Season 2: Episode 14: Why are material culture artifacts reshaping our understanding of women's history?
With Dr. Amy Forss
In this episode Kelsie and Brooke are joined by Dr. Amy Forss to talk about the importance of preserving artifacts for curating and understanding women's history. Artifacts help history come alive. Tune in!
Kelsie Eckert 0:05
The Remedial History Project is a nonprofit working to get women's history into the K to 12 curriculum to help us meet our goal. We produce media lesson plans, and so much more. Check it out on our website, www.RemedialHerstory.com. The Remedial History project is funded through grants and by listeners like you. Please head over to patreon.com and become a supporter of the Remedial History Project. YouTube can help us reform education and allow women to be seen heard and complicated. In particular funds from patrons added from here on out will help us launch a crash course YouTube channel on women's history. We will be producing short 10 minute videos that educators can play in their classes telling women's history from era to era for both us and world history. Let's make history together.
Brooke Sullivan 0:55
Hey, Kelsey. Hey, Brooke. Want to tell everyone's happening in today's episode rock today
Kelsie Eckert 0:59
We are getting tangible.
Brooke Sullivan 1:02
Okay, I'm lost already. This will be a good one.
Kelsie Eckert 1:05
We're gonna be talking about historic artifacts in women's history. Like physical physical objects. All right. Let's get tangible. All
Brooke Sullivan 1:17
It popped in my mind. Bras Burnham let's get into
Hello and welcome to Remedial Herstory the other 50% the podcast that explores what happened to the women in history class. Now here's your host, Kelsey Brooke Eckert and her partner in crime, Brooke Neva Sullivan.
Kelsie Eckert 1:44
In this episode, we are going to be asking the question, why our material culture, artifacts, reshaping our understanding of women's history, and we are going to be joined by Dr. Amy force,
Brooke Sullivan 1:58
Dr. Amy force,
Kelsie Eckert 2:00
I'm so excited to share her research with everybody, she has tapped into something that I think is so important. And all of us feel this, when we walk into spaces where treasured objects and things that are interesting to us, sort of belong, and I don't know about you, but like, there are family heirlooms in my house where I'm like, Oh, like this belonged to, you know, my parents or whatever it is. And it just gives you all the fields and for women's history, when you it's like this belonged to you know, X woman from the past, just makes it feel like very real to like see the things that they held and, and, you know, maybe even be in the space that they were in, right? This summer, we went to the Mary Baker Eddy house with our retreat attendees. And we got to tour the home in the space where she like, lived and operated and went through trials and all these things. And it makes her real to people.
Brooke Sullivan 3:14
I think it's real, but it pulls through that. That life is not as long as physical objects, sometimes like homes will have multiple lives in that home, and it will outlive you, you're more of a caretaker in the moment that it's in. But it's similar to women's artifacts is your caretaker to continue the story forward. And there's a physical thing that person actually touched, held, cared for loved, lived in, whatever it might be. And you get to do something similar. And it's now an honor for you to continue to tell the story. And I think when we have those physical objects in our home, it keeps our families alive, and keeps them going forward much longer than they're likely to based off these really solid artifacts from their world.
Kelsie Eckert 4:02
Yeah. So I'm so excited to get into this topic and some of the ways in which these artifacts are reshaping this field that we're in, whether you realize it or not.
Brooke Sullivan 4:15
I know I'm like let's what are the things she's going to talk about? Oh,
Kelsie Eckert 4:18
I'm so excited. So I'm going to let her introduce herself and she can share how she got into this world.
