A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mission: Possible?

I wanted to post about Activity Days Camp, because it was a good time. For those uninitiated, "Activity Days" is the name of my church's activities for girls ages 8-11. For the past year or so, I've been helping to plan these activities. Before we take a break for the summer, we have a day camp for three days, and this year we had an awesome camp!

The theme this year was from Luke 1:37: "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." As we are near DC (and I have Pinterest) this translated to "Mission: Possible" with a "Secret Agent" theme.

Our first day was at the church building all day. For the first activity as the girls were arriving, they got "passports" and got to pick a Secret Agent name from a jar of adjectives/nouns.
Passports, made out of construction paper and "modge podge"

Set up outside the room when the girls arrived

For the record, my code name was the "Gentle Panda" which was pretty hilarious to me for some reason - maybe it's because panda describes my body physique pretty well. I used this blog post for the badges inside the passports, which also had some good ideas for adjectives/nouns for code names. Throughout the day, we had stamps that the girls got in their passports for each of the activities.

Our opening spiritual thought was on faith and we adapted this lesson from MormonActivityDays.com, which has some good lesson and activity ideas. I liked the idea about the apple seeds.

We then split the girls into two groups and switched between two activities - a cooking class and craft class. The cooking class made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. While the muffins were baking they also did a "secret agent" activity where they had to guess what a fruit was by smelling it (the bowls were covered with tinfoil so they couldn't see what was inside). The craft class got to do two crafts - homemade bath bombs (inside Easter eggs!) and decorating sunglasses with beads/sunflowers/puff balls and hot glue guns. Both activities were lots of fun, and not pictured because I try not to post pictures of other people's children on the internet.

I don't know why, but Primary leadership had asked us to somehow incorporate Family History into the camp, and so I came up with a fun activity (basically a Frankenstein monster of parts of this blog post and this blog post). The girls did a "Scavenger Hunt" with clues all over the church building. At each clue, the girls got another piece of their "puzzle" which was one of these blank puzzles that I had traced a blank family tree on to - each girl had her own puzzle with her name written on the back of all her pieces.

We divided the girls into two teams so they could race and gave each team a "clue box" with helpful resources to solve clues along the way. The clue box included Articles of Faith Cards for each team member, magnifying glasses, invisible ink pens, normal pens, notebooks, small copies of the Children's Songbook, and various decoders mentioned. The girls also got an envelope to collect their puzzle pieces.

Given that we have some very competitive girls, we laid down the following rules BEFORE handing out the clue boxes:
1) The entire team has to stay together (I didn't want the older girls to leave the younger girls behind).
2) Don't go in the Chapel - there are no clues in there (as I knew the girls would be running and yelling, didn't want them to be irreverent in the chapel).
3) Don't disturb the other teams clues (We had a "purple" and "pink" team - they had to leave the other teams clues where they found them...again, our girls are SUPER competitive).
4) Do the clues in order - don't open clues that you may see along the way to your assigned clue.

Here are the stops on the puzzle route:

Clue #1 - Mason Cipher
Both teams received this clue at the beginning as we met in the Relief Society Room. They got a Mason Cipher and a coded message to send them to their next clue (I split the route up so the girls did the clues in different order).
Mason Cipher and Substitution Cipher

Clue #2 - Mirror Image Clue
The team doing the clues in order found their next clue at the High Council Room. This clue was printed in mirror image so they had to go the bathroom to read it, and it sent them to the Bishop's office (idea from this One Creative Mommy blog post, but I didn't use her printout but created my own)

Clue #3
This stretchy word clue (courtesy of this One Creative Mommy blog post) sent them to the fridge in the Kitchen.

Clue #4 - Articles of Faith Fingerprints
This one was entirely my idea (and I'm pretty proud of it) - I made up some "fingerprints" that had the the Articles of Faith in very small type in between the lines of fingerprints. They had to arrange the fingerprints in order and then flip them over to reveal the message sending them to their next location. The message was "It is time to ACT" - this sent them to the stage for their next clue.
Fingerprints Clue!

Clue #5 -  Scytale Cipher
At the stage was a long strip of paper with their next clue - this one was hard for them to figure out, but both teams eventually realized that in their clue box was a paper towel tube, and if they wrapped the strip of paper around it, it sent them to their next destination: the Young Women's room. This was another clue idea from the One Creative Mommy post linked above.

