Sonnets of a Suffragette

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, February 16, 1913: Went to Sunday School this morning. Carrie was over this afternoon.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What did Grandma and her friend Carrie Stout talk about?

This was the era of suffragettes. Did they ever talk about the role of women—and whether they should have the right to vote? (The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, won’t be ratified until 1919.)

Maybe they discussed a book published in 1913 by Berton Braley called Sonnets of a Suffragette.

Here’s the first sonnet in the book:

I read a lot about the Suffrage Cause.

In nearly every paper that I get

There’s something said about the Suffragette

And Woman’s Right and “brutal manmade laws.”

It’s funny, but this “Votes for Women” draws

It’s leaders from the very smartest set.

I don’t know what it’s all about; and yet

I think I’d like to join it—well—because!

Why should I be a frivolous young thing.

Thinking of gowns and dances—and of men—

When I might help make the welkin ring

With “Votes for Women! Like the Upper Ten?

My sheltered life has been too calm and quiet;

The Movement calls me—and I guess I’ll try it.

8 Responses

  1. Wow, that is some bright red hair. Reminds me of my Grandma.

  2. Such a different time then. Sometimes I think about current issues in our world and somehow try to compare them to events of years ago.

  3. Now you’ve got me wondering what my grandmother and great-grandmother thought about women winning the right to vote…

  4. Back when the suffrage activism entered into the twentieth century, Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive party included woman suffrage in their platform. I wonder if this is what your Grandmother and her friend Carrie talked about back then.

  5. I think they talked about the play and school :)

  6. so interesting – thank you – I love how you take a topic and run with it

  7. That’s so funny that you’ve chosen this topic tonight. We were driving around town today and I was singing a Mary Poppin’s song to my hubby…”we’re clearly soldiers in petty coats….dauntless crusaders for women’s votes. Though we adore men individually, We agree that as a group they’re rather stuuuuuupid”….LOL, he really likes that part.

  8. 1919? I’ve been away from History for too long. I thought it was passed in 1921. Was something else passed then?

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