March 13, 2019
What a delight to be back in Westchester to talk about The Suffragents. Last time was just shy of a year ago, for a March 25 address (Women’s History Month and all) to the League of Women Voters Voters of Westchester County, also in Scarsdale.
The Scarsdale Woman’s Club building is grand and stately—a popular wedding and event venue, I’m told, and you can readily see why. In 2008, it was declared a national historic landmark and the New York Times wrote about it. It has a grand staircase and an authentic Delft fireplace that my host and inviter, Carol Sarcinella, told me was discovered and restored from under layers upon layers of black paint. Best for me was the copy of the Scarsdale Inquirer, which the club bought in 1919, owned for about 40 years, and then sold to buy the current club house. All this is mentioned in the Times article along with the club’s strong suffrage history:
Formed during World War I by women who were part of the suffragist movement, the club has a history of bringing together progressive women to promote philanthropy, community and culture, said Genevieve Johnson, a member of the club’s board.
In 1919, the Scarsdale Woman’s Club (which, despite its name, draws members from throughout Westchester) bought and ran the local newspaper, The Scarsdale Inquirer, because the members wanted a credible town paper, Ms. Johnson said. A copy of the first edition hangs on the clubhouse walls.
The women subsequently used the profits from the paper, which the club sold about 40 years later, to help buy the Lang home as a clubhouse. It cost $84,000. They also ran a tearoom to help pay off the mortgage.
I went looking for some scholarly sources on this fascinating episode in newspaperdom, but only found a paragraph in an article about a local Scarsdale public school controversy (“The Scarsdale Story,” by Kenneth M. Gould, in the January 1952 Humanist). It described the newspaper as
owned outright by the Scarsdale Woman’s Club and its entire personall is composed of women, including its editor Mrs. Ruth Nash Chalmers, an able intelligent and public-spirited journalist. From the beginning its coverage of the activities of the Committee of Ten [a controversy of the moment; the point of the Gould article] has been complete, as unbiased as humanly possible, and devoted to the highest standards of free speech and a free press. . . .
At the club, I took a few photos to remember what was an exceptionally lovely event.
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The Suffragents won the Gold Medal in US History in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Sally and Morris Lasky Prize, presented by the Center for Political History. See “Summer Camp Newsletters” and Facebook posts from book-related appearances. Reviews, notices, and articles about my books are under their titles here. My articles are here.
January 29: Exhibition Opening Remarks: “Women Get the Vote: A Historic Look at the Nineteenth Amendment,“New York Society Library. February 23: “Public Values in Conflict with Animal Agribusiness Practices,” UCLA Law School, Los Angeles. March 13:“ The Suffragents,” Scarsdale Woman’s Club, Scarsdale NY. March 24: League of Women Voters, Albany County at the Bethlehem (NY) Public Library. March 25: “Judges, Lawyers, and Women’s Suffrage: Recognizing the Men Who Stood with Women on the Front Lines,” Gender Fairness Committee of the Third Judicial District, CLE, NY State Courts at SUNY Albany Law School, Albany NY. May 15: “The Republican Suffragents,” National Women’s Republican Club, New York City. August 7: “From Emma Goldman to the Marketplace of Ideas: Marking the 100th Anniversary of Free Speech at the Supreme Court,.” AEJMC, Toronto.