Unknown Speaker 4:24
Hello, my name is Dr. Amy force and I am thrilled to be part of her story. And I wanted to just give you a little bit of information about me before we get going. I am the head of the history program at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska. And I'm a little bit of a late bloomer. I have my family first, between my husband and I we have six children. And then I have my career second. And my PhD is an African American history with an emphasis on women and I earned In 2010, pretty much ever since then I have been researching and writing about diverse women. And University of Nebraska Press, we'll be publishing my third book, which is what I'm going to talk about today, borrowing from our foremothers reexamining the women's movement through material culture 1848 to 2017, in December of this year, I had a terrific time writing it, and I enjoyed the interdisciplinarity stretching, it's always fun to go between two different mediums there. So I was stretching between history and material culture, which is a fairly new field since about the 1990s. So to give you a little bit of information about how I became interested in this topic, it actually started a couple of years ago, when I was researching for the book, when I was in the Smithsonian back room, they actually granted me the luxury of going into the back room and seeing material culture artifacts that probably a lot of people have never even seen before. And they started pulling open drawers and all kinds of goodies and things about the women's movement. And they opened up a drawer and there were four charm bracelets. I don't know if you know what a charm bracelet is. But you know, it's those heavy bracelets that a lot of women used to wear, like right after world war two ended, it became very popular. You know, anytime you would go somewhere, you get a little like a little charm to put on your bracelet nowadays. I think Pandora, you know, the jeWelry shop where you can go and like if you've had a baby, you can get a little charm of the baby. And you can add to it. And it's actually very vintage, but it's coming back. You know, charm bracelets were popular way back in the day, we're talking with the Egyptians. But then they became super pop up popular in the US, right after World War Two, what anyway, they pulled out these four charm bracelets. And with gloves on, they let me pick up one of them. And it was like this primal touchdown. And, you know, they were explaining to me, this was one of the suffragists leaders. Her name was Alice Paul, she was a very young leader, she is the person who co founded the National Woman's party, which is the association that gave the final push to get women the right to vote in 1920. And she's also a woman who lived very late in law or long in life. So she was involved with the Equal Rights Movement, the Equal Rights Amendment movement in the 1970s and 80s. So, you know, even though she died in the late 70s, this is one of these trans figural women who were involved in both pieces of a very long section of the women's movement, anyway, holding her bracelet. I just thought, this is so powerful, you know, I could read anything about this woman and would not have affected me as much as holding her bracelet in my hands, an object that she had at one point worn around her wrist, even though she was long gone, the bracelet was still there. So I got very involved with merging history with this new area material culture. So for today's lecture, what I would like to talk about is three women, and their three artifacts that are part of history. And that no matter how much you read about these three women, thinking about their artifacts, and in this case, this is actually a chapter from my book, borrowing from our foremothers. That is discussing black women making a difference in the women's movement through the politics of respectability. In this case, it was three pieces of clothing. So I'm going to talk about clothing, but I'm also going to talk about the history of what was going on at the same time. So I don't want to belabor this because I'm so excited to talk about these three pieces of clothing. So, to get us started just a few little parameters to help you be able to put this context into the proper setting. You've got to remember that in early 1900. A lot of states were changing their constitutions because they did not want black men voting. If you recall, right after the Civil War ended, we had the 13th and 14th and 15th Amendment and the 15th amendment gave black men sorry women, we were not a consideration until the 19th Amendment in 1920. Gave when a man black man the right to vote. And so a lot of the states realized that if black men were voting, that they could really change something with legislature. So the states were changing their constitution as fast as possible, and putting in roadblocks for black men to vote things like the poll tax or literary tests or grandfather clauses, you know, if your grandfather couldn't vote, you know, before the Civil War, then you could vote if you were a black man, obviously, that's not going to work. So the point was, is you had black women who are not only trying to uplift the community, but they are dealing with black men who aren't being able to vote. And at the same time, you had visuals like Birth of a Nation, you know, this is the movie that came out in 1915. That glorified the Klu Klux Klan. You know, this is a film that basically had
Unknown Speaker 11:14
The what if what if that civil war had been won by by black soldiers and blacks had taken over the United States? And it sounds ridiculous. But the sad thing is, is the President of the United States at the time, Woodrow Wilson, they even did a private showing at the White House. And you know, he and his wife who were staunch anti suffragists, they didn't want voting. This this turns into this horrific moment, because the President said, Oh, well, if black people had won the Civil War, this is what our country would have looked like in the Ku Klux Klan had to save us. Needless to say, you had widespread lynching of in the black community, you had horrible race riots against the black community on the heels of this film, and also at the end of World War One in 1919. So they kind of mesh together into this horrible point in history called the Red summer named by James Weldon Johnson, a black community leader for all of the bloodshed. So in 1920, the year following, yay, women are going to get the right to vote, we get the 19th amendment passed in 1920. That's fantastic. But that doesn't mean that black women are going to be able to vote. They are going to be kept away from the voting booth. Also, just like black men with literary tests and or literacy tests, excuse me, and pull taxes and a violence. And so you have three women in this time frame that a lot of women's narratives, when they talk about the women's movement, they call it the doldrums like nothing happened between 1920 with women getting the vote in 1963 with the The Feminine Mystique coming out, and then the women's movement just blows wide open with the feminists and equal rights amendment. It's as if there's 43 years of nothing happening, but realities, there were things happening. And the three things that were happening, were actually what I'm highlighting in my chapter that I'm talking about today, was that the black community is going to be going forward fast. The first person that I want to talk about was Marian Anderson. And Marian Anderson was an opera singer, she was a control to that. That means someone that has a terrific range of voice.
Unknown Speaker 14:09
She is going to be come world renowned. She is an African American who is well aware of racism, she's well aware of segregation. Her timeframe when she first becomes very famous is in the 1930s. And the most famous event for her lifetime, was singing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Now, today, that may not sound like a big deal because the Lincoln Memorial is a very popular place for politicians for incoming presidents for outgoing presidents to go ahead and have the media snapping pictures you know the link In Memorial houses that huge statue of Lincoln, but at the time, Marian Anderson in 1939, will be the first person to break ground of using this spot between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, that huge long area called the mall with the beautiful green area and the law strip of wading pools. And she is going to perform. So how does that happen? And what does that have to do with the dress? Well, Marian Anderson, her agent wished to have her perform in Washington, DC, and of course, being world renowned, famous, because she's very welcome in Europe, but not as much welcome in America because we still have Jim Crow laws and segregation. So he asked the Daughters of the American Revolution to allow her to sing in one of their venues. And this is constitutional Hall, which is in Washington DC. Unfortunately, no one managed to read the handbook of Dar. And the daughters basically said, you can perform in our establishment only if you are white. And they did allow
Unknown Speaker 16:29
Cod, the audience to be mixed black and white. But this wouldn't be something that they would have allowed Marian Anderson to take the stage. And so there is going to be a brouhaha. There is going to be a big issue. And Eleanor Roosevelt's the wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt is actually going to be the first First Lady to become involved in a national issue. And Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a member of Dar will resign. And she writes in her column, she had a newspaper called my day her column was called my day, she will resign and say that she's embarrassed for the organization. Well, because of that, Marian Anderson is going to be contacted by Harold Ickes, who is Department of the Interior underneath Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And they figure out that she's going to have her concert in Washington DC, even without the Daughters of the American Revolution help. So they decided to have it outside. And so this becomes this huge concert of 75,000 people. They have radio microphones, this is kind of like today. You know, we have the internet, they don't have the internet, they don't have television, but radio would have been the size of like an internet audience. And so she will sing. And she sings in front of again, a crowd of 75,000 but another quarter of a million on the radio, heard her sing. So here's this woman who is black. She couldn't even get a hotel room in Washington DC but she is singing in front of a crowd. So what do you wear? Well, Marian Anderson decided to have her dress makers and she had professional dress makers even though she herself sewed her own clothing. She had this beautiful outfit. It was one piece of a burnt orange Poppy colored jacket with beautiful ornate turquoise buttons going down the fun of it. And then she had turquoise buttons going around her waistline on the bottom of the dress. And then the rest of it was a long silk. Or excuse me, velveteen skirt. It was black. So it was a very dramatic outfit. And that was the point. Marian Anderson she said I she preferred to wear something that was comparable, but she understood that her audience expected her she called them her working gowns that she they expected her to dress up. But she said I do not go in for things that dazzle for I'm not a dazzler. And so she walked out of the Lincoln Memorial that day. It was the largest crowd that she ever sang in front of and it was cold because it was a In the spring in April, and she had a fur jacket slung around the beautiful outfit, because she needed to keep warm, you know, singers, they have to keep their throats warm. And she started to sing. And there she stood hypnotizing this crowd in this beautiful outfit. And she opened up her program with America.
Unknown Speaker 20:30
And the crowd was absolutely spellbound. So that outfit years later, will be put into storage and unfortunately how things go as storage. The skirt was heavy pulled on the jacket and ended up being two pieces. But that outfit today is in the most recent Smithsonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC and it was donated by Mary Anderson's daughter in law, Jeanette to priest, I was fortunate to interview Miss de priest and she told me this fabulous story about the dress and how once Marian Anderson word, she was so much more concerned with the community that you know, I don't believe she wore the dress twice. And it was just put away and today. You can see that dress and touch a piece of this fantastic history. The second dress I want to speak about is Mary McLeod Bethune black velvet dress, and Mary McLeod Bethune was the founder of the Thune Cookman College. She was the founder of the National Council of Negro Women. And she was a believer in uplifting the community as well during this 1920 to 1963 timeframe. That's supposedly the doldrums nothing was happening. She is going to go down in history is Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Director of National Youth Administration. She is the first black woman to direct a government agency. So you know, she is going to be known for her elegant appearance. Her favorite black dress deserves a long second look. Bethune Cookman is Chief Librarian, Tasha Yeomans, I was fortunate enough to interview her. And she was telling me about the garments construction. And she said, it was interesting because the dress even though it was very elegant and beautifully made, it appeared to be from someone's home, that this was not a designer dress, like Mary Anderson's evening gown. Now, part of that could be because black women when they tried to shop in the 1900s, going up until probably the 1970s are not welcome to go into a store and just try on clothing.
Unknown Speaker 23:25
That may seem odd to you. If you're a person who's white, and anytime you wanted an outfit, you just go in, you go into the changing room, you try things on Well, if you were black in this country, before desegregation took place, and there were still attitudes even after it took place. And of course, we're still dealing with a lot of these attitudes. I couldn't go into a store and just say, Oh, I'm going to try on that skirt or let me try and their hat away. Can I try on the shoes? I wouldn't it wouldn't even be an option I wouldn't even be asking. And so, you know, women who were black became very good seamstresses. They knew how to sew. Did Mary McLeod Bethune make this dress? Probably not. She was someone who was a supporter of the black community, the arts in Washington DC, and she most likely had the dress made someone in this community but what's interesting about the dress is that as gorgeous as the rushing at the bust and the shoulders on the gown, with a scoop neckline and rhinestone overlay, and a zipper in the side and a zipper at each sleeve. Reality is that the interior seems like if you turn the dress inside out, they were predominantly unfinished and there were patches of hem tape. You know, this is what you use when you're in a big hurry and you don't have time to have a A dress or a skirt properly, they were still securing the bodice and the hemline. So it's pretty much a do it yourself project, which I like the dress because it's kind of like Mary McLeod Bethune, she was the do it yourself person. So you know, Mary McLeod Bethune. She's born in 1875. And the reason why she was even able to go to school was because a white Quaker dressmaker provided a scholarship and therefore but then when she was 13, you know, the other members are for families. She She is one of 17 children born to former slaves. They weren't able to go to school but they picked they picked Mary to be able to go to school because she showed so much promise. So after she graduates from the Scotia seminary, this is the first black woman's post secondary Institute created after the Civil War. She will found her own school, the Daytona educational and industrial school for Nikko girls in Florida, in the years 1904. And the Thune firmly believed there is no such thing as Negro education, only education. Now, she was a practical woman, and the classes that she offered her female students and she only had five to start and $1.50 to use as capital and soap crates for them to sit on. And she offered them nursing, training, poultry raising, gardening, sewing and of course dressmaking. Because Mary McLeod Bethune realized that how you look your appearance has a lot to do with how seriously someone takes you. So McLean MacLeod, Mary McLeod Bethune, you know, originally she wanted to be a missionary, she dressed very simply with very cloth dresses, as she becomes the mistress of her own school, she is going to start dressing more and more, you know, politically correct and, and looking more professional and very sophisticated. And so this dress becomes a favorite. She wears it numerous times. She worked for a portrait that was painted of her. And then the very last time she worked, there was her retirement reception. And she wanted President Truman who was the last president she's serving under, to come to her retirement party, and she wore the dress and there's a beautiful image of her with a whole bunch of other women. And she's in the middle with a huge corsage on her shoulder, wearing the dress. The last woman I want to speak about is Carlotta Walls. And Carlotta Walls, was the youngest of the Little Rock Nine, the Little Rock Nine is a group that were able to desegregate Central High School, and Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas. And that may not sound like a big deal. But the fact that the Supreme Court case of Brown versus Board of Education had already been ruled on in 1954, saying that children could no longer be segregated in schools that they had to be together and you couldn't have, you know, one school wide school with lots of books and teachers being paid a whole bunch of money and a black school where you're basically sharing one textbook and the teachers barely have enough money. So this court case said separate schools are not equal and you need to have the schools together you need to merge them. Well. Just because a Supreme Court case is going to be passed. That doesn't mean that cities are going to acquiesce and Little Rock Arkansas came to a very nasty moment in 1957. Where the school is not going to an all white high school. The finest white high school in Arkansas refuses to allow black children to attend it. Not only do you have the governor of the state, but you have him calling out the National Guard so that these nine students who were trying just to go to high school will be kept out by violent mobs yelling at them throwing rocks at them. It's a very scary situation. Well, Carlotta Walls is the youngest of The Little Rock Nine that's what they became known as. And she was only 14. And her mother, knowing that they couldn't go to a department store and try on clothing, but fortunately, her mother had worked at Little Rock's nicest department store. Of course, she wasn't able to ring up customers or anything like that she was a seamstress. She went to the store with Carlotta. And they picked out a beautiful matching shirt or blouse and skirt. And it had a black background and turquoise capital letters. You know, the alphabet letters strewn all over this, you know, in various patterns on it, which I thought was really tongue in cheek because her daughter is trying to desegregate a high school with eight other black students. And she's got a dress well skirt and blouse that have alphabet letters all over it was quite a statement for education. Needless to say that the first time that the Little Rock Nine tried to desegregate Central High School and Little Rock, they were met with a very violent crowd. It was a scary situation, the police were there. They were protecting these children. But they were not allowed to access the school. The second time they tried. They had a few moments in the school. But unfortunately, the school administration was very worried because the crowd outside of the school was threatening to go in the school and find these children and harm them. So they rounded them up and took them out underneath blankets laying on the floor of a car. And here she is with her skirt and her blouse getting all wrinkled and her crenellations slip underneath it. And you know, this was a terrifying moment for a 14 year old. And the third time that they tried to desegregate the school. The president at the time Eisenhower called out the 101st airborne. It was the first time a president had actually called federal troops to go into the south since Reconstruction timeframe, you know, right after the Civil War. And Carlotta was convinced that maybe the skirt and the blouse were bad luck. So she didn't wear them. The third time she in fact, when I interviewed her she said she couldn't remember what she wore didn't matter because the 101st airborne did get them in the door and they did segregate the school. And, you know, Carlotta said that? It was a very difficult couple of years ago, the Little Rock Nine, only three graduated from the high school. The children, you know, children can be mean in high school in junior high, you know, think back to your own timeframe.
