Sunday, January 20, 2013

Harriot Stanton Blatch

Unpaid work never commands respect; it is the paid worker who has brought to the public mind conviction of woman’s worth. The spinning and weaving done by our great-grandmothers in their own homes was not reckoned as national wealth until the work was carried to the factory and organized there…
—Harriot Stanton Blatch, 1898

Born this day in 1856: Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856–1940), suffragist and women’s rights activist

Blatch was born Harriot Stanton, daughter of founding feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist Henry B. Stanton. She was educated at Vassar College, earning a bachelor’s in 1878 and later earning a master’s degree as well (1894). In 1882 she married Englishman William H. Blatch and by doing so lost her American citizenship (that was the law up until 1922).
The couple lived in England and had two children, one of whom died at age four. Blatch became involved in the suffrage movement in England and worked with Emmeline Pankhurst.
In 1902 Blatch and her family moved to the U.S. She continued working for women’s rights. She was especially a supporter of working women, and saw women’s economic independence and the vote as natural companion causes. She brought working women into the suffrage movement, creating the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (1907). Unlike her mother, Blatch, perhaps because of the 20 years she spent involved in the more militant Engish suffrage movement, favored more in-your-face tactics. She allied her group with ALICE PAUL’s Congressional Union, which later became the National Women’s Party. She organized rallies, parades, and days-long marches that proved to be a much-needed shot in the arm for the movement. Not only did she bring numbers into the movement (in the form of working and professional women), but also attracted attention from the press and the public.
During World War I she was head of the U.S. Food Administration’s Speaker’s Bureau and directed the Women’s Land Army, which organized and train women to work of farms that men had left to go to war. After the war, however, she promoted pacifism and like many suffragists supported the League of Nations.
After the passage of the 19th Amendment, she continued with various reform causes, including the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment.
She wrote several books, including a memoir; contributed to the History of Woman Suffrage, written by her mother and Susan B. Anthony; and edited her mother’s diaries and letters.  

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