Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: women

Should Trousers Become General


This cartoon appeared in the Urbana Courier-Herald on December 24, 1912. The word balloon reads, “Mother! Sis has gone to the theatre in my dress suit and I haven’t a thing to wear to the shop.”


Monday, December 23, 1912

This is so sweet! The University students who were barred from the Saintz club dance—because they brought chorus girls as dates—got together their own impromptu dance in College Hall, with the four “Mother Goose” girls as guests of honor. “It was stated today that the young women belong to excellent families and that one’s mother is chaperoning the four while on the tour. Miss Nora Busey of this city is acquainted with them and had them for her guests on an automobile ride whie [sic] the company was here.”

From Rhinebeck, New York, comes the headline “RICH MEN HEAR SUFFRAGISTS.” Vincent Astor, Frederick Vanderbilt, Mrs. Vanderbilt, and Miss Huntington came upon the five suffragettes who are hiking to Albany, as the women were addressing a crowd of 300 in front of the hotel. “The five women have now covered 98 miles of their journey. All are in good spirits.”

And goodness me, there are female highwaymen (highwaywomen?) in Boston!

Thursday, December 19, 1912

An odd story appeared on the front page today, with the headline “NEGRO WAS UP TO SOME LAWLESSNESS.” Below the headline, it says, “Mulatto Skulks Behind Trees on West Main Street and Runs When Discovered—Acts Strangely.” For the life of me, I cannot understand why this warrants a story in the newspaper. Here is the article in its entirety:

As W. E. Cook of South Busey avenue was returning home at 8 o’clock Wednesday night, a negro, who had been hiding behind a tree in the 500 block on West Main street, darted out and ran by him. Getting some distance ahead of Cook, the man began walking slowly, evidently waiting for the former to overtake him. Cook armed himself with a brick, whereupon the negro ran south on Coler avenue, but returned to Main street after waiting for Cook to get out of sight. The prowler is described as a tough looking mulatto.

In Peoria, railroad men caught three girl hobos. The girls said they had been on the road for weeks, having traveled many hundreds of miles, and were happy. They were bound for Lexington, Missouri. “The fair tramps had all the train times down in a little notebook.”

Sunday, December 15, 1912

The Daily Illini bored me again today, so once again I turned to my copy of the Siren, the university humor magazine. Here is an article I found there:

Tea drinking, to our mind, is a vicious habit and a dangerous weapon. To our certain knowledge this herb has been instrumental several times in late months, to bacheloricide with malice afore thought, or marriage in the first degree. And this under our very eyes;—perpetrated by honored ladies of the faculty;—consummated under the shadow of a statue of learning.

The plot is this. Two or more ladies, of culture and graces beyond question, combine resources and establish quarters wherein they may furnish tea and aesthetic language to eligible bachelors on the faculty.

The unmarried males arrive. Tea is served. The males speak thus: “What de-l-icious tea!” “Yes, simply go-orgeous.” “What charming apartments!” “So bohemian!” Oh gracious, I have spilled a drop of tea on my trousers. Oh no—nevermind—not at all! It will not hurt them a bit.” This occupies the first hour.

Then comes the dirty work. The ladies begin to smile naughtily and make such appalling jokes as: “When the mice are away the old cat must play” (High tenor giggle from the men) or “What would Mrs. So-and-So say if she knew” (frightened little laugh) or “I just love these little parties—they are so deliciously naughty. But you mustn’t tell a soul” (pursed lips and mockingly stern finger).

The deed is did. Murder is out. The demoralizing atmosphere is too many for the Professors—they succumb.

The women must be women. Have they not in care the instruction of younger women? The men are surely men for they are intrusted with the making of other men. Yet—well—I suppose it’s that darned tea.

Tuesday, December 10, 1912

“Springfield, Dec. 10—After smashing a window and leaping into the room where her three children were in flames, Mrs. Charles Andrew of Auburn gathered her offsprings in her arms and escaped from the burning house. All are in a hospital in a precarious condition. The children are one, two and four years. The youngest is near death.”

I wonder what Mrs. Charles Andrew’s name is.

Monday, December 9, 1912

“Make a bonfire of your hats, throw away your corsets and wear trousers instead of those ridiculous tight skirts,” said Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt to the Equal Suffrage club in New York. For the past two years, she has traveled around the world promoting the idea of votes for women. “My trip around the globe convinced me that my own country women are the most fettered, sartorially, to be found anywhere. It is time for the western woman to kick herself free of the swaddling draperies which the Parisian sends over to us. We should declare our independence in dress as we have in politics, and the sooner we do it the better for health, happiness and the cause.”

This does sound rather comfortable, but I certainly won’t be setting my hats on fire! Here is a picture of Mrs. Catt:

Carrie Chapman Catt

Friday, December 6, 1912

Seventeen-year-old Elsie Slade, of Urbana, was taken into custody as a runaway in Danville. She had run away with two girls who had been visiting in Champaign. “They were arrested by a detective, who recognized the Wilson girl as unfit company for a lass of Miss Slade’s appearance.” Miss Wilson was arrested a couple of weeks ago, “following an encounter in a resort.”

In Quincy, a decree of divorce was granted to a fifteen-year-old mother of three children. She was married three years ago, and the charge was desertion.

The first jury of women in Idaho is apparently guilty of an “odd stunt,” because the hearing was adjourned while the jurors prepared the midday meals for their families, and they reached their verdict (finding a woman guilty of threatening a man with a revolver) in less than an hour.

Finally, there is a report from London that militant suffragettes decided at a recent meeting to blow up the lower house of Parliament if the government fails to adopt woman suffrage in a forthcoming bill, “according to a statement issued by a news agency.”

Thursday, December 5, 1912

“Failing in two previous attempts to destroy the restaurant of E. B. Ford and Weaver’s pool room, adjoining, the baffled incendiary resorted to an explosive, and yesterday morning wrecked both structures.” The article does not give details of the two previous attempts, but it does say that there is evidence that nitro glycerine was placed in the wall separating the two Villa Grove establishments.

Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman had a large audience at the Illinois theatre last night. “Naturally, the audience was composed principally of women. However, there was quite an attendance of men and all seemed well pleased with the speaker’s remarks.” Her topic was “Women and the State,” and the article calls her exposition “brilliant and humorous” and her arguments “sane and convincing.” Many people joined the Equal Suffrage society at the close of the lecture.

Samuel Castle, the man who attacked another man with a hatchet on Tuesday, was released from the city prison after a Mrs. Funkhouser paid his fine. “WOMAN PAYS HIS FINE,” shouts the headline of the article, which intimates that the woman is Castle’s paramour.

Wednesday, December 4, 1912

A man with a hatchet attacked another man opposite the Birely-Conaway grocery store last evening. “Angered because Roughton had threatened to complain against him for starving his aged mother, Castle imbibed freely of bootleg courage and started after his enemy.” Chief Lindstrum saw the man making wild swings with the hatchet and disarmed him before he could do any harm.

“The happiest ‘woman’ in all New York today is standing out in the middle of the river, with one arm raised over her millions of fretful sisters to show that a goddess still can be a goddess even if she does have to wear made over clothes winter and summer.” The government has spent $20,000 to repair the Statue of Liberty.

Monday, November 4, 1912

The Twin City Ministerial association has decided to set apart December 8 as a “white plague day” in the churches of Champaign and Urbana. At least 129 people in the county are afflicted with tuberculosis. The Champaign County Anti-Tuberculosis Health league is seeking more funds in order to open a free dispensary to the poor in the Twin Cities.

A woman telephoned police headquarters and said, “A man at 803 East California street is beating his wife something awful,” but the police declined to interfere without a warrant.

The Twin City Equal Suffrage league will bring the noted author and lecturer Charlotte Perkins Gilman to speak in town on December 5. It is likely that the Illinois theater will be the location.

A motorman was severely injured and two horses killed when a street car struck a dairy wagon on West Oregon street yesterday. The wagon driver, by a miracle, escaped injury. Witnesses say that he drove onto the track in front of the car while the gong was ringing.

Finally, James S. McCullough, a candidate for state auditor and an Urbana man, is “the only soldier of the Civil War on the Republican State Ticket. He lost an arm in battle for his country,” says his rather large campaign advertisement.