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A Dramatization of the

FIRST NATIONAL
WOMEN’s RIGHTS CONVENTION

Produced by the Reston-Herndon Area Branch
of the AAUW (American Association of University Women)
performed in commemoration of Women's History Month
March 13, 2004


Her/Story: The First National Women’s Rights Convention
(Formerly titled "
Reviving the Dead Ladies")

The script for this original play can be obtained from the 
AAUW Newport County-East Bay Rhode Island Branch.
It was adapted from the 1850 Convention Proceedings and from
"Window on the Past: Revisiting the First National Woman’s Rights Convention"
by Karen Board Moran

Cast of Characters
(in order of appearance)

Narrator

John Lovaas

Sandra Hong Li

Harriot Hunt

Poet

Marilyn Silvey

Gail Osberg

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Paulina Wright Davis

Patricia Shelton

Abbie Edwards

Lucy Stone

Sojourner Truth

Bea Malone

Gertrude Greenberg

Ernestine Rose

Lucretia Mott

Ann Dailey

Kaye King

Abby Foster

Abby Price

Marilyn Silvey

Esther Pank

Conclusion

 
Producer - Marion Stillson


The scene is Brinley Hall, Worcester, MA 1850 and the play consists of excerpts from the words of 6 women's rights leaders of the time - Paulina Wright Davis, Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Abby Price, Harriot Hunt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Ernestine Rose, Abby Foster - along with remarks from the Narrator.



Narrator - John Lovaas


Women's Suffrage Posters
(National Women's History Museum)



Patricia Shelton 
as Paulina Davis

PAULINA WRIGHT DAVIS (1813-1876)
Convention President from Rhode Island
American lecturer and suffragist, born Paulina Kellogg in Bloomfield, NY in 1813, she was married in 1833 to a merchant, Francis Wright, who died two years later. In 1849 she married Thomas Davis, who later became a congressman from Rhode Island. Active in the early antislavery and women's-rights movements, in 1844 she began to lecture women on anatomy and physiology and was instrumental in opening the medical profession to women. In 1853 she founded the first women's-rights paper in the United States, The Una, and in 1871 she published A History of the National Women's Rights Movement.

Paulina Wright Davis


Sojourner Truth 
(Isabella Baumfree)

SOJOURNER TRUTH, (1797-1883) one of 13 children of slave parents, was born in Ulster County, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. Her given name was Isabella Baumfree. She spoke only Dutch until she was sold from her family at age 9 and continued to speak with a Dutch accent for the rest of her life.  In 1843, Isabella was inspired by a spiritual revelation that would forever change her life. She changed her name to Sojourner Truth and preached "God's Truth and Plan for Salvation." After months of travel, she arrived in Northampton, MA, and joined the utopian community "The Northampton Association for Education and Industry," where she met and worked with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and Olive Gilbert. Her dictated memoirs were published in 1850 as "The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave".  She eventually added abolitionism and women's suffrage to her causes.


Bea Malone 
as Sojourner Truth


Ann Dailey 
as Lucretia Mott

LUCRETIA COFFIN MOTT (1793-1880) a Quaker minister from Nantucket, MA, was the first major American women's activist in the early 1800s and is credited as the first "feminist" and promoter of women's political advocacy. She aided fugitive slaves, and following the meeting (1833) of the American Anti-Slavery Society, she was a leader in organizing the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. She helped organize the First Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and devoted her life to the abolition of slavery, women's rights, school and prison reforms, temperance, peace, and religious tolerance.  Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, she is memorialized in the "Suffrage Statue" on display in the US Capitol rotunda.


Lucretia Mott


Abby Kelly Foster

ABBY KELLEY FOSTER, (1810-1887) American abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights, was born to a Quaker family near Amherst, MA. She began her crusade against slavery in 1837 after teaching in several Quaker schools. In 1845 she married Stephen S. Foster, a radical abolitionist and reformer. As one of the first female lecturers before sexually mixed audiences, she was often greeted by listeners with extreme hostility. After suffering a great deal of abuse, even from fellow abolitionists, she began to devote more of her efforts toward women’s rights. During the last 30 years of her active life, she was prominent as a suffragist.


Kaye King as Abby Foster


Marilyn Silvey as Abby Price

ABBY HILLS PRICE (1814-1873) was born in Franklin, CT.  She married Edmund Price, an unsuccessful hatter with poor investments. She was a women's rights advocate, who publicly challenged the restricted role for women in speeches at the first three women's rights conventions (1850-1852) and in a series of newspaper articles.  She was also very active in the civic affairs of the utopian community Hopedale, MA where she resided for many years.


Harriot Hunt

HARRIOT HUNT (1805–1875), a women's-movement activist and self-taught physician from Boston, organized the Ladies Physiological Society in Boston, MA in 1843 and was awarded an honorary medical degree from the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1853.  A rebel in every facet of her life, she fought to abolish slavery, advocated higher education for women, and supported payment for house work and child-rearing. For 20 years, Hunt registered a formal "taxation without representation" protest when she paid her taxes. Her clinical work rejected the established practice of heavily dosing patients with medications, and instead stressed proper diet, exercise & hygiene. Glances and Glimpses, published in 1856 is her autobiography. Article from NY Times Feb. 1858.


Sandra Hong Li as 
Harriot Hunt


Gail Osberg as 
E. C. Stanton

ELIZABETH C. STANTON (1815-1902) was unable to attend the convention of 1850 because of the birth of her fourth child but she sent a letter to be read. The daughter of a successful lawyer in upstate New York, Elizabeth Cady rebelled from an early age against restrictive female roles. After graduating from Troy Female Seminary in 1832, she became active in the temperance and anti-slavery causes, challenging barriers to female leadership in both movements. In 1840, she insisted that the word "obey" be omitted from her wedding vows. Over the next half-century, Stanton energetically advocated women's rights to participate fully in all areas of social, intellectual and political life.  She is the author of "The Woman’s Bible", co-author of the first three volumes of "A History of Woman Suffrage", and published her autobiography, "Eighty Years and More", in 1898.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Lucy Stone

LUCY STONE (1818-1893) was born in West Brookfield, MA. She was one of the first women to earn a college degree in Massachusetts,  graduating from Oberlin College in 1847.  In that same year she gave her first lecture on woman's rights in her brother's church at Gardner, MA. She became a lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1848, traveling extensively in New England, the West, and Canada.  In 1855 she married Henry B. Blackwell (brother of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell), a merchant of Cincinnati and an abolitionist, retaining by his consent her own name. In 1869 she was instrumental in forming the American Woman's Suffrage Association and became co-editor of the "Woman's Journal" in Boston.


Abby Edwards 
as Lucy Stone


Gertrude Greenberg as Ernestine Rose

ERNESTINE ROSE: (1810-1892)
Ernestine Louise Potowsky, was born in Peterkoff, Poland in 1810, the daughter of a Jewish rabbi. In 1829 she visited England, and soon afterward married William E. Rose. In 1836 she came to New York and circulated the first petition for the property rights of married women.  She lectured in the chief cities of the United States, and was a delegate from the National Woman Suffrage Association to the Woman's Industrial Congress in Berlin in November, 1869. She attended many woman's-rights conventions, and repeatedly addressed legislative assemblies.


Ernestine Rose



List of some of the Members at the Women's Rights Convention of 1850

Mrs. John Stuart Mill's account of the convention of 1850 - "Enfranchisement of Women
(appeared in the Westminster Review in 1851)

Elizabeth Blackwell's Critique of the 1850 Convention

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