Clue #6 - Article of Faith Recitation
In this room they had to figure out which two Articles of Faith have the same number of words, and then recite them in unison to the Leader we had stationed in this room - she verbally told them where to go next. For the record, Article of Faith #1 and #12 both have 18 words, and Article of Faith #9 and #11 both have 32 words, so there were two possible answers. This clue was a good place to split the teams, but the team doing the clues in order went on to the Primary room next.

Clue #7 - Substitution Clue
In the Primary room the girls were given a sheet with values like "B1" - which corresponded to grids in their substitution cipher (pictured above and part of their clue box). Once decoded, this clue sent them to the foyer (we had to specify which one because there are two in our building).

Clue #8 - Song clue ("Book Cipher")
For this clue, the girls had to use their Children's Songbooks - they were given a series of three numbers (for example, 18-27-4) which referred to the page number (18), word number (27), and letter of the word (4). That series of numbers spelled out their next clue, which took them to the Nursery.

Clue #9 - Circular Cipher
This was a "wheel within a wheel" cipher, where the clue told the girls to align "A" with a certain Article of Faith so they could decode the clue. Once decoded, the clue led to the Gym.

Clue #10 - Books of the Bible Footprints
Construction paper footprints had books of the Bible on them - they had to arrange them in order, then flip them to spell out the next clue. We were kind and gave them a hint to use song # 114 in the Children's Songbook, which has the books of the bible in order. This clue sent them to one of the Primary classrooms.

Clue #11 - Invisible Ink
This clue was a "blank" sheet of paper that had their clue written in invisible ink. In the clue box they had invisible ink pens I got from this spy set on Amazon (our girls loved having their own pens and notebooks). The pens had a light that revealed what was written in invisible ink, which was a message sending them to the next clue. (Again, this was a good place to split the teams - one team which started with clue #7 was sent back to clue #2).

Clue #12
At this point, the girls had 11 pieces of their 12 piece puzzle as they arrived back to the RS room, where we started. I told them to each start assembling their puzzle and pretty soon they all realized there was a piece missing. They were loudly wondering where the final piece could be, as I was whispering "Look at the Hymnbooks." They had to be quiet in order to listen to what I was saying to discover the final puzzle pieces hidden behind the hymbooks. I really liked using this idea to talk about the role of the Holy Ghost in Family History work and how we need to listen to the still small voice, who can show us where to find the missing pieces. It was an idea I stole from this LDS Activity Days blog post.

This scavenger hunt took A LOT of time - the girls probably spent an hour and 15 minutes on the various clues (especially since I planned the clues to go from one side of the building to the other, so they would use up some energy). Unfortunately we didn't have time for the girls to decorate their individual puzzles with their own family tree, but we let them take them home to decorate. It was also A LOT of work to plan and put the puzzles together - major props to my Dad, who came over the night before camp and helped me organize everything, which meant that I only stayed up til midnight instead of 3 a.m.!

After the scavenger hunt we had lunch - the girls brought their own but we had snacks and drinks for them as well. While they were
having lunch, some leaders went over to a hallway and set up this:

SO COOL, AM I RIGHT?!?! This was just red crepe paper (purchased at the dollar store) taped up along one of our hallways. At the end of the "laser maze" was an envelope for each girl which had in stencil: "TOP SECRET MISSION FOR: ______" and then we put each girl's code name (picked at the beginning of the day, you'll recall from above) on the envelope. Inside each envelope was a pack of gum with a label saying "Your Mission is Possible if you CHEWS to accept it" (I am so corny) and a copy of this secret service activity posted at the Fickle Pickle blog. We played secret agent music (this blog post has a good music list, but our girls' favorite was definitely just the Mission Impossible theme) while the girls navigated the laser maze to retrieve their envelopes and filled them out. We even let them do it again once they had completed their worksheet - they liked being timed to see how fast they could do it. This was probably their favorite activity of the day - we let them do it again while waiting for parents to arrive.

We switched between the laser maze and another service activity tying blankets and making cards for sick kids in the hospital.

The day went by so fast we didn't even have time for water games, but we did play one at the end where I had the two teams fill a water pitcher with a sponge (water relay). Their "reward" for winning was that they got to try to dump the water pitcher on me - I wasn't fast enough to outrun them and did get wet, but it was so hot that I didn't mind!
T-Shirts (Purple is my favorite color, can you tell?)

At the end of the day, we distributed their T-shirts and custom drawstring bags with their name of them. For the T-shirts, I used customink.com, it was easy even for graphically-design-challenged-me to design a shirt. For the bags, I used iron-on paper to transfer this message to the bags (be sure to flip the message so that it comes out right ways once ironed on - I did the first one wrong!).  I was surprised how excited they were to get bags with their name on them - this was definitely a big hit, and they used them for the other days of camp, which made it easy to identify everyone's belongings.

Drawstring Bags (I'm covering up the name...again, don't want to share personal info on the internet)

Day 1 was the most labor intensive - our other days were as follows, in case you're interested:
- Day 2: Indoor ropes course/trampoline park. While this was pricey, it was a lot of fun (we did it last year and the girls all wanted to go again). After a picnic at a local park, we did "paint your own pottery" at a local store, which the girls also enjoyed.
- Day 3: Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum in DC (the girls LOVED the Metro ride - we had a train to ourselves on the way back and they had A BALL). Then we finished the day with a pizza/pool party at a ward member's house.

Can I just say, it was fun, even if exhausting? I certainly didn't plan this alone (we have 5 AD leaders, and they all helped, along with parents). I'm glad that Activity Days Camp is only three days (unlike Scout Camp, which is 5 days). I'm sad that, effective tomorrow, I'll have a new calling and won't get to work on Activity Days anymore!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Church Diversity

At the end of March my ward had a "diversity discussion" during the second hour of church. They didn't call it that, but essentially that's what it was - a panel of ward members talking about their experiences in church and how they were different. For reasons passing understanding, I was asked to speak on the panel (actually I think they just figured out who I was from my answers to the "anonymous" survey they sent out - I'm one of the few single people in my family ward).

Anyway, I thought it was a great idea, but unfortunately if I don't plan and practice what I'm going to say I tend to get emotional when speaking publicly. That happened during the panel, and I'm pretty sure I did a disservice to my cause by being weepy and weak. So here's what I wish I could have said in response to the questions they asked (I'm recreating the questions as best I can remember them).

What makes you different than other ward members?
I am single in a church that constantly emphasizes marriage and family. That *can* be intimidating and make me feel like I don't belong here in a "family" ward.

What do you wish ward members knew about you?
That being single does not automatically mean that I am unhappy all the time. Being single is much better than being married to the wrong person! We need to create space in the church for single people to be viewed as whole and complete individuals. I do want to be married someday, but that doesn't mean I need or want your pity for "coming to church alone." We all make a choice to own our faith and live as our true selves. Single adults are adults and can be treated as such.

What can ward members do to support you?
Be a true friend. I think it is very easy for me to have superficial relationships at church. The kind where I know your name and you know mine, but we don't really talk to each other. I need to be a better friend and minister to those I interact with at church - we can all do better. As I mentioned, pity isn't helpful. I don't want pity, because I don't think it really builds authentic or meaningful relationships with others.

One of the (few?) good things about appearing on this panel has been the chance to contemplate all of the kindnesses that ward members have shown me over the time I've been in the ward. A ward member invited me to her home during the Sunday snowstorm so that I could partake of the sacrament, because church was cancelled. Another ward member came and literally planted a flowering bush in my yard. Yet another asked me for book recommendations and then discussed with me after reading. Other ward members have dropped off cookies, complimented my clothes, listened to my comments, etc.

What should ward members *not* do?
My friend recently attended a family member's sealing and was asked by the sealer "Why aren't you married?" The sealer didn't know her situation and that she had just gone through a very difficult break-up with her boyfriend of multiple years. She spent time crying in the car after the sealing because it hurt her. While you may think it's kind to say things like "I just can't believe you're not married - you're so great!," comments like these just cause me to wonder, yeah, I don't know why either! Also, marriage isn't a reward for righteous behavior and we shouldn't treat it as such. Marriage is important but plenty of great people don't get married.

When I was in Young Women's, one of my YW leaders told me that she had received revelation that there was a future husband for me out there. I think she wanted to reassure me that I shouldn't worry about the future, and I'm sure she meant to be kind. However, in the decades since then, it has caused me to question my life path - where is this husband she foresaw for me? Did I take a wrong turn somewhere in life and that is why he hasn't shown up yet? I would strongly urge you to NOT saying things like that to youth, it will mess them up big time.

