Women and Populism 

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Adams, Pauline and Thornton, Emma S. A Populist Assault: Sarah E. Van De Vort Emery on American Democracy, 1862-1895. 146 p. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State U Popular Press, 1982.   Emery assaulted disparities in the economic order and barriers to equality for women. 

Barthelme, Marion Knox. "Women in the Texas Populist Movement: Their Letters to the 'Southern Mercury.'" M.A. thesis, Rice University, 1994.  MAI, 33, no. 04, (1994): 1133.  The letters give some idea of the concerns, thoughts and daily lives of ordinary women in the movement.  They provide a view of women's perceptions of their domestic sphere and their hopes and expectations for the Alliance and Populist Party.  They suggest that many women found community, mutuality and a stronger sense of self through participation in the movement. 

Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. "Ada Chase Merritt and the Recorder: A Pioneer Idaho Editor and Her Newspaper." Idaho Yesterdays 1982 25(4): 22-30.  Ada Chase Merritt edited the Salmon City Idaho Recorder from 1888 to 1906.  She supported the Democrats at first, then Populists, then the free silver movement.  American History and Life, 20A:3127

Bess, Jennifer Jean. "Equal Rights for All and Special Privileges for None: Women's Participation in the Farmer's Alliance of Texas." M.A. thesis, University of Houston, 1998.  MAI, 37, no. 04, (1998): 1111.  The Alliance sought women's involvement and promised in its Constitution, "Equal Rights for All, Special Privileges for None."  Women's involvement in the movement reflected the complexities of both class and gender. 

Blocker, Jack S., Sr. "The Politics of Reform: Populists, Prohibition, and Woman Suffrage, 1891‑1892." Historian. 34:614‑32. August 1972.   Cincinnati and St. Louis conventions 1891, 1892.  Populists subordinated moral reform to practical politics. 

Bordin, Ruth. "Frances Willard and the Practice of Political Influence." Hayes Historical Journal 1985 5(1): 18-28.  Frances Willard, president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), was instrumental in bringing various reform factions together at the Sherman House Conference in 1892.  Her attempt to get Populists to support women's suffrage and temperance failed. American History and Life, 24A:856

Cannon, Helen. "First Ladies of Colorado: Celia O. Crane Waite." Colorado Magazine 1969 46(2): 120-130.  Waite gave her time and energy to aiding and protecting her husband.  After his defeat for reelection, she spoke out bitterly against women who opposed the party that enfranchised them.  American History and Life, 7:899

Christie, Jean. "'An Earnest Enthusiasm for Education': Sarah Christie Stevens, Schoolwoman." Minnesota History. 48(6): 245-54. 

Cloud, Barbara. "Laura Hall Peters: Pursuing the Myth of Equality." Pacific Northwest Quarterly 1983 74(1): 28-36.  In addition to working for women's suffrage, Hall joined the Knights of Labor and the Populist movement.  She promoted the utopian Puget Sound Co-operative Colony and edited its newspaper, Model Commonwealth. America: History and Life, 21A:2897

Cox, Elizabeth M. "Women Will Have a Hand in Such Matters From Now On": Idaho's First Women Lawmakers." Idaho Yesterdays 1994 38(3): 2-9.  Two years after Idaho enfranchised women in 1896, three women were elected to the Idaho legislature: Populist Mary A. Wright, Democrat Harriet F. Noble, and Republican Clara L. Campbell.  All three women proved adept and skillful as legislators, making significant contributions to the fifth Idaho legislature. None ran for a second term. America: History and Life, 33:6444

Diggs, Annie L. "The Women of the Alliance Movement." Arena. 6:161-79. July 1892.  

