In Living Rooms and Theaters, the Vote was Won

By August 26, 2020September 8th, 2020In The News

By Eliza Ridgeway / Los Altos Town Crier

You can still walk past the Masonic Hall in downtown Mountain View and imagine the suffrage speeches that drew listeners more than a century ago.

A man often headlined, as was the norm even for women-led initiatives. The women who filled the room had to mix strategy with entertainment as they continued a decades-long campaign for equal rights.

The mother-daughter duo of Eliza “Lida” Hood Talbott and Mae Talbott Winchell performed at Mountain View suffrage rallies, using “widder doodles” to poke fun at contemporary social norms. In addition to lampooning restrictive ideas about a woman’s role and calling out double standards of the time, their sketches used satire to entertain.

“These women are not, to my knowledge, in any history books that I have read, but their names are in local newspapers,” said Amy Ellison, curator of the Los Altos History Museum’s ongoing exhibition on women’s suffrage. “Not everything makes it into the history books, but once you start looking into the newspapers, you get a good picture of what’s going on day-to-day and what’s affecting people on a local level.” …cont.