This Puck cartoon was published in April 1901, the month before the Pan-American Exposition opened in Buffalo. John Bull, a personification of Great Britain, and Uncle Sam walk a group of world leaders through “a chamber of female horrors.” Featured in the exhibition are a number of famous women in history. In 1901, the suffrage movement was gaining momentum and increased coverage in the press. Only the year before Carrie Chapman Catt founded the International Woman Suffrage Association. Her predecessor in the movement, Susan B. Anthony, is one of the women featured in the cartoon on a pedestal, along with her collaborator Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Other women mentioned specifically by name are Dr. Mary Walker, Belva Lockwood, Mrs. Eddy Christian Scientist, and Carrie Nation of Kansas. During the Civil War, Dr. Walker became the first female surgeon in the US Army. After the war, Walker toured in support of women’s rights. She also developed the idea of using a return postcard for registered mail.
In the 1870s, Belva Lockwood opened a law office even before she was officially admitted to the Washington, DC bar. According to the National Archives, “From 1875 to 1885, Belva represented at least 69 criminal defendants in this [Supreme] court. They were charged with virtually every category of crime from mail fraud and forgery to burglary and murder.”
Mary Baker Eddy founded the First Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879. Her advocacy work and public presentations focused on approaches to healing. In 1862, Eddy visited a healer named Phineas Quimby in Maine. She grew fascinated by healing through mental suggestion and therapeutic touch.
In the cartoon, Carrie Nation is prominently depicted with her ax. In the temperance movement, an essential part of the suffrage movement, Nation was noted for attacking locations that served alcohol. This would make for especially dramatic press coverage.
The cartoon also incorporates two groups that celebrated women’s history and genealogy: the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames. Mrs. Faith Healer, Woman Evangelist, and Mrs. Lease also represent other popular stereotypes of this time period.
Susan B. Anthony: Celebrating “A Heroic Life.” Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. University of Rochester. http://www.lib.rochester.edu/index.cfm?PAGE=4118.
John Bull. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bull.
Mary Baker Eddy. http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/mary-baker-eddy/achievements.
Mary Edwards Walker: Civil War Doctor. http://www.northnet.org/stlawrenceaauw/walker.htm.
Carrie Nation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_Nation.
Society of Daughters of Holland Dames. http://www.hollanddames.org/.
A suggestion to the Buffalo Exposition; - Let us have a chamber of female horrors, 1901. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection.