Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-8bbf57454-7zlxw Total loading time: 0.314 Render date: 2022-01-26T06:59:49.958Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

“The Most Beautiful Suffragette“: Inez Milholland and the Political Currency of Beauty1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 November 2010

Ann Marie Nicolosi
Affiliation:
The College of New Jersey

Extract

This article examines the role of beauty and image in the U.S. suffrage movement. It focuses specifically on Inez Milholland and on how she and the movement capitalized on her extraordinary beauty and used her image and media popularity to present an icon for the movement, thereby softening and making acceptable the spectacle of women in public spaces and political matters. Milholland provided the movement with a representation that undermined the association of female political participation with masculine women and gender transgression. She provided a constructed model of acceptable white femininity, one that answered the anti-suffrage movement's accusations that suffragists were masculine women, inverts, and “abnormal” women whose lobbying for the vote was proof of their wretched state. Milholland thereby helped to bring women into the movement who might fear the taint of masculinity and gender transgression.

Type
Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

2 National Woman's Party Papers: The Suffrage Years, 1913-1920 (NWPSY) (Sanford, NC, 1981), Reel 95.

3 C.W. Gustin, “Election Day!,” (1909), “Votes for Women: Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920,” Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-51821].

4 Baker, Josephine, Fighting for Life (1939; New York, 1974), 194.Google Scholar

5 Behling, Laura, The Masculine Woman in America, 1890-1935 (Chicago, 2001), 12.Google Scholar

6 Flexner, Eleanor, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States (1959, Cambridge, MA, 1996).Google Scholar

7 Cott, Nancy F., The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven, 1987).Google Scholar

8 DuBois, Ellen Carol, Harriot Stanton Blatch and the Winning of Woman Suffrage (New Haven, 1997).Google Scholar

9 Graham, Sara Hunter, Woman Suffrage and the New Democracy (New Haven, 1996).Google Scholar

10 Ford, Iinda G., Iron-Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the “National Woman's Party, 1912-1920 (Lanham, MD, 1991), 4.Google Scholar

11 , Cott, Grounding, 53.Google Scholar

12 Finnegan, Margaret, Selling Suffrage: Consumer Culture and Votes for Women (New York, 1999), 6.Google Scholar

13 , Finnegan, Selling Suffrage, 12.Google Scholar

14 Tickner, Lisa, The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign, 1907-1914 (Chicago, 1988), 151.Google Scholar

15 , DuBois, Harriot Stanton Blatch, 275.Google Scholar

16 Graham, Sara Hunter, “The Suffrage Renaissance: A New Image for a New Century, 1896-1910” in One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement, ed. Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill (Troutdale, OR, 1995), 171.Google Scholar

17 Iron Jawed Angels, dir. Katja von Garnier, HBO Films, New York, 2004; Lumsden, Linda J., Iaez: The Life and Times of Inez Milholland (Bloomington, IN, 2004).Google Scholar

18 “New MaH Tubes Tested,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 2, 1898, p. 7.

19 “Warm Week at Lakewood,” New York Times (NYT), Jan. 13, 1907, p. 1.

20 Rudwick, Elliot M., “The Niagara Movement,” Journal of Negro History 42 (July 1957): 177200, esp. 184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

21 “Cyrano's at Vassar,” NYT, Nov. 12, 1905, p. 7; 'Vassar Girls Give Play,” NYT, May 19, 1907, p. 1.

22 “Vassar Girls' Field Day,” NYT, May 9, 1909, p. 8.

23 “Vassar's Head Indignant,” NYT, June 10, 1908, p. 7.

24 “Lusitania to Have a New Commander,” ATT, Aug. 22, 1908, p. 7

25 Unsigned letter, no date, Inez Milholland Papers [Hereafter IM Papers], Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge. Microfilm Edition, 1981, Folder 16.

26 “Vassar Students are Now Radicals,” NYT, May 9, 1909, p. 8.

27 “Miss Milholland Won't Surrender,” NYT, Oct. 24, 1909, p. 19.

28 “Retains Miss Milholland,” NYT, June 30, 1913, p. 3.

29 “Facing Starvation To Keep Up Strike,” NYT, Dec. 25, 1909, p. 2.

30 “Suffragist Attacks Gaynor,” NYT, April 9, 1911, p. 4.

31 “Seeking Notoriety,” Fort Wayne Daily News, April 28, 1914, p. 7.

32 Undated memo, IM Papers, Folder 22.

33 “Fashion's Fads and Fancies,” Washington Post, Feb. 21, 1911, p. 7.

34 “The Spokesman for Suffrage in America,” McClure's Magazine, July 1912, pp. 335–37Google Scholar ; Milholland, Inez, “The Liberation of a Sex,” McClure's Magazine, Feb. 1913, pp. 181–88Google Scholar.

35 “‘Throw-Away-Your Corset’ Crusade Opens Here Today,” Washington Post, March 1, 1912, p. 7.