Unknown Speaker 33:06
She was able to graduate but that entailed you know her parents being threatened, and their house was firebombed at one point. Most of the parents of the Little Rock Nine they lost their jobs. This was a very difficult situation. So after Carlotta graduated high school, she forgot about the skirt forgot about the blouse, but her mother didn't. And she wanted to have that outfit. You know her mom was really big on like photo albums and you know stamping books and things like that. What do you do with the skirt and dress you can't put them in a book. So she ended up putting them away and wrapping them up in cellophane. And years later, when Carlotta was married. She became known as Carlotta Walls linear. She opened up the box where her mother had put the cellophane and her mother was still living. She was elderly at this point. And Carlotta was so excited to find the blouse and the skirt that when the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture asked if they could permanently display it. She said yes. So today the Smithsonian's newest museum has Marian Anderson's dress. Well now it's two pieces, a jacket and a skirt. And they had Mary McLeod with his favorite black skirt when it opened in 2016. And then they have on permanent display, Carlotta Lynn walls linears skirt and her blouse as well. You know this is what makes history So incredibly exciting because you can go to Washington DC, or as an instructor, you can show pictures of these three dresses and explain the backstory as to what happened to the women who were wearing them and why they are so incredibly important. Thank you.
Kelsie Eckert 35:24
This podcast is sponsored by our patrons patrons get access to behind the scenes, regular rhp gear, bonus episodes, insights into our research lesson plans before everybody else and more. Brooke, read off these awesome people.
Brooke Sullivan 35:41
Thank you to Jeff Barbara, Christian Kent, Jamie, Jenna, Nancy, Megan, Leah, Mark, Nicole, and Sarah, Alicia and Katya.
Kelsie Eckert 35:49
What do you notice so awesome about this particular group of people know what very few of them are actually educators. These are bad ass people who care so much about equitable and inclusive education that they are willing to put their money
Brooke Sullivan 36:05
where their mouth is nice. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah,
Kelsie Eckert 36:09
So cool. You too can become a patron of the Remedial Herstory project by heading over to www.patreon.com and becoming a sponsor of the Remedial Herstory project for just $5 a month. That's it. That's one latte.
Brooke Sullivan 36:26
But I mean, it's, it's one of something but it's cheap. And you get all that stuff, all
Kelsie Eckert 36:31
That stuff. You too can give up one latte for 1000s of children and women.
Brooke Sullivan 36:38
You could also buy condoms for more than
Kelsie Eckert 36:43
you could perhaps you could reduce
Brooke Sullivan 36:44
Reproduction. For less than that.
Kelsie Eckert 36:49
Brooke, most importantly, instead of lamenting that women's history isn't being taught in high school, or that they didn't know these women, these people are putting their money, where their mouth is. And they are getting it in to the curriculum by funding us.
Brooke Sullivan 37:03
It's awesome. And they believe women's stories are important. Yes. Thank you. The
Kelsie Eckert 37:08
Thanks, patrons. We love you.
Brooke Sullivan 37:10
We do love you.
Kelsie Eckert 37:13
Dr. Force, thank you so much for your time and your energy. This is such important work. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wanted to ask you, where do you see this belonging in the K to 12 curriculum?
