Fremont County, Iowa

Amelia Bloomer
by Danette Hein-Snider

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of 08 September 2008

Many famous people have traveled through southwest Iowa; for example, William Jennings Bryan, Ulysses E Grant and Amelia Bloomer. Yes, Amelia Bloomer. She came as well.

The Sidney Library Association wrote to Amelia in 1856 inviting her to come and speak on the subject of Women's Rights. This is their invitation letter:

Sidney, January 25, 1856
Mrs. Amelia Bloomer
Dear Madam,

The Sidney Library Association has appointed the undersigned committee to extend to you an invitation to address the association at a public meeting on the subject of “Women's Rights,” in the evening of the second Thursday in February, or such other time as may suit your convenience.

We therefore respectfully write you to lecture before the Association on the subject of women and request you to inform us at your earliest convenience whether you can make it convenient to do so and at what time.

Permit us to add, Madam, that we sincerely hope it may be in your power to comply with the wishes of the Association and that we will extend to you on our behalf and that of the community, a most cordial welcome.

It was signed: Very Respectfully, We remain, Madam,

Your Obedient Servants, L Lingfelter, Wm Dewey, B Reston

Amelia Jenks Bloomer moved, with her husband, to Council Bluffs, Iowa. in the spring of 1855. As soon as they were settled she once again took up her life's work as an advocate for Equal Suffrage, and that included a trip to speak in Sidney ”the evening of the second Thursday, in February” 1856.

We do not have a copy of that particular speech, but we know that she did talk about her desire that women and men had equal claims to "the enjoyment of all these rights, which God, and nature have bestowed upon the race. Woman is entitled to the same means of enforcing those rights as man. But are you not afraid that woman will run into excesses, that homes will be deserted, that men will lack wives in this country? I have but one reply to make, society grants to every free man in the United States...the privilege of voting, and of being voted for; and we don't believe woman will get very far out of her place, if society should yield her the same rights. ... Give us the privileges we ask; give us equality, and then let this truer society regulate human affairs, as men have hitherto done alone...and I think this covers the whole ground so far as the real right is concerned.”

So Amelia “covered the whole ground” of extending equal rights to women, which shows that southwest Iowa was a progressive forward looking part of the country as far back as the middle 1800's

P.S. It was 1926, before Sidney had a real library with books to check out, but now we know they had a Library Association as early as 1856.

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau