How the Vote Was Won

suffragettes in MD

This year many of us are celebrating the centenary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. And so I’m doing some research on how the WLCB was–and was not–involved in the suffrage movement.

If you search for “suffrage” in the WLCB minutes, it appears very infrequently, giving one the impression that the Club members either didn’t care or opposed the franchise outright. We also noticed that the Club met while the National American Woman Suffrage Association was holding its 1906 convention less than a mile up the street–this particular convention was especially significant because Susan B. Anthony would give her last public address there–and no mention of the convention, or NAWSA, or anything relating to suffrage was included in the minutes for that entire year.

Further research, however, brought the WLCB suffragettes out of the woodwork. It’s become clear that the Club secretary, Lydia Crane, sought to minimize their influence by avoiding reference to them in the minutes whenever possible. The power of the secretary should never be underestimated!

We now believe that several members likely attended the NAWSA meeting in Baltimore; Club member Emily Lantz recounted details from the event 20 years after the fact in the Baltimore Sun. Others wrote in favor of suffrage, marched, and demonstrated.

One of the most interesting suffragist members of the Club was Corinne Robert Redgrave, who worked with producer Charles Frohman in NYC and also acted in and directed plays in Baltimore after moving here in the early 1900s. One of the plays in which she appeared, “How the Vote Was Won,” got a vivid (and not wholly positive) write-up in the Baltimore Evening Sun on Nov. 8, 1910.

The play was performed in the Belvedere ballroom and makes mention of “abandoned eggs and ill tomatoes” suffered by suffragettes on Court House Plaza. The writer seems to think women’s suffrage a rather silly conceit, but history tells the tale. Enjoy!

New Year’s, and after

Emily Dickinson

One of the most intriguing members of the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore was Clara Newman Turner—known in the minutes as “Mrs. Sidney Turner”—who served for several years on the Board of Managers and appears frequently in the minutes as a presenter and commenter on others’ presentation. The sleuthing of Jill Fury, one of my students, revealed that Turner was the cousin of no less than Emily Dickinson–and had in fact grown up with Emily in Amherst after being left an orphan.

Clara Newman Turner
Clara Newman Turner (1844-1920), in The Kennel Club: A History and Record of Its Work (London: Kennel Gazette, 1905).

Clara and Emily apparently remained close for many years. Clara visited Emily and her sister Lavinia in Amherst every year, even after she married Sidney Turner in 1869 and moved to Connecticut. According to Clara’s niece and apparent namesake, Clara Newman Pearl, the famously reclusive Emily actually left her Amherst home to comfort Clara after her husband passed away a decade or so later. Clara Newman Pearl describes the visit thus:

“A slight figure wrapped in an old squirrel-lined circular flew up the steps and into the house. A rusty crepe veil fluttered in the wind as she hurried to my aunt’s side. It was the first time that she had been out of Amherst for twenty years, and she was the center of attraction as long as she stayed. My fifteen year old curiosity made me ask why she did not leave Amherst more often. I remember well her reply. ‘Because, my dear, I do not like to travel. One sees so many people and things that one does not wish to see.’” (Qtd. in Richard B. Sewell, Life of ED, Vol. 2, p. 266)

Some years after Sidney passed away, Clara Newman Turner ended up in Baltimore, first living at the old Altamont Hotel, and then at the Cecil apartments, which are still located at the corner of Eutaw St. and Dolphin Ave. Here, she would have lived near several other WLCB members, including longtime secretary Lydia Crane, who lived just around the corner, and it’s likely that that’s how she became a member of the Club.

Clara was not just a reader of Emily’s poetry. She also wrote poetry herself. Jill discovered the title of a book titled Mail from Nowhere, and after contacting several librarians, we located a single copy in the Houghton Library at Harvard. The Houghton digitized the self-published, privately printed volume, and it’s now available for anyone to read.

Front cover/wrapper of Mail from Nowhere
Front cover/wrapper of Mail from Nowhere (published before 1900?), by Clara Badger Newman Turner (Mrs. Sidney Turner), Houghton Library, Harvard University.

The Houghton digitized the self-published, privately printed volume, and it’s now available for anyone to read.

Clara, as a confidant and correspondent of both Emily and Lavinia Dickinson, almost certainly received the handwritten poems Emily enclosed in fascicles and circulated among family and friends. The title and dedication page of Turner’s book itself evokes the privately circulated fascicles, and it is tempting to think of the poems in this book being written as responses to poems by Emily (and which ones?).

