The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Beehive series: Collections News

Rose Dabney Forbes and women’s suffrage (part 2 of 2)

In an earlier post I gave you a preview of the Rose Dabney Forbes papers. Her papers are one of seven collections that have been fully digitized and are now available on our website as part of an LSTA funded project that we are calling “Women in the Public Sphere.” These collections relate to women’s involvement in social issues of  the 19th and early 20th centuries- the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements, education, poverty, anti-slavery and pacifism.

The papers of Rose Dabney Forbes (1864-1947), the wife of businessman J. Malcolm Forbes (1847-1904), are mostly from her work in in the American peace movement of the early 20th century, but I also found some vivid descriptions of the excitement generated by the ratification of the nineteenth amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote. In a typewritten draft of an address delivered to the League of Women Voters by Mrs. Forbes on 31 March 1921, she described,

that thrilling day in August when we knew with certainty that Tennessee had stepped forward and that political equality was at last in the grasp of the women of the United States. Our headquarters at Little Building held a continuous reception for several days…and all our members who were not too far off, came to talk over the wonderful news and to help Miss Luscomb and Mrs. Stantial put the final marks on the Suffrage map.

 She continued,

...following the proclamation of the nineteenth amendment by the Secretary of State, bells were rung in many churches all over the land, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and from Maine to Florida. Five of us had the privilege of ringing the bells at the dear old North Church that Saturday noon, and never shall we forget the thrill of climbing those narrow dusty stairs up to the bell tower, nor of pulling on those big old ropes.

 

 

But Mrs. Forbes and her colleagues couldn’t get caught up in the excitement for long.

[A]s we all know voting is a serious business and as soon as our first rapture subsided we had to come down to earth. The work at our office grew more exacting up to the last date for registration in October. By day there were streams of would-be voters coming to the office, or ringing up by telephone, to find out about the mysteries of voting; and we kept open for five successive Monday evenings, in order to give this same opportunity to those women whose duties precluded their coming in the day time-and hundreds availed themselves of it.

 

It will be fascinating to compare these descriptions with materials from another collection we digitized for this project, one which has the rather unwieldy name of the  Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Extension of Further Suffrage of Women, 1895-1920. We hope that you will take advantage of these newly accessible collections and immerse yourself in the voices and the debates of their time.

 

Funding for the digitization of this collection and the creation of preservation microfilm was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act grant as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 17 October, 2016, 12:00 AM

Rose Dabney Forbes and the American Peace Movement (part 1 of 2)

The Digital Projects team here at the MHS has spent much of the past two years working on an LSTA funded project that we are calling “Women in the Public Sphere.” This grant allowed us to fully digitize and make accessible seven collections related to women’s involvement in social issues of  the 19th and early 20th centuries, including the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements, education, poverty, anti-slavery and pacifism. 

The collections range in size from 11 items in the Juvenile Anti-Slavery Society records, 1837-1838 to more than 3000 items in the Rose Dabney Forbes papers, 1902-1935. In this post, I will take a closer look at the Forbes papers, which document the participation of Rose Dabney Forbes (1864-1947), the wife of businessman J. Malcolm Forbes (1847-1904), in the American peace movement of the early 20th century, as an officer of the Massachusetts Peace Society, the American Peace Society, the Massachusetts branch of the Woman's Peace Party, and the World Peace Foundation. The records of the organizations in which she was involved include governance documents, meeting minutes, and correspondence, as well as printed materials.

In a typescript draft of an address delivered to members of the “Thought Club” in Hyde Park, Mass., by Mrs. Forbes on 1 February 1916, she argues for  the “necessity of extending the reign of law out from the smaller circle of nationalism, to the larger circle of internationalism.” Forbes goes on to write that,

Irrespective of opinions as to the causes, and as to the consequences of this terrible  European war, thinking persons who stand for Twentieth Century ideals are passionately  exclaiming that this shall be the last war between civilized nations; that the world after   this shall not allow such a method for trying to settle international differences.

Speaking as a representative of the Woman’s Peace Party, Forbes asked why the peace movement “is still imperfectly understood even by many persons who are distinctly in sympathy with its fundamental object.” Was it because the war is happening overseas, leading to what she called “[m]ental inertia”? Was it because of a “[l]ack of literature giving authoritative and complete statement of what a great body of leading internationalists believe,” or because, as she suggested, the press ridiculed the ideas as well as the movement? 

She addressed what she calls a misconception that “when we work to banish the war system from earth, we are lowering the heroic ideals of manhood- that we are training our boys to be timid and slothful-to be ‘molly-coddled. No indeed” she exclaimed, “we train our boys to be ready to die for their country, by serving humanity, not by destroying their human brothers.” Lastly she asked whether it could be that the very name of the movement had held it back. “The word Peace,” she wrote, “stands for the result of justice and righteousness; peace is an effect, not a method of working force. Only in a restricted sense of the word is peace simply cessation of war.”

As part of her call to action, Forbes quoted Phillips Brooks, Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Ellery Channing, and she summed up her argument by insisting that

The truth is that the war against war is and has long been an aggressive campaign of  education. The Peace Movement is a determined onslaught on the old and barbarous  system of war, and a persistent pointing of the way to constructive international peace.  The Peace worker must summon all the logic and clearness of thought that he can  command and he must needs stand firm in his faith, not heeding either the ridicule or the sneers of the unconverted.

