Woman's Suffrage and Demand For The Right To Vote

Kris Muhvic

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Jim-
You are right; I should not have used the word "cross", the prostitutes were utilised as "strikebreakers", a provocation tactic. And yes, Triangle was the reference.

Also in cohorts with Alva S. Vanderbilt (re: garment workers strike) was also Anne Morgan, daughter of J.P. We all know he fits into the Titanic story!

Triangle was a better place. There is a difference between "sweatshop" and "factory". Although when speaking of this time period those terms are often used interchangeably. Which is misleading. Working in a department store was worse from my understanding. As other forms of employment.
Thank you-
K-
 

Kris Muhvic

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George-
Setbacks do happen! Conviction is one thing but timing is everything for any change it seems.
Kris-
 
May 27, 2007
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Conviction is one thing but timing is everything for any change it seems.
Especially for the Suffragists. Speaking of bad places to work I'm lucky in that all my great Grandmothers had it easy. One worked in a Bakery in the mid to late teen and the other one like many a Swede was a domestic maid although she was a 3rd generation immigrant. I also have a Teacher and a house wife who taught Piano for pin money.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Not to be missed, in this context, is the film Manhattan Trade School For Girls.

Filmed in 1911, the year of Triangle, it is a promo for NYC's groundbreaking vocational training high school for women. A look at Triangle's victims shows an oft-overlooked aspect of women's employment pre-WW1, which is that although most women were paid a pittance for their work, women with skills were paid relatively high wages. Less than a man doing the same job would have, of course, but that's a whole different thread. For instance, what was thought to be a tumor on the leg of victim Julia Rosen proved to be $852 in rolled bills that she kept bound to her leg under her stocking. Miss Harris, who died in the elevator shaft, earned $22 per week....

The organizers of the high school realised that, and the film not only shows the school's curriculum but also shows the wages its students could- and did- command upon graduation.

Sad to say, I think THAT is why the school was accepted as widely as it was. Why send your 14 year old out to earn .05 per hour, when you can send your 16 year old out with specific skills and have her bring back .50?
 
May 27, 2007
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Sad to say, I think THAT is why the school was accepted as widely as it was. Why send your 14 year old out to earn .05 per hour, when you can send your 16 year old out with specific skills and have her bring back .50?
Sad indeed.
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Makes sense though.
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I'd send my daughter there back then. The school mind you not the Inferno Factory.
 

Kris Muhvic

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Interesting about the vocational high school. I have heard of trade schools when I was a kid! But the cynic I can be, I wonder if the immigrant stratus were aware of such institutions. Or if they could wait until their daughter was 16 to provide for the family. Which was the case for many families.
I ask, Jim, where was this film you saw? I was always fascinated with old (pre WW1 old!) films, including the non-entertainment ones. Hard to find, for me anyway! Edison, of course, put out a little movie promoting the "Ediphone" in 1910 that was quite charming! Overwrought secretary and all!
George-No glitzy ancestors on my side either! Boardinghouse-maids, and yes, a garment worker were my great-grandmothers! I feel like a spoiled brat compared to what they had to go through!
K-
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hi, Kris: The film is part of the National Film Preservation Foundation's box set TREASURES III: Social Issues in American Film 1900-1934. It has so many highlights that it is hard to choose a favorite, although a Brooklyn-filmed traffic safety film aimed at children in which real children are actually hit by cars and run over by trolleys (in the name of education) is a contender.

>But the cynic I can be, I wonder if the immigrant stratus were aware of such institutions. Or if they could wait until their daughter was 16 to provide for the family.

Oh, yes, they knew. The film, in fact, goes out of its way to give the girls shown in it strong ethnically-linked names (Italian, Jewish...etc)to get the point across to audiences.

And, yes, they COULD wait. Because, as I said, an exceptionally skilled female worker could earn $20 a week in the same factory where an unskilled girl might bring home $5, if lucky. The immigrants "got it" perfectly well. Not every daughter or son in the family could be spared for higher education, and generally it was expected that the worker bees, for want of a better term, would labor NOW, so that the successful older sons and daughters could afford them the same opportunity later. And, at least in the Jewish and German Lutheran communities in NYC, more often than not the technique worked.

