A series of postal covers mark the centennial year of woman suffrage

CANANDAIGUA — For pure history’s sake, Preston Pierce is partial to the special postal cover that commemorates the 100th anniversary this November of the passage of the woman suffrage amendment to the New York State Constitution.

As Ontario County historian and resident, Pierce also is a fan of the covers that mark the trial of Susan B. Anthony, at the Ontario County Courthouse, and another of the visit to Canandaigua by Carrie Chapman Catt, who succeeded Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

“Postal covers are a very popular topic among people who collect stamps and postal history,” Pierce said. “As a lifelong collector of stamps, I’ve always got a lot of pleasure from this.”

A series of up to 12 commemorative history postal covers is an attempt to shine attention on significant events in the woman suffrage movement as it relates to Ontario County during the 2017 centennial year, as well as to raise money for an upcoming museum exhibit.

This is part of a countywide historical effort to document the woman suffrage movement locally, according to Ed Varno, executive director of the Ontario County Historical Society.

Each historian in the county is delving through local records and trying to come up with information on the women’s right to vote.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Varno said. “This is an interesting piece of a puzzle to help celebrate.”

Each cover costs $5 and will include a cachet announcing the event. Purchasers also will receive information explaining the significance of the subject.

Money raised will help offset the cost of the museum’s suffragette exhibit planned for Mother’s Day.

Here are the the covers:

The first postal cover shows Mary Gray Peck, a long-time suffragist and biographer of Catt. Peck was born in the town of Phelps, but lived and eventually was buried in Seneca Castle.

The second cover will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the death of Catt, on March 9, 1947. The hope is to have the cover postmarked in New Rochelle, Westchester County, where she died.

The third cover will commemorate the 111th anniversary of the death of Anthony, on March 13, 1906, and will be postmarked in Rochester.

The fourth cover will commemorate the 102nd anniversary of Catt’s visit to Canandaigua on May 14, 1915. She spoke to those gathered for a suffrage meeting in the newly completed Ontario County Historical Society museum building. The cover will be postmarked in Canandaigua.

The fifth cover will commemorate the 106th anniversary of the death of Elizabeth Smith Miller, on May 22, 1911. Miller was a long-time suffragist and founder of the Geneva Political Equity Club. It will be postmarked in Geneva.

The sixth cover will commemorate the 144th anniversary of the trial of Anthony at the Ontario County Courthouse, June 17-19, 1873, and will be postmarked in Canandaigua.

The seventh cover will commemorate the 98th anniversary of the death of Rhoda Palmer on Aug. 11, 1919. She was the only person to attend the famous 1848 Seneca Falls convention and live to exercise her right to vote in New York in 1918. Palmer lived all of her life about halfway between Oaks Corners and Geneva. That cover will be postmarked in Oaks Corners.

The eighth cover will commemorate the 130th anniversary of Belva Ann Lockwood’s presidential campaign speech in Phelps on Oct. 19, 1887. Lockwood was the first woman to be admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court as well as the first woman to receive a national party nomination for the office of president. That cover will be postmarked in Phelps.

The ninth cover will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Catt’s second visit to Canandaigua on Oct. 26, 1937. On that visit she spoke at the Ontario County Courthouse. The cover will be postmarked in Canandaigua.

The 10th cover will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the voter approval of the woman suffrage amendment to the New York State Constitution on Nov. 6, 1917. The only town where the amendment passed in every election district was the town of Seneca. The cover will be postmarked in Stanley, where the Seneca Town Hall is located, in honor of that fact.

The 11th cover will commemorate the 120th anniversary of the organization of the Geneva Political Equality Club, the largest in the state at the time, on Nov. 30, 1897. It will be postmarked in Geneva.

The 12th and final cover will commemorate the 114th anniversary of Catt’s speech in Geneva’s Smith Opera House on Dec. 29, 1903. It will be postmarked in Geneva.

Pierce hopes this is a fun way to raise funds.

"This is an important anniversary," Pierce said. "At the same time, this is an educational tool and serves people who collect stamps. We're hoping people take an interest in these."

To get one

Covers can be ordered from the Ontario County Historical Society, 55 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424. Cost is $5, plus $1 shipping. Make checks payable to the Ontario County Historical Society. Covers for the entire series can be pre-ordered at one time and will be shipped on completion.