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Susan B. Anthony to Laura C. Holloway

Dec 15, 2011 2:44 PM | 1 comment

In its general look and feel the library's web site may not appear to have changed much in the past week,  but under that smooth surface design, a small revolution has taken place: a new content management system will allow Brooklyn Collection staff to effect changes to our web page instead of having it done at one remove. So, here is our first photo of the week--just in case you missed our article on Brooklyn's one and only full matador.  And even more exciting, here are the finding aids we have deemed good enough to share. And now that we have a simple way to share them, more will follow quickly on their heels, for our shelves positively groan with manuscript and archive collections large and small in various states of arrangement and description.

Here is one, for example, that is not yet included in our list. The Holloway Letters (1868-1926) consist of 67 letters addressed to Laura C. Holloway (later Laura C. Holloway Langford). The bulk of the letters pertain to Holloway's best-selling book, "Ladies of the White House", while others have to do with her tenure as an associate editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Most notably, the collection contains eleven letters written by Susan B. Anthony, who dedicated her life to woman's suffrage.

Dated between 1881 and 1889, the letters show evidence of a warm friendship and a lively involvement with social concerns of the day. Most intriguing is the discovery of Holloway's attempt to bring Anthony--a figure of national renown--to Brooklyn for a luncheon meeting of the Seidl Society, an institution founded by Holloway in 1889 "for the purpose of securing to its members and the public increased musical culture and of promoting musical interest among women particularly. It aims to reach all classes of women and children and by its efforts in their behalf to prove the potent influence of harmony over individual life and character."

Anton Seidl, after whom the association was named, was a conductor who took an active role in bringing the works of Wagner to audiences in New York--and Brooklyn. According to Joseph Horowitz, (in Cultivating Music in America) "During the summer of 1889...several thousand working girls and poor or orphaned children visited the Coney Island seashore and concerts at the society's expense. The group also organized lectures, lunches, dinners and receptions. It taught its members to sing. And it aspired to build a Wagner opera house in Brooklyn to house a permanent Wagner festival, an American Bayreuth."

Anthony gracefully declined the invitation, suggesting Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a substitute.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (l.) and Susan B. Anthony
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Rochester N.Y., July 7 1889

My Dear Friend

Your two telegrams are before me--and much as I would love to say "yes" and be with you next Friday the 12th inst. I have to deny myself the pleasure--1st because I am but just settled into being lazy at home--and 2nd because that very day I am expecting the arrival of my brother D.R.'s only surviving daughter--and 3d because my purse groans with emptiness from too many such acceptances already...

Our Grand Commander in Chief Elizabeth Cady Stanton is at Hempstead Long Island--why do you not (illegible) upon her--she is so very near to you and always can say just the beautiful word in the most beautiful way..."

Rochester NY Jul 10th 1889

My Dear Friend Laura C. Holloway

Ever since I said "no" to your most kind and flattering invitation to be the guest of your "Seidl" Club at Brighton heart has smote me right and left...

Rochester NY Jul 11, 1889

My Dear Friend

Your card is just here--I am more than delighted that Mrs Stanton is to be the guest of your club on the 12th tomorrow--and hope the skies will be kind and all the very best forces will possess her head and heart, so that every person who sees and hears her at some lunch--will be connected to woman's need to possess the right of suffrage as a fulcrum on which to plant her lever to move the world to higher and truer living....

Lovingly and gratefully

Susan B. Anthony

Brooklyn did not become the American Bayreuth, but women did finally get the vote; and thanks to the Holloway letters, we know that a meeting of the Seidl Society in Brooklyn on July 12 1889 (attended by 300 people, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle report) was one of the thousands of occasions on which stirring words were spoken and hearts were moved. 



12/21/2011 8:07:12 PM #

I happened to be reading the Eagle for Sunday December 30th, 1900, this afternoon. In that issue they had a whole slew of "experts" give their predictions for the new century. One of whom was Susan B.:

It's good reading, some were spot on, about advertising gaining importance, and automobiles and "airships" becoming the most important modes of transportation. Not so sure about liquid air though... Wink