Ann Gordon is the go-to historian when it comes to the early suffrage movement. As the editor of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony Papers Project, supported by Rutgers University, she has spent decades working to unearth and preserve their heritage, and to present their writings and actions in a six-volume series that will inform feminist scholarship for generations. She was honored with the Silent Sentinel Award for her work in helping contemporary Americans understand the underpinnings of, and the necessity for, equal rights.
The Silent Sentinel Award honors an individual who exemplifies the traits of those women who made personal sacrifices to secure the 19th Amendment. It is awarded by the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, an all-volunteer group aligned with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which is dedicated to honoring the suffragists who endured harsh imprisonment after picketing the White House in 1917 for the right to vote. The reports of inhumane conditions, beatings and force feedings at the Occoquan Workhouse electrified the country and became a "turning point" in the struggle for the 19th Amendment.
Ms. Gordon was nominated by former ABC 20/20 journalist Lynn Sherr because of her ability to "work miracles" in her research. Ms. Sherr says Ms. Gordon learned to "interpret the scrawled handwriting of two women more interested in changing the world than making it easy for historians; she dug out obscure references to long-dead politicians; she figured out the mind-set of Stanton and Anthony a century and more after they were gone; she pored over scrapbooks and clippings to piece together undated travels. All this, while continuing to obtain funding" for her work." Ms. Sherr's own book, "Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words," is just one of innumerable works that simply would not exist without Ms. Gordon's research. A nominating committee of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association agreed that Ms. Gordon's work stands alone as the definitive history of the early suffrage movement.
Honorary Patron of the Silent Sentinel Award, award-winning filmmaker, Ken Burns
Ken Burns is the Honorary Patron of the Silent Sentinel Award Reception where Gordon will be honored. Gordon was a consultant to, and an on-camera interview in, Ken Burns' PBS film, "Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony." Her essay "Taking Possession of the Country" appears in the companion volume to the documentary. Mr. Burns will be unable to attend due to his ongoing work on multiple documentaries but says he wants to pay tribute to Gordon for her work. He says he is "personally very happy that Ms. Gordon has been selected to receive the great honor of the 'Silent Sentinel Award."
The event was held at the Atrium at the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority's Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Va., on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Attendees saw the conceptual plans for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial which will be located in the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority's Occoquan Park, across the street from the site of the Occoquan Workhouse where the suffragists were held. The Occoquan Workhouse, which no longer exists, was part of the former District of Columbia Department of Corrections Facilities in Lorton, Va.
Architect Robert Beach shared his memorial design which includes a walking path, gardens and interactive features. It will be a place that pays tribute to the strength of the women and significance of their struggle. The goal is to have the national memorial built by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPSM) is an all volunteer 501c3 with the mission "to memorialize the suffragists whose harsh treatment at the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Va., served as a turning point for the recognition of a woman's right to vote; and to educate, inspire and empower present and future generations to remain vigilant in the quest for equal rights." The goal is to see a memorial built by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Learn more about the memorial at www.suffragistmemorial.org.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) enhances the communities of Northern Virginia and enriches the lives of their citizens through the conservation of regional natural and cultural resources. It provides diverse regional recreational and educational opportunities, and fosters an understanding of the relationships between people and their environment. Visit NVRPA today online at www.nvrpa.org