36 Inez Milholland to Jean Torry Milholland. n.d., John A. Milholland Papers, private collection. Quoted in Lumsden, Inez 39.

37 Stevens, Isaac Newton, American Suffragette: A Novel (New York, 1911), 57.Google Scholar

38 Belmont divorced her first husband, William Vanderbilt, for his infidelity, scandalizing Gilded Age society but becoming immensely rich in the process. Her second husband, Oliver Belmont, whose family was in banking, died in 1908, leaving Alva a very rich widow indeed.

39 “Harmon Has Another Smash,” NYT, June 7, 1910, p. 3.

40 “Mrs. Belmont Home for Suffrage War,” NYT, Sept. 16, 1910, p. 9.

41 Banner, Lois, American Reauty (New York, 1983), 164.Google Scholar

42 Glenn, Susan A., Female Spectacle: The Theatrical Roots of Modern Feminism (Cambridge, MA, 2000), 6.Google Scholar

43 For a discussion of the ways in which women used their bodies to navigate the continuum between public and private, see Piepmeier, Alison, Out in Public: Configurations of Women's Bodies in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill, 2004).Google Scholar

44 , Glenn, Female Spectacle, 128Google Scholar

45 “Suffrage at Hammerstein's,” NYT, Sept. 2, 1912, p. 9.

46 “Mrs. Boissevain Again in Vaudeville,” NYT, Dec. 13, 1914, p. 14 (Milholland married Eugen Boissevain in 1913); “Brooklyn History Shown in Pageant,” NYT, May 22, 1915, p. 11; “Suffrage Seats Sell Fast,” NYT, March 24, 1912, p. C6; Kincaid, Mary Holland, “The Feminine Charms of the Woman Militant: The Personal Attractiveness and Housewifely Attainments of the Leaders on the Equal Suffrage Movement,” Good Housekeeping, February 1912, p. 155.Google Scholar

47 “‘Our Mutual Girl’ Visits Blackwell's Island to Save Her Protegee [Sic],” Journal Gazette, May 24, 1914, p. 18.

48 “Advertisement for “Our Mutual Girl,” NYT, January 18, 1914, p. C5.

49 Tinnin, Glenna Smith, “Why the Pageant?,” The Woman's Journal, Feb. 15, 1913, p. 50.Google Scholar

50 Reyher, Rebecca Hourwich, “Search and Struggle for Equality and Independence,” oral history conducted in 1973, in Suffragists Oral History Project, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley, <http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docld=kt6x0nblts&brand=calisphere>.Google Scholar

51 Lumsden, Linda, “Beauty and the Beasts: Significance of Press Coverage of the 1913 National Suffrage Parade,” journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 77 (Autumn 2000): 593611, esp. 595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

52 , Finnegan, Selling Suffrage, 46.Google Scholar

53 Barber, Lucy G., Marching on Washington: The Forging of An American Political Tradition (Berkeley, 2002), 59.Google Scholar

54 , Lumsden, “Beauty and the Beasts,” 594–95.Google Scholar

55 , Barber, Marching on Washington, 50.Google Scholar

56 Paul's construction of beauty was limited to white women. Black women were not welcome in the frontal ranks. For a good discussion on the racial tensions of the march, see , Barber, Marching on Washington, 6265Google Scholar.

57 “5,000 of Fair Sex Ready to Parade,” Washington Post, March 13, 1913, p. 1.

58 “Will Ride as Heralds,” Washington Post, Jan. 27, 1913, p. 2.

59 “Washington Mob Ruins the Parade of Suffragettes,” Atlanta Constitution, March 4, 1913, p. 1.

60 Frederick N. McMillin to IM, March 10, 1913, IM Papers, Folder 27.

61 Although initially dismayed at the violence in the D.C. parade, Paul and fellow suffragists benefited from the widespread sympathetic coverage of the parade and the police investigation that followed.

62 “10,000 Marchers in Suffrage Parade,” NYT, May 4, 1913, p. 1.

63 “Mock Suffragists Startle Broadway,” NYT, May 16, 1913, p. 11.

64 “Suffragists Excite the Evils They Claim to Decry, Says ‘Anti,’” Washington Post, May 6, 1913, p. 4.

65 Sandford, Edward Martin, The Unrest of Women (New York, 1913), 116–24.Google Scholar

66 Schwartz, Judith, Radical Feminists of Heterodoxy: Greenwich Village, 1912-1940 (Norwich, VT, 1986), 14.Google Scholar

67 IM Papers, Folder 26.

68 “Moving Pictures Shown in Court,” NYT, March 5, 1914, p. 2Google Scholar ; “Writers Turn out for Book Trial,” NYT, Feb. 7, 1914, p. 9Google Scholar.

