Are not the natural wants and emotions of humanity common too, and shared equally by both sexes? Does man hunger and thirst, suffer cold and heat more than woman? Does he love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sorrow more than woman? Does his heart thrill with a deeper pleasure in doing good? Can his soul writhe in more bitter agony under the consciousness of evil or wrong? Is the sunshine more glorious, the air more quiet, the sounds of harmony more soothing, the perfume of flowers more exquisite, or forms of beauty more soul-satisfying to his senses than to hers. To all these interrogatories every one will answer, No!
“Opening Address.” In The Proceedings of the Woman’s Rights Convention, held at Akron, Ohio, May 28 and 29, 1851. Cincinnati: Ben Franklin Book and Job Office, 1851. p.4 National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Rare Book & Special Collections Division
The convention’s Report on Labor noted the following statistics: the average seamstress earned between $.75 and $1.50 per week for 15-18 hours of daily labor; domestics earned an average of about $6 per month; and a female teacher in Ohio was paid on the average of $21.49 per year, about half that of her male counterpart.
The convention resolved to work for gradual change urging religious groups, the press, and legislatures to discuss and support women’s rights. Mothers were instructed “to teach all children the principles of natural justice which should govern the whole subject of Human Rights…” Women, particularly seamstresses, were urged to form “Labor Partnerships” to strengthen their ability to attain just and equitable wages.
Although not in attendance, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to the conferees:
The trades and professions are all open to us… As merchants, postmasters, silversmiths, teachers, preachers and physicians, woman has already proved herself fully competent…. But the great work before us is the proper education of those just coming on the stage. Begin with girls of this day, and in twenty years we can revolutionize this nation…. Let the girl be thoroughly developed in body and soul,—not moulded like a pieces of clay after some artificial specimen of humanity, with a body after some plate in Godey’s book of fashion… Think you, women thus educated, would be the frail, dependent beings we now find them? By no means…. As educated capitalists and skillful laborers, they would not be long in finding their true level in political and social life.
“Letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton”. In The Proceedings of the Woman’s Rights Convention, held at Akron, Ohio, May 28 and 29, 1851. Cincinnati: Ben Franklin Book and Job Office, 1851. National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Rare Book & Special Collections Division
- Read the full text of the convention proceedings, which includes reports on education, labor, and common law, as well as letters from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Jenks Bloomer. The National American Woman Suffrage Assocation Collection consists of 167 books, pamphlets and other artifacts documenting the suffrage campaign. They are a subset of the Library’s larger collection, donated in November 1938, by Carrie Chapman Catt, longtime president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.The collection includes works from the libraries of other members and officers of the organization including: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Stone Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Smith Miller, Mary A. Livermore. Search the collection on these names or browse the Contributors listing.
- For an overview of the women’s suffrage movement, see the timeline, One Hundred Years Toward Suffrage, part of Votes for Women–The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage: Selected Images from the Collections of the Library of Congress.
- See also Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party, Scrapbooks of Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, as well as the American Women Series, a gateway for Library of Congress researchers working in the field of American women’s history.
- The Digital Collections provide access to several Women’s History collections, including the papers of women who made significant contributions to campaigns for women’s rights.
- Emergence of Advertising in America External presents over 9,000 images relating to the early history of advertising in the U.S.—much of that advertising directed at women. Search the collection on terms such as education and women External, or Sewing Equipment and Supplies External. See, for example, Grandmother’s Story External, an elaborate multi-paged advertisement for Clark’s O.N.T. spool cotton thread.