Any other thoughts?
As a teenager, I sat at a table where a woman in our ward said some very terrible things about gay people. Because it didn't affect me directly, I didn't speak up. I later learned that some members of our ward at the time were gay. I don't know if they were at that table (I don't remember who else was there), but I wish I would have been brave enough to say something, even if her comments didn't impact me personally. Please remember to be kind in all your dealings with ward members.


The other panelists were so great! We had a Hispanic sister, an African American sister, a very thoughtful man with a son who left the church, and another woman who talked about being an LGBTQ+ ally. Anyway, that is what I would have said if I hadn't been an emotional wreck. Good thing no one has talked to me about it in the weeks since.

If I was...

(Contrast with the blog post just posted about how "Mother's Day is not about me" - this is a thought experiment about what if it was...as a sneaky and selfish way of making something that isn't about me to be about me!)

If I was a mother, I would overshare my baby's every moment on social media. Pictures, first words, witty quips, first bike ride, teenage frustrations, all of it. At the same time, I would be the mom who wouldn't let her kids use social media until they were 18.

If I was a mother, I would be scared all the time. I'd freak out about colds, skinned knees, school bullying, sleep patterns, etc. While I'd try to hold it in, I'm pretty sure I would be an overprotective and annoying and hypochondriac mom.

If I was a mother, I'd read bedtime stories to my kids. All of my favorites, over and over again. The house would be full of books. I would be so excited to read the Harry Potter series with them, and devastated if they weren't into it.

If I was a mother, I would teach my kids to bake. We'd make cookies for the neighbors and rolls at Christmas time.

If I was a mother, I would tell my kids I love them. Like way too much. An embarrassing too much. I'd write notes on their lunch napkins about how much I love them. They would roll their eyes at me.

If I were a mother, I'd get super into Halloween costumes and trick or treating. We would do theme costumes.

If I was a mother, I'd like to think I would be the fun mom, who had the cool hangout house with ping pong and TV in the basement. Who let her kids pick the music in the car, hugged their friends, and listened to their stories. The kind of mom who would surprise her kids with a trip to Disneyland or an amusement park. But really, I have a sneaking suspicion that I would be the mom who forced her kids to take piano lessons, finish their homework, and took them on educational vacations to historical sites. 

But the thing is, I'm not a mother. And I probably won't ever be. So I don't have any way of knowing whether the above is true. I probably shouldn't even think about these things, because it hurts too much. But sometimes I can't help it, especially when it's Mother's Day. I'd be a terrible mom in a lot of ways, but I could also be a good one in some ways too.

Mother's Day is Not About Me

Yesterday as I was contemplating the emotional minefield that is Mother's Day, a thought came to me: "Mother's Day is not about YOU." There's a lot of truth to that, in more ways than one.

First, Mother's Day is about my mom - she is phenomenal! She made the choice to spend her time raising four kids as a full time job, and did great (despite the way I turned out...LOL). Not everyone had a wonderful mother, and some people have mothers who have passed away. I'm so lucky that I have a loving mom, she lives only 20 minutes away, and we have a good relationship.

Second, Mother's Day is about all Mothers (duh). That includes mothers who adopted, mothers who don't have good relationships with their children, mothers who miscarried, mothers who work outside the home (and those who don't!), stepmothers, and mothers in all shapes and sizes. My friends who are mothers are such examples to me. They deserve recognition for the difficult task that is motherhood - it's a lifelong journey that shapes the destinies of all humanity. We should honor them all the time, but it's nice that they have a special day to be celebrated. Motherhood is important and valuable and HARD, and we should all recognize and support the moms in our lives.

Third, (and I can't emphasize this enough), I AM NOT A MOTHER. Church talks and well-meaning people sometimes want to say that "all women are mothers (or future mothers)." In some ways, I like and respect that thought - I appreciate that Eve was "the mother of all living" before she had children, and Deborah was a "Mother in Israel" because she led a nation. But, taken too far, this line of reasoning can conflate motherhood with womanhood. Motherhood is important and difficult work and if we water it down, it loses its meaning.

For example, I love the kids in my Primary class. I want what's best for them, and enjoy spending time with them. But, if my relationship with them is the same as their mothers', then they have a very superficial relationship with their children!

Motherhood is not equal to Womanhood. I think we do a disservice to both when we confuse the two. I know that some women without children do enjoy this aspect of Mother's Day, and I know that no one can win when writing a Mother's Day talk for church. But for me, Mother's Day works better when we focus on actual mothers and don't confuse "being around children" with mothering said children. It's easy for me to wallow in self-pity, but that shouldn't be an excuse to change the meaning of a day meant to celebrate mothers.