69 Marconi, Degna, My Father, Marconi (London, 1962), 144.Google Scholar

70 Eastman, Max, Enjoyment of Living (New York, 1948), 320.Google Scholar

71 , Eastman, Enjoyment, 324.Google Scholar

72 Field, Sara Bard, “Poet and Suffragist,” oral history conducted in 1974, in Suffragists Oral History Project, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley, <http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docld=ktlp3001nl&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=d0e141&toc.depth=1&toc.id=dOe141&brand=calisphere>.Google Scholar

73 Upton Sinclair to IM, Aug. 19, 1911, IM Papers, Folder 13.

74 “Inez Milholland Not to Wed,” NYT, Dec. 9, 1910, p. 11.Google Scholar

75 Matthews, Jean V., The Rise of the New Woman: The Woman's Movement in America, 1875-1930 (Chicago, 2003), 107–08.Google Scholar

76 Boissevain married poet Edna St. Vincent Millay after Milholland's death. For an account of his life with Millay, see Milford, Nancy, Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (New York, 2002)Google Scholar.

77 “Suffrage Husbands Praise Their Wives,” NYT, Feb. 25, 1915, p. 6.Google Scholar

78 IM to Eugen Boissevain, n.d., 1913, IM Papers, Folder 2.

79 Eugen Boissevain to IM, n.d., Oct. 1913, IM Papers, Folder 9.

80 Ida Furney Mackville to Doris Stevens, Oct. 14, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

81 Mackville to Stevens; see reel 34 for numerous telegrams between Milholland and Paul, and between Paul and other tour participants on this topic.

82 Abby Scott Baker to Alice Paul, Oct. 12, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

83 Alice Paul to Mrs. Robert Adamson, Oct. 11 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

84 Beauty of Suffrage Ranks Coming Here,” Nevada State Journal, Oct. 15, 1916, p. 6.Google Scholar

85 A. Lamson to Alice Paul, Oct. 16, 1916; Julia Hurlbut to Alice Paul (telegram), Oct. 16, 1916; A. Lamson to Alice Paul (telegram), Oct. 14, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

86 Alice B. Henkle to the Suffragist, Oct. 12, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

87 She might have been suffering from pernicious anemia, a rare disorder in which the body does not absorb enough vitamin B12 from the digestive tract, resulting in an inadequate amount of red blood cells. Today the disease is easily managed by administering B12. There is some confusion as to whether she had pernicious anemia or aplastic anemia, in which the capacity of the bone marrow to generate red blood cells is defective. There is also the possibility that she was suffering from leukemia.

88 IM to Eugen Boissevain, n.d., 1916, IM Papers, Folder 5.

89 “Oust Wilson, Women Urge,” Idaho Statesman, Oct. 10, 1916, p. 1.Google Scholar

90 IM to Eugen Boissevain, Oct. 15, 1916, IM Papers, Folder 5.

91 Stevens, Doris, Jailed for Freedom (1920, New York, 1971), 48.Google Scholar

92 Vida Milholland to Alice Paul, Oct. 30, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 35.

93 Alice Paul to Inez Milholland (telegram), Oct. 23, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

94 Dr. Catherine Lynch to Alice Paul (telegram), Oct. 25, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

95 Alice Paul to Emily Perry (telegram), Oct. 26, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 34.

96 Alice Paul to Emily Perry (telegram), Oct. 29, 1916, NWPSY, Reel 35.

97 , Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, 49.Google Scholar

98 Field, Sara Bard, quoted in Stevens, Jailed, 55.Google Scholar

99 , Ford, Iron-Jawed Angels, 77.Google Scholar

100 Although commonly referred to as Mount Inez, the name was never officially changed.

101 By-Laws of the Inez Milholland Memorial Committee of the National Woman's Party” National Woman's Party Papers (Glen Rock, NJ, 1972), Reel 116.Google Scholar

102 Field, “Poet and Suffragist.”

103 “Inez Milholland Masque,” NYT, Jan. 27, 1924, p. 23. This event created a controversy for the NWP as Alice Paul refused to let three African-American friends of Milholland speak at the memorial, causing John Milholland to speak out against the snub. “Sees Snub to Negro by Woman's Party,” NYT Aug. 18, 1924, pp. 1, 4.

104 “Mrs. Boissevain, Suffrage Martyr, an Inspiration for Statue by Paul Swan,” Fort Wayne Daily News, Jan. 1, 1917, p. 6.Google Scholar

105 Londraville, Janis, “Paul Swan: The Art of ‘The Most Beautiful Man in the World’” in Prodigal Father Revisited: Artists and Writers in the World of John Sutler Yeats, ed. Londraville, Janis (West Cornwall, CT, 2003), 331–50.Google Scholar

106 Clark, Electa, Leading Ladies: An Affectionate Look at American Women of the Twentieth Century (New York, 1976), 168–69.Google Scholar

3
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

“The Most Beautiful Suffragette“: Inez Milholland and the Political Currency of Beauty1
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

“The Most Beautiful Suffragette“: Inez Milholland and the Political Currency of Beauty1
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

“The Most Beautiful Suffragette“: Inez Milholland and the Political Currency of Beauty1
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *