Sunday, June 26, 2016

INEZ | New Short Film on Her Life

L to R: Melanie Jones, Martha Wheelock,
Amy Simon and Maggie McCollester (2011).
From Wild West Women, Inc.
A new 15-minute documentary has been in the works, produced by Martha Wheelock and Wild West Women, Inc. of California in honor of the centennial of Inez Milholland's death. There is a web site for the film at

I am told that 10,000 free DVDs of the documentary will be distributed throughout the United States, paid for by money raised by a  kickstarting fundraiser.

That is good news. Inez Milholland's story needs to be told. It helps provide a motivation for women to vote when the challenges faced by the woman suffrage movement are understood.

At least two other movies have been produced recently with suffrage themes – Iron-Jawed Angels, told from the perspective of Alice Paul, and Suffragette, about Emily Davison and her death under the hooves of the king's horse at Epsom–apparently she did not intend to be a suicidal martyr but was trying to attach a suffragist scarf to the horse.

Inez was the only martyr in the U.S. suffrage movement. She gave her life "like a soldier on the battlefield" (in the words of fellow National Woman's Party activist Maud Younger of California) pursuing a constitutional amendment recognizing the right of women to vote. After her death other suffragettes (as they called themselves), including Inez's sister Vida and labor leader Dorothy Day,  risked their lives in a hunger strike in 1917 at the Lorton, Va. workhouse for women.

As Inez Milholland's great-nephew (my mother's Eugen Boissevain married her in 1913 and helped lead the Men's League for Woman Suffrage), I worked for many years on a play about Inez Milholland Boissevain that I hoped would be used in schools.

The first three productions in New York City Hall (1995, 2000) and Rochester (1998) showed Inez's contribution in the sweep of the woman suffrage movement:
  • The New York City productions in 1995 and 2000, celebrating the 75th and 80th anniversaries of the ratification of the 19th amendment, were staged readings at NYC's City Hall, in the Blue Room that Mayor Bloomberg converted into his open office. 
  • The Rochester production at the Geva Theater was a staged reading in costume with a gospel choir and folk music. It was the largest women suffrage event in the country, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention. At the end the 550 people attending gave it a standing ovation. It was written up in The New York Times.
A half-hour edit of the original one-hour script of the play is posted here. It has been revised since then.

I will report on the new documentary by Wild West Women when I get a copy of the DVD or someone posts it on You Tube.

Related Posts

Inez Milholland—Her Engagement to Marconi

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