Katherine Keenum

A blog about how paintings, photographs, and prints have helped me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress—with a hope that they will stimulate other writers and readers, too.

A small sample of the images that inspired me appears below. Click on these or any images in the posts to see enlargements. In the text, click on colored words to activate links.

Selected Works

An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.


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Theresa Bernstein’s Suffrage Meeting

July 4, 2018

Tags: women artists, suffrage

Website tip: A woman artist depicting the women’s suffrage movement—what could fit my interests better? You, too, may find Theresa Bernstein website from the CUNY Graduate Center and Baruch College a rich source of images and inspiration. Bernstein’s career covered the entire 20th C, and the website has images of her artwork (including sketchbooks) along with a bibliography of her writing.

Happy Fourth of July—and happy voting!

Sororis Club

May 9, 2018

Tags: cafés and restaurants, suffrage

Blog post tip: In Where the Light Falls, I invented a private supper club for my women artists. With my eye turned now toward New York City and woman’s suffrage, it is fascinating to read about the feminist Sorosis Club’s first lunch at public restaurant, Delmonico’s.

For a digitization of an 1893 article about the club in Cosmopolitan Magazine, click here.

London working-class suffragists

February 7, 2018

Tags: suffrage, work-in-progress

Blog alert:The Spitalsfield Life post for February 7, 2017, Celebrating East End Suffragettes focuses on working class women in London during the fight for the vote. Great maps! (more…)

Lucy Stone’s milk wagon

September 7, 2017

Tags: suffrage, work-in-progress

I have set ANON in 1908 partly to avoid the need to account for all the glorious woman’s suffrage activity of 1912 and partly because the anxieties, tensions, and precursors to major historical events provide uncertainties that give room for fictional exploration. I try to avoid anachronisms and stay within historical constraints. All the same, (more…)

Suffragist banner

September 1, 2017

Tags: suffrage

Website tip: Today's History Blog post tells how the People's History Museum in Manchester, England, purchased this banner from a private collector who had bought it at a charity auction in June. Suffragists, textiles, people and government agencies working together to preserve history—yes!

Woman-Suffrage Map

May 11, 2017

Tags: magazine, suffrage

Since 1908 is my magic year for ANONYMITY, imagine my pleasure in finding this Woman-Suffrage Map while exploring Cornell’s Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography. The map appears in an article in Harper’s Weekly which reports on the status of the international woman’s suffragist movement with none of the hostility or arch humor that mar too much male journalism of the period. (more…)

Suffragists in advertising

February 15, 2017

Tags: suffrage

Blog alert: This image from a 1908 advertising campaign that never happened appeared in a Princeton University special collections post, Selling Cigarettes with Suffragettes. Irresistible to repost here, even though I don’t really have a point to make!

Inez Milholland

January 23, 2017

Tags: suffrage, work-in-progress

Photographs of Inez Milholland in a white costume on a white horse leading the March 1913 woman’s suffrage parade in Washington appeared this past weekend in several stories about the 2017 Women’s March in Washington. She was brilliant; she was dashing; and she died (more…)

Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner

November 23, 2016

Tags: caricature, magazine, suffrage

How marvelous to see Asians, African-Americans, a native of the First Nation, and women among those invited to Uncle Sam’s 1869 Thanksgiving Dinner—with universal suffrage as centerpiece! Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. (more…)

Suffrage with a smile

June 6, 2016

Tags: suffrage, photograph, work-in-progress

After rereading a couple of chapters of ANONYMITY, my work-in-progress, I took a break by Googling images related to women's suffrage. This one popped up without any documentation, but for my purposes, that didn't matter. What I love are the candid smiles and sense of motion. Just what I need to make me feel I'm back in a living, breathing time. (more…)

Suffragette—the Movie

December 18, 2015

Tags: Suffragette movie, suffrage, work-in-progress

This week, I saw the movie Suffragette, about the working women who responded to Emmeline Pankhurst’s call for the suffragist cause in Great Britain.

First off, let me tell you that, yup, it passes the Bechdel Test on every criterion! (more…)

Kewpie Votes for Women

November 2, 2015

Tags: women artists, illustration, Rose O’Neill, suffrage

After Saturday’s post on Halloween cards, my first search for the illustrators who painted them turned up Rose O’Neill—the inventor of Kewpie! Who knew? (Well, probably lots of historians of material culture, but not me.) It is tempting, tempting, tempting (more…)

Why we oppose votes for men

November 18, 2014

Tags: suffrage

After yesterday's post on a Men Only saloon (and the results of this year's elections), I can't resist posting this image. I didn't document it properly so I can't tell you where I found it, but shall we agree, it speaks for itself?!?

Votes for Women in Cincinnati

November 6, 2014

Tags: suffrage, street views

Of course, this should have been posted on Monday with an exhortation to vote (I hope you did). If you find the results of Tuesday's elections depressing, remember our foremothers worked and worked and kept working despite.

The Library of Congress captions this photograph, "Miss Louise Hall with brush and Miss Susan Fitzgerald assisting bill posting in Cincinnati." (more…)

Advertising placards

August 25, 2014

Tags: Hopper, illustration, suffrage, transportation

This summer, my husband and I went to an exhibition, The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, through October 26, 2014. Night on the El Train was not among the work we saw. It is, in fact, one of the freestanding etchings that Edward Hopper made in an effort to support himself beyond magazine illustrationat the start of his career. The Rockwell show, however, demonstrates how much drama and focus he brought to his commercial drawings.

And don’t we all wish it was still the custom to commission illustrations for books and magazine stories! It happens, of course, for children’s picture books and deluxe editions of books some fiction for adults (For two examples, click here and here.) (more…)

Suffragists in England

August 3, 2014

Tags: suffrage, work-in-progress

Blog tip For ideas about what Mattie's suffragist group might be up to, I read about the suffragist movement in England as well as America. Today's Spitalfield Life's East End Suffragette Map caught my eye.

Mattie suffragist

July 21, 2014

Tags: suffrage, transportation

As my new novel opens, Mattie Palmer is at breakfast, skimming the morning newspapers. Her eye is caught by the story of a cross-country automobile trip (more…)