Friday, June 4, 2010

In History: Laura Richards, Maud Elliott, Florence Hall and Julia Ward Howe

This is the 28th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com. 

On June 4, 1917, Laura Richards, Maud Elliott and Florence Hall were named the recipients of the first Pulitzer Prize for biography for their book "Julia Ward Howe 1819-1910." (Technically, Richards and Elliot authored the book and Hall assisted.) This was the first year for the Pulitzers; the other awards given that year are listed here.

This is truly a rich story. Richards, Elliot and Hall were sisters, born in Boston. Richards wrote more than 90 books in her life, some of which can be found here. Elliot also authored a number of books, and you can find some of her writing here. Hall, in addition to being an author, was also president of the New Jersey Suffrage Association, according to her obituary (PDF). And here's the thing: All three of these women were the daughters of Julia Ward Howe, the subject of their award-winning book.

Julia Ward Howe is best known for writing The Battle Hymn of the Republic, but she was also an abolitionist, suffragist and author. She edited the Woman's Journal for seven years, which was a women's rights publication, and she wrote the famed Mother's Day Proclamation (If you haven't read it before, go!) Howe was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters; she was inducted posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970; and she was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 15¢ Great Americans series postage stamp issued in 1987, among other things. Howe accomplished a lot in her life; her daughters are far from the only people to write books about her.

From her Mother's Day Proclamation:
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

P.S. Also on June 4, this time in 1919: The U.S. Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.

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