Edwards, Rebecca Brooks. "Gender in American Politics, 1880-1900." PhD dissertation, University of Virginia, 1995.  DAI, 56, no. 09A, (1995): 3711.  In the 1880s, U.S. party competition intensified as Republicans' post-Civil War dominance ended.  These changes created opportunities for women, who became speakers and decision-makers in two third-party movements, Prohibitionism and Populism.  Party loyalties fragmented the suffrage movement.  Women provided a "moral element" in crusades against urban machines.  Women failed to win significant power in the major parties, and depictions of Populist women as aggressive harpies discredited that party in the South and East.  With the 1893 depression, Republicans won solid national control.  As third parties disappeared, men had little need for women's political aid.  More conservative views about gender and race relations won acceptance.   

Gilman, Rhonda R. "Eva McDonald Valesh: Minnesota Populist." in Stuhler, Barbara and Kreuter, Gretchen, eds. Women of Minnesota: Selected Biographical Essays. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society P, 1977.  Journalist and leading figure in Minnesota labor and farmer movements.  Valesh achieved political power when women's suffrage was not yet seriously discussed by third parties.  America: History and Life, 16A:5403

Glazener, Nancy. "Regional Accents: Populism, Feminism, and New England Women's Regionalism." Arizona Quarterly 1996 52(3): 33-53.  The writings of New England women regionalists like Alice Brown, Rose Terry Cooke, Mary Wilkins Freeman, and Sarah Orne Jewett that appeared in Boston's Populistic Arena magazine in the 1890's.  They integrated Populist political concerns with the conventions of women's domestic literature. America: History and Life, 35:15447

Goldberg, Michael Lewis. "An Army of Women": Gender and Politics in Gilded Age Kansas Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.  Derived from "'An Army of Women': Gender Relations and Politics in Kansas Populism, The Woman Movement, and the Republican Party, 1879-1896." PhD dissertation, Yale University, 1992.  DAI, 54(02A)0656.  Populism and the Woman Movement challenged the dominant Republican Party's political culture and political power.  The urban-based Woman Movement activists espoused the ideology of a morally superior, all-inclusive non-partisan political sisterhood, yet its members ignored any connection with Populist farm women.  Woman's Movement activists used notions of "respectability" to exclude those outside the non-urban middle class.  The Farmers' Alliance, predecessor to the Populist Party, created a cross-gender political culture based on the farm family.  Although many Alliance women were interested in the issue of woman suffrage, they were committed primarily to the economic and political reforms espoused by their party.  With the formation of the Populist Party, many of the movement's leaders turned away from family politics and toward the (male) voter.  By concentrating on issues concerning the voters' sense of manhood, Populist organizers marginalized women, who eventually dropped out of the movement, thus helping to dissolve the political community that they had been central in building. 

Goldberg, Michael L. "Non-partisan and All-Partisan: Rethinking Woman Suffrage and Party Politics in Gilded Age Kansas." Western Historical Quarterly 1994 25(1): 21-44.   The Kansas Populist-Republican contest for dominance interacted with the Woman Suffrage Movement.  Many women activists were prominent in both parties.  America: History and Life, 32:4389

Holmes, William F. "Ellen Dortch and the Farmers' Alliance." Georgia Historical Quarterly 1985 69(2): 149-172.  Ellen Dortch (1863-1962) served as editor of the Carnesville Tribune in Franklin County, Georgia, during 1890-92. She strongly opposed the Southern Farmers' Alliance, the Georgia Alliance, and the People's Party, particularly attacking Thomas Jefferson Stonecypher, the local Alliance lecturer. Although she sympathized with the farmers' problems she was opposed to their political involvement in a third party.  America: History and Life, 23A:6769

Jeffrey, Julie Roy. "Women in the Southern Farmers' Alliance: A Reconsideration of the Role and Status of Women in the Late Nineteenth Century South." Feminist Studies 1975 3(1/2): 72-91.  The activities of the Southern Farmers' Alliance in North Carolina illustrate the organization's general attitude toward women.  The Alliance rejected the traditional female stereotype of pale fragile gentility and encouraged female participation in its affairs, and proposed education and economic equality for women.  Women's goals, however, existed within the framework of renewing southern agriculture.  Although the Alliance enlarged the traditional view of women, encouraged education and participation, it did not go further toward female equality outside farm life. America: History and Life, 15A:2350

