Outrageous and Courageous: CT Women and the Fight for Suffrage


Tracey Wilson to lecture at Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum on Thursday, March 26, 2015, at 6:30 p.m., in honor of Women’s History Month.


Wethersfield, Conn. (February 18, 2015)— In 1918, Edna Purtell of West Hartford was arrested four times–in one day– in Washington D.C. , while demonstrating for woman’s right to vote. That, and for climbing Lafayette’s statue crying “Lafayette, we are here!” Purportedly, a prison guard broke two of Purtell’s fingers when she refused to remove her green, purple-and-white-suffragist sash while in jail. According to historian Tracey Wilson, the history of woman’s suffrage in the Nutmeg State is filled with interesting women, ranging from the young Purtell to Katharine Houghton Hepburn (mother of the actress). Wilson will discuss Connecticut’s most fascinating suffragists in the Webb Barn at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum on Thursday, March 26, 2015, at 6:30 p.m., in honor of Women’s History Month. The free lecture is preceded by a wine reception, by donation, at 6:00 p.m.

Ninety-five years after ratification of the 19th Amendment, contemporary women may not be aware that their gender was far from united in their approach to gaining the right to vote. Wilson will demonstrate how the woman’s movement in Connecticut took many forms: the movement split, rejoined and split again.

During her presentation, Wilson will explain the two main arguments in the justification for suffrage. One view was that women were different from men–more moral, caring and likely to vote based on social issues–and they could clean up the political process. The second popularly held opinion was that women were the same as men, and suffrage was a fight for justice.

Wilson’s presentation, which includes some powerful images, will demonstrate that Connecticut women built a movement that brought them into public spaces in a way that became a turning point for their gender.

Tracey Wilson, Ph.D., is a veteran history teacher at Conard High School in West Hartford. She received a master’s degree in history from Trinity College, and a doctorate in U.S. history from Brown University. She researched the Connecticut woman’s suffrage movement at the master’s level, and studied working women at Colt and Travelers Insurance Company for her doctoral dissertation. She enjoys local history, and volunteers as West Hartford’s Town Historian. She also writes a regular local history column for West Hartford Life.

About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum

Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum provides the quintessential New England experience – from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. Tours include the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where General George Washington met with French General Rochambeau and planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War, the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France, and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts Connecticut life in the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information visit webb-deane-stevens.org or call (860) 529-0612. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/WDSMUSEUM.



Charles Lyle, Executive Director
(860) 529-0612, ext., 14, [email protected]

Julie Winkel, Media Specialist
(203) 815-0800, [email protected]