Suffragist Rally - Get Out the Vote!

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History / Heritage - Lecture/Discussion

Date & Time: Sunday, October 3, 2004
12:00 PM-12:30 PM
Suggested Audiences: Elementary, Middle School, High School, College, Adult, Elders
Location:
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Sutton Town Common
Boston Rd and Uxbridge Rd
Sutton, MA 01590
Cost: Free
Description: For more than two-thirds of her history, Sutton was run by the men alone. That is, at least on paper. Many people today are perhaps only dimly aware of the long and difficult struggle undertaken by women in the late 19th century to win what is today taken for granted - the right to vote.

Karen Board Moran of Sutton is determined that the Sutton 300 celebration not overlook the vital and pioneering role played by a West Sutton schoolteacher, Lucy Waters Phelps, in winning that right for women locally.

On Sunday, October 3, 2004, in conjunction with the annual Blackstone River Valley Heritage Homecoming Weekend, Mrs. Moran will adopt the persona of Miss Phelps and conduct a Suffragist "Get Out the Vote" Rally. The event will begin on the Sutton Center Common at noon before moving onto Waters Farm in West Sutton to honor Miss Phelps' own heritage.

"It's right before the 2004 election, so the message across the years is still get out and vote, and use your democratic rights,'' said Mrs. Moran. Local Girl Scouts will promote the rally and spread the message that voters who don't exercise their right to vote wind up disenfranchising themselves.

While much attention has been paid to the leaders of the women's suffrage movement in the late 19th century - the likes of Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley Foster, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton - their efforts were supported by scores of other, lesser-known women throughout the country.

Miss Phelps was certainly among those who were "in the trenches" in the fight for women's voting rights. Born in 1876, she became Sutton's first female voter in 1897, although women were, at that time, only permitted to vote for School Committee. Miss Phelps taught school in West Sutton for more than 20 years, and some of her students can still recall her kindness today.

In the course of her research into Miss Phelps' life and work, Mrs. Moran said she received a note from a woman who was a student of Miss Phelps,' recalling a Christmas card that her teacher once sent her, the first she ever received from an adult.

But Miss Phelps' influence was not limited to her students. "The thing that I found fascinating was that she had this correspondence club to write people all over the United States and Canada," said Mrs. Moran. The documents in the Lucy Waters Phelps’ archives have been preserved by Barbara Brink Rhoades along with a suffrage sash, pins and banner. These items are on display until October 2 in the “Tell Tale Treasures” Exhibit at the Worcester Historical Museum.

Mrs. Moran, an educator herself and a member of the steering committee of the Worcester Women's History Project, has also been working with local schools, giving tours and information to other teachers so that they can incorporate the local lessons of such figures as Miss Phelps into the broader picture of American history.

Anyone interested in learning more about the event, or volunteering to help with it, is encouraged to call Mrs. Moran at (508) 865-2023, or send e-mail to kboardmoran@charter.net.
More Information: E-mail: nemetz_susan@hotmail.com
Entered by: Susan M. Nemetz

Created: September 27, 2004 at 5:53 AM

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