Kreuter, Gretchen. "Kate Donnelly Versus the Cult of True Womanhood." Women of Minnesota: Selected Biographical Essays (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Pr., 1977): 20-33.  Traces the life of Katharine McCaffrey Donnelly (1833-94), the wife of Ignatius Donnelly.  Her letters to her husband reveal her political acumen, concern for their family, events in their daily lives, and their financial circumstances.  America: History and Life, 16A:3579

Lester, Connie L. "'Let Us Be Up and Doing': Women in the Tennessee Movements for Agrarian Reform, 1870-1892." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 1995 54(2): 80-97.  In their participation in the Grange and Farmers' Alliance, Tennessee farm women never challenged traditional sex roles.  They simply joined their husbands in "the struggle against the trusts and monopolies."  America: History and Life, 33:13781

Letwin, Daniel. "Interracial Unionism, Gender, and "Social Equality" in the Alabama Coalfields, 1878-1908." Journal of Southern History 1995 61(3): 519-554.  The Greenback Party, Knights of Labor, and United Mine Workers all advocated a qualified form of inter-racialism in the coal fields of Alabama.  The absence of white women made interracial unionism possible.  The sanctity of white womanhood was a crucial factor in promoting segregation.  America: History and Life, 33:9480  

Lief, Julia Wiech. "A Woman of Purpose: Julia B. Nelson." Minnesota History 1981 47(8): 302-314.  After 19 years teaching in black schools in Texas and Tennessee, she returned to Minnesota in 1888.  She became a Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) organizer, a National Woman Suffrage Association lecturer, and then editor of the state WCTU monthly paper.  She also participated in the local affairs of Red Wing.  She was the Populist candidate for superintendent of schools in 1896.  She bequeathed her estate to a black former student. America: History and Life, 20A:5706

MacCracken, Brooks W. "The Case of the Anonymous Corpse." American Heritage 1968 19(4): 50-53, 73-77.  John W. Hillmon, a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, was accidentally shot and killed by a friend at Medicine Lodge.  Upon examination, insurance officials did not believe the dead man was Hillmon.  His wife disagreed and pressed the matter in six court battles between 1882 and 1903.  With the Populist movement the case took on political overtones (his wife became the victim of eastern moneyed interests).  Insurance firms eventually settled with her for 35 thousand dollars, including accumulated interest.  America: History and Life, 10:3756

Marilley, Suzanne Marie. "Why the Vote? Woman Suffrage and the Politics of Democratic Development in the United States, 1820-1893." 462 p. Ph.D. dissertation (Political Science), Harvard U, 1985.  Populists passed woman suffrage in Colorado. 

MacLean, Nancy. "The Leo Frank Case Reconsidered: Gender and Sexual Politics in the Making of Reactionary Populism." Journal of American History. 78:917-948.  December 1991. 

Morris, John R. "The Women and Governor Waite." Colorado Magazine. Winter 1967 44:11-19.  Woman's suffrage (1893) was Davis Waite's greatest legislative accomplishment.  But, the next year Waite strangely turned against the issue.  He believed most women voted against him in 1894.  Only if women paid taxes and possessed enough intelligence to protest unfair laws did he think them qualified to vote.  America: History and Life, 4:2770

Nelsen, Jane Taylor. ed. A Prairie Populist: The Memoirs of Luna Kellie Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1992. 

Nielsen, Kim E. "'We All Leaguers By Our House': Women, Suffrage, and Red-Baiting in the National Nonpartisan League." Journal of Women's History 1994 6(1): 31-50.  The National Nonpartisan League, a strong populistic farmers' organization in North Dakota and Minnesota between 1915 and 1922, attracted accusations of socialism, disloyalty, and sexual immorality. Its women were often involved in public protests and organizing activities, pushing the gender boundaries they simultaneously used for their own protection.  America: History and Life, 34:7861

Plested, Dolores. "Amazing Minnie: A Nineteenth Century Woman of Today." Colorado Heritage 1984 (1): 18-27.  Biography of Minnie Josephine Reynolds Scalabrino, a journalist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Populist, and suffragette. America: History and Life, 22A:4430

