Archive for Sunday, August 10, 2003

Forgotten feminist

Clarina Nichols pioneered women’s rights in Kansas

August 10, 2003

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Clarina Nichols died more than 20 years before Kansas women won the right to vote, and her work in the women's suffrage movement has long been overshadowed by names like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

But history buffs like Christine Reinhard are doing their best to remedy the oversight.

Reinhard will dress in period costume and portray Nichols during Lawrence's eighth annual Civil War on the Western Frontier, a living history event that focuses on historic Lawrence during early territorial days and the Civil War. Festivities begin Monday and end Aug. 24 -- three days after the 140th anniversary of Quantrill's Raid.

"(Nichols) was a leading proponent of women's suffrage whose name and reputation have been lost," says Reinhard, a Lawrence resident who teaches English as a second language at Johnson County Community College. "Ken Burns didn't even mention her in his wonderful piece on women's rights called 'Not for Ourselves Alone.' ... That does not do her justice. The influence she had on both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton was monumental.

"She began writing and speaking for women's rights long before these other women did."

Indeed, Nichols, who was born in 1810 in Vermont, edited a Vermont newspaper beginning in the early 1840s after being granted a divorce from her first husband on grounds of cruelty and "intolerable severity." She wrote some of the first editorials in the country urging laws that would grant women equal political, legal and social rights with men. She spoke before the Vermont Legislature, trying to get laws changed for women as early as 1837, Reinhard says.

Finally fed up with "stodgy old Easterners" who were unwilling to change laws to protect women, Reinhard says, Nichols moved to Kansas Territory, first staying on a claim near Lawrence, and picked up right where she'd left off in her fight for women's rights.

Getting results

Reinhard will begin her program by recreating an image those familiar with Clarina Nichols will recognize right away -- that of a woman in proper dress, knitting and listening intently.

Christine Reinhard as Clarina Nichols

Christine Reinhard as Clarina Nichols

That's how Nichols spent her time during debates at the 1859 Wyandotte constitutional convention, the meeting that produced the Kansas Constitution.

Then Reinhard will step back and set the scene for the time period in which Nichols conducted her activist work, a period she calls the "Jane Austen era."

"Women, once they married, were civilly dead. They could not own property; they could not buy or sell property; they could not bequeath property. They didn't have the right to the custody of their children. They didn't have the right to anything, including the clothes on their back," Reinhard says.

Although Nichols couldn't convince folks in Vermont that those inequities were unjust, she managed to convince enough Kansans so that protections for women ended up in the 1861 Constitution.

"She didn't win the vote for women, but she won the right to vote in school elections, the right to maintain and preserve some of their property and the right to have custody over their children, none of which women had before that," Reinhard says.

Women's suffrage activist Clarina Nichols is shown in this undated
photograph. Nichols campaigned for women's rights during the
mid-1800s on the East Coast and then in Kansas Territory. Lawrence
resident Christine Reinhard will portray Nichols during Civil War
on the Western Frontier, which begins Monday and runs through Aug.
24.

Women's suffrage activist Clarina Nichols is shown in this undated photograph. Nichols campaigned for women's rights during the mid-1800s on the East Coast and then in Kansas Territory. Lawrence resident Christine Reinhard will portray Nichols during Civil War on the Western Frontier, which begins Monday and runs through Aug. 24.

Statewide significance

In 1867, Nichols was joined by Anthony and Stanton in a campaign to make Kansas the first state with full voting rights for women. The statewide push wasn't enough to win over male voters, and an amendment that would have granted suffrage to both women and blacks failed.

Not long after, Nichols moved to California to be close to her family.

"She continued to write about women's rights, but she stopped canvassing," Reinhard says. "She wasn't in the public eye anymore. She died in 1885, long before (Anthony and Stanton).

"I want her to be remembered -- not to eclipse either of the other two women, but certainly to be remembered."