TL;DR version by a Twitter user:
I don’t want to be told Happy Mother’s Day today because I am not a mother, have intrinsic value outside of being a mother and I think we should celebrate the unique sacrifices Mothers make. THAT BEING SAID I wouldn’t say no to chocolate that just happened to show up at church

Also said much better in this Salt Lake Tribune piece.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

On Being Radical

One of the questions I had as I researched Mormon women and the suffrage movement was what role Mormon women played in the movement after their suffrage was enshrined in the Utah constitution in 1896. Would Mormon women care enough about other women's rights to continue the fight?

A great resource for information as I researched was Better Days 2020 Utah, a nonprofit organized to celebrate next year's 150th anniversary of Utah women voting in 2020 (suffrage was originally granted in 1870, before being taken away in 1887 and then restored in 1896). One of their blog posts introduced me to Ellen Lovern Robinson, a Mormon and member of the National Woman's Party ("NWP").

Alice Paul founded the NWP in 1916, to protest and drive towards a federal amendment supporting women's suffrage. Members of the NWP were the first people to protest in front of the White House in an effort to turn President Woodrow Wilson into a suffrage supporter. They began in January 1917, shortly before Wilson's 2nd inauguration, and it was considered a radical and provoking step.

Respectable suffrage supporters like Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA), were scandalized when the NWP continued protesting after the U.S. joined World War I. It was considered disloyal and treasonous. Alice Paul herself was arrested on October 20, 2017 while carrying a banner with Wilson's own words: "The time has come to conquer or submit, for us there can be but one choice. We have made it."

Once Alice Paul was sentenced to 7 months in prison, her colleague Lucy Burns carried on the fight and rallied the members of the NWP. Ellen Lovern Robinson came from Utah to join the protesters on November 10, 1917. The protesters were arrested and sent to the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia. Lovern was there for the Night of Terror, when suffragists were brutalized and thrown into dark solitary confinement.
Silent Sentinels, with Mormon Ellen Lovern Robertson fourth from right.
I'm grateful for those who were radical enough to get arrested and risk everything for suffrage. It's especially impressive in Lovern's case, when she already had the right to vote, but was willing to fight for others' rights by protesting. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Original "Women's March"

After President Trump's election, a huge women's march was held in Washington, D.C. That march was held on the day after President Trump's Inauguration. It wasn't the first time that women had marched in D.C., however! In 1913, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organized a massive "procession" down Pennsylvania Avenue on the day before President Wilson's inauguration. They tried to make it genteel and ladylike, and even had an official "program" for the March:

Alice Paul planned it all with meticulous attention to detail and robust respect for the pageantry of the occasion. She spent over $20,000, which at the time, was an immense amount of money. This graphic lays out the order of the thousands of women who marched in the parade, and the Smithsonian has a really good interactive article explaining each part of the parade.

One of the things that is so interesting about history is that it's all interconnected. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns are the ones who lead the way, and we continue to build on their foundation today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Seeing the Colors of the Suffrage Movement

As I've given a couple versions of my suffrage tour, I've been grateful that people have reminded me and asked questions that bring women of color into the story. Their contributions are often overlooked, but people of color were vital in the struggle for the 19th amendment, not to mention the continuing fight for civil rights that would follow the decades after the passage of the 19th amendment.

One of the African American heroines of suffrage and women's rights is Ida B. Wells, who had to fight to be included when many white women were uncomfortable with that and actively worked against it. This article details a bit of her struggle with Frances Willard, leader of the temperance anti-alcohol movement.

This article introduced me to Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, who I didn't know anything about until I read the article last week. That article also goes into detail on the many descendants of slaves who were involved in the suffrage and civil rights fights.

D.C. natives should learn more about Mary Church Terrell, a D.C. heroine of the struggle for equal treatment of restaurants decades before the sit-ins and lunch counter protests of the 1960s. The Washington Post did a series of articles on her struggle to enforce D.C.'s anti-discrimination laws in the early 20th century, which can be found here and here.

I wish I knew more about women of color involved in the Mormon suffrage movement. So far, the only thing I have seen was this brief Twitter post on Elizabeth Taylor, a Utah African American suffragist. Would love to know more about her and others like her, so if you know of any resources, hit me up!

