2017 book entitled "Mary Jane Whiteley Coggeshall, Hicksite Quaker, Iowa/National Suffragette and Her Speeches

This past week, on a program sponsored by the OnLine Book Club, the MJC book was the "Book of the Day" on July 6.  With a ranking of 4/4 from a review by the OnLine Book Club, 45 out of 49 who read a PDF copy on Amazon liked the book on Facebook.  The next day on July 7, the OnLine Book Club conducted a "First Ten Focus Group" review.  The participants were given the first ten pages of the book from a PDF version on Amazon, and were asked whether they would buy the book or not.  Out of 41 response, 6 would buy and read the whole book for a score of 15%.  The Club stated, "Any score over 10% is considered very good.  And any score above 0% is acceptable.”

Unfortunately, on the MJC book page on Amazon is only one customer rating (5 out of 5).  When I do a search under "Woman Suffrage" on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the MJC book does not appear.  If you think this book deserves more attention, would you give the book a rating or write a review?  I am pushing this at this centennial year of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote in the federal election.

Here is the text on the book's page on Amazon:

Mary Jane Whiteley Coggeshall was born in 1836 on a farm near Milton, Indiana to parents who were members of a branch of the Society of Friends called Hicksites.  She was destined become a nationally known suffragette and join other prominent Hicksite Quaker suffragettes including colleagues Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott and, after Coggeshall’s death in 1911, Alice Paul. 

 Why Hicksite Quakers led the movement was explained in the Foreword by Thomas D. Hamm, Professor of History at Earlham College, with this quote, “One of the peculiarities that distinguished Friends from the beginning was their embrace of public roles for women.  Almost alone among their contemporaries, Quakers believed that women had as much right as men to be ministers, to preach and pray publicly.  Quaker business affairs were conducted by parallel structures at all levels of men and women.”

 With her husband and son, she moved from Milton to Des Moines, Iowa in 1865 where she became actively involved in the woman suffrage movement beginning in 1870 for 41 years.  After extensive efforts to promote woman suffrage in Iowa, she extended her reach nationally becoming a member of the board of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1895.

 Coggeshall was a skilled orator.  Suffragette Alice Stone Blackwell testified that she had seen Mary Jane again and again at national meetings “keep the great assembly in one continuous gale of laughter all through her speech.”  The book contains 19 of her speeches, 18 of which were obtained in a CD in her handwriting from her archives at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University.

 Another feature of the book is Coggeshall’s empirical orientation.  In 1882, as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Iowa Suffrage Society, she wrote a brief letter to the editor of 155 newspapers enquiring whether the editor would “advocate or allow to be advocated an amendment to the Iowa state constitution giving all citizens equal rights and privileges regardless of sex.”  The tabulation: (1) Yes – 105, (2) Neutral – 24, (3) No –26.  Of special interest in the book is why 26 editors responded with a “No.”   

Noted suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt called her “The Mother of Woman Suffrage in Iowa” and “my greatest inspiration.”  In 1990, she was inducted, posthumously, into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame as “The Mother of Woman Suffrage in Iowa.”

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