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Anna Howard Shaw

The Work of Woman Suffrage

Trisha Franzen

Publication Year: 2014

With this first scholarly biography of Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), Trisha Franzen sheds new light on an important woman suffrage leader who has too often been overlooked and misunderstood.An immigrant from a poor family, Shaw grew up in an economic reality that encouraged the adoption of non-traditional gender roles. Challenging traditional gender boundaries throughout her life, she put herself through college, worked as an ordained minister and a doctor, and built a tightly-knit family with her secretary and longtime companion Lucy E. Anthony.Drawing on unprecedented research, Franzen shows how these circumstances and choices both impacted Shaw's role in the woman suffrage movement and set her apart from her native-born, middle- and upper-class colleagues. Franzen also rehabilitates Shaw's years as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, arguing that Shaw's much-belittled tenure actually marked a renaissance of both NAWSA and the suffrage movement as a whole.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Women in American History

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-xii

After so many years, my debts to all the people who assisted me along the way are tremendous. I realize there is no means to adequately acknowledge and appropriately thank everyone, but I will make an attempt to recognize as many of the people who worked with me as I can. This book would not have happened if Albion College had not kept alive...

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Introduction: Facing Contradictions

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pp. 1-14

Forty-five years earlier, in 1874, a slight young woman with cropped hair and intense dark eyes sat silently behind the driver in an open wagon.1 With growing anxiety, she anticipated a long night’s journey through the deep forest to the northern Michigan lumber camp where she was scheduled to preach. Recently licensed as a Methodist preacher, Anna Howard...

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1. The Development of a Dissenter (1847-1870)

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pp. 15-31

Anna Howard Shaw faced an uphill battle from the start.1 She was born on St. Valentine’s Day in 1847, in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in northeast England, the sixth child and the third daughter of a bankrupt Scottish family. While all members of such struggling families in the mid–nineteenth...

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2. The Road to Independence (1871-1880)

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pp. 32-49

When the U.S. Census enumerator visited the Shaw family on their farm outside of the village of Paris, Michigan, in 1870, the Civil War had been over for five years.1 For Anna Howard Shaw these had been five frustrating years. From 1865 to 1870 Shaw had struggled against external realities as...

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3. Finding the Cause (1881-1889)

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pp. 50-66

Ordination, national coverage by the Woman’s Journal, two parishes, and financial independence—by 1880, Anna Howard Shaw had not only achieved her specific goals, but she had redefined herself.1 The 1870 unmarried, “at home” daughter of the Michigan frontier was now a thirtythree...

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4. Apprenticeship in the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1890-1903)

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pp. 67-93

South Dakota was not a welcoming landscape for Anna Howard Shaw when she joined Susan B. Anthony and other suffrage workers in 1890 for her first state suffrage campaign.1 While the Wounded Knee massacre of December 1890 dominates the history of South Dakota’s initial...

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5. Compromised Leadership: NAWSA Presidency, Part 1 (1904-1908)

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pp. 94-114

Anna Howard Shaw had dreamed of succeeding her mentor, Susan B. Anthony, as leader of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).1 That hope had crashed against the economic realities of Shaw’s life. In 1900 and still in 1904, she was in no position to assume the unpaid...

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6. Creating Her Vision: NAWSA Presidency, Part II (1909-1912)

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pp. 115-140

On September 18, 1909, five long years after the membership of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) first elected her President, Anna Howard Shaw celebrated a major victory. The victory wasn’t adding another suffrage state or securing a large fund for the cause...

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7. Unanticipated Challenges, NAWSA Presidency, Part III (1913-1915)

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pp. 141-163

By 1913 Anna Howard Shaw could see the end of the struggle. The movement to extend that basic right of equal citizenship—full suffrage—to all women now had sufficient momentum to see it through to the final victory. 1 After years of slow progress and the efforts of generations of women...

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8. A Worker to the End (1916-1919)

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pp. 164-184

Over the course of her long working life, very few things stopped Anna Howard Shaw.1 Though illnesses plagued her from the time she was in her forties, Shaw generally would manage to stave them off to keep them from disrupting her schedule. On a number of trips to Europe, she spent...

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Epilogue: Anna Howard Shaw and Women's History

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pp. 185-192

History matters, but, as we well know, history doesn’t just happen. Over the many years of researching Anna Howard Shaw, I was driven by a quest to understand not only the life of this remarkable woman but also how women’s history transformed this transgressive, irreverent pioneering woman...

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Notes on Sources

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pp. 193-204

The research for this book spanned eighteen years and consequently witnessed many changes in searching for and accessing sources. In the end, it combines traditional historical methods with the easier availability of certain materials, books, photographs, and public documents that are now digitized...


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pp. 205-256

Index, About the Author, Series Page, Back Cover

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pp. 257-263

E-ISBN-13: 9780252095412
E-ISBN-10: 0252095413
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038150

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Women in American History

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919.
  • Suffragists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Feminists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Women -- Suffrage -- United States -- History -- Sources.
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