My college, CUNY, (which was/is right across the street from the high school in the film!) was founded in the 1840s with the purpose of giving a first class college education to tne deserving poor. Until 1974, CUNY was free, but had VERY rigid standards, and served as a gateway out of the slums for more than a century's worth of the ambitious poor. When I attended, starting in 1984, the tuition was $300 per semester.

I don't know how it worked in other cities, but the NYC public education system during the pre-WW1 era was, for all its flaws, quite remarkable. That the immigrants understood its value is meticulously documented. Perhaps the best testimony to it is that within one generation the great Jewish 'slums' of ca. 1907 had been replaced by the solidly upper middle class environs of Washington Heights, just as the German Lutheran slums of the late 19th century were in decline in 1904, as most of the residents made the jump into middle class and moved to the area around East 152nd Street in the Bronx.
 

Kris Muhvic

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Hello Jim-
Well, my education in NYC was at a Catholic (St. Hilda & St Hugh's) school back in the mid 1970's for a year! So my knowledge in that realm is obviously limited...though not my memory of Sister Mary Michaels!///SHIVER!///

The National Film Archives has a box#3 now?!? Whoohoo! I have 1 & 2, where the Ediphone reference came from. Wonderful stuff in those. I highly recommend to anyone.

Thank you for the above information. As always you have proven a great help to my sideline social historian self. Hope I don't bore you too much!
Yours-
Kris
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Well, my education in NYC was at a Catholic school

I used to be threatened with that, until the realisation that I was either Russian Orthodox or Missouri Synod Lutheran sank in, diffusing the threat.
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I think the National Film boxed sets have now reached #4. And, I think that the theme on #4 seemed a bit less promising than sets 1-3, so I've yet to invest in it.

But, #3, is definitely worth the money. The feature films included are:

The Godless Girl: A deMille potboiler, in which the school atheist flapper and the school good boy are shipped off to reform school after the death of a third character in a brawl. Oddly, for ca 1928, the film does not condemn atheism, but does condemn intolerance. And the entremely attractive male lead is subjected to all manner of fetishy degradation in the hell pit reform school, as Mr. subtext rears his head.

The Redskin: With technicolor segments. A likeable film with a message: assimilation into a society that doesn't really want one, or return to one's roots? The ending is more in keeping with 1970s Indian films than what one would expect from the dawn of the "How, paleface!" school of film making.

The Soul of Youth: For film buffs, a chance to see legendary murder victim William Desmond Taylor direct. And, direct he does...a foreshasdowing of the 1950s "Our Youths Are Going To Hell" juvenile delinquent and social workers film cycle.

Where Are My Children: A startling pro-birth control/ anti abortion film, written and directed by a woman, from 1916. Possibly the only film from the Pickford era you'll ever see in which a lead character has had so many abortions that she yawns with boredom and rifles through a magazine whiole sitting in the evil doctor's office.

Ramona: Mary Pickford. I haven't watched it. I'll never watch it.

Bracketing these films are shorts, dealing with everything from graft to terrorism to immigrant education and the delights of farm living. with the exception of Ramona, there really isn't a low point in the set.

FURTHER FILM BLATHER: Rita "Lusitania" Jolivet's 1915 de Mille film, The Unafraid, can now be found on one of those illegal/quasi-legal boxed sets manufactured in countries that do not recognize copyright laws. You know....the same source as all of those high-quality CDS with titles like "Dolly Parton: Her 500 Biggest Hits" which sell for less than an officially released CD, and generate no royalties at all for the artist.
 
May 27, 2007
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I used to be threatened with that, until the realisation that I was either Russian Orthodox or Missouri Synod Lutheran sank in, diffusing the threat.
Not Me, I'm a E.L.C.A which is a completely different Lutheran.
Where Are My Children: A startling pro-birth control/ anti abortion film, written and directed by a woman, from 1916. Possibly the only film from the Pickford era you'll ever see in which a lead character has had so many abortions that she yawns with boredom and rifles through a magazine whole sitting in the evil doctor's office.
Echos of your favorite celebrity.
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Interesting.... in that the film was directed by a Woman. Women played a bigger role in directing and producing film then is generally thought in the building of Hollywood.

Ramona: Mary Pickford. I haven't watched it. I'll never watch it.
Pity in that I believe this is one of her better early films Jim. A Rosita hidden.

Ramona was based on the novel "Ramona" a bestseller in 1884 by Helen Hunt Jackson about a half breed Indian Maiden. The one your talking about Jim is the 1910 version starring Mary Pickford and directed by D.W. Griffith. I'd watch the film to get the story and see a 1910 film. Although it's Griffith so get ready for his syrupy sentimentality.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramona_(1910_film)
Cut and past these links never work right.

The Soul of Youth: For film buffs, a chance to see legendary murder victim William Desmond Taylor direct. And, direct he does...a foreshadowing of the 1950s "Our Youths Are Going To Hell" juvenile delinquent and social workers film cycle.
He won some plaudits for directing that. I've heard Taylor being referred to as the Clint Eastwood of his day. I'd watch that as well.
 

Kris Muhvic

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Great stuff! Thank you-
Women directors-Alice Guy Blache of Solax fame (or obscurity?): "Falling Leaves" in #2. A 1912 film that got a bad rap in it's day for having a consumptive (TB) at home! In those days one with TB were supposed to be sent to a sanitarium. But many with the disease seemed to be around and about anyway, so I'm not too sure of the strictness.
"Where are my Children" 1916. I wonder if Margaret Sanger had anything to with that! But I think she was in exile at that time...forgive me I can't think of the exact timelines.
Thanks again for the review!
Kris
 

Jim Kalafus

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>"Where are my Children" 1916. I wonder if Margaret Sanger had anything to with that!

Probably not directly. The film is as dedicated to stamping out....Kallikaks....(congenital idiots)....as it is promoting birth control and eradicating abortion.

Eugenics, mercifully out of favor since the Holocaust, is the force in the film which drives the birth control plotline. The hero of the film is a district attorney whose sister has engaged in a 'eugenic' marriage and produced perfect spawn. The hero pines for eugenically perfect children, but his hot-for-1916 wife just can't seem to conceive. Turns out that she and all her high society friends engage in serial abortion. When she decides to make her husband happy and have a child, it turns out that her last abortion rendered her sterile. THEN, after the housekeeper's daughter, who appears to be too old to need to worry about birth control, dies after an abortion arranged by the wife, the DA has to prosecute the abortionist and discovers wifey's name listed about 600 times in the doctor's little black book. Denied a eugenically perfect family, he yells "Where are my children?" at her. The film ends with them a miserable old couple sitting alone in front of a fire. From the wife's POV, the adult ghosts of her aborted children emerge from the shadows and surround their father.

The film is very well sdone, and actually holds up as entertainment. But, the eugenics plotline has not aged well at all.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Where Are my Children 1916.

Good grief, Jim, who dreamt that one up?

Strikes me that from 1900 - 1930s, politicians, people, and movie-makers were in thrall to 'scientific' ideas that you can create perfect offspring physically, genetically-engineer society etc. At least, now, we should know you can't.

Especially since, I read only last week, human evolution is at a standstill since our medical interventions means that weaker ones, who should die, actually survive. So ... Stephen Hawking, and others like him ... survive. Hmmm. Can't help feeling there is something wrong with this argument!

I reckon the last thing we need is physically-perfect bozos who can get to the front of the food queue, kill everyone in their way etc. We need brains, whether they are in a wheelchair or not.

Of course, everyone who is disabled isn't a genius, any more than everyone who's physically perfect is an idiot. So we just have to do our best to help everyone.

Still, we're not now making films about this sort of propaganda ... or are we, Jim? You know better than me.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Good grief, Jim, who dreamt that one up?
I must say, having recently seen this film myself, it is eye-opening. I was once one of the blissfully unaware, rose-colored-glasses romantic types who pined for "the good old days". I still do to certain extent, but at least now I can temper it somewhat with the knowledge that all was not as it is often presented to us by good-intentioned, but hopelessly romantic historians.

