am often asked, "How do you research someone who was left out of history?" Indeed, how do you? Certainly the most common and available resources are of little help in studying Joslyn Gage because they follow the pattern of minimization and exclusion. The work of Sally Roesch Wagner, who enjoyed a close association with Joslyn Gage's granddaughter, Matilda Jewell Gage, provided foundation and guidance for my study.

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