Dedication page of Mail from Nowhere.

The poetry included in Mail from Nowhere, like Dickinson’s poems, tends toward short, balladic verse structures and frequently touches on religious subjects. Unlike Dickinson’s, however, Turner was far more confident in her faith, and also frequently treated domestic subjects including marriage, motherhood, and widowhood, which were almost entirely absent from her cousin’s poems.

While her poetry was far more conventional than her cousin’s, Clara Newman Turner was nevertheless capable of ironic introspection, and her poems frequently express a faint (or sometimes not so faint) disappointment in life and in woman’s lot. The deflating aura of January 2nd– the second-sleepiest day of the year, according to a newly released study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, after January 1–prompts me to share two poems from Turner, both included in Mail from Nowhere as well as in our anthology of works by the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore, Parole Femine: Words and Lives of the WLCB. Enjoy–and happy new year, or Jan. 2, or … whatever.

The New Year

Thou hast opened thine eyes to a new, strange thing;
Thou hast opened thine ears to hear bells ring
     To the birth–to the birth of a year.
Thou hast opened thine heart with those who pray;
The dear old year is a yesterday;
     A new, strange thing is here.

To-morrows are all bound close together,
With their varied suns, and winds, and weather.
     Can any one–any one know?
We sometimes wish, “If we only knew!”
We only say, “Happy year to you!”
     And pray it may be so.

January the Second

January First promised to protect me.
January First has gone away and left me;
Me–January Second, at the head of all this train!
Indeed you’ll never catch me in such a scrape again!

I can’t live many hours; “I feel it in my bones,”
The sad responsibility of all these other ones
Tugging at my heels as tho’ their lives depended
On their getting right along as soon as mine was ended.

It’s the way with lots of things–They’re sort of in the way
If they claim a single minute beyond their little day.
You’re January Second till the Third comes up apace.
And then you just step down and the next one takes your place.

We all just have to face it, and have our little day,
Without a single question as to any other way.
We’re on the top a little while, and people read us through,
And then we’re gone, and laid aside, the best that we can do.

A Christmas poem from Elizabeth Latimer

Hieronymus Bosch St Anthony

The women of the WLCB loved Christmas. I mean, they loved Christmas—all twelve days of it, too. One of their most cherished traditions was their annual Twelfth Night celebration in early January, where they threw open the doors to the Club rooms at the Maryland Academy of Sciences building located at 105 W. Franklin St. and presented readings, dramatic performances, music, and refreshments to an appreciative throng.

They wrote about Christmas, too. The first selection included in Parole Femine: The Words and Lives of the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore is a charming novelette by Jane Zacharias, The Newsboys’ Christmas Party, in which the female protagonist, with the help of a kindly newspaper editor, organizes a dinner and party for the ragged but hardworking newsboys of Baltimore.

Here, we share an excerpt of a poem by one of the Club’s most prolific members, Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer. It was one of seven she had planned, based on W. H. G. Kingston’s modernization of Richard Johnston’s Seven Champions of Christendom (1597). As far as we know, only three were published: “St. George and the Dragon” in the April 1880 issue of the children’s magazine St. Nicholas, “St. Patrick” in the March 17, 1888 issue of Harper’s Weekly, and the poem included here, “Saint Anthony,” published in the January 1891 Harper’s Monthly. The publications corresponded to each of the saint’s days for each figure; St. Anthony’s feast day is Jan. 17. (She also published another “saint poem,” “The Legend of Saint Nicholas,” in the December 1886 Harper’s Monthly.)

Latimer may very well have written poems for all seven champions of Christendom. She was called upon repeatedly to read them at WLCB meetings. However, we have not located either publications or manuscript for poems on St. Andrew, St. Denis, St. David, or St. James.

Majolica image of St. Anthony with pig, c. 19th-20th c., Naples.

St. Anthony is the patron saint of domesticated animals and is often depicted with a pig. These animals are at the center of Latimer’s poem, which relates their rescue of two orphan children, Linette and Paul. The poem is a great example of traditional 19th-century poetry. You might enjoy reading it to your children on Christmas Eve.

If you’re interested in reading the entire poem, you can either buy the book or find the original page images from Harper’s Monthly at the WLCB online archive. Enjoy!