Reinhard, who moved to Lawrence in 1996, stumbled across Nichols while researching the lives of women and children during the Bleeding Kansas period. She immersed herself in the activist's life and did her first presentation as Nichols in April 2001 at the Republican Women's luncheon in Lawrence.

This is the first year Nichols' story will be presented during Civil War on the Western Frontier. Reinhard says her inclusion is appropriate and even transcends the event.

"Civil War on the Western Frontier is principally about Quantrill's Raid. During that period of time, Clarina Nichols was not in great prominence," Reinhard says of the activist, who moved her family to Wyandotte County in 1857. "I think her importance here is not as narrow as Civil War on the Western Frontier, it's her importance in Kansas."







































































Here's a look at the events scheduled for Lawrence's eighth annual Civil War on the Western Frontier, which begins Monday and runs through Aug. 24. Lawrence maps are available at the Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St. or at www.visitlawrence.com:Ongoing¢ "Lawrence Free State Fortress," a 25-minute docudrama that showcases Lawrence's history from settlement through Quantrill's Raid, Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St., 865-4499. Free.¢ "Lawrence, Kansas 1863," an interactive computer exhibit that allows visitors to explore views of Lawrence as it was in 1863, Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.Monday¢ "Kids, Let's Build a Mud Fort!": Day 1, presented by Katie Armitage, Gwen Dobson and Debbie White, kids learn about the history of forts on day one, Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., reservations required, 832-7940. Fee.Tuesday¢ "Kids, Let's Build a Mud Fort!": Day 2, children will build a fort in continuation of the Monday workshop, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Constant Park, Fifth and Tennessee streets, reservations required, 832-7940. Fee.Friday¢ "Maggie Herrington: Growing up in 1860s Lawrence," by John Jewell, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass, 841-4109. Free.Saturday¢ Civil War Union Artillery Camp, presented by Btry B, 3rd KS, Frontier Brigade, Union Civil War era artillery camp, cannon firing, camp life, equipment and clothing displays, all day, South Park, 865-4499. Free.¢ Underground Railroad Bus Tour, presented by Dr. Tolly Wildcat, Wayne Wildcat and Judy Sweets, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., meet in parking lot on southeast corner of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue, reservations required, 842-3154. Fee.¢ Hobbs Park Memorial Open House, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Hobbs Park Memorial Open House, the Murphy Bromelsick House, Hobbs Park, 10th and Delaware streets, 749-7394. Free.¢ Horse-drawn trolley tour: Quantrill's Raid-related sites, presented by Paul Stuewe, 10 a.m.--11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. (two of eight times offered), meet at Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., reservations required, 749-5011. Fee.¢ "Old Time Photographs," by Jere Matchett and Watkins Community Museum of History staff, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Watkins Museum, 1047 Mass., reservations recommended, 841-4109. Fee for each pose printed.¢ Tour of Lecompton Territorial Capital, by Lecompton Historical Society, 1 p.m., (785) 887-6285. Free.¢ "Ride With the Devil," an R-rated Civil War movie by Ang Lee that was filmed in part in Lawrence and stars Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich and Jewel, 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m., Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St., 865-4499. Free.¢ "Children's Games of the Civil War" by Christine Reinhard, 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, reservations required, 841-4109. Fee.¢ Bleeding Type -- The Press in Lawrence, by Jim McCrary, 3 p.m., the Murphy Bromelsick House, Hobbs Park, 10th and Delaware streets, 749-7394. Free.¢ Old East Lawrence walking tour, by Jim McCrary, 6:30 p.m., meet at southeast corner of Seventh and Massachusetts streets, 749-7394. Free.¢ "I Have Been Running Strictly On My Virtues: The Life and Times of Major General James G. Blunt," by Matt Matthews, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 841-4109. Free.Aug. 17¢ Civil War Union Artillery Camp, presented by Btry B, 3rd KS, Frontier Brigade, Union Civil War era artillery camp, cannon firing, camp life, equipment and clothing displays, through mid-day, South Park, 865-4499. Free.¢ Hobbs Park Memorial Open House, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Hobbs Park Memorial Open House, the Murphy Bromelsick House, Hobbs Park, 10th and Delaware streets, 749-7394. Free.