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Recently Discovered Suffragist Documents Shed New Light on Movement

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The University of Rochester just acquired newly unearthed documents that may add valuable insight on the U.S. suffragist movement.

The New York Times reported that the university acquired a box of “letters, speeches, petitions, photographs and pamphlets” from 1869 to 1880 that had belonged to Isabella Beecher Hooker, the half-sister of prominent abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe. According to the Times, the documents — which include 26 letters from Susan B. Anthony and 10 from Elizabeth Cady Stanton — could shed light on just how important local activists were in the fight for the women’s right to vote.

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“We don’t pay enough attention to what a local movement this was,” Ann Gordon, the editor of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers Project, told the Times. “We’ve warped the story by only knowing the names of the national leaders.”

The documents were rediscovered last year when Connecticut couple Elizabeth and George Merrow cleaned out old books and papers including some from Hooker’s old house, which had been bought by Merrow’s grandfather. They later sent the materials to rare book and manuscript dealer Adrienne Horowitz Kitts, who realized their historical significance. “It really shows you what these women went through,” Kitts told the Times. “They really busted their butts for us.”

[The New York Times]

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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com