Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A spunky Iowa girl: Carrie Chapman Catt (by J L Wilson)

I thought I'd spotlight an Iowa girl for my first post this month, and a Minnesota girl for my last post. Iowa is my new home (and my old home: I grew up here), and Minnesota was my adopted home for 20 years. I'll talk about Justine Kerfoot in my last post, a woman who awed me when I met her and who remains a legend of the Gunflint Trail.

But for now, I'll talk about Carrie Chapman Catt. Like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, CCC was an advocate of equal rights for women and the ratification of the 19th Amendment. I did a lot of research about CCC for a time travel book that I plan to write (whenever I get the time: how ironic!)

CCC was fascinating to me because she did  a lot of campaigning -- hands on campaigning, taking a train "Out West" on a propaganda tour. It's that train ride/tour that figures heavily in my book (again: once I get the time to write it). She also helped organize the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, she founded the League of Women Voters, worked on committees that examined issues about child labor.

What motivated a girl in the 1880s to go to college, working her way through school by washing dishes and teaching? She was the only woman in her graduating class, a rare accomplishment. She became the first woman in the nation to be appointed a superintendent of schools. She later traveled to San Francisco and became the city's first female newspaper reporter, then she returned to Iowa to be a professional writer and lecturer.

When I think of women like this, who bucked convention and followed their hearts (and consciences), it's amazing to me. Are today's young women up to the challenges of the future? I'm not sure. But I suppose my parents (who endured World War II) had the same reservations about my generation, the Baby Boomers. Were we up to the challenge of the future?

I'm not sure ... I suppose only time will tell (there it is again, that pesky reference to 'time')


Barbara Edwards said...

Hi JL,
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. I am learning so much about Women of Achievement this month.

Alison H. said...

I always love to read about women who were "firsts", and I'd never heard about Carrie Chapman Catt's accomplishments. Thanks for the post!

Jannine Gallant said...

Spunky seems to be an understatement! What a list of accomplishments. Thanks for a great post, JL.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi JL,
Thanks for telling us about yet another great woman. I enjoyed reading about CCC.



Vonnie Davis said...

I shudder to think what our lives would be like without our brave, determined, visionary sisters who traveled the path of right before us. Can you imagine not being allowed to own property or have a bank account or go into any profession we wish or have zero political clout? What a great month we're having here at Roses of Prose. Great post.