Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aunt Susan would be so proud!

Did you vote yesterday? It may not be a presidential election year, but yesterday we celebrated Election Day just as we have every year since 1845.  Well, almost as we have since 1845.  See, a whole lot has changed in our country and in our culture since then, and much of this change is more recent than you’d think.

One of the biggest changes came in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which guarantees that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” 

Approving this amendment was a long and arduous process many years in the making. Our recent title, Marching with Aunt Susan, details one of the many rallies leading to this giant step toward gender equality in our country.

Marching with Aunt Susan is inspired by the journals of ten-year-old Bessie Keith Pond who lived in California during the suffrage campaign. All Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers, but it is 1896 and girls don’t get to hike. They can’t vote either, which Bessie discovers when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to help lead the campaign for women’s suffrage. Inspired by the great woman, Bessie becomes involved in the movement and discovers how real change is made.
 
It’s amazing to think of a time when women couldn’t vote. What’s more, the very act of campaigning for this right was seen by some as downright criminal! These photos of British suffragettes were used as ID sheets for Scotland Yard officers (via Retronaut):


Getting the right to vote was certainly a feat and a great accomplishment, but women’s rights certainly didn’t stop there. Even the last fifty years have held their own challenges for women. 
 
I came across this book the other day and had quite a chuckle: 


How is this in any way a humorous book you ask? Well, flip to the section in which expectant mothers are advised to buy larger clothes or just stay indoors for the purpose of concealing their "current state." There are also a few bits about husbands dropping their wives off at the hospital and returning to work to "await the news."  My, how times have changed! This book surely isn't indicative of everyone who ever had a baby in 1963, but it's intriguing to think of how different life was even that recently.

Fast-forward to 2010:

Last year, my sister voted, pregnant belly abounding, and went into labor two days later--and her husband was in the room, for shame! They brought into the world a precious little girl who, in 17 years, will go and vote herself!

If you’re a woman who voted yesterday, take a moment to thank the pioneers of the previous century that you’re able to do so--and in whatever "current state" you’re in, no less! 

Aunt Susan and Bessie would be so proud of how far we've come! The world is a very different place for us because of their hard work.  For more info on Marching with Aunt Susan, check out this link. We also have free teacher guides for classroom discussions! 

Happy Reading (and voting!), everyone! 

*If you like Marching With Aunt Susan, check out:

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