How do peace movements of today articulate their hopes and strategies? We encourage you to look through these newly digitized collections and make your own comparisons and discoveries.

For more of the story, check out part 2 of Rose Dabney Forbes and the American Peace Movement

 

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Funding for the digitization of this collection and the creation of preservation microfilm was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act grant as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

 

 

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 10 October, 2016, 12:00 AM

Fully-Digitized Manuscript Collections Now Available

The Massachusetts Historical Society is pleased to announce that seven collections relating to women in the public sphere have been digitized thanks to funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act grant as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  The grant allowed us to create high resolution images that are accessible at the MHS website, as well as preservation microfilm created from the digital files.


The seven collections range from small (one thin folder of documents kept by the Juvenile Anti-Slavery Society records) to large (7,534 images of records kept by the Woman's Education Association) and date from 1827 (Society for the Employment of the Female Poor Trustees' reports) to the 1930s (Rose Dabney Forbes papers as well as the Woman's Education Association records).

These collections contain records of organizations primarily run by women concerned with social issues--anti-slavery, women's education, the peace movement, treatment of the poor, and anti-suffrage.  A total of 16,003 digital images depict all the pages of these seven collections and are available as sequences of images linked to manuscript collection guides.

Juvenile Anti-Slavery Society records, 1837-1838
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0427

Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women, 1895-1920
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0121

New England Freedmen's Aid Society records, 1862-1878
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0423

Rose Dabney Forbes papers, 1902-1932
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0212

Society for the Employment of the Female Poor trustees' reports, 1827-1834
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0428

Twentieth Century Medical Club records, 1897-1911
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0411

Woman's Education Association (Boston, Mass.) records, 1871-1935
http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0393

The work for the grant included the detailed review of all the documents in the collections, preparation for digitization and the creation of metadata for the master images.  The majority of the high-quality uncompressed master digital images were created at MHS with some images created by the Northeast Document Conservation Center.  The production steps required for the web presentation were completed by MHS staff.

Please explore these new collections!   

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 3 October, 2016, 3:35 PM

Newly Digitized Photograph Collection

Collection Services at the Massachusetts Historical Society has recently created a collection guide for, and fully digitized, the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment carte de visite album, ca. 1864-1865 (Photograph Collection 228).

The 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment was a "colored volunteer" regiment active from 9 January 1864-31 October 1965. Formed at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts, was commanded by some notable sons of Massachusetts including Charles Francis Adams Jr., Henry S. Russell, Charles Pickering Bowditch, and Henry Pickering Bowditch. The regiment saw some action in the war, notably in a battles which took place at Baylor's Farm and the Siege of Petersburg in Virginia.

This collection consists of a photograph album containing 46 carte de visite photographs of officers from the regiment. In addition to those named above, the regiment included Edward Jarvis Bartlett, Daniel Henry Chamberlain, Patrick Tracy Jackson, and others. The album includes a two-page handwritten index which identifies all but one of the photographs. Each image appears on a page beautifully bordered, as can be seen in the examples presented here.

The cover of the album, also stunning, is embossed: "Col. H. S. Russell. 5th Mass Cavalry" and features the original, still-functioning brass clasps to keep the album closed. Henry S. Russell (1838-1905), an 1860 graduate of Harvard University, served several ranked positions in the Union Army reaching Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry and Brigadier-General of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry. In 1864, Russell married Mary Hathaway Forbes, the daughter of the influential Boston businesman, railroad magnate, and abolitionist John Murray Forbes, and was a cousin of Robert Gould Shaw, Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Another family connection, but this time within the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, were the brothers Henry Pickering Bowditch (1840-1911) and his younger brother Charles Pickering Bowditch (1842-1921). Both were Harvard educated; Henry being a physician and physiologist as well as dean of Harvard Medical School, and Charles becoming a financier, archaeologist and linguistics scholar.

This is the seventh fully digitized Civil War photograph album at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The MHS has additional fully digitized Civil War materials available, as well. Further Reading: Morse, John T., Jr. "Henry Sturgis Russell." In Sons of the Puritans: A Group of Brief Biographies. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1908:153-162.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 17 March, 2015, 8:00 AM

Civil War Photograph Collections Online

On 2 October 2014, my colleague Nancy Heywood announced on the blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS): "Just Launched! Nine Fully Digitized Civil War Collections." In addition to these manuscript collections, the MHS holds several photograph collections dating from the Civil War period as well. Six of these have been digitized and are available both on our Civil War commemoration home page, and in our larger list of guides to photograph collections.

The albums contain images of dozens of Massachusetts' sons –some of whom feature in our digitized manuscripts collections, such as Richard Cary and Norwood Penrose Hallowell– as well as battleground areas and significant and anonymous role players in the Civil War. Seeing them adds another layer of context to the letters, newspaper articles, and other memorabilia of lives long ended. Don't forget! Back in 2012, the MHS produced an in-house exhibit "Massachusetts in the Civil War, 1861-1862" and also made a companion website which featured many documents from the show. Since we deal with a lot of death here at the MHS – and really in most archives – I would be remiss without highlighting the second most emotional letter I have ever read, Wilder Dwight's last letter to his mother Elizabeth from the battlefield at Antietam where he was mortally wounded.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Thursday, 18 December, 2014, 10:43 AM

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