Roberts, Lawrence E. "Women in Populism, 1888-1892." Heritage of the Great Plains 1990 23(3): 15-27.  Women attended meetings, held offices, published and wrote for alliance newspapers, gave numerous speeches, and were directly involved in forming the national People's Party.  America: History and Life, 31:1587

Roeder, Richard B. "Crossing the Gender Line: Ella L. Knowles, Montana's First Woman Lawyer." Montana 1982 32(3): 64-75. Ella L. Knowles became Montana's first woman lawyer in 1889.  She established a practice in Helena, and ran unsuccessfully as the Populist candidate for attorney general in 1892.  Her Republican opponent, Henry J. Haskell afterward appointed her assistant attorney general.  They married, but later divorced.  America: History and Life, 20A:5778

Stefanco, Carolyn J. "Harvest of Discontent: The Depression of 1893 and the Women's Vote." Colorado Heritage 1993 (Spring): 16-21.  A financial panic and the subsequent fall of silver prices in the spring and summer of 1893 aided the campaign for women's suffrage in Colorado.    Free silver exponents wanted the female vote.  The strategy worked.  America: History and Life, 31:12241

Stiller, Richard. Queen of the Populists: The Story of Mary Elizabeth Lease. 245 pp. New York: Crowell, 1970.  Juvenile. 

Taylor, Betty L. "Mary Elizabeth Lease, Kansas Populist." M.A. thesis, U of Wichita, 1951.  58 pp. 

Thornton, Emma and Adams, Pauline. "Speaking to the People: 19th Century Populist Rhetoric." Journal of Popular Culture 1980 13(4): 654-658.  Examines literary style of Sarah Van De Vort Emery (1838-95) and her Seven Financial Conspiracies Which Have Enslaved the American People (1887).  America: History and Life, 18A:7258

Wagner, Mary Jo. "Farms, Families, and Reform: Women in the Farmers' Alliance and Populist Party." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oregon, 1986. DAI, 47, no. 07A, (1986).  Women joined with men in forming new political parties, such as the Greenback Party, the Prohibition Party, and the Union Labor Party.  In the early 1890s, women joined the People's Party and its predecessor, the National Farmers' Alliance in unprecedented numbers.  Women contributed to the organization, philosophy, and political platforms of the Farmers' Alliance and Populist Party.  Often, their writings and speeches espoused traditional female values.  They left home for long periods of time to campaign for the new party, often emphasizing temperance and woman suffrage.  They did not perceive a contradiction between domesticity and political work, but incorporated the ideology of domesticity into the larger goals of Populism.  Although Populist women did not win suffrage and temperance planks at national Populist conventions, they did acquire valuable political experience in the public sphere and form important networks with other women. 

Watkins, Marilyn P. "Political Activism and Community-Building Among Alliance and Grange Women in Western Washington, 1892-1925." Agricultural History 1993 67(2): 197-213.  During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Farmers' Alliance and the Grange in Lewis County, Washington often relegated women to such tasks as food preparation.  Such organizations, however, also gave women a political voice.  America: History and Life, 32:4663

Watkins, Marilyn Patricia. "Political Culture and Gender in Rural Community Life: Agrarian Activism in Lewis County, Washington, 1890-1925." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1991. DAI, 52, no. 07A, (1991): 2690.  Rural voters in Lewis county, Washington supported a series of radical third parties from 1892 to the 1920s.  Women were active in those movements.  Farmers' political goals remained much the same throughout this period.  They sought a government active in the interests of farmers and workers, lower taxes, and political and economic self-determination.  Farmer organizations nurtured traditions of democracy as well as championed the political participation of women.   

Zwick, Richard Charles. "The Agrarian Ethos in Willa Cather's Nebraska Stories and Novels: From Memory to Vision." 223 p. Ph.D. dissertation, U of Nebraska, 1982.  DAI 1982 43(3):804-805-A.