Ella Buchanan: 100 Years Ago

The SuffragistElla 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.”

See: “Western Woman Symbolizes the ‘Cause,’ ” Sault  Ste. Marie Evening News, October 20, 1911.


5 responses to “Ella Buchanan: 100 Years Ago

  1. Thank you for posting this. I was researching an illustration from an old book that had this sculpture on the cover, trying to figure out who did it. Without your blog, I might have come up empty.

    • Thanks! If you post your research let me know–I’d be happy to include a link to it. Best of luck. -Carolyn

    • Do you by chance have a link to that illustration? I am trying to reproduce a pennant with that image on it.

      • The History Detectives (PBS) website has versions of this image. They may perhaps be able to provide you with more sources. Unfortunately the link I used to find this image, vintagepostcards.com, is no longer working. Let me know what you find!

  2. Also– the NY suffrage movement used that image on their banners and I identified the banner as an expert on nyc suffrage– on the PBS show “History Detectives..” eager to know more about her…thx

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