Ella Buchanan grew up in Springfield, Illinois and Pittsburgh, Kansas, where her father was a newspaper editor. She attended the Chicago Art Institute and became a sculptor whose themes included social issues such as slavery, women’s rights, poverty, and early settlement of the California frontier. Among her works were “The Young Lincoln” (1927), “The Spirit of the West Going Forward” (1917) , and “Navaho Indian and Zuni Girl” (1931). In 1938, her smaller-scale sculptures of cowboys, Indians and soldiers toured California as part of the WPA Federal Art Exhibition.
Shown is a postcard of Buchanan’s most well-known sculpture, the heavily allegorical “The Suffragist Trying to Arouse Her Sisters” (1911). This sculpture was widely reproduced in small scale, and on posters, banners, and cards in the final decade of the American womens’ suffrage movement. The caption states: “Central figure-Suffragist. To right – Vanity at her feet lies Prostitution. To left is dozing Conventionality. Behind Conventionality is Wage-earner.”