The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Travels for Reform: The Early Work of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Travel was the heart of the reformer's work in the nineteenth century, and for her willingness to canvass New York county by county, year after year before the Civil War, Susan B. Anthony won recognition as one of the best practitioners of the reformer's craft. In the decade 1852 to 1861, Elizabeth Cady Stanton contributed to the woman's rights movement principally from home, where she combined writing the most influential arguments for human equality with raising her children and running a household.
When she first met Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851, Susan B. Anthony was thirty-one years old and already retired from school teaching. While she managed her parents' farm just outside the city of Rochester, New York, she also got to know the extensive community of reformers concentrated there. Her acquaintances included the fugitive slave, black abolitionist, and newspaper editor Frederick Douglass; organizers of Rochester's own convention of 1848 for woman's rights; early proponents of spiritualism; dissident Quakers who founded the Congregational (later Progressive) Friends movement; and radical abolitionists in the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society. But Anthony also collaborated with a more traditional community of moral reformers, notably in the women's temperance movement.
In 1851 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, nearing her thirty-sixth birthday, lived in Seneca Falls, New York, with her husband Henry B. Stanton, an antislavery lawyer then serving in the state senate, and their four sons. (Two daughters and one more son were born by 1859.) Anthony surely knew Stanton's name before they met. After convening the first woman's rights meeting in July 1848, Stanton joined Rochester's women at the subsequent convention in August and corresponded with friends of the Anthony family. In 1849 Stanton began to write for Amelia Bloomer's temperance newspaper, the Lily, and Anthony read that paper. Already Elizabeth Cady Stanton was known for her elegant and forceful articulation of women's need for individual rights. The leading antislavery journals, which reported woman's rights activism with favor, published her writings as the movement spread to other states.
Stanton and Anthony met because of their shared interest in the movements to abolish slavery and restrict liquor, and their conviction that women's political views should be heard. They knew how reformers worked: reach people, convert them to new ideas, and lead them into action. The story of their organizing of women, told in these documents, followed the usual routines: circulating newspapers and pamphlets, speaking in countless small towns, initiating local groups to carry on the education, and bombarding the state legislature with petitions.

The Papers of SBA and ECS

This mini-edition is derived from two previous publications of the Stanton and Anthony Papers, a research project directed by Professor Ann D. Gordon at the Department of History on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. In 1991, the project, then based at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, published the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, microfilm edition, eds. Patricia G. Holland and Ann D. Gordon (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1991). Its forty-five reels of microfilm amassed their papers for the first time and reproduced them as facsimiles of manuscript and printed sources. In 1997, the project published the first of an anticipated six volumes of the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, vol. 1, In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866, ed. Ann D. Gordon (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1997).
The Stanton and Anthony Papers project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Rutgers University, the Barbara Lubin Goldsmith Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and individual donors.

The Mini-Edition: Travels for Reform

The texts in Travels for Reform create a continuous story of reform and also divide easily into four sections, or chapters, reflecting shifts in the principal focus of reform pursued by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In the decade before the Civil War, Anthony traveled as an agent for the Women's New York State Temperance Society, the New York Woman's Rights Committee, and the American Anti-Slavery Society. In the last years before the Civil War, her work intensified, and in a whirlwind of travel and work, she conducted overlapping campaigns against slavery and for woman's rights. Although Stanton rarely traveled in this decade, the same shifts in emphasis are evident in her thought and writing too. Each chapter opens with a short essay to set the scene and introduce themes and concepts in the documents within that section.
Travels for Reform includes historical documents presented as both graphic images and live transcripts of the originals, as well as explanatory notes, a selective biographical dictionary, bibliography, and maps.

Navigating the Mini-Edition

For instructions on navigating this mini-edition, please click the "?" icon above the "search" panel.

Aids to Reading the Documents

You can begin by reading the essays that introduce each chapter, or you can return to them when you need to understand, for example, what was a personal liberty bill and why did New Yorkers fight so hard to pass one? or, what was included in the goal of passing a married women's property bill?
Graphic images
Some documents in this edition are shown as images of the original form, whether that be handwritten or printed texts. These images are the best they can be, given the age and condition of the historical sources. They are made from very old newspapers, an account book that saw daily use for many years, and items pasted by Susan B. Anthony into her scrapbooks. In one instance the image shows the damage caused by a fire in the New York State Library early in the twentieth century. If you approach the images with the attitude that it is remarkable that these scraps of paper have survived for 150 years, they will be easier to read!
Each image of a document has an editorial label that indicates its date, title, and source. The notation of sources leads you back to the original document, either to the owners of manuscripts and unique printed documents or to a library's collection of newspapers. For students the source also points the way to related documents and the chance to read, for example, texts from the National Anti-Slavery Standard other than the specific selections included here. The label also lists names and key words that occur in the document. The names and words are linked to other parts of the edition where that person is identified or the words defined. These links are also useful in searching across documents for recurrences of names, places, and ideas.
On occasion an image matches a transcribed text in the edition. By comparing the image of the original source and the typed text, you can see what is, on the one hand, lost when elaborate printed forms or quickly jotted notes are converted into standardized printed texts, and, on the other hand, gained by clarity, notes, and additional links.
You will also find images of clippings from different newspapers about the same event. These multiple reports provide examples of how different people viewed Anthony and Stanton and reported their words. They also illustrate how difficult it is in the study of history to learn and document what people said on specific occasions.
Live, Transcribed texts
Each transcribed document is introduced by an editorial title and followed by a note indicating the physical character of the original document and the source or owner of the original. The editors have supplied dates of authorship or publication when the primary source lacked dates.
In transcribing handwritten sources, the editors have retained the errors, misspellings, and idiosyncratic punctuation evident in the original. By indicating with symbols where the author struck out words or lines and where he or she inserted new or additional text, the editors have preserved some of the visual, non-verbal evidence from handwritten sources.
Textual Symbols
Typographical symbols in the transcripts indicate emendations introduced by the original author or by the editors.
[roman text]
Text within square brackets in roman type is supplied by the editors for reasons explained with the document. A question mark within the brackets expresses doubt.
[roman date]
Date when a speech was delivered or an article published, supplied by the editors.
[italic text]
Editorial insertion or addition.
[italic date]
Date supplied by editors. In most cases, the basis is explained in a numbered note.
Authorial interlineation or substitution.
Text canceled by the author.
Text canceled by author that cannot be recovered.
Addition to the source text from a second source.
Numbered notes
In numbered notes the editors have provided what information they think necessary for readers to understand the documents. They identify references, explain textual complexities, and summarize documents omitted from the edition. Numbered notes contain most of the biographical information about correspondents, co- workers, and people mentioned in the documents. Notes of explanation provide the essential news and debates current at the time Stanton and Anthony were writing. Such references can also spark a quest to learn more about the communities and people who joined Stanton and Anthony in reform.
This edition includes twenty-five maps pinpointing the New York towns and counties to which the reformers traveled. These maps are accessed by clicking on place names. If you have a special interest in the maps, you can scroll through them all once you have accessed any one of them from the documents.
The maps of New York State and its counties are provided to help readers understand the frequent discussions of place and travel that occur in the documents and visualize the political saturation that Susan B. Anthony tried to achieve by taking her ideas into every corner of the state. The maps indicate only as much of Anthony's travel as this selection of documents mentions. In 1854 and 1855, for example, she managed to hold a meeting in every one of New York's counties.
The names of people within documents are linked to biographical information, most of it located in numbered notes associated with a document. For key figures, the information is accessed through links to a biographical dictionary.

The Goals of the Mini-Edition

Large bodies of edited historical documents nowadays are usually issued in a comprehensive microfilm edition of fascimiles, followed up with a small selection published in books. Microfilm offers a cost-effective way to disseminate thousands of historical documents preserved in both form and content. Books provide greater public access to the content of original historical documents, but to be affordable, the books must be highly selective.
By combining, as this mini-edition does, live texts, derived from the Selected Papers, with images of documents, culled from the far larger body of papers available in the microfilm edition, the editors tried to bridge that divide and show how the two customary modes of publication might be joined. To enhance users' ability to search across both kinds of documents, the editors offer reference points for graphic images that parallel information in the live texts.
Electronic publication creates a hypertext environment where editors can create many links between ideas and documents rather than limit themselves to the linear arrangement of pages and notes in book publication. In this edition, most of the supplemental explanations and background remains tied to the document as if the texts were printed on pages. Editors of Travels for Reform experimented with only a few of the possibilities of using a hypertext environment. The biographical dictionary is one effort to centralize information but maximize access to it through hypertext links. The maps are another.
Costs of money and time in the production of this sample precluded a total transformation of all annotation away from the styles developed for pages and books. There is still an awkward combination of two worlds. Use of the maps suggests many ways that the joining of visual and verbal information might be extended and deepened. Why not add pictures of the halls in which Susan B. Anthony held meetings, the trains she rode, the men she bested in argument? The experimentation has barely begun.

Invitation to Evaluate

This sample of documents and model of electronic publication is presented for use and review. The editors would like to hear about your use of it and about your suggestions for improvement.

Contacting the Stanton and Anthony Papers project

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Stanton and Anthony Papers

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