The Beverly Beacon: Rise of Women's Voice in Media Publications
In New England at the turn of the twentieth century women took pen to paper to address the struggles among women in the fight for equality. The Beverly Beacon was the first all women published newspaper. Emerging in the early 1900s, it expressed women's opinions about social, economic, and political aspects of life in the rural New England town of Beverly Massachusetts. The women writers of the newspaper, The Beverly Beacon, expressed the fears they had for their children, gender inequality and the political, social and economic concerns of everyday women. They urged their readers to "wake up and be more alive"[i] to the needs of their communities, and encouraged other women to get more involved in public life.
The early 1900s witnessed new voices in the cry for women's rights. Publications like the Beacon, made the public aware of women's political voice, a voice previously muted by male dominant media. However, while the Beacon's articles address issues important to their readers, they walk the fine line between acknowledging women's equality and campaigning for political change. For example, the editors claim that there is no need for a political section in their newspaper because they "are neither Republican, Democratic, nor Progressive;in fact we care very little about politics and the chief aim of women is to get things done. It is not party nor principle nor platform but performance that counts in the forum of the home."[ii] However, the editors did include articles about the fight for women's suffrage and the need for advancement in political society. As one article noted: "There is no good reason why women should not"[iii] vote as an American citizen born with the same unalienable rights as a man. The Declaration of Independence of the American nation proclaims that all men are created equal, and "if the term men is used figuratively, meaning the human family as comprising both men and women, then our present form of government is in flat contradiction of that time honored document."[iv] With its common vision of equality for women, The Beverly Beacon and similar publications helped create awareness of women's problems and concerns while advocating for women's voting rights. As one scholar noted, papers like the Beacon were a "chance to help women see their own problems, help bring out the things that are true in the traditions that have bound them; help show up the things that are false."[v] The publication of The Beverly Beacon initiated the rise of women's voice in the New England area by creating an impenetrable bond between mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. The publishers of The Beverly Beacon will be remembered as activists whose voices were carried across the nation, as the messages issued by women artists and writers "appealed to universal principles of humanity and foresaw a new social era accompanying women's participation in politics."[vi]
[i] The needs of the girls of Beverly, Mary E. Bulkeley. Beverly Beacon. A Women's Newspaper, November 1, 1913.
[ii]Politics Page. Beverly Beacon A Women's Newspaper, November 1, 1913
[iii]Equal Suffrage, Anna C.M. Tullinghast. Beverly Beacon A Women's Newspaper, November 1, 1913
[iv] Equal Suffrage, Anna C.M. Tullinghast. Beverly Beacon A Women's Newspaper, November 1, 1913
[v] Suffrage Art and Feminism. Sheppard, Alice. Hypatia, Vol. 5, No. 2, Feminism and Aesthetics (Summer, 1990), pp 122-136. Published by: Indiana University Press
[vi] Suffrage Art and Feminism. Sheppard, Alice. Hypatia, Vol. 5, No. 2, Feminism and Aesthetics (Summer, 1990), pp 122-136. Published by: Indiana University Press.