November 2, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marti Hobbes, firstname.lastname@example.org
STANTON SPEECH HAS RENEWED
Nov. 11 Public Reading at Smith to Feature Varied Voices,
From Northampton Mayor to Teen Leader
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-In January 1892,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivered the most important speech of
her storied life.
Stanton, a legendary suffragist, pre-eminent 19th-century feminist
thinker and organizer and one of the most influential voices
in American history, gave the speech, titled "Solitude of
Self," before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary,
the Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage and the National American
Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1915, 13 years after Stanton's death, the U.S. Congress reprinted
the speech from the Congressional Record and mailed out 10,000
copies worldwide. Stanton believed that the speech was the grandest
achievement of her life.
On Sunday, Nov. 11, the Sophia Smith Collection (SSC) at Smith
College will join Paris Press in sponsoring "A Tribute to
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 'Solitude of Self.'" The tribute
will take place at 3 p.m. in the Neilson Library Browsing Room.
It is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
The event will feature a reading of "Solitude of Self"
by six women, including Mary Claire Higgins, Mayor of Northampton;
Susan Bourque, provost and dean of the faculty at Smith; Phyllis
Curtin, a world-renowned soprano and dean emerita of Boston University
School for the Arts; and Jessica Walker, a senior at Holyoke
High School and member of Girls Inc. of Holyoke, Mass.
Following the reading, the women will discuss how Stanton's speech
addresses their own interests and experiences.
Then a celebration, complete with cake, will honor Stanton's
186th birthday. She was born on November 12, 1815.
Paris Press, based in Ashfield, Mass., is a young nonprofit literary
press that publishes the work of neglected and misrepresented
women writers. The press recently published "Solitude of
Self" in its entirety, the only available stand-alone publication
of the speech. Copies of the book will be sold at the event.
"To guide our own craft,"
says Stanton in the speech, "we must be captain, pilot,
engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to watch
the winds and waves and know when to take in the sail, and to
read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether
the solitary voyager is man or woman. Nature, having endowed
them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in
the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike
they perish. To appreciate the importance of fitting every human
soul for independent action, think for a moment of the immeasurable
solitude of self."
Of "Solitude of Self," fellow suffragist and women's
rights advocate Susan B. Anthony wrote, "This is pronounced
the strongest and most unanswerable argument and appeal ever
made of mortal pen and tongue-for the full freedom and franchise
"It's an inspiring speech," says Sherrill Redmon, head
of Smith's SSC, "and it's appropriate for our times. "I
am astonished by how directly and wisely these words penned a
century ago speak to our current troubled times."
The Sophia Smith Collection holds more than 100 letters, photographs,
writings, news clippings and other items related to Stanton.
"Elizabeth Cady Stanton is still underknown and underappreciated,"
believes Redmon. Despite the tireless work Stanton did alongside
Susan B. Anthony and others for women's rights and suffrage,
Anthony gets the bulk of historical attention, Redmon says. "Stanton
was a wonderful writer and an original thinker. Her analysis
of the barriers to gender equality in her last years was far
ahead of its time."