Why you've never heard of Anna Dickinson

Title

Why you've never heard of Anna Dickinson

Description

I spent the whole week on Anna Dickinson because she was very, very famous in her day and is almost lost to history. I know a lot about suffrage for a non-academic, and I had never heard her name before the @smithsonianNPG exhibit. In “America’s Joan of Arc,” her biographer Matt Gallman gave 3 reasons for her obscurity:

*She alienated everybody. In the fight over the 15th Amdt she sided with those who accepted votes for Black men without women, angering ElizCadyStanton & Susan B. See mid-Oct threads for that conflict.
*She wasn’t a joiner. Her celebrity was so great that suffrage & temperance groups would have been happy to make her an officer. But she wasn’t interested - so she’s missing from the official record of the movement, written by those organizations.

*Lastly, she died in obscurity. She was an alcoholic, and may have struggled with mental illness. Her sister Susan, who had managed her career for years, had her committed at age 49. Anna found the headlines humiliating: "Anna Dickinson Insane" blared the NY papers.

Anna Dickinson died in 1932, a week shy of her 90th birthday, and was buried near her partner Sallie Ackley. Matt Gallman says she never voted. Of course, the primary reason we don’t know her name today is that she was a woman. 

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

07/12/2019

Files

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Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Why you've never heard of Anna Dickinson,” Daily Suffragist, accessed October 19, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/180.

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