Strikes me that from 1900 - 1930s, politicians, people, and movie-makers were in thrall to 'scientific' ideas that you can create perfect offspring physically, genetically-engineer society etc. At least, now, we should know you can't.
Or can we? Seems like every week I read something new in the news about this sort of thing. Scary stuff in my opinion. At least it's usually painted in the guise of eradicating diseases and such now that we've mapped human genetics.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Good grief, Jim, who dreamt that one up?<<

Somebody who was going with the fashionable psuedoscience of the day I suppose. While Margaret Sanger may come across as a hero to some, this isn't a universal sentiment as http://www.blackgenocide.org/negro.html and http://www.dianedew.com/sanger.htm shows. Ms. Sanger wasn't as interested in a woman's right to choose as some of us may think. She had a very different agenda.

If you want to know where the whole Eugenics movement came from, see http://personal.uncc.edu/jmarks/eugenics/eugenics.html and http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/html/eugenics/essay2text.html for starters and google up the rest. The filmmakers were latecoming advocates to the whole deal.
 
May 27, 2007
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Jim,
Whats the name of the film chronicling the evils of Syphilis I heard you mention. That film is the one I prefer. I remember the plot which is one where a guy goes to see a prostitute before his Marriage and ends up with syphilis which he gives to his new wife and then his Infant son is born with syphilis. The poor wet nurse gets syphilis from the baby. The funny thing is that the fellow meets up with the prostitute who had given him syphilis who's now a social reformer and clean of the disease who urges him to get treatment or something like that.

Jason S,

I still do to certain extent, but at least now I can temper it somewhat with the knowledge that all was not as it is often presented to us by good-intentioned, but hopelessly romantic historians.

Read enough crime books like I have growing up and you learn real quick that it wasn't the good ole' days. But I still pine for the good ole' days myself. You just got to know how to handle yourself like me.
 
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Well I have the answer to Where Are my Children 1916. 1917's Where Is My Abortionist Filmed when America has entered the war this film follows a young man with a limp trying to enlist but Uncle Sam don't want cripples so he ends up trying to get money for Medical School by performing abortions. Guy ended up making a lot of money by living near the Army Bases and following the soldiers out on a night on the town to the local Cat Houses. The aspiring Doctor waits a month and then goes back to the house and inquires is there are any working girls who need his services. A few always do. Uncle Sam doesn't like handing out condoms to the boys. Hence we have the next in a Film Series called Gonorrhoea City 1918.
 

Jim Kalafus

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For years we described going to work at the video store I managed as "STEPPING, AGAIN, INTO THE WALTZ OF THE KALLIKAKS."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kallikaks

I still say it was an apt description of that job.


Eugenics led to the widespread forced sterilization of 'undesirable' women. The theory being that if the low-IQ sector of the population could not reproduce, "imbecility" would die out through attrition.

The V.D. film I described was Damaged Goods. The American version is lost, the very tame U.K. remake survives.


>"Where Is My Abortionist?"

Great film idea, G.L.

I propose a twenty part serial called "Saltpeter Sally;" a comedy with serious overtones about a crusading nurse. Horrified by the rampant V.D. and unwed pregnancies following the armed forces, Sally visits Army encampments and doctors the food with her trademark additive. With erections impossible to achieve, there is PLENTY of time for Bible study, hymn singing, and wholesome manly hijinx.

In the first installment, Ramon Novarro and Billy Haines portray soldiers who are at first shocked and puzzled when they pick up harlots and....uhhh.... the plumbing seems to be out of order. However, Saltpeter Sally soon successfully convinces them that avoiding women isn't necessarily a bad thing. And, at the end they vow to avoid women at all costs and be morally upright representatives of the good ol' U.S. of A.
 
May 27, 2007
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>"Where Is My Abortionist?"

Great film idea, G.L.
I figured you'd get a kick out of it. Maybe Sally and and my Doctor could meet up and Sally gets in trouble. What will they do? Yep we could definitely get 20 episodes out of this kind of script material. As Katharine Hepburn said in Lions In Winter "Now there's a thought" echoes my sentiments exactly.
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Damaged Goods
Thanks Jim,

That is my favorite propaganda film. VD was out of control back then. Britain and France got condom packs in WWI but did we? No...! So that means that half the men who made it through the War were coming back to the States with the souvenir VD as a dangerous memento of their times over seas.