Saturday, January 28, 2017

MILLAY | One of Top 5 Authors in 1936

Edna St. Vincent Millay
In 1936, readers of the quarterly for book collectors, The Colophon, picked the authors whose works they believed would be considered classics in the year 2000.

Sinclair Lewis, author of the 1935 hit It Can’t Happen Here, was #1. 

Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature, five years earlier. 

Millay (who married Inez Milholland's widower, Eugen Boissevain) ranked #4. 

Here are the top five, in order: Sinclair LewisWilla CatherEugene O’NeillEdna St. Vincent MillayRobert Frost. 

Sinclair Lewis's 1935 book is being rediscovered today. Reality has caught up with this forecast.

Monday, January 23, 2017

INEZ | What would she do? Write to the President?

If Inez Milholland Boissevain were alive today (she would be 130 years old), what would she recommend that organizers of The Women's March do now?

What They Did Then

Inez was pretty aggressive.

She was on the radical end (she pushed Alice Paul to let a black sorority participation in the 1913 "Procession" that she headed up on her horse) of the radical offshoot (what became the National Woman's Party) of the established women's group (the National American Woman Suffrage Association).

What they did in 1917, about seven weeks after Inez died, was to picket the White House, six days a week, until public opinion changed (especially after the DC police jailed women who were force-fed in prison).

Then Wilson changed his mind, supported a Federal Amendment giving women the vote. The 19th Amendment became law in 1920.


I am pretty sure that Inez would be in the face of the President.

Diana Chapman Walsh, former President of Wellesley (and Wellesley '66 classmate of my wife Alice), has suggested a way to be in the President's face without everyone making another trip to Washington. 

She suggests that everyone who reads this send in Tuesday's mail a very simple hand-written message to President Trump regarding the preservation of the Affordable Care Act. She suggests the following short letter. Written letters to the President must be opened, read and tallied. If everyone responds, it will create a mountain of mail and create a visually undeniable citizens' demand.

President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, D.C. 20500
“Don’t make America sick again. Improve Obamacare. Don’t repeal it.”

If 53 million pieces of mail go out that will mean about $25 million worth of postage stamps sold, which will help the solvency of the USPS.

I have done it and so has Alice.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

INEZ | Fund-Raiser for Socialists, 1910-1922

Art Young (1866-1943)
I have just been reading Art Young's long and interesting first (1928) autobiography, My Life and Times, available online ( – the download is slow because the file is large).

It reveals the important and inadequately remembered role that Inez Milholland, daughter and then wife of business entrepreneurs, played as a go-between for the funding of socialist publications in the 1910-1916 period.

Her fundraising continued until her death in 1916 and her influence continued thereafter through her widower Eugen Boissevain, who after her death became highly successful, with two of his five brothers, importing coffee from Java in what was then the Dutch East Indies.

The socialist publications in the 1911-1922 period coincided with the creation of the traditions and energy that emanated for the rest of the century from Greenwich Village.

These traditions were also wrapped up with the energy of New York University. Inez Milholland attended NYU Law School – and thereby became part of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company strike in 1909 and a witness to the fire in 1911 – because her application to Harvard Law School was rejected. The Harvard Law School faculty decided she could do the work, but the administration did not admit women for another four decades–not until 1950.

1. The Masses, 1911-17

Art Young shows how The Masses got started with a $2,000 contribution (equal to about $50,000 today) from Alva Belmont, whose support was enlisted by Inez. Max Eastman hadn't thought of approaching her, because he knew that Alva wasn't  a socialist. But Inez knew that she was a supporter of suffragist causes and correctly perceived that she would be open to supporting other issues if properly presented. (See Young, previously cited 1928 Autobiography, p. 297.)

Inez explained to him that Alva was a "militant" – which would be enough for her to want to enable militancy of other kinds.

Alva's gift was quickly matched by $1,000 from popular novelist John Fox and then another $2,000 from civil rights lawyer Amos Pinchot. That was sufficient to get the magazine under way. Belmont made subsequent contributions.

The magazine was ended when Woodrow Wilson's Postmaster General invoked wartime laws against sedition and refused to mail it. The magazine was succeeded by another one led by Max Eastman, The Liberator, and later by The New Masses.

2. Good Morning, 1919-22

Cartoonist Art Young, a mainstay of The Masses, created his own magazine in 1919. He needed $4,500 to get it going, and received $1,000 of it (equal to about $25,000 today according to the BLS inflation calculator) from Inez's widower Eugen Boissevain. Eugen asked Art: "Are you sure this is enough?" (See his previously cited 1928 autobiography, p. 356.)

Art's magazine competed with Max Eastman's new magazine The Liberator. It only lasted three years. The value of these magazines is that they show an alternative point of view to the prevailing mood of capitalist acquisitiveness that lasted until FDR's election in 1932.

3. John Reed's Trip to Russia

Eugen Boissevain is credited by Max Eastman in his book Great Companions with contributing and raising the money that John Reed needed to go to Russia and write the book that became Seven Days that Shook the World.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

DUTCH FEMINIST | Rosa Manus Remembered

Rosa Manus (1881-1942)
Charles Leidschendam Boissevain just wrote to me about a lecture this past week about Dutch feminist Rosette Susanna ("Rosa") ManusThe lecture was by  Prof. Francisca de Haan, who edited with Myriam Everard a 700-page biography of Manus with multiple authors of specialized chapters. A 16-page report on the book – in English! 😗👍 – is available here.

