Thumbnail of suffrage protest from 1915

Historical Talks

1. Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Woman Suffrage

This talk is based on the above-named book I wrote about my great-grandmother, Florence Brooks Whitehouse, published in 2014. Florence was a novelist, painter, vocalist, and mother of three sons when she first joined the suffrage movement in 1914. We explore Florence’s life up to 1914 and her leadership in moving suffrage forward in Maine, joining forces with national leader Alice Paul in a desperate, last-ditch effort to ensure that the Maine legislature ratified the 19th Amendment through which women nationwide won voting rights. Slides of historic photos accompany this lively talk, which lasts about 40 minutes. The length of the talk and the focus can be somewhat flexible depending on the needs and interests of the audience. It is suitable for libraries, historical societies, women’s groups, and high school and college students. See website at www.florencebrookswhitehouse.com.

2. We Demand: America’s First Cross-Country Automobile Trip for a Cause

In September 1915 four women embarked in an open car from San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition on the country’s first cross-country road trip for a cause. They were carrying a petition to Congress and President Wilson demanding an amendment to the United States Constitution enfranchising women. Over primitive, poorly signed roads and through blazing heat, rain, snow, and mud, they battled their way across the country, stopping in towns along the way to collect more signatures and to raise awareness that most women in the country were prohibited from voting. I retraced their route in 2015 and blogged about it at www.suffrageroadtrip.blogspot.com. This lively talk is accompanied by historic slides. The length of the talk and the focus can be somewhat flexible depending on the needs and interests of the audience. It is suitable for libraries, historical societies, women’s groups, and high school and college students.

 

 

3. Patriotism, War, and Woman Suffrage

In February 1917 voting rights activists were jubilant when the Maine legislature approved the state’s first ever referendum on woman suffrage. The vote was set for September 10th. But even as Maine suffragists prepared their campaign to convince their men that women deserved the vote the country was preparing to enter the war in Europe. The wave of patriotism that followed the US joining the war collided with women’s efforts- in Maine and nationally- to secure voting rights for women. It also gave unprecedented powers to government agencies to limit free speech and to forcibly quarantine those "reasonably suspected" of having venereal disease- mostly women. There are some interesting parallels to events happening today. This provocative talk is accompanied by historic slides. 

4. The Equal Rights Amendment

Alice Paul arranged for the Equal Rights Amendment to be introduced into Congress in 1923. After almost half a century of lobbying, it received the necessary support from two-thirds of the US House and Senate, and was sent to the states for ratification; but Congress imposed a time limit. But they were still three states short when that time limit expired. Since 2017, however, three states have ratified. How did we get to this point? And what are the prospects of finally including women in the country’s foundational document, the US Constitution? A timely talk is accompanied by historic slides. 

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Here is a description of the historical talks I offer. I love talking at schools, libraries, and community centers about this important history. Testimonials for my lectures are at the bottom of this page. 

Testimonials from Lectures:

"I really cannot thank you enough for your time and presentation yesterday. This is my 8th year teaching and you are the best guest speaker I have been fortunate enough to host. You spoke at the kids' level without oversimplifying or glossing over dark details about our country's past and I think the students appreciated your candor as well..."

Middle School Teacher

"It added to the program that the speaker was telling about her own grandmother, thus giving first hand accounts she heard from her grandmother. It was very thorough and well organized, with good illustrations. Excellent!

 

White Mountains Community College Attendee

 

"Events like these are a lifesaver during the pandemic -- the chance to interact with smart people

about an important topic is terrific!"

White Mountains Community College Attendee

"To say we appreciated and enjoyed your class would be an understatement. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us who signed up and attended the three, seemingly, very short sessions. The evaluations we received all expressed the opinion that your course was excellent, well organized, and well presented. It lived up to the expectations of all who were in attendance. . . I have cited your course as a great example of how Zoom affords us the opportunity to feature new, educational, and exciting topics

from Instructors from away."

 

Nancy L. Perkins

President

Senior College Belfast