Monday, March 18, 2019

"The Better Man"

Martha ("Mattie") Hughes Cannon's life is often reduced to one story - she ran against her husband in an election in 1896. She won, he lost, and she served one term as the first woman state senator in the nation's history. But there is a lot more to her story, including medical school, the trials of being a plural wife, and a stint in hiding in England.

Utah's PBS affiliate put together this video which tells her story in more detail. Utah plans to honor her with a statue in the Capitol's Statuary Hall in D.C. in 2020. I'm grateful for her courage and moxie under difficult circumstances.

Utah State Senate in 1897. Mattie is standing left of center.
One of my favorite details about her election is that in a newspaper editorial endorsing Mattie over her husband Angus, the Salt Lake Herald had this to say: "Mrs. Mattie Hughes Cannon, his wife, is the better man of the two. Send Mrs. Cannon to the State Senate and let Mr. Cannon, as a Republican, remain at home to manage home industry" (emphasis added).

You can learn more about here by watching the linked video, or reading her Wikipedia page.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy Birthday, Relief Society!

My last post was about Sarah Granger Kimball, but really she deserves ALL the posts. She's pretty amazing, and there is so much to love about her story. Sarah was one of the instigators of Relief Society when she and Margaret Cook decided they wanted to form a benevolent society to make shirts for temple workers in Nauvoo in 1842. She was a secure woman in her faith - although married to a nonmember, she remained steadfast (eventually her husband, Hiram, converted).

Sarah's husband was killed in a steamship explosion while on his way to serve a mission in Hawaii, but she stayed faithful, serving as a local Relief Society President for 42 years! Now, that is what I would call dedication. One of her most ambitious projects was a Relief Society Hall for the sisters to gather and to sell handicrafts. Her Bishop suggested a site for the hall, but she didn't agree - purchasing and selecting the site herself and laying the cornerstone with her own hands in 1868. Built for the sisters of the Salt Lake 15th Ward, it was the first ever Relief Society building in the church.

In 1870, Sarah was serving as Relief Society President and was one of the instigators of several mass meetings in January 1870, convened to protest the federal government's proposed anti-polygamy measures. On February 12, the Utah territorial legislature voted unanimously to extend voting rights to women, partly as a result of the agitation of Sarah and others.

On February 19th, at a "Ladies Cooperative Retrenchment Meeting," Sarah said the following (per the minutes, available here):

Said that she had waited patiently a long time, and now that we were granted the right of suffrage, she would openly declare herself a womans rights woman, and called upon those who would to back her up, whereupon many manifested their approval. Said her experience in life had been different to that of many, had moved in all grades of Society, had been both rich and poor, had always seen much good and inteligence in woman, the interests of man and woman cannot be seperated, for the man is not without the woman or the woman without the man in the Lord. She spoke of the foolish custom which deprived the mother of having control over her sons at a certain age. Said she saw the foreshadowing of a brighter day in this respect in the future, said she had entertained ideas that appeared wild that she thought would yet be considered woman’s rights. Spoke of the remarks made by bro. Rockwood lately, who said women would have as much prejudice to overcome in occupying certain positions as the men would in letting them, said he considered a woman a helpmate in every department of life.
(emphasis added by me)

I love that she declared herself a "woman's rights woman"! She also called up the audience to back her up - I love her feisty personality. And I love that she admitted that she had ideas that "appeared wild" with regards to women's rights! More than two decades later, at a 1895 conference celebrating the enshrinement of women's suffrage in Utah's constitution (where she was introduced as a speaker by Susan B. Anthony herself), Sarah would recount how she was a reader of Susan B. Antony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's paper, "The Revolution," which was published from 1868-1872:
Susan B. Anthony and Anna Shaw visit Utah in 1895
Sarah Kimball is standing and holding a handkerchief in the center, behind Susan B. Anthony
I read an article ridiculing a little paper that was published in the City of New York called the “Revolution ” in which I saw the names of Elizabeth Cady-Stanton and Miss Susan B. Anthony. I looked at the little article of ridicule and I said “There is something I see in that which strikes me and I want it,’’ and I reached out after the little paper I was very much struck with it. It was very peculiar and said very many strange things, but I learned from that little paper the theory and object they had in view was to create thought, their idea was if you can get the people to talk upon this subject, if you can get them to agitate the subject, agitation produces reform. Now this is going to be a reformation and we are going to do all we can to produce this reformation and we are going to labor in our own way. Now 52 years ago I would not have dared to say the bold, grand things that Miss Anthony said, it would have made me so unpopular and I hardly dared to shoulder it; but the seed was planted within my soul and I have been laboring for the same cause — I felt that it was uplifting, that it was necessary for the nation, and as time rolled on we were very careful. (Emphasis added, read full speech and proceedings here)

