The commonly known history of Pennsylvania women is skewed mainly to the state’s two largest cities – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. But Josephine Dunn, our next Humanities on the Road presenter and professor of Art History at the University of Scranton, will tell you that is a mistake. Strong women have made history throughout the state, and she has focused her research for the past five years on just such women in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In Dunn’s talk, “Alive to the Call: Women in History in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” she brings light to the many important women in this region.
Dunn points out that historically it often only takes one person to create change. The suffragist movement in the Scranton area started primarily with one woman, Kate Ryan Chapman, who organized sympathizers into a formidable force. The Scranton suffragists went from 12 to 1500 supporters in the span of one year under her leadership. In 1913 the Pennsylvania Senate voted on a suffrage amendment, resulting in a tie. Chapman gatheredenough petition signatures to convince the sway vote senator to change his mind, despite the fact that he did not support women’s suffrage. She became an officer in the state suffrage convention and lived to see her work pay off when American women got the vote in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.
Chapman is just one example of the many women Dunn will discuss at the taping on May 2nd. The event will take place at 2:00 PM at the Wyoming County Cultural Center at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. The taping is free and open to the public, so contact the site for more information on how you can be part of the audience. To learn more about women’s suffrage in America you can view related documents at the National Archives. To learn more about general women’s history visit the National Woman’s History Project.