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INDEPENDENT WOMEN

A Woman of Means: Jane Addams & Ellen Gates Starr – An Illinois resident, Jane Addams grew up in Illinois with all of life's pristine comforts, and yet, she decided on a career of walking through slums to help the less fortunate. Jane made good use of her talents of persuaion, caring and diplomacy as she tirelessly worked to support the many underprivileged people in the Halsted Street community. Jane & Ellen's tireless development of the Chicago settlement, Hull House, has become legendary. Jane was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a prolific writer and the program inorporates Jane's own words to present a view of Jane not only as a staid social reformer, but also as a woman with heartfelt concerns, fears and stong political views.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are two of the most well-known names of the many women who struggled for over 50 years to secure the right to vote. These two women endured malicious rumors and gossip and were continually defeated when trying to get voting rights passed. The two women complimented each other in their strengths and weaknesses, but neither was able to see women get the right to vote in their lifetime. This one act play features two actresses depicting both the public and private moments in the lives of these pioneering women.

Sarah Josepha Hale was the Martha Stewart of her day. She didn’t have the luxury of television, but she did have a magazine called Godey’s Lady’s Book. During the nineteenth century the Lady’s Book was known as the “Victorian Bible of the Parlor.” Besides being editor of the magazine for 50 years she is also considered the mother of Thanksgiving. She campaigned for a day of thanksgiving in her magazine until President Lincoln made it official.

Nellie Bly – Bly was a pioneer in the field of journalism, launching a new kind of investigative journalism. It was improper at the time for women to write using their real names so Elizabeth Jane Cochran wrote under a pseudonym (Nellie Bly) when she interviewed women for an article on divorce that argued for reform of marriage and divorce laws. In 1888 Bly faked insanity to spend ten days posing as a patient in a mental hospital in New York City to gather information about the treatment of the patients. She is known for chronicling her record-breaking trip around the world in the book, Around the World in 72 Days.

Belle Boyd declared her allegiance to the Confederacy early in the Civil War even though she lived in a Union stronghold. By delivering information across enemy lines she was instrumental in changing the outcome of some early Civil War battles. She was captured, spent time in jail (more than once) and went on to write her memoirs. Later in life, she became an actress and traveled in England and the United States. She died on a speaking tour of the Midwest and she is buried in Wisconsin.