Unknown Speaker 37:27
That is a really good question. You know, originally, when I started to do this, I was thinking, Oh, this could be a college textbook. And then ump, University of Nebraska Press said, you know, this is more of a crossover. And I hadn't heard that term before with publishing. And they said, This is a book that you could have in a classroom as maybe a supplemental textbook or a textbook, but it's also for just the general person who wants to know about women's history. And so I think that is how they will be marketing this book. When I got to thinking, and probably the last six months, I by the way, I've been working on this project off and on for about 10 years. And I wrote two books in between, but it was something in the back of my mind. And I was thinking that as much as the college that I teach out at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, we have a huge percentage of dual enrollment students. So these are students in the high school who want to take early college credit. And they take the credit through instructors who have their masters in the high schools. And then when they finish that course, in high school, they have college credit. So we have students here in Nebraska, who are completing their associate's degree at the same time that they're graduating from high school, which is incredible. And and of course, it's a huge savings for their parents, because then they can go ahead and finish the last two years and have their bachelor's or, you know, two years after high school. So I was thinking about this book that I've written the borrowing from our poor mothers, and I thought it would be a perfect space for dual enrollment students who are in high school. Part of it is because the artifacts are woven into the story, and they I'm actually doing interdisciplinary work. It's the first time I've published this way. I'm merging history. And I'm also tying it together with material culture studies, which is a fairly you know, new offering I think I've mentioned before since then, I 90s It's a fairly new field. So I was thinking, you know who better than high school students or maybe, you know, even younger grades if instructors would like, they could just take a chapter out of the book. And the way I made I wrote the book it actually each chapter stands alone. I think I, I think I said in the book, it's like a big piece of fruitcake, you know, it's got all these little studs, you know, nuts and berries. And it's a very thick piece. But each one stands by itself. So let's say you had a junior high instructor who is trying to talk about suffragists and what they went through, well, you could take chapter three, you know, silently disobedient, and you could focus in on the, you know, the jail for freedom pin that these women earned after picketing the White House and being arrested and going on hunger strikes. That's why I like having the interdisciplinary tone to the book. Because it isn't just text, it is also the visual. So I think it's a lot simpler for students. And I think that K through 12, students are very open to artifacts and objects, and who doesn't love a good story that goes with it. And I tried my darndest to to write the book in a storybook fashion. And then you have the visual as well. So I would think, you know, even even a kindergarten instructor could probably, and they wouldn't have to dumb it down for their little bright kindergarteners, you know, they could maybe show an image and say, This is a story. This is what happened with these women what they were doing. So I would think the only limitation with the book would be the instructor and how they want to handle it. So pretty much any age group would benefit from using this book.
Kelsie Eckert 42:01
Hmm. I love that. So you also are pretty involved in the National History Day Program in Nebraska. Do you see a connection to and I you know that I love National History Day here in New Hampshire. So I'm just curious, how do you see National History Day roping into which is a K to 12? Or five to 12? Program? How do you see that roping into the work that you've done here? And the research you've done?
Unknown Speaker 42:29
Mmm, good question as well, you know, National History Day, which I love. I was a judge for 25 years. And then I became the Omaha coordinator for the district contest here. And, of course, Omaha, we have the largest district in Nebraska, there's seven different districts. But I can see baby Junior High High School even Yep, the younger grades, who are in National History Day, say they're interested in material culture. And they want to do, you know, maybe an exhibit, or they want to write a paper or do a documentary, or maybe they're interested in the other discipline in history. It's very powerful, because National History Day is so visual, and you're talking to the judges and you know, people looking at what you create. So to me, it's a really good space, I could see someone, maybe picking one of the 30 artifacts that I highlighted in my book, and running with it, you know, you could even do a play, you know, one of the performance pieces for National History Day. Because it one of the chapters, it's called Creating your colors. And you could do something on the colors that the suffrage is used. And you know, you think, oh, you know, the purple, the white and the gold. That was always there. Well, it wasn't. That actually was a later color. And I'm not going to do a spoiler alert on the book. But you'll find out in the chapter, how did that come about? And what were the colors before that were really associated with the suffragists and me nowadays, that's the colors. Those are the tricolours that pretty much everybody knows. So I could definitely see this for National History Day. Like again, you could do a paper you could do your website, you could do your documentary, your performance or the exhibit, using any of this information and I I'm not exactly sure I do have the ear of some of the folks in the higher ups and National History Day and I I don't I don't want them playing favorites and just using my book but I connected them with on lady like 2020 and now on lady life 2020 which is a whole beautiful series is a film series about various women there's 25 different biographies. They are now connected with National History Day because I introduced each of the parties and they said, Oh, this works for us. So I'm hoping to interject more women's history and National History Day projects. Not that you don't have women in there. But a lot of times, it's kind of the same women that kind of keep coming to the top of the pile. And really, you know, I picked artifacts and women that you may not may or may not have heard of, on purpose, because there's so many women out there, I don't want them to be limited.
Kelsie Eckert 45:35
You know, that's amazing. That's so needed. And I think there's a lot of us in this world of women's history. And the more that we know each other and can collaborate and support each other is so cool in the in the fact that unladylike, 2020, and National History Day are talking now. I think we're gonna see some really great student documentaries coming out.
Unknown Speaker 45:54
Yeah, I cannot wait to see what students do with this information. And, you know, the, the glorious thing is, it's on the internet, but it's not on the internet. And they've managed to put it all together in one spot. Yeah. And a lot of times, you know, I mentor students who are getting projects ready for national history data? No, if you have done that in the past. You know, it's overwhelming, because at first you think well, what do I do? What's the theme? How do I make this work? And having the visual plus the text, I think encourages students to say, Oh, I could do this. Or I could do a little bit of a maybe a split from what they're doing over here. But again, the bottom line is more women's history, you know, and National History Day, definitely.
Kelsie Eckert 46:46
I did a little analysis of the universities locally here in New England, I looked at like Harvard, MIT. I forget what all the top seven universities looked at their history majors, and not one of them required a women's history class for graduation. And so then I was like, Okay, well, maybe they think they're like integrating it. So I went through all the courses. And it was less than 10% of them mentioned women, gender, sexuality, LGBTQ plus, they mentioned a woman or whatever, less than 10%, even like, hit any of the benchmarks was like, Okay, so that's why,
Unknown Speaker 47:24
yeah, you know, yeah, that was part of the reason why I wrote the book for Mother's book. Yeah, because I was tired of the white woman, middle class narrative. And so I have black women and LGBTQ women running around in there. I've got, I mean, Asian women, it's like, okay, let's tell the real story instead of a bunch of white women, we're just hanging out together with nothing better to do. And a lot of people think that with the suffragists and not realizing, hey, are there a lot of people there, they just, you know, histories written by the winners are those who are wealthy and oh, that that isn't the case. And And okay, obviously, I think you just made your point, their history is being written by a lot of wealthy white men. And so yeah, women are just, we're just not there. But that can change.
Kelsie Eckert 48:19
Yes, absolutely. Well, Dr. Forrest, thank you so much for your time and your energy on all of this. We appreciate you coming on the podcast. We appreciate you sharing your expertise with us and helping us get it into students hands.
Unknown Speaker 48:34
Well, thank you. This is my very first podcast, I bought a microphone. I was so excited. So thank you for the opportunity. And thank you for having me.
Kelsie Eckert 48:43
Of course, of course. Thank you. So bringing it back to Francis Willard, by the 1890s. Temperance is this massive, full blown movement and she, you know, her passion, her enthusiasm has really made this movement, a powerhouse movement. It's, I mean, it transforms when she becomes president, okay? And, but she becomes kind of controversial in the 1890s. And she dies in 1898. Really young, she's 58. And the last years of her life, unfortunately, it kind of puts a black mark on her, like, what I would argue is otherwise a pretty powerhouse legacy. Okay. And, you know, like a lot of figures in history. She's one of those people that, you know, you have to look at all of it, you have to look at the wonderful things that she did for this movement, the wonderful things that she did for women for suffrage, and you also need to call her out on her racism and her failure to step up on different issues. And so, another woman that everybody should know is Ida B. Wells. Barnett, Ida wells Barnett is involved in so many different things during this time period, including temperance But she's a founder of the NAACP. She is a suffer just the people who, you know might be familiar with her suffrage work. Probably her most famous suffrage thing is in 1913, when Al's poem, Lucy burns and the National Women's party are organizing their march on Washington for President Wilson's inauguration, she gives a very passionate speech because they were going to segregate the different groups, right, man. And she's like, No, like, we're either with you or we're wrong. Exactly. Yeah. Like what the hell. And you know, all that was done to appease the Southern women because they wanted the southern votes on the suffrage issue.
Brooke Sullivan 50:42
The audience can see that my eyes are old. Yeah.