Saint Anthony 
A Christmas Eve Ballad


More than eight hundred years ago—
     How changed is the world since then!
Man’s nature remains the same, we know,
Man’s joys and sorrows, man’s weal and woe.
     But how changed are the ways of men!
Who cared in those days for the weak or the poor,
     For the patient dumb beast or the child?
For the wretches whose work-day worth was o’er,
     Or the leper sin-defiled?
Not Baron or Burgher. Our Mother the Church
     Was sole friend to the poor and the old;
She stretched out her arms from the convent gates;
     She gathered them into her fold.

It was Christmas Eve; a snow-storm passed
     O’er the hills o’ertop Vienne.
The flakes fell fast, and a furious blast
Swept over the landscape, while gathering fast
Rose a mist that obscured the hills, and cast
     Deep gloom over gorge and glen.
The women and girls in the low-built town 
Watched the flakes as they hovered down.
     “Our Lady,” said they, “is spinning to-day,
And the fluffs of her wool fly over our land.
Catch one, and should it not melt in your hand,
     It may bring you luck,” they say.

But not long lasted so gay a mood:
For, “Where is my child?” shrieked a mother, aloud.
     “And where is my child?” “And mine?”
Were echoed in chorus by all the crowd
For each had some loved one in mist and cloud 
     Herding the goats or tending the swine.

Soon the church was filled with mothers and wives 
Wresting in prayer for the precious lives
     Bound up in the bundle of life with theirs.
Oh, blessed are prayers when love would fain
Bring solace to sorrow or soothing to pain!
For it is when all human efforts seem vain
     That God strengthens our weakness and answers our prayers.

By-and-by came dropping in
     The dear ones for whom they prayed,
And many a fond caress was given,
And many thanksgivings went up to Heaven
     For rescued man and maid.
Not so many thanks as there had been prayers:
We think lightly of blessings, but magnify cares.

All who had been prayed for were housed and safe
     Ere the curfew rang its call—
All who had been prayed for—not all–-for yet
Out on the mountain-side, cold and wet,
Frightened, bewildered, and shivering, sat 
Two orphan children—little Linette
     And her younger brother Paul.


Deep in a cave the little ones hid, weeping;
     Their swine close huddled near them in a crowd.
Paul, into Linette’s sheltering bosom creeping,
     Bewailed his hunger and the cold aloud.
“Look up! take heart, dear Paul!” she answered, brightly.
     “Erelong I’m sure we’ll safely reach the town.”
And here she chafed his aching feet, and tightly 
     Wrapped them more closely in her tattered gown.

“And listen, Paul (for I must keep on praying),
     For the far tinkle or the convent bell.
I heard one day a Reverend Father saying
     That good Saint Anthony loves swine-herds well,
“That all his life he cherished living creatures.
     He sent his holy relics to our town.
You know, Paul, how he looks, how kind his features,
     And how the pig peeps out beneath his gown.

“Take courage! I am here. Keep close beside me.
     Dear God, take pity upon Paul and me!
Paul has but me to save or help him. Guide me!
     For we are orphans. We have only Thee.”
So she knelt, praying—praying, but still trying
     With words of love Paul’s courage to uphold,
Who all the while she spoke sat softly crying,
     And growing drowsier in the biting cold.

“Paul, it is Christmas Eve, I now remember;
     Perhaps our pigs may speak to us,” she said.
“They say beasts talk on this night in December,
     When Jesus lay a babe in cattle shed.
“Oh Paul suppose it’s true! Our swine might tell us
     How to Saint Anthony’s to find our way.
We’ll tell the Reverend Fathers what befell us;
     I know they will not turn Christ’s waifs away.

“Father—our only Father; we’ve no other—
     Hear us and help us. Other help we’ve none.
Be good to us, because we have no mother.
     Save Paul! save me! I can’t leave Paul alone.”
And so she prayed, most piteously calling
     For help to Him who she believed could save;
But as she prayed, faster the flakes kept falling,
     And dark, dark night closed round them in the cave.

Her voice grew faint. It rallied, then grew weaker,
     But the brave heart to the last moment prayed;
When little Paul grew drowsier and the speaker
     Grew the more earnest as she grew afraid.
At last she ceased. Were both the children sleeping
     That sleep to which no work-day walking comes?
Would they awake still orphans spent with weeping?
     Or, angel tended, awake in heavenly homes?