I don't know for sure, but I like to think that one of the reasons Sarah Kimball declared herself a "Women's Rights Woman" in 1870 was due to the influence of reading "The Revolution." I can't think of a better way to celebrate today's birthday of the Relief Society than by celebrating Sarah Kimball, a true pioneer and one of my heroes!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Spitfire Sarah Kimball

One of the delights of researching suffrage is reading the words of the women who participated in the movement. Sarah Kimball was one of the instigators of the Relief Society in Nauvoo, then moved west with the saints to Utah. At age 73, she responded to an anti-suffrage opinion column published in The Woman's Exponent in 1891. As part of that response, she write the following:

Women as a rule have listened to the asserting voice of men and have been led by their precepts too long. It has slowly dawned upon woman's understanding that man as a ruler is weak; in many respects very weak and unreliable, (remember we love him still,) and she has been compelled for the good of the great family to explore new paths leading to broader fields of helpfulness. Women will make mistakes, and profit by them, all along the unbroken pathway, but never so fatally disastrous mistakes as men have made while holding exclusive power.

You assert that suffrage advocates take a wrong shoot, start out on leaves, or small branches, and they must change tactics, etc., this reminds me of early Colonial history. Did our forefathers when they struck for freedom, ask their usurping oppressors what shoot they should take, what tactics they should adopt?

In her editorial, Kimball also argues in favor of women judges and women police forces. You can read her whole editorial here. There's also a full length article about her here

Friday, March 8, 2019

Happy International Women's Day!

If you can vote, thank a suffragist!

I thought I'd share a quote from Eliza R. Snow. She actually was more of a traditionalist than I realized - not overall a huge women's suffrage fan, but once Utah women were granted the vote in 1870 she got on board.

She said in 1873 that "[God] has given us the right of franchise...and it is as necessary to vote as it is to pray."

Words to live by!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Heber J. Grant, the Suffragist!

One of the fun things about research is little quotes you find. Heber J. Grant, during the 1895 Utah constitutional convention deliberations, wrote his friend a letter and he said "I am as ardent a women's suffrage man as can be found." Makes me wonder what we would find if we were to read the emails of today's General Authorities!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The 35th State

Some of you may know about the final state to ratify the 19th amendment, Tennessee. There is a dramatic last minute "change of heart" story about Harry Burns, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, which will be part of my suffrage tour. We won't have time to talk about the penultimate state, West Virginia.

At the time the 19th amendment was passed by Congress, the U.S. had 48 states, which meant that the suffrage supporters needed 36 states to ratify the amendment in order to get the 3/4ths majority required by the Constitution. Suffrage supporters organized themselves across the country and actively campaigned for special sessions to ratify the amendment before the 1920 election so that women could vote in that election. Early on, some states came easily - suffrage states like Utah and Colorado were easier than the eastern states. However, some states rejected the amendment, including many southern states. My native land, Virginia, voted down the amendment.

Suffrage was not super popular in West Virginia - just a few years earlier, in 1916, women's suffrage had lost a referendum by a 2-1 margin. In February 1920, Governor Cornwell called a special session of the West Virginia legislature to consider a tax issue. At this point, 34 states had already ratified the 19th amendment. Some interests pressured the governor to limit the scope of the session so that the legislature couldn't consider suffrage - he ignored them, and included the 19th amendment in the agenda for the special session. . The amendment passed the House, and was sent to the Senate.

In the West Virginia Senate, the vote deadlocked, 14-14. However, Senator Jesse Bloch, on vacation in California, wired a telegram to Lenna Lowe Yost, the woman leading the suffrage supporters, "Just received notice of special session. Am in favor of ratification." He immediately boarded a train, but it would take him a few days to arrive, which meant that suffrage supporters had to hold half the senate hostage so they would not adjourn.

While Bloch was traveling back from California, anti-suffrage forces tried to get the governor to reverse the resignation of Senator A.R. Montgomery, who had resigned and moved to Illinois eight months before. Senator Montgomery would have voted "no" on the amendment. The Governor refused. Bloch finally arrived after more than a week and a half of travel, and the amendment passed 15-14!

