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Alice Stone Blackwell (September 14, 1857 – March 15, 1950) was an American feminist, suffragist, journalist, radical socialist, and human rights advocate. She was Emma Goldman’s friend, suffragist, orator, and reformer; she edited Woman’s Journal and wrote for Mother Earth; her essay “The Post Office and Free Speech” was reprinted in Lucifer, The Light Bearer 1046 (Aug 17, 1905). Blackwell worked with Goldman to get help for Addie, a young black prisoner who needed a job in order to be paroled; she subscribed to Mother Earth. She joined the committee opposing the deportation of two San Francisco anarchists, Ferraro and Sallitto.
Though her mother, Lucy Stone, Blackwell was an important figure in the suffrage movement by the end of the 1860s, Lucy's correspondence with her husband indicates that she felt uneasy because she was not a better homemaker. Henry Blackwell also felt guilty, as Alice reported after her mother died in 1893: Papa ... has been blaming himself for marrying mamma at all. He says he spoiled her career. Whether Henry Blackwell's guilt was at all merited, Alice Stone Blackwell, who also became a suffrage activist, apparently believed that there was some justice in his self-accusation. She herself chose other women as her loves and never married. Her first, and indeed last, love, was her aunt Elizabeth Blackwell's adopted daughter, Kitty Barry, who was ten years older than she was. Kitty seems to have encouraged eroticism between them (though Alice needed little encouragement). Their corre-spondence when Kitty was in her twenties included an elaborate fantasy that was carried on for several years; in these sexually charged letters, Kitty (Kiddy) was Captain Robert Kidd and Alice was her/his bride. They often addressed each other as "Dear Betrothed" and spoke of their forthcoming marriage and honeymoon. In her Captain Kidd persona, Kitty played with the language of passion, erotic frustration, and threat: "Indeed, 'when will the dream come true?' If you do not come to me I suppose that before the close of 1872 you will see the glitter of a well known blade." Alice faithfully mirrored the fantasies, reminding Kiddy that it would be in keeping with his/her character to "forcibly possess yourself of your bride. I wish you could." Occasionally the violent fantasies were combined with references to what may have actually been physical exchanges. For instance, Alice wrote to Kitty, who was in England, "Your stomach shall certainly be rubbed when I come across the ocean." When Alice was seventeen and Kitty twenty-seven, Kitty's letters in her Captain Kidd persona were frequently signed "your faithful lover," but the two were often separated by the Atlantic, since Kitty lived in England with her adopted mother and Alice lived in Massachusetts. Alice repeatedly tried to entice Kitty to return to New England, writing, for example, on July 7, 1874, "Why don't you come back. . . . [On Cape Cod, where Alice was) you would be basking in the smiles of your betrothed, with a sea breeze to cool you if they proved to be too ardent!" Their game barely veiled serious feelings. In an 1877 letter, Kitty expressed the fear that she would inevitably lose Alice to a man, and she somberly admitted, "If I lost you, life wd have ceased to be worth anything to me." Though the wilder fantasies of their relationship seemed to diminish in later years, affection and mutual dependence, and even a flirtatious tension, remained, as the correspondence demonstrates. Kitty addressed Alice often as "My dear Pie," and Alice expressed the desire to "wrap you in ermines and keep you in a crystal case." Yet for a time Alice was enamored of several other women. Typically she confessed her passions to her cousin, leaving a long paper trail of her lesbian desires. In her mid-thirties, for instance, Alice wrote to her cousin about her feelings for a new acquaintance, the writer Eliza Sproat Turner, a Philadelphia widow: "I fell in love on this trip, madly, hopelessly, and head over ears. . . . Oh, why am I not a man! But she wouldn't have me; she is much too old and wise, and I couldn't hold a candle to her. . . . I lost my heart entirely." Kitty too confessed to Alice her attraction to other women, admit-ting the justice in Florence Blackwell's accusation (Florence was one of Antoinette Brown Blackwell's daughters): "Florence says I'm given to falling in love with gentle, sensible, lady-like girls, but that my utter indifference to the male part of creation is something provocative." Despite such confessions of infatuation, the voluminous corre-spondence suggests that Kitty remained the great emotional center of Alice's life, and vice versa. It was not until 1921, fifteen years before her death, however, that Kitty returned to the United States for good. During those years, as Alice wrote in her cousin's obituary, Kitty "made her home" with Alice.
Blackwell was born in East Orange, New Jersey to Henry Browne Blackwell and Lucy Stone, both of whom were suffrage leaders and helped establish the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). She was also the niece of Elizabeth Blackwell, America's first female physician. Her mother introduced Susan B Anthony to the women's rights movement as well as being the first woman to earn a college degree in Massachusetts, first to keep her maiden name after getting married, and the first to speak about women's rights full-time.
Blackwell was educated at the Harris Grammar School in Dorchester, the Chauncy School in Boston and Abbot Academy in Andover. She attended Boston University, where she was president of her class, and graduated in 1881, at age 24. She belonged to Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Blackwell is well known for her work towards women's rights. At first resisting the cause of her mother and father, she later became a prominent reformer. After graduating from Boston University, Alice began working for the Woman's Journal, the paper started by her parents. By 1884, her name was alongside her parents on the paper's masthead. After her mother's death in 1893, Alice assumed almost sole editing responsibility of the paper.
In 1890, she helped reconcile the American Woman Suffrage Association and National Woman Suffrage Association, two competing organizations in the women's suffrage movement, into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The movement had become split in 1869 over disputes over the degree to which women's suffrage should be tied to African-American male suffrage. This split created the AWSA, which her parents helped organize, and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), headed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. From 1890 to 1908, Alice Stone Blackwell was NAWSA's recording secretary and in 1909 and 1910 one of the national auditors. She was prominent in Woman's Christian Temperance Union activities. In 1903, she reorganized the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom in Boston.
She was also president of the New England and Massachusetts Woman Suffrage associations and honorary president of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters.
In later life, Blackwell went blind. She died March 15, 1950 at the age of ninety-two.
Her home in Uphams Corner is a site on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.
Alice Stone Blackwell was also involved in humanitarian acts outside of the United States. In the 1890s, she traveled to Armenia, where she became passionately involved in the Armenian refugee community. She sold some of her possessions, particularly the oriental rugs from her house on Pope's Hill in Dorchester, to benefit the Armenians and feed their children, and she also provided assistance to adults looking for jobs. This is also when she discovered her interest in international literature. She translated many of the country's works into English in Armenian Poems (1896). She would continue translating literature into English, including works of Hungarian, Yiddish, Mexican, French, Italian, and Russian poetry.
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