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Picturing a World

Mattie suffragist

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 (a great rarity in the United States of 1908 when roads were unpaved and unmapped, and the cars slow and prone to break down) and a report on a prank by woman suffragists. She thinks to herself that, to grab attention, the New York group should drive to Albany with flags flying.

It was bold, but not unheard of, for women to drive in the early days of automobiles. I remember reading a long time ago about some suffragists who drove up to call on a national politician while he was vacationing in the Berkshires. If that rings a bell with anyone, please let me know. I’d love to recover the details.

You can help another way: I’m also still debating whether to refer to “woman’s suffrage” (singular), as the campaigners in the movement to win the vote did themselves, or “women’s suffrage” (plural), the phrase that has come to be more standard in everyday usage. Any opinions about which would be better in a work of historical fiction to be read in the 21st C?

For another image of women who DID set out to cross the country, click here.
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