Thus West Virginia became the 35th state to ratify. This story reminds me that progress is often a "nail-biter" - even something as obvious to me as the 19th amendment is hard to get passed - it was only through the determined work of dedicated men and women (and a slow train from California to West Virginia) that I am able to vote today. So grateful!

Senator Jesse Bloch's campaign poster

Source: "Suffragists in Washington, D.C.: The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote," Rebecca Boggs Roberts, pages 125-126

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Through Rain and Sleet

Some of you may already be aware of the 1913 "March on Washington" by thousands of suffragists. That march took place the day before Woodrow Wilson's first inauguration. Unfortunately, not much progress on a federal amendment happened during President Wilson's first term, but the National Women's Party kept on determinedly pushing the federal government.

On inauguration day for Wilson's second term, March 4, 1917, Alice Paul and more than 1,000 suffragists marched to the White House to present President Wilson with resolutions demanding suffrage. Doris Stevens described conditions that day: "They marched in rain soaked garments, hands bare, gloves torn by the sticky varnish from the banner poles, and streams of water running down the poles into the palms of their hand."

Rain and sleet did not deter them - but all three gates to the White House were locked against the suffragists despite the elements. They marched four times all the way around the White House. A newspaper correspondent described the events thusly: "Had there been fifteen hundred women carrying banners on a fair day the sight would have been a pretty one. But to see a thousand women--young women, middle-aged women, and old women--and there were women in the line who had passed their three score years and ten--marching in the rain that almost froze as it fell...was a sight to impress even the jaded senses of one who has seen much."

Ironically, the rudeness of President Wilson and the unforgiving weather probably earned the suffragists more sympathetic press and helped the cause. It would be several more years, and many pickets later, that all American women would gain the right to vote. I'm grateful for these staunch suffragists and their devotion to the cause!

Marching in the Rain!
Source: "Suffragists in Washington, D.C.: The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote," Rebecca Boggs Roberts, pages 76-78

Saturday, March 2, 2019

American Women Voted in the 18th Century!

Continuing my series on random facts about Women's suffrage.

You may know that the 19th amendment to the US Constitution was ratified in 1920. If you're really up on your history, you'll know that many states had already granted women the right to vote before that (the first state was Wyoming, which entered the Union as a state in 1890 when its women had been voting in the territory for 20 years). So, women have been American voters in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

But, I can bet that you didn't know that there were American women who voted in the 18th Century! When the New Jersey constitution was adopted in 1776, it promised voting rights to "all free inhabitants." While American laws may have had gender neutral language, not many women were aware of this language and we don't know if many of them voted.

Interestingly, Joseph Cooper, a Quaker, sponsored language to add "he or she" to the election codes of the state in 1790. I'll note here that the Quakers were one of the few egalitarian religions in the U.S. at the time - they let women vote on church matters and speak in meetings. A lot of early suffragists were Quakers, because they had public speaking experience.

In 1797, a group of women marched to the polls to vote, and nearly defeated a candidate for the legislature. It caused an uproar among newspaper journalists at the time. They portrayed the women as either ignorant or controlled by their husbands. That same man who was nearly defeated later sponsored legislation to restrict voting rights to males only, which was passed by the New Jersey legislature in 1807.

Unfortunately, it would take another 113 years after that 1807 law for all American women to be guaranteed the right to vote in America. But I think it's cool to learn about some women who voted in the early days of our country.

(Source: A History of the American Suffrage Movement, Doris Weatherford, Pages 9-11)

Friday, March 1, 2019

Happy Women's History Month!

I'm currently organizing a walking tour of Washington, D.C. related to suffrage history and Mormons. It's going to be a lot of fun! But in the course of planning this tour, I inevitably discover cool random facts that I won't have time to talk about on the tour. So, my goal is to share a few of them during the month of March, which is Women's History Month, after all! I won't promise to post every day, because inevitably that will be a lie, but I'll try to post a few times this month.

Today's interesting factoid: did you know that suffragists made full length theater movies to promote the suffrage cause? You can read about one of them, "Your Girl and Mine," here at this link: https://ladailymirror.com/2015/10/19/mary-mallory-hollywood-heights-your-girl-and-mine-promotes-womens-suffrage/

Sadly it appears that the footage has been lost, but I kind of love that suffragists were willing to use every medium to help their cause, even the movies!