First Feminists in the United States

First American Feminists Feminism in the United States is often divided chronologically into first-wave (1848-1920), second-wave (early 1960s to 1980s), and third-wave (1990s-present). As of the most recent Gender Gap Index measurement of countries by the World Economic Forum in 2014, the United States is ranked 20th in gender equality. Image: Amelia Bloomer (center) introduces Anthony (left) to Stanton. Bloomer and Stanton are wearing the Bloomer costume (shorter dresses). Seneca Falls, New York Anthony and Stanton: Always at the Forefront In the spring of 1851, William Lloyd Garrison conducted an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls. Susan B. Anthony attended, staying at the home of Amelia Bloomer. They met Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the street and immediately began their historic friendship.

Mary Ann McClintock

Pioneer of the Women’s Rights Movement Mary Ann McClintock was one five women who met for tea in Waterloo, New York, but the conversation soon turned to women’s rights, or rather the lack thereof. The result of this meeting, and another the following day at the McClintock House, was the First Women’s Rights Convention, which was held at Seneca Falls on July 19-20, 1848. Born Mary Ann Wilson in Burlington, New Jersey of Quaker parents, she attended Westtown School in 1814 for one year. She married Thomas McClintock in 1820 and moved with him to 107 South Ninth Street, his store in Philadelphia. They had five children: Elizabeth (1821), Mary Ann (1822), Sarah (1824), Charles (1829) and Julia (1831). They…

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Kate Field

One of the First American Women Journalists Kate Field was one of the first American celebrity journalists. A literary and cultural sensation, she wrote for several prestigious newspapers, such as the Boston Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Herald. She was an intelligent and independent woman, an outspoken advocate for the rights of black Americans and founder of the first woman’s club in America. Early Years Mary Katherine Kate Field was born October 1, 1838 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of an actor father and a Philadelphia Quaker mother. Kate lived with her millionaire aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Milton H. Sanford, and they financed her education in New England, and then in England. They also traveled throughout…

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Josephine Sophia White Griffing

Activist in the Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Movements Image: Family of Slaves Washington, DC, 1861 Josephine Sophia White Griffing was a social reform activist who campaigned for the abolition of slavery and women’s rights. In 1864, she moved to our nation’s capital to help the newly freed slaves who were streaming into the capital by the thousands. Griffing worked primarily as an agent for the Freedmen’s Bureau in Washington, DC. Early Years Josephine White was born December 18, 1814 in Hebron, Connecticut into a prominent New England family. Her father Joseph White Jr. served as a representative in the state legislature; her mother was sister of portrait artist Samuel Lovett Waldo. Little is known of Josephine’s childhood, and there are…

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Betsy Mix Cowles

Abolitionist and Educator from Ohio Betsey Mix Cowles was an educator, and an early leader in the abolitionist and women’s rights movement in the pre-Civil War era, advocating women’s access to education, equal rights, and independence. She dedicated her life to fighting slavery and improving the status of women. Her circle of friends included like-minded individuals like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Abby Kelley. Early Years Betsy Mix Cowles was born February 9, 1810 in Bristol, Connecticut, the eighth child of Giles Hooker Cowles and Sally White Cowles. In 1811, the Cowles family settled in the town of Austinburg in Ashtabula, the most northeastern county in Ohio, where her father was a minister and where Betsy began her teaching…

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Sarah Jane Woodson Early

Pioneer in Education for African American Women Sarah Jane Woodson Early was an African American educator, author and feminist. For 30 years Early was a teacher and school principal in Ohio, and in the South after the Civil War. In 1866 she became the first African American woman professor when she was hired by Wilberforce University to teach Latin and English. Image: Young Sarah Woodson Early Years Sarah Jane Woodson, fifth daughter and youngest child of eleven of Jemima (Riddle) and Thomas Woodson (1790–1879), was born free in Chillicothe, Ohio November 15, 1825. Her parents had moved to the free state of Ohio about 1821 from Virginia, where they had been freed from slavery. They lived for some years in…

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Lucy Colman

Educator, Writer and Freethinker Lucy Colman was an educator, writer and prolific social reformer who was actively involved in the abolitionist, women’s suffrage and Freethought movements. She also worked for racial justice and for the education of African Americans, accompanied Sojourner Truth on a visit to President Abraham Lincoln. Early Years Lucy Newhall Danforth was born July 26, 1817 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden [link] on her mother’s side. In her autobiography, she reported that from an early age, about six, she was horrified to learn of the existence of slavery, and bothered her mother with many questions about it. In 1824, Lucy’s mother died, and her mother’s sister Lois took over mothering tasks. Lois…

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Charlotte Denman Lozier

Doctor, Feminist and Social Reformer Charlotte Denman Lozier, physician, lecturer and professor at the New York Medical College for Women. A feminist, she campaigned for Women’s Suffrage and Workingwomen’s Associations as well as other progressive and charitable organizations. Image: Dr. Charlotte Denman Lozier Early Years Charlotte Denman was born March 15, 1844 to Selina and Jacob Denman in Milburn, New Jersey. Eventually a brother and sister were added to the family. Jacob had a strong desire to explore the frontier. When Charlotte was six, the family headed west. The 1850 Census reported them living in Napoleon, Michigan where her brother Robert was born. The family then moved on to Galena, Illinois. At the time of their next journey to the…

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Women’s Rights After the Civil War

Feminists and Activists for Women’s Equal Rights Image: Executive Committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association (1869) Women fought for more than 200 years to obtain the rights that were guaranteed to men in the U.S. Constitution. When the nineteenth century began, a woman was not permitted to vote or hold office; she had few rights to her own property or earnings; she could not take custody of her children if she divorced; she did not have access to a higher education. Birth of Feminism In the 1830s, thousands of women were involved in the movement to abolish slavery. While working to secure freedom for African Americans, these women began to see legal similarities between their situation and that of…

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Jane Hunt

An Organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention Jane and Richard Hunt of Waterloo, New York were philanthropists who supported human rights causes. They hosted the tea party that led to the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848. Image: Jane Hunt Jane Clothier Master was born June 26, 1812 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Quakers William and Mary Master. At age thirty-three Jane Master married Richard Hunt in November 1845 and moved to Waterloo, New York, where she became a member of Richard’s extended family of Hunts, McClintocks, Mounts, Plants and Pryors. All of these families were Quakers who had migrated to Waterloo from Philadelphia or New York State.