National Suffrage Leaders

Elizabeth Cady Stanton supported coeducation, and Cornell University fascinated her. In 1872 she wrote to Ezra Cornell, inquiring about the possibility of coming to Ithaca to educate her younger children. While she did not move there, two of her sons, Theodore and Robert Livingston, would graduate from Cornell, although Stanton’s conservative older sisters insisted that her daughters Harriot and Margaret attend Vassar College.

Stanton retained her enthusiasm for Cornell. In Volume III of the History of Woman Suffrage (1881), she wrote: “Cornell University was opened to girls in 1872, more richly endowed than Vassar, and in every way superior in its environments; beautifully situated on the banks of Cayuga Lake, with the added advantage of the system of coëducation. To Andrew D. White, its president, all women owe a debt of gratitude for his able and persevering advocacy of the benefits to both sexes, of coëducation.” When the first volume of the History was published in 1881, Stanton presented a copy to the Cornell University Library. Susan B. Anthony also presented a set of the first three volumes to the “Sage College Library,” with personal inscriptions.

Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) graduated from Boston University’s School of Theology and became the first woman minister ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church. She worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt, becoming president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1904, a position she held for eleven years. She frequently lectured in Ithaca and at Cornell. The Sun reported that the lecture she gave under the auspices of the College Equal Suffrage Society “completely won over the audience…. Packed beyond capacity, Goldwin Smith amphitheatre was abandoned and the crowd swarmed into Rockefeller A until the walls were lined with standers.” The meeting inspired the creation of an Equal Suffrage Club at Cornell that year. Photographic image on stiff card stock, curved to heighten the stereo effect.

A keepsake with three card stock tiles, linked by a gold satin ribbon (the official color of the National American Woman Suffrage Association), the souvenir was probably produced for a birthday celebration for Anthony (February 15) and Shaw (February 14), which usually coincided with the NAWSA’s annual convention. Both women frequently spoke in Ithaca and at Cornell.

Later photograph of Carrie Chapman Catt in her garden, celebrating her work as a suffragist and peace leader. She frequently came to Cornell and Ithaca to give lectures. In 1925, she wrote Martha Van Rensselaer: “… I might come up to Ithaca and pay you a visit for a few days in order to study what your department of Household Science is doing for the adjusted relations of women to new conditions. I regard your department as the most forward in the entire country and I thought I ought to find it there.”

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