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Paperback Book Details
  • 12/2019
  • 9780648684800
  • 402 pages
  • $19.95
Clara Colby: The International Suffragist
Clara Colby was born in England, graduated as valedictorian of the first woman’s class at the University of Wisconsin, and became a writer, publisher, teacher, public speaker, and friend of many leading figures of her day. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the founders of the suffrage movement in America, became Clara Colby’s mentors. Her journey is an epic saga of untiring and heroic endeavor, sometimes under the most adverse circumstances, across the United States, and her native England. She suffered great injustice, but she never complained, and her accomplishments contributed significantly to the successful introduction of the Nineteenth Amendment.
Reviews
Holliday (Mission to China) chronicles the life of little-known Midwestern suffragist Clara Bewick Colby in this scholarly but eminently readable biography. Born in England, fiercely smart and ambitious Clara Bewick came to the U.S. as a child. After studying law, civics and literature, she graduated as valedictorian of her class at the University of Wisconsin in 1869 and hastily married Civil War veteran Leonard Wright Colby. The pair moved to Beatrice, Neb., where Colby founded the town’s first library and later became a suffrage activist alongside such historical luminaries as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Holliday’s painstaking research brings Colby to life from dry, dusty history pages, piecing together her story and its context from letters, newspapers accounts, and her personal papers. He respectfully yet comprehensively chronicles Colby’s personal challenges—including raising two adopted children, Zintka, an infant survivor of the Battle of Wounded Knee, and Clarence, an intellectually disabled 11-year-old, as well as learning that her husband fathered at least one illegitimate child—and painstakingly celebrates her triumphs, as well as the victories of a nascent movement for women’s rights. Colby was the first woman in the United States to receive a war correspondent’s pass (as founder and editor of the Woman’s Tribune), and participated in the 20th-century precursor to the modern-day Women’s March, held in London in 1911. Sadly, Colby died four years before women finally gained the right to vote, and emotionally invested readers will feel a pang at the knowledge that she never saw her movement’s success.

Colby isn’t as well known as Anthony and Cady Stanton, but Holliday’s biography may well change that. Impeccably and lovingly researched and punctuated with firsthand sources and historical photos, this work is ideal for anyone wanting to take a deep dive into the women’s suffrage movement.

Takeaway: Historians and feminists alike will relish this robust biography of a little known suffragist who played a major role in helping women get the power to vote.

Great for fans of Ida Husted Harper’s The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler’s The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 12/2019
  • 9780648684800
  • 402 pages
  • $19.95

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