Spring and Women’s History Month have arrived. This year, in spirit of this month’s theme, Women’s Gender Studies professor Trisha Franzen published her new book Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Women’s Suffrage. The Pleiad sat down with Franzen to hear about her journey documenting the suffragette and Albion College alumnae.
The Pleaid: What sparked your interest in Anna Howard Shaw?
Franzen: When I was hired by Albion College in 1992, I became the director of the Anna Howard Shaw Center for Women’s Studies and Programs. The reason we have a program named after her is because she went here. I had heard of her before but I thought I would find out a little more about her and the more I read, the more I became somewhat obsessed.
How long have you been working on the book?
It’s almost embarrassing. I’ve spent many years researching both Shaw’s life. It’s been about eight years.
Was it on purpose that the book was done in time for Women’s History Month?
It’s pretty exciting! It was wonderful that [the book] was out in time for Women’s History Month.
What do you hope readers will get out of the book?
Shaw doesn’t get the recognition that she deserves to get for all that she did in women’s history, and particularly in the suffrage movement. I argue that because she was different yet acted more like the average person in the U.S., that she was the one who really broadened the women’s movement.
What made Shaw stand out?
She became one of the leaders throughout the fight for women’s rights. She is usually known to be the first ordained female Methodist ministers. She really fought for ordination. She was an outrageous woman. Shaw was not a stereotypic 19th century woman. She crossed sexuality boundaries, she was funny.
Next time you’re in need of a good read, pick up Franzen’s new book. You can find it in on Amazon here.
Photo by Alex Carey