In her lecture at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, Prof. de Haan argues that Manus is at least as important to the women’s movement as Aletta Jacobs, after whom a foundation is named

There are several connections between Manus and American suffragist Inez Milholland Boissevain. Manus:
  • Was, like Inez, active in the movements for both women's rights and peace.
  • Organized in 1913 an important first World Congress on women's emancipation and world peace. That was the same year as the January march in Washington led by Inez on horseback. 
  • Worked on women's issues with Dr. Mia (Maria) Boissevain (1878-1959). Mia is mentioned on p. 13 of the report cited in the first paragraph above. Mia's husband Robert was the nephew of Eugen Boissevain, who married Inez Milholland in July 1913.
  • Was arrested by the Nazis the year after they invaded Holland, and was killed by them in 1942 in the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. Mia's husband Robert was also killed by the Nazis by starvation and disease in another concentration camp. Mia and Robert, and their children including Charles, are included by Israel's Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.
The new biography was published in Leiden in 2016 by Brill Publishers, which has been around since 1683. It is publicized by Atria, an Amsterdam nonprofit that works for a gender equality agenda. Atria's newest project is a Wiki-writing workshop on the 3rd Friday of every month to equalize the number of articles on women in Wikipedia.  One of their topics to cover is the Men's League for Woman Suffrage, in which Eugen Boissevain played a role along with his friend Max Eastman and Inez Milholland's father John E. Milholland. The director of Atria is Renée Römkens. 

1017 HK Amsterdam. Also:
• Streets of Amsterdam (AT5) on Rosa Manus, January 9, 2017
• Amsterdam: Rosa Manus was more important than Aletta Jacobs, AD and Het Parool, December 14, 2016

Monday, January 9, 2017

INEZ | Sister March, Jan. 21, in Lewis, N.Y.

The following is from a press release sent out by Sandra Weber.

Sister March Planned to Honor Inez Milholland 
Adirondack-Champlain Valley community will rally at suffragist’s grave

Elizabethtown, NY, January 9, 2017—Women, men, families and youths from across the Adirondack region plan to rally on Saturday, January 21 to show solidarity with those at the Women’s March on Washington. Local marches have been gathering momentum and the national organization says 300 Sister Marches are planned, each with its own program, “from music and speeches to a rally at a suffragist’s grave in upstate New York, to a verbal ‘human mosaic’ of people in Napa Valley sharing their vision for the future.” [See prnewswire on Sister Marches, 1/9/17]

“The day after the Presidential inauguration, people from around the country will unite in Washington, DC in the spirit of democracy, dignity and justice,” said Sandra Weber, co-organizer of the Adirondack march. “Some people are travelling to DC, but many of us will not be able to make the trip. When I heard that Seneca Falls was holding a Sister March, I thought it was a great idea for our North Country community to join the movement.”

Participants in the Adirondack-Champlain Valley Women’s March will meet at the grave of Inez Milholland in Lewis Cemetery behind the Congregational Church. The program will include a tribute to Inez, presentation of flowers, and a reading of the sonnet "To Inez Milholland" by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The cemetery setting also echoes the famous “graveyard rally” organized by Inez when Vassar College officials refused to allow a suffrage meeting on campus. 

“In the Adirondack region, the most notable site of the woman’s movement is Inez’s grave. She rode a white horse at the front of the 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington and became the national symbol of the suffrage movement,” explained Weber, a local author and historian. “Three years later, Inez Milholland died, at age 30, while campaigning for Votes for Women. Her father, John Milholland (one of the founders of the NAACP), insisted that the body be buried in the Adirondack foothills, near the family’s estate, Meadowmount.”

“Inez was not only a suffrage martyr, she was an advocate of human rights,” said David Hodges, co-organizer of the local event. “Her message---Forward out of darkness, Forward into light---resonates as much today as 100 years ago.”

In recognition of her sacrifice and commitment to women’s equality, Inez Milholland was nominated for the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2015. The Inez Milholland Centennial project believes that now is the perfect time to award the medal to Inez, as women march in Washington following in her footsteps and others rally at her grave.

After the short graveside ceremony, the Adirondack marchers will reconvene indoors at the Whallonsburg Grange where Hodges, along with other musicians and singers, will lead participants in songs of hope and unity. The purpose is to stand together and send a message of support for values of human decency, equal rights and freedom from discrimination. 

During the first ten days of the grass-roots effort using Facebook and e-mail, fifty people committed to attending the Adirondack-Champlain Valley Women’s March. Participants are coming from all over the region: Keene Valley, Essex, Westport, Elizabethtown, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, and Vergennes, Vermont, and other places.

The event is free and non-partisan. For more information, see the Facebook Event page for Adirondack – Champlain Valley Women’s March or email Sandra Weber at

For more information on the Sister March Press Release:

For more information on the Women’s March on Washington and Sister Marches, visit or

Additional photos available from Sandra Weber, 518-873-1137 .