In this episode, we’ll get to know Alice Paul (1885–1977)—a crucial figure in the twentieth-century battle for women’s rights and suffrage in the United States. Her thought-provoking connections to the Christian Scientists in her life included both people in her family and those who worked alongside her. We’ll hear Paul speak in her own voice, through oral history recordings from the 1970s. Among the Christian Scientists she discusses are Sarah Thompson Pell and Mary Owens, whose strongly-held faith was tightly intertwined with their work as chairs of the National Woman’s Party.* Seekers and Scholars host Jonathon Eder trades seats in the studio to join the podcast as a guest, discussing his own research on the topic. Guest Dr. Jill Zahniser, an accomplished women’s rights historian and biographer of Alice Paul, provides insight into Paul’s personal and public life.
* Audio clips from oral history interviews with Alice Paul, conducted by Amelia Fry, come courtesy of the Oral History Center, University of California, Berkeley: “Conversations with Alice Paul: Woman suffrage and the Equal Rights Amendment,” call number (BANC MSS 76/177). Image of National Woman’s Party courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-npcc-01705.
Access more on this topic:
- Women of History: Helen Paul
- Women of History: Mary Burt Messer
- Ask a Researcher: Christian Science and a woman’s right to vote
Jonathon Eder is Manager of Programs and Scholarly Engagement for The Mary Baker Eddy Library. He has been with the Library since its 2002 opening, serving in a number of capacities including exhibit development and library reference services, as well as programming. Before coming to the Library, Eder worked in documentary films, radio, and theater. He has contributed articles and book chapters to Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, and to the American Theological Library Association: Atla Open Press “Women in Religion” series. He is on the leadership team of the Women’s Caucus at the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. He holds a masters in dramatic writing from the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Jill Zahniser is an independent scholar. She is co-author of the book Alice Paul: Claiming Power, along with Amelia Fry, who conducted oral history interviews with Alice Paul for the University of California, Berkeley. Zahniser appeared in the 2020 PBS American Experience special The Vote. Her writing on Paul and other notable figures can be found under the name J. D. Zahniser, including articles published in the magazine American History. Following her early career as a teacher, Zahniser has worked with the American Institute for History Education to further the inclusion of women’s history in school curricula across the United States. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States, serving both as a writer and editor. Currently living in St. Paul, Minnesota, she holds a doctorate in American and women’s studies from the University of Iowa.