Thank You Thursdays: A Heroine Written out of History

Check out this awesome guest post by my former intern and good friend, Krystie Yandoli. She’s currently a first year at Syracuse University and a Women’s Studies major (who-hoo!).
Too often, the winners write history. Unfortunately even the women’s rights movement is tainted with this reality–important people get shoved aside when it comes down to who receives credit and becomes a part of the history books. Matilda Joslyn Gage is a victim of this, but as far as I’m concerned she’s going to make a comeback.
Gage was one of the original suffragists in the 1800’s fighting for her and every other female’s full citizenship and right to vote. She was a part of the unstoppable friendship trio that consisted of her, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. The latter may sound most familiar, and evidence shows this is because of Gage’s two “buddies” pushing her out of history.
Gage’s relevance to this part of American History is imperative. The women’s rights movement would have fared very differently without her contributions to significant moments like writing and presenting “The Women’s Declaration,” advocating for a more equal dress code, and her famous speech at the 1852 convention after Seneca Falls.
The beginning of the end of Gage’s close involvement with Stanton and Anthony was a financial crisis that inevitably led to the demise of their friendship. For economical purposes, Anthony joined forces with another group of women fighting for the vote. (Shocker, money played a role in destroying friendships and noble causes.) Gage did not support this because once they obtained the vote, members of this group wanted to diminish the goals of the women’s rights movement.

The beauty (and horror) of history, however, is you can’t hide from it forever. Sally Roesch Wagner, resident of Fayetteville, New York, discovered the truth about Gage’s involvement in the women’s suffrage movement by accident. Through a family friend she was able to uncover old documents and personal letters of Matilda Joslyn Gage. After writing three books and creating the Gage Foundation she was given the opportunity to teach an Honors class at Syracuse University strictly about Matilda Joslyn Gage in relation to the history of the suffrage movement.
The transfer of knowledge is a beautiful thing. The students of Sally’s class, myself included, are now responsible to spread the word about Gage’s absence in history. As an aspiring writer I wanted to honor Gage by telling her story in as many forums I possibly can. After all, she did her fair share of writing for publications in San Francisco, New York, Fayetteville, and Syracuse.
Thank you, Ms. Gage, for working your butt off to accomplish women’s suffrage without receiving any of the credit (or being a drama queen about it). Hopefully your place in history will be restored with the help of feminists today.
To find out more about Gage and her fascinating history check out her foundation and books authored by Sally Roesch Wagner.

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