¢ Horse-drawn trolley tour: Quantrill's Raid-related sites, presented by Paul Stuewe, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m., meet at Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., reservations required, 749-5011. Fee.¢ Tour of Lecompton Territorial Capital, by Lecompton Historical Society, 1 p.m., (785) 887-6285. Free.¢ Film: "Ride With the Devil," 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m., Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St., 865-4499. Free.¢ "Douglas County: Symbolic Birthplace of the Civil War," by Tim Rues and Paul Bahnmaier, 2:30 p.m.- 4 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.¢ Blue Jacket Crossing Tour, by Mary R. Gage, 4 p.m., 1273 E. 1900 Road, Eudora, 838-9955. Free.¢ "Clarina Nichols: Unsung Heroine of Kansas," by Christine Reinhard, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.Aug. 18¢ "Stories of Quantrill and His Men in Southern Douglas County," by Brenda Day, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.Aug. 19¢ "Mother Bickerdyke -- Cyclone in Calico," by Herschel and Jacque Stroud, 7 p.m., Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St., 865-4499. Free.¢ "Civil War Money," by Dave Baldwin, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass, 841-4109. Free.Aug. 20¢ Spinning and weaving demonstration, by Regina Shaver, noon-2 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.¢ "Civil War Medicine" for August's session of Know Your Antiques, by O. Newton King, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 841-4109. Free.¢ Heroes and Villains in Territorial Kansas, by Barbara Brackman, 4 p.m., Hobbs Park, 10th and Delaware streets, 749-7394. Free.¢ "Stories of Quantrill from Eastern Douglas County," by Martha Harris, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.Aug. 21¢ "Judge Louis Carpenter: A Rising Star Eclipsed by Hate," by Kerry Altenbernd, noon, Douglas County Law Library, Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St., 838-2477. Free.¢ Candlelight Vigil for victims of Quantrill's Raid, by Watkins Museum staff and re-enactors, 8:45 p.m., Oak Hill Cemetery, 1605 Oak Hill Ave., 841-4109. Free.Aug. 22¢ "From Aunt Grace's Puff Book," by Irene S. Reynolds with vignettes by The Vintage Players, 7 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., 841-4109. Free.¢ "Slat Bonnets: A Textile Workshop," by Holly Turner, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., participants will craft a bonnet after an original slat bonnets, so called because of the slats used to stiffen the brim. The bonnets were worn while working in the fields and gardens during the 19th century. Call for a materials list one week prior to workshop, Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass, reservations required, 841-4109. Fee.Aug. 23¢ Underground Railroad bus tour, presented by Dr. Tolly Wildcat, Wayne Wildcat and Judy Sweets, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., meet in parking lot on southeast corner of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue, reservations required, 842-3154. Fee.¢ Horse-drawn trolley tour: Quantrill's Raid-related sites, presented by Paul Stuewe, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m., meet at Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., reservations required, 749-5011. Fee.¢ "Old Time Photographs," by Jere Matchett and Watkins Community Museum of History staff, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Watkins Museum, 1047 Mass., reservations recommended, 841-4109. Fee for each pose printed.¢ Film: "Ride with the Devil," 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m., Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St., 865-4499. Free.¢ "Children's Games of the Civil War" by Christine Reinhard, 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m., Watkins Community Museum of History, reservations required, 841-4109. Fee.Aug. 24¢ Horse-drawn trolley tour: Quantrill's Raid-related sites, presented by Paul Stuewe, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m., meet at Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., reservations required, 749-5011. Fee.¢ Film: "Ride with the Devil," 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m., Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St., 865-4499. Free.¢ Underground Railroad Bus Tour, presented by Dr. Tolly Wildcat, Wayne Wildcat and Judy Sweets, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., meet in parking lot on southeast corner of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue, reservations required, 842-3154. Fee.

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