Tag Archives: Stories

Learning and Sharing Stories of the Suffrage Movement

The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.  ~ Carl Jung

The story of the Suffragette Movement is the story of resistance, persistence – and ultimate triumph.  The long struggle to ratify the 19th Amendment that guaranteed women’s right to vote is a uniquely American story worthy of retelling in these times.

The June 2019 centenary of passage of the 19th Amendment offers an opportunity for us to study the story of the Suffragettes in depth, to analyze and emulate the vision and tactics of the Movement.  This is a powerful story of American patriots who shared a vision and marshalled their talents, strength and unstinting hope to pursue a common purpose.

The centenary of their success, June 4, 2019, invites the nation to research the records, remember and retell the story.  There is time to honor the unstinting courage of the Suffragettes by doing a deep dive into the history of the Woman Suffraqe Movement — then sharing the stories with contemporaries and future generations.

Though it may seem like overkill, when tackling an historic issue of national scope a good place to start is with our nation’s repositories of recorded history –the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration.  Not the magnificent buildings in Washington, DC but the very accessible digital libraries that open the historic record to armchair searchers wherever they may be.   In recent times LC and the Archives have created digital repositories that breathe life into the story of the Suffragettes Movement.

Librarians and archivists responsible for preserving the record of the nation have taken a lead to harness digital technology to share the intellectual treasures of the nation.  They are committed to crafting useful tools that guide the remote searcher along the digital path to learning about the country’s legacy.  Their mission is to share the personal stories of real people whose recorded legacy is now accessible through digitized letters, scrapbooks, songs, photos, and diaries –  real life stories that share the thoughts and situations of those individuals and institutions that shaped this nation..

A couple of  starting points will guide the seeker’s path to the Suffragettes’ stories:

Library of Congress:

Though the physical Library of Congress is elegant it is beyond overwhelming; and yet a digital dive into the treasures is manageable. LC resources are even organized by grade/age level to suggest their appropriate audience, even  the youngest learner.  Some basic tips:

  • A good strategy is a dip into the primary documents digitized by LC – – it will inspire even the recalcitrant searcher to press on! Among the treasures are the files of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony as well as countless photos, letters, diaries that capture the stories, the images and voices of the suffragettes.   All that little stuff gives life to real people who worked for years to resist the human forces that impeded their struggle to reach a mighty goal. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/19thamendment.html
  • And here’s a great photographic complement to the primary documents collection. https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/076_vfw.html
  • For a timeline of American women’s road to assuring their voting rights, click here: https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/076_vfw_timeline.html

Each of these launch points will lead the searcher to treasure troves of stories waiting to be told.

National Archives:

The resources of the National Archives and the Library of Congress complement each other.   Staffers at the Archives  join  colleagues at LC in their commitment to expand digital access.  Of the many navigational tools here are some useful starting points:

These digital options for understanding the long struggle for passage of the 19th Amendment provide a logical first step on the research path; they offer a door to a world of stories!   The challenge is to realize and document this pivotal era in our nation’s history.  If we are to honor the labor and vision of the Suffragettes we must take to heart the priority for us to learn and tell the stories of the women and men who pressed on for decades to achieve what we now take for granted.  For us, the mission must be to study the true facts that capture the essence and describe the forces that emboldened the Suffragettes to speak truth to power for decades leading up to passage of the 19th Amendment.    The quest to learn, then tell, the stories deserves time, discussion, reflection.

Some other starting points:

For a really quick overview of the Suffragettes’ struggle, click here:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/congress-passes-the-19th-amendment

For a broader view of American women’s rights, including but not limited to the Suffragette Movement, this Congressional publication provides a good overview.  http://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/WIC/Historical-Essays/No-Lady/Womens-Rights/

For authoritative information regularly updated, these are major – and very helpful –  sources:

These are simply suggestions; resources and perspectives abound.  Exploring, then telling, the story of the Woman’s Movement offers a focus and a challenge to examine strategies that emboldened the Suffragettes to resist and persist.  We are not the first Americans to face a mighty challenge.  We have much to learn from those who set the pace a century ago:

When you walk with purpose you collide with destiny. Bertice Berry

 

 

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A royal story fit for these times

 

Presidents’ Day greetings!

The nation’s history is rich with elegant stories of our leaders who have demonstrated bravery, creativity, honesty, magnanimity, common sense, strategic thinking, business acumen and genuine concern for the good of all Americans. These men (!) have earned this day on which 21st Century Americans honor their contributions to the public good.   Most young Americans have a “day off” – and many of these will be spending some of the day with adults who care mightily about their welfare.

The concerning truth is, on Presidents’ Day 2017, our children are stressed.

As an ardent believer that facts matter and truth will out, I fancied a post about this democracy’s system of checks and balance – or about the First Amendment and the role of the press – or about the logistical fallacy of injecting a “red herring” into otherwise civil discourse…. Though I told myself that truth will out I soon realized that logical arguments, historic concept and diagrams of our tripartite government structure were too logical for young thinkers for whom illogic has been normalized.

The wisdom of Flannery O’Connor called out to me — “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.” 

The story for Presidents’ Day 2017 is handed down to us by the world’s most iconic storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen – Though we all know both name and message of The Emperor’s New Clothes, today seems the right day to refresh, then share, the story.

Refresh your memory by listening here before you et out to share the retelling with youngsters – or grownups – in your life: https://archive.org/details/emperorsnewclothes_1311_librivox/emperorsnewclothes_01_andersen_128kb.mp3 (It’s better with book in hand, of course.)

Listening is a first step, it’s talking about the meaning of the story that will prompt lines of reasoning for the young thinker. I enjoyed this comfortable approach to talking about the lessons of the tale of the hapless Emperor: http://www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.org/BookModule/TheEmperorsNewClothes

If, like me, you’re compelled to follow the story of the story, there’s always the source of last – sometimes first – resort. Wikipedia’s entry on The Emperor’s New Clothes offers context and insight on a story that has stood the test of time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor’s_New_Clothes

 

 

World Storytelling Day 2015 – The power of stories shared & stories still untold

 

Until you experience a storyteller who can take to you to worlds away, bring you back changed, you don’t know the power of Storytelling. Until you listen, totally focused on the words making movies in your head, you don’t understand the need for stories. When you are breathing the same air, in a huge group that is laughing in harmony, you can know the joy created in story. When your thoughts are those of peace, gifted to you in story, you can feel your heart beat with understanding. We all need the power, joy, laughter, harmony and peace given through Stories. Kathleen Mavournin, Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association

In the summer 2014 issue of Yes! Magazine, Editor Sarah Van Gelder asks the question “What’s Your Story?” as an introduction to an issue related to stories and storytelling. “If you want to understand people”, she writes, “ask for their stories. Listen long enough, and you learn not only the events of their lives, but their sources of meaning, what they value, what they most want.”

Van Gelder quotes the iconic George Gerbner, who wrote, “We experience the world through stories. Whoever tells the stories of a culture defines the terms, the agenda, and the common issues we face.”   In this unique issue of Yes! the essayists tell stories that remind the reader that “new voices are being heard, and….their stories are transforming our culture” – from a culture based on corporate greed, violence and the partisan impasse to a world in which the voices of the people can make a difference.

Each year, on March 20, the voices of the people and of the ages are heard on World Storytelling Day. The date is set to concur with the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere and the first day of autumn equinox in the southern hemisphere. The idea is for people around the globe to share and listen throughout the 24 hour day to stories in different languages and different settings.

World Storytelling Day has its roots in the Scandinavian nations that reached across borders to share stories in the early 1990’s. Begun in Sweden, the Scandinavian storytelling web network spread to Norway, Denmark, Finland and Estonia. The idea caught on and spread to Canada and other nations around the world so that today World Storytelling Day  is indeed a global celebration.

Clearly, the history of storytelling is as old as humankind. Before there was written communication people had to rely on the memory of the storyteller to pass on the experiences, the ideas, the wisdom, the skills of people. Stories were told to explain confusing events, including disasters that shaped a people’s heritage. Stories may be myths, legends, fairy tales, trickster stories, fables, ghost tales, hero stories, adventures – any oral rendition of the common themes that build community and define humanity.

The theme for World Storytelling Day 2015 is “Wishes.” Storytellers will explore the inclusive theme from their own perspectives and with their own listeners. In this community, one collaboration has already come together to share “Seven Stories I Wish They’d Tell about the War in Vietnam.”

The evening features storytellers/musicians, most of whom are veterans: Dick Foley, Gerald Ganann, Catrina Huynh-Weiss, Steve McKeown, Gary Melom, George Mische, and Chante Wolf. The presenters will share the stories that continue to be ignored or intentionally omitted – stories of the Gulf of Tonkin, Kent State, My Lai, draft card burning, Dr. King’s Vietnam speech, the Fulbright hearings, the impact of the war on the Vietnamese people, rape in Vietnam, homeless veterans and the scourge of Agent Orange.

The free and open event is set for World Storytelling Day, March 20, 2015, 7:00 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth United Church, 1658 Lincoln in St. Paul. Sponsors include Macalester Plymouth United Church Peacemakers and Making Meaning of Vietnam; Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 has endorsed the program.   Questions: Contact Larry Johnson 612 747 3904 or larryjvfp@gmail.com. Johnson was a founder and early supporter of World Storytelling Day in the U.S.