Women out of bars by 8 p.m.

October 21, 2010

I am happy to thank Olmanriver for this next post. 

Thanks, River !

I do have a guess as to what these women were doing in the bars “after hours”, though I could be wrong…


“The Daily Humboldt Standard” Eureka, California
April 24, 1884
Ordinance Number 54 of this city makes it unlawful for any female person, between the hours of 8 o’clock P. M. & 6 o’clock A. M. to be in any public drinking saloon, etc., where vinous, malt or spiritous liquors are sold or given away. Upon complaint under this ordinance in Judge Howards Court, Mary Lockhart, Gertie Gilmore, Mollie Mallory & Lizzie Maybers were convicted, & sentenced to a fine of $10 each, or five day’s imprisonment. The fines were paid into Court.

Let a woman vote? Are you crazy?

March 29, 2010

It was thought dangerous by many to let women vote, c 1911


It is easy to forget that women in this country have only had the right to vote for ninety years.  And I didn’t know (until I looked it up on Wikipedia) that many countries beat us in granting equal voting rights to women.

  • Norway and Denmark: 1913
  • Finland: 1906
  • Even the United Kingdom granted women over thirty the right to vote in 1918, while it took until 1920 for American women to enjoy that same right.  


Read the rest of this entry »

Suspending a woman’s existence

October 13, 2009
Wedding Photo

Wedding Photo


I write a lot about the difficult circumstances faced by Native American women in the settlement period of California, but women in general faced significant challenges.  I’ve recently learned about Coverture laws (with help from Wikipedia),  which was “ a legal doctrine whereby, upon marriage, a woman’s legal rights were subsumed by those of her husband.”

This meant that a married woman couldn’t own property, enter or sign any legal contracts or agreements, or even keep her own wages if her husband demanded her earnings.  A married woman  also needed her husband’s permission to gain an education.

 Single women, to a certain extent, maintained these rights, but the social stigma attached to unmarried women created huge pressure to avoid becoming an old maid.

Coverture was based on English law, described by William Blackstone (1723-1780), an English judge, professor and commentator,   as follows:

 By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called in our law-French a feme-covert; is said to be covert-baron, or under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture. Upon this principle, of a union of person in husband and wife, depend almost all the legal rights, duties, and disabilities, that either of them acquire by the marriage. I speak not at present of the rights of property, but of such as are merely personal. For this reason, a man cannot grant any thing to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence; and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant with himself: and therefore it is also generally true, that all compacts made between husband and wife, when single, are voided by the intermarriage