Kelsie Eckert 50:45
So she, you know, she stands up and then and then she and many other women, including Mary Church, Terrell right. Refuse to march in the back and they jump in where with where they should be. Yeah, we're right in the mix. Yeah, exactly. She's involved in suffrage. She has involved in black rights. And in particular, her passion for African American rights is about anti lynching. So she lives in, lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and three of her male friends were lynched by a by the KKK in Memphis, Tennessee, because basically, there was this black grocer, who was doing very, very well, right, he was competing with the white grocer across town and winning, and so they lynched him. And she knew these people was devastated as anybody should have been very dramatic. And so she, like her personal crusade is an anti lynching. Okay? Eventually, she ends up in Chicago, and she is a writer, she writes, she has a whole, you know, she writes about anti lynching, she publishes a pamphlet, just with all her research and data and statistics about what's going on anything. You know, she's, she speaks truth to power. I mean, she's such an incredible figure in American history. And so under discussed in school, everyone should know her name. And so she goes head to head with Francis Willard, because she wants the W CTU. To put anti lynching as something part of their heart of their cause, that if you are going to stand up against domestic abuse, and stand up against violence, if you're gonna stand for the family, yeah, this is all part of it. And that's all part of it. And you need to do that. There's a very public exchange between her and for this Woolard in the newspapers. And so we we have a lesson plan with this exchange, on our website. And the question is the same question we should be asking for every social reform movement, which is, should temperance be intersectional. And right, you know, was was Willard lot wrong for resisting, basically bringing this on? Eventually they do, you know, the wells is able to put enough wells Barnett is able to put enough pressure on Willard, that they do make some sort of like, weak statement, but it just sort of highlights the ways in which temperance was a white women's movement,
Brooke Sullivan 53:33
while it's powerful, and what it was doing, but it didn't lean in on its power in the way that it could have and utilize it for more. It's like you already have this powerhouse of an organization,
Kelsie Eckert 53:44
this most powerful equal or women's political organization, and they wouldn't stand for lynching. Yeah, it's
Brooke Sullivan 53:49
like you have an opportunity here. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like, it's just utilize your platform. I think that's what we ask of anyone who's in social justice. It's like, you're on a platform. And yes, the cause that you started with is wonderful, but utilize that platform to lean in on others and make sure their voices are heard.
Kelsie Eckert 54:07
And not just people that are in social justice. Anybody who has a platform, right, that has an audience. Remember, you have a freakin audience. Yeah. And remember that that audience is, you know, looking at you as a role model. And even if you don't see yourself as that, like, maybe that's not how you got your audience, you still are that you have a
Brooke Sullivan 54:24
responsibility to utilize the platform. I know. We talk a lot about that with athletes today. Yeah. And you know, everybody celebrities, social media influencers, although you're you didn't get there for a social cause you have one, and you should utilize it. Yeah, for good.
Kelsie Eckert 54:41
So I want to end there. 1890 it's about 20 years before Prohibition passes. There's so much to look into about that final push to get prohibition and you could totally go there with your students. I will just say I do think that it's really ironic. that the first real women's amendment to pass is the Prohibition Amendment. 18 is prohibition 19 is suffrage. And in a lot of ways, they thought that if they would give women prohibition, they would let go on the suffrage issue. It's so cute. That's really cute. So,
Brooke Sullivan 55:21
can this just keep them quiet? Yeah, I'm over there.
Kelsie Eckert 55:23
But I think it shows how, under Francis Willards leadership the to sort of become synonymous like, right, you know, and, and honestly, it's sort of is, in some ways, a downside for suffrage. Like, what if we give you the vote? You're What are you going to do? Like ban alcohol or something? And like, yeah, they were going to do that.
Brooke Sullivan 55:43
And they did, and you helped them and then they got the vote. Yeah.
Kelsie Eckert 55:47
So So anyway, but it came in the other order, which I think is funny. I think it's funny that that was more popular in the like, banning the sale and consumption and
Brooke Sullivan 55:58
all the you know, part of it, there was a lot more to do with the vote. That was a challenge uphill battle. But yeah, I do think there's it's so interesting to bring in the imagery from that time period. Yeah. Of it's just fascinating what, what people produced and what impacted people's opinions publicly. Yeah, absolutely. Very cool. Well, what a great topic. So there is lesson plans on the website on this one. Absolutely. Great. Wonderful. Well, I'm Brooke Solomon.
Kelsie Eckert 56:25
I'm Kelsie Eckert. Thanks. Bye.
Thanks so much for listening to Remedial Herstory the other 50% Please subscribe, rate and review wherever you listen to your podcasts to bring more voices to the conversation. We really appreciate that effort. Until next time,
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Amy Helene Forss currently serves as Metropolitan Community College’s History program chair and Social Sciences department co-representative in Omaha, Nebraska. She has a PhD in African American History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her first book, Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2014. In 2017, she published Newspapers & Butter Pecan Ice Cream, which is the children’s picture book version of it for 2nd to 4th graders. Currently, she is writing her third book, Borrowing from our Foremothers, a comparison between suffragist and modern feminist visual strategies. It will be published by University of Nebraska Press in 2020.