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Wisconsin is known as the home of the Progressive party. But, in the words of a suffragist as late as 1912, “the last thing a man becomes progressive about is the activities of his wife.”
In On Wisconsin Women, Genevieve McBride traces women’s work in reform movements in the state’s politics and especially in its press. Even before Wisconsin became a state in 1848, women’s news and opinions appeared in abolitionist journals and “temperance sheets,” if often anonymously. But the first paper in Wisconsin published under a woman’s name, however, was boycotted by Milwaukee printers and failed in 1853.
From the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866 to the state’s historic ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, Wisconsin women were never at a loss for words nor a newspaper to print them. Among women who would be heard were Mathilde Fransziska Anneke, Emma Brown, Lavinia Goodell, Emma Bascom, Olympia Brown, Belle Case La Follette, Ada L. James, and Theodora Winton Youmans. McBride brings their voices vividly to life, in their own words on their lifelong work for woman’s rights.
Nowhere was “the struggle” fought for so long and so hard as in Wisconsin. While women elsewhere sang suffrage hymns, women in the Badger State marched to a “fight song” with a familiar tune but sung in their own words—lyrics too long forgotten until now.
About the Author
Genevieve G. McBride is assistant professor of mass communication, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. A native of Milwaukee, she worked in public relations for more than a decade and also worked as a journalist for the Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee Star, Milwaukee Courier, and Waukesha Freeman.