Library of Congress Archivist Presents at Peterboro Women’s History Weekend

Mother Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822-1911) and daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller (1856-1912).

With attention to the “ballots” segment of the Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade Women’s History Weekend in Peterboro at 3 pm on Saturday, Sept. 23, Rosemary Plakas will present a PowerPoint on the collection of suffrage scrapbooks in the Library of Congress. The weekend is an expanded annual celebration of the birthday of Elizabeth Smith Miller (Sept. 20, 1822) whose recent biography Ballots Bloomers and Marmalade (2016) relates her life story as the daughter of Gerrit and Ann Smith to her later life at Lochland in Geneva from 1869 until her death in 1911.

Between 1897 and 1911 Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller (1856-1912) filled seven large scrapbooks with ephemera and memorabilia related to women’s suffrage. The Miller scrapbooks are a part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress. The mother-daughter team preserved programs, newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, pins, and ribbons tracing the activities of the Geneva Political Equality Club.

Anne Miller founded the Equality Club in 1897. Ten years later the club was the largest in New York state. Harriet May Mills convinced the Millers to hold the NYS annual suffrage meeting in Geneva. The Millers brought national and international suffrage activists to Geneva each year to speak to the Equality Club, including Emmeline Pankhurst from England. (Pankhurst was played by Meryl Streep in the movie The Suffragette.)

Rosemary Fry Plakas is retired as the American History Specialist/Curator of Rare Americana, in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress. Her responsibilities there included collection development and digitization, conservation and bibliographic control recommendation, and interpretation of rare collections through presentations, publications, and
exhibitions. She has a BA from Park University in Missouri and an MA in American Studies from the University of Wyoming. Since her beginning at LOC in 1985, Plakas concentrated on developing the Library’s African American and women's history collections. She completed the Miller scrapbook
project not long before her retirement. Plakas returns to Peterboro in 2017, after other visits in the
past, as well as a generous hosting of Peterboro people in D.C. at the library.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s campaign for women’s right to the ballot will be remembered at the Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade weekend by the reenactment of Stanton by Melinda Grube PhD at 2 pm following the Bloomer Tea. Dr. Grube is an adjunct lecturer in history at Cayuga Community College in Auburn. Her research focuses on the intersections of human rights activism and the dynamic religious and intellectual diversity of the “Burned Over District” of NY. A descendant of a Seneca Falls abolitionist family, she fell in love with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park as a child and now frequently performs in costume as Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Suzanne B. Spring PhD opens Sunday, Sept. 24, presentations at 10:30 with Before the Beginning: Abolition and the Women’s Rights Movement referring to Angelina Grimké as she explains the progress of equity for women. Spring is Senior Lecturer in Writing and Rhetoric and Academic Director of the Office of Undergraduate Studies at Colgate University., and a former member of the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum who Co-Chaired the Ongoing Abolition Committee.

At 12:30 Sunday the 24th during a panel presentation, Ann Jones, Deputy Madison County Board of Elections Commissioner at the Madison County Board of Elections will encourage voter registration, voting, and elections, and report on the current status of the women’s ballot.

Registration for the event is at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro, N.Y. 13134. This project is made possible, in part, with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature and administered by CNY Arts, and sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant. Participants are encouraged to wear 19th-century bloomers or suffrage outfits.

Reservations for the Peterboro Women’s History Weekend are due Sept. 15. The Game of Life and The Rest of The Story of the Suffrage Movement are free. The public is encouraged to attend. For updates, information and registration forms, visit, call 315.280.8828, visit or write SCA, P.O. Box 6, Peterboro, N.Y. 13134.

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