Big Top Suffragists

Circus quilts were popular for kids through the 20th century.  There's a wide variety of them that you can look at online.

During the early twentieth century, the circus was one of the most exciting events that occurred in a community.  A friend's father, who is nearly 100 years old, has talked about when the circus came to town.  Children were given time off from school so they could see the circus parade as the performers and animals traveled from the train depot to the location where the tent was set up.   

Along this route, the animals and circus folk performed as they traveled. They regaled the audience and drummed up free publicity. 


For many communities this was the only opportunity to see exotic animals and daredevil feats.


In 1912, a new group of women joined the ranks of the suffragists--the women performers of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

"The circus women live in a little world of their own, " said Miss DeMott the president of the circus women's suffrage association, "roaming all over this country, and sometimes the world...We discuss the laws of the different States we visit.  From these debates we feel sure there is no other who needs the franchise more than ourselves.  And there is no class of women who could be of more assistance to the cause than we women, who are constantly travelling."


DeMott went on,  "there is no class of women who show better that they have a right ot vote than the circus women, who twice a day prove that they have the courage and endurance of men...We are all part of a great sisterhood, and that is what suffrage is."

The formation of the group was widely publicized in the United States and Canada.  There was even a baby giraffe named by the women, "Miss Suffrage."
Equally publicized was the reaction of the one of the men of the circus, a Mr. Seabert who stormed into one meeting and insisted his wife leave the meeting.  When the other circus suffragists booed him he retorted he "wouldn't have my wife participating in this nonsense...and I'm not going to wait all night for my grub."

Miss DeMott asked another performer, Katie Sandwina, "what would you do if your husband came here and ordered you away?"

"I'd put him out," replied Sandwina calmly. 

Katie Sandwina was the strong woman of the circus.






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