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Blatch, Harriot (Eaton) Stanton 1856-1940

BLATCH, Harriot (Eaton) Stanton 1856-1940

PERSONAL:

Born January 20, 1856, in Seneca Falls, NY; died November 20, 1940, in Greenwich, CT; daughter of Henry Brewster and Elizabeth (Cady) Stanton; married William Henry Blatch (a businessman), 1882; children: Nora, Helen. Education: Vassar College, B.A. (with honors), 1978, M.A., 1894; also attended Boston School of Oratory, 1879.

CAREER:

Author and activist. Unsuccessfully ran for public office. Wartime service: Served as head of the speakers' bureau of the Food Administration and as director of the Woman's Land Army during World War I.

MEMBER:

Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (founder, 1907; name changed to Women's Political Union, 1910; later merged with National Woman's Party), Women's Local Government Society (member of executive committee), Women's Liberation Federation (member of executive committee), Fabian Society (member of executive committee), Women's Trade Union League, National American Woman Suffrage Association.

WRITINGS:

(With Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) A History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 2, Fowler & Welles (New York, NY), 1881.

(With Charles Booth) Village Life in England, [London, England], c. 1894.

(Editor) Two Speeches by Industrial Women (Mary Duffy, Clara Silver), [New York, NY], 1907.

Mobilizing Woman-Power, foreword by Theodore Roosevelt, The Woman's Press (New York, NY), 1918.

A Woman's Point of View: Some Roads to Peace, The Woman's Press (New York, NY), 1920.

(Editor, with Theodore Stanton) Elizabeth Cady Stanton, As Revealed in Her Letters, Diary, and Reminiscences, two volumes, Harper Brothers (New York, NY), 1922.

(With Alma Lutz) Challenging Years; The Memoirs of Harriot Stanton Blatch, G. P. Putnam (New York, NY), 1940.

Blatch's manuscripts are maintained at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

SIDELIGHTS:

As the daughter of woman's rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist Henry Brewster Stanton, suffragette Harriot Stanton Blatch was born into a politically active family. Eight years before her birth in 1856, her parents had been central organizers of the Seneca Falls woman's rights convention. She was the sixth of seven children and attended private schools in Seneca Falls, New York, New York City, and Englewood, New Jersey, eventually enrolling at Vassar College. She graduated from Vassar with honors and then spent a year at the Boston School of Oratory. A statistical study of villages in Great Britain resulted in her being awarded an M.A. degree from Vassar in 1894, even though she was living in England at the time.

Blatch's first important contribution to the women's suffrage movement was her insistence that Volume Two of A History of Woman Suffrage include the work of the American Woman Suffrage Association, as both her mother and Susan B. Anthony had written their history from the point of view of their own National Woman Suffrage Association. As a result, Blatch was the author of that part of the history, and this work is credited by some with aiding the reconciliation of these two major woman suffrage organizations.

After marrying Englishman William Henry Blatch in 1882, she lived for twenty years west of London in Basingstoke. The couple had two daughters, one of whom died as a child. While in England, Blatch became involved in a number of social movements, including the Fabian Society, the Women's Liberal Federation, and the Women's Local Government Society. When she and her family moved to the United States in 1902, Blatch was disturbed by the lethargy exhibited by the American suffrage movement. Accordingly, she organized working women and in 1907 was founder of the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, an organization that would eventually become the Women's Political Union and, in 1916, merged with the Congressional Union under Alice Paul.

During World War I, she put her women's suffrage efforts aside temporarily to help with the war effort, heading the speakers' bureau of the Food Administration and directing the Woman's Land Army. She wrote about the work women did during the war in her 1918 book, Mobilizing Woman-Power. Blatch attempted to develop ways to positively apply the lessons learned during World War I. She had a good understanding of international politics, and she tried to organize social thought toward understanding the war's devastation, as can be seen in her 1920 book, A Woman's Point of View: Some Roads to Peace. She encouraged the examination and elimination of national hatreds and believed that women could do much to change the warlike nature of governments.

Historian Mary Ritter Beard wrote in Women As a Force in History that Blatch was one of the most important strategists of women's suffrage and that her contributions to various reforms have not been fully appreciated. Blatch fought against protective legislation for women workers, a stand that put her in conflict with several other reform organizations. She remained active in labor causes and supported many liberal causes as an organizer and writer. Blatch passed away in 1940, her last months spent in a nursing home after she had fractured a hip. That same year, her autobiography, Challenging Years: The Memoirs of Harriot Stanton Blatch, was published.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Beard, Mary Ritter, Women As a Force in History, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1946.

PERIODICALS

Nation, January 31, 1923.

New York Times, November 21, 1940.

Outlook, June 28, 1916.*

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