Nay, suddenly the cave grew brighter, larger;
     Their tearful, wondering eyes grew fixed and big. 
Five creatures entered it—a gallant charger,
     Two lions, and a raven, and a pig.
They had no fear of lions, for Paul thought them
     Great, warm, soft cats. He seized their mighty paws,
Lifted their tawny manes, and smiling, caught them
     By the huge beards dependent from their jaws.

The lions stooped and licked the children’s faces,
     The life returned that had so nearly fled;
And when revived by warmth, with queer grimaces,
     The raven dropped on them a loaf of bread.
They ate. Soft smiles lit up Linette’s pale features;
     She thanked the God who sent them help in need;
And at His holy name the reverent creatures 
     Bowed their proud crests and thus outspake the steed:

“Leave every hundred years,” he said, “is given
     To us one hour on Christmas Eve to speak,
And do, in honor of our saint in heaven,
     One deed of kindness to the poor or weak.
“Mount on my back. The bells will soon give warning
     We must depart. Our moments fleet away.
All children should be happy Christmas morning;
     The Saviour’s Birthday is the Children’s Day.

“Paul, take this little pig—’tis lame and weakly—
     And hug it close; its warmth may warm you too.
Remember how the marble saint smiles meekly 
     Down on his pig and think he smiles on you.”


Down the steep hill, half frightened still,
The children rode the horse;
The raven fluttered the flakes away;
The lions slowly broke the way
Down to the rocky gorge where lay 
Saint Anthony’s Convent, lone and gray;
But a struggling moonbeam cast a ray
Of light on its tower cross,
And lit up its gold till it shone afar,
And Linette thought it Bethlehem star.

It was Christmas Eve, as I said, and late
When they reached St. Anthony’s Convent gate.
Within the chapel was warmth and light 
Such as befitted a Christmas night;
But every Brother was in his cell
Waiting the sound of the midnight bell.
Not one of them guessed, we may well believe. 
How their chapel was filled on that Christmas Eve.

Over the altar, clear and bright,
Saint Anthony stood in the Christmas light.
With hand outstretched he signed the cross
O’er children and lions, pig, raven, and horse;
And then he slowly faded away,
Like the lingering light of a dying day.

In the next three sections, several of the animals–the horse, the raven, and the lions, in turn–tell the children about their relationship with Saint Anthony. We pick up with the last to speak.


Said little Paul, the small white pig caressing,
     As close he hugged it fondly to his breast:
“What did you do to bring the Saint a blessing?
     They say he loved you more than all the rest.”
“Nay,” said the pig, “I only gave him pleasure.
     What did you think a little pig could do?
I was his link to earth, his one sole treasure,
     And that he loved me best of all is true.
“’Tis what we are, not what we do for others,
     That makes us dear to those with whom we live;
And that is nature’s reason why fond mothers
     Raptures of love to helpless infants give.

“The good Saint found me one day almost dying
     Upon the burning sands. He picked me up;
He bore me home, in his own bosom lying;
     I shared his food, his shelter, and his cup.
“I never grew, was always lame and ailing;
     For this he loved me more I could discern.
And how I loved him! Words are unavailing 
     To tell the love I gave to him in return.

“His last caress to me was faintly given;
     For I was closely nestled at his side.
Then his worn hands he clasped in prayer to Heaven.
     The angels came from him. And so he died.
“Men came. They found us. Me they cast forth roughly;
     Called me unclean, unholy and abhorred.
Said it was shame to see me there and gruffly
     Chased me away from my dear friend and lord.

“They buried him close of day. They cleft him
     A tomb in solid rock and rolled a stone
Before it. Then they went away and left him
     Alone with God. But I was all alone.

“I crept back to the cruel stone which shut me
     From the dear friend I had forever lost,
For those cold-hearted men refused to let me 
     Lie by his side, a few brief hours at most.
“As I lay dying, ere my life departed.
     A voice that with sweet music seemed to blend
Spake thus to me: ‘Thou shalt no more be parted,
     Fond, faithful creature, from thy saintly friend.
“‘Know that in art thou shalt be found forever
     (Whether the artist work in stone or paint)
Beside Saint Anthony. No hand shall sever 
     His faithful pig from the dumb creatures’ Saint.’”


