News Roundup About Virginia Minor

Virginia Minor

As the centennial of the 19th Amendment draws near (Aug. 26 or 29 depending on whom you ask), Virginia Minor is getting more coverage in the media than I have ever seen. Perfect timing, as my biography of her and her husband Francis is on submission and I am nearly finished writing it. (Non-fiction is sold on proposal, not on the finished manuscript like fiction is.) Here’s a round up of the latest news about this unsung suffrage heroine:

The Washington Post – “This woman sought the right to vote from the Supreme Court. The nine men denied her.” This article focuses mainly on Minor v Happersett, the Minors’ Supreme Court case, but provides nice, if brief, background on Virginia’s work during the Civil War and talks a little about how she helped usher in a new era for the suffrage movement. A great read, but far too short!

National Geographic – “The Fight to Be Heard” – (Article behind a paywall) Features the descendants of great American suffragists, profiles of women who fought for the vote, those who continue to fight for women’s, and of course, tells the story of how women finally won the vote.  This article image is the first one that I’ve ever seen that includes Virginia among the 31 other most important women of the movement. (I was going to use it but then I chickened out that they would come after me for violating copyright law.)

St. Louis Public Radio – St. Louis on the Air -“‘Beyond The Ballot’ Explores History Of Women’s Suffrage Movement In St. Louis” – Article on an exhibition at the Missouri History Museum that I can’t wait to see (luckily it is open through 2022 and we better have a COVID-19 vaccine by then!). Virginia is one of the women they talk about highlighting in the exhibition.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – “Women wanted it — and got it — 100 years ago, but the right to vote didn’t come easy.” Talks a little about the court case and Virginia’s founding of the Women’s Suffrage Association. Kudos for saying that “Virginia’s story is one every St. Louisan should know.” It’s actually one every American should know – and they will.

St. Louis Magazine – “See this: the Missouri History Museum’s ‘Beyond the Ballot'” – Covers similar ground as the Post article mentioned above.

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Finally, if any of you are in St. Louis, The National Women’s Political Caucus is holding a wreath-laying ceremony at Virginia Minor’s grave on Saturday, August 15, at 10 a.m at Bellefontaine Cemetery. I will be there, mask on and six feet away from everyone else.

Oh and I’ll be speaking online on August 29 at 2 p.m. about Virginia as part of the Missouri League of Women Voters’ Centennial celebrations. Register here.

New Project Reveal: Biography of Suffragist Virginia Minor

Virginia Minor

I’ve been kind of cagey about the biography I’m working on (not Rose Ferron, which is on the back burner at the moment, this is another one), but I’m getting close to finishing my research and submitting to agents, so I’m now comfortable with talking about it. I am working on a dual biography of husband-wife suffragist team, Virginia and Francis Minor. I happen to have a guest post today about Virginia over on author Suzanne Adair’s website, if you want to see a summary of her life.

I first heard about Virginia when I was researching Victoria Woodhull for my book Madame Presidentess. Virginia was a contemporary of Victoria’s. While we can’t prove that they knew one another, it is likely. Virginia was a big deal in the National Woman’s Suffrage Association and she is the one who originated the idea that the Fourteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, and idea Victoria used when she spoke before Congress. Even if Victoria didn’t personally know Virginia, she almost certainly had heard of her.

You know me and stories of forgotten women. There was something about Virginia that I was immediately attracted to. I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on what. But I knew I had to tell her story. This one didn’t strike me as right for historical fiction, though. I did some digging and found that no one has ever written a biography of her. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

The book started out just being about Virginia, but then I realized that her relationship with Francis was integral to her work and highly unusual. They lived a life of purposeful equality, beginning in the 1840s, way before that was common practice, so I knew I had to include him as well. They also both lived in my hometown of St. Louis for over 40 years, which is really helping with the research. We have some great archives here with very valuable information. Neither Francis or Virginia is well-known, and so not much about them still exists, but it is possible to find it if you look hard enough. I love the thrill of the chase in research, so I am having a ball. This June I will be visiting archives in Virginia, where they were both born, so hopefully that will shed light on their childhoods, which is really the missing piece at the moment.

I can’t wait to tell you more about them as the project progresses and to hopefully soon have a contract on the book.

P.S. – So far, I have not been able to track down a photo of Francis, which is why there isn’t one in this post. I have, however, held documents written in his own hand. It was so cool!

Celebrate Women’s Equality Day with These Interesting Projects in Women’s History

As August 2020 and the centennial of women’s right vote in the United States grows closer, we’re starting to see some really creative projects highlighting the brave, groundbreaking women of American history. Unfortunately, none of them include Victoria Woodhull yet (trust me, I’m contacting each one as I learn of them), but they do include many of her contemporaries. Here are three projects I’m keeping an eye on:

Rebel Women – A project to get more statues of amazing women of American history built in New York City and throughout the country. The author of the article I linked to is asking for nominations for women from your home town. I’ve already nominated Victoria for New York City and Virginia Minor for St. Louis. Please, feel free to nominate your own or second one of mine by emailing dearmaya@nytimes.com.

Embrazen Wines – This is by far the most clever of the three projects. A winemaker has created three special vintages with labels that highlight the accomplishments of three women in American history: Josephine Baker, Nellie Bly and Celia Cruz. A special app called Living Wine Labels allows you to scan the bottle and hear Beginning August 26 (National Women’s Equality Day, which many groups are lobbying to make a Federal holiday), you can nominate women of history or today to be added to the next group of wines. If you nominate a contemporary woman, she could win a $25,000 grant. You bet I will be making them aware of Victoria when the Trailblazer campaign opens on August 26.

Where Are the Women? – This Kickstarter campaign aims to create sculptures of 20 notable women of U.S. history. Even though Victoria is not among them, her friends Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone are. I have backed it and I have also recommended Victoria to them. Please help them reach their goal. It’s so important that we spread the word about women’s history and all those whose accomplishments have not received the attention they deserve.

Why am I telling you about these? Well, besides oversight of not including Victoria, I’m still working on a proposal for a book on the history of feminism in the U.S., which I’d love to have published near the centennial. Cross your fingers!