Here the pig broke off his story.
     Over town and glen and hill
Rang the Christmas bells out. Glory!
     Glory! Glory! Peace—good-will!
And the monks, in long procession,
     Torches waving, banners spread,
Filled into the Convent chapel
     With their Abbot at their head.
As he neared the light altar,
     “What is here?” the Abbot cried;
For he saw two lonely children
     Sleeping softly side by side.
And he added as the others 
     Gathered round Linette and Paul:

“They are Christmas gifts, my brothers,
     That our Saint has sent us all.
In a vision late I saw him,
     And he said: ‘Whilst I approve
All your zeal, one thing is lacking,
     Some frail living thing to love.
Such a gift, bestowed by Heaven,
     Will your Convent soon receive.
Look for it before the altar
     In your chapel Christmas Eve!”

“Glory! glory!” sang the Fathers.
     “Blessed children, they shall be
No more orphans. We will call them
     Children of Saint Anthony!”
“Glory! glory!” sang the children.
     “Glory!” heavenly angels sang.
Glory! glory! from each belfry
     Christmas bells in chorus rang.
Glory! Glory! Let all creatures 
     Join in hope the Christmas strain,
Longing for that glorious Easter
     When the Lord will come again;
For which, till then, all creation 
     Travaileth awhile in pain.

Books, books, books!

Editors with books

The first shipment of Parole Femine has arrived, and we have been celebrating. Seven of the book’s 30 editors, along with Molly, the book’s designer, signed each other’s copies over a delicious Indian dinner at Namaste near Loyola’s campus.

The first books have also landed in readers’ laps. One of the project’s biggest fans, “Granny” from Philly, just received hers and tells us she intends to “read every page.” We can’t wait to hear what you think, Granny!

Granny reading Parole Femine
Granny curling up with her copy of Parole Femine.

You can order your own copy of Parole Femine at, and we are planning several events during the first few months of 2020, including a Salon in March during Women’s History Month, talks at area libraries and bookstores, and possibly a book club. It’s so exciting to finally see these women’s writing in print, and to be able to share their work with new readers!

Bird in Hand bookstore in Baltimore’s Charles Village neighborhood–look for us to give a reading here in the next few months!

Like the WLCB Facebook page to be notified of events and other news about the project.

Just in time for Xmas giving!

Parole Femine: Words and Lives of the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore has gone to press! Order your copy at — a perfect Christmas gift for the Baltimore history buff in your life! page

Clocking in at 780 oversize pages, the book is a testament to female intellect and the second half of the Maryland state motto, “Fatti maschii, parole femine“–manly deeds, womanly words.

The editors will be celebrating the publication of the book on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 6pm at Namaste on Cold Spring just west of Loyola’s campus. (If you’re one of said editors reading this: we hope to see you there!)

Stay tuned for the official book launch party next semester.

Congrats to all, and thanks to Kevin Atticks and Molly Werts at Lyola’s Apprentice House Press for their hard work in making this monster of a book a reality!

A Living Counterpart to the WLCB

Treble Clef & Book Lovers' Club

One of the questions we are asked most frequently when we share our research on the WLCB is “Did they included black members?” The answer is simple: no. The WLCB was formed as Jim Crow took root and solidified, and its members were either in vocal support or complicit through their silence.

But there were black women’s clubs during this time. The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) was founded in nearby Washington, DC in 1896 by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Mary Church Terrell, and the DuBois Circle was established in Baltimore in 1906.

And today I discovered a black women’s literary club, the Treble Clef and Book Lovers’ Club, started in the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA, in 1908. They claim to be one of the oldest black women’s literary clubs in the United States. The Treble Clef and Book Lovers’ Club was established by a group of faculty wives from Virginia Union University, founded in 1865 to educate the formerly enslaved.

In contrast to the WLCB, the TCBLC spends an entire year reading a book, examining it from a different angle each month in order to gain a thorough, multifaceted understanding.

And also in contrast to the WLCB, the Treble Clef and Book Lovers’ Club is still very much in operation today– as is Baltimore’s DuBois Circle. So perhaps the arc of history does bend toward justice.

Page one

Parole Femine: Words and Lives of the Women’s Literary Club of Baltimore—the anthology of WLCB writers and writings that we’ve been working on for 2+ years—is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality.

The book is currently being designed and typeset by Loyola’s Apprentice House Press, the first student-run publishing company in the country. And the first round of page proofs have arrived—clocking in at OVER 800 PAGES!! It is a hefty tome, indeed.

Page 1 of Parole Femine
The page we’ve all been waiting for: page 1 of Parole Femine: Words & Lives of the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore.

We are working out some kinks with the design, but I am happy to share with you the first page of the book: the first page of the first section of the book, featuring writings about Baltimore and Maryland.

More to come!