Matilda Joslyn Gage

“There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven.
That word is Liberty.”

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Forgotten Foremothers

Profiles of lesser-known heroines in the fight for women’s rights

In 1962, Rosalind Franklin’s uncredited research into the DNA double helix helped earn James Watson and Francis Crick the Nobel Prize. The lack of recognition Franklin received has been attributed to “The Matilda Effect,” which describes the gender bias that often leads to the devaluing or even theft of the achievements of women scientists. Science historian Margaret W. Rossiter coined the term in 1993 and the woman she named it after was Matilda Joslyn Gage.


“A very slight investigation proves,” wrote Gage in “Woman as Inventor,” an article published in The North American Review in 1870, “that patents taken out in some man’s name are, in many instances, due to women. A recent noted instance of this kind is Miss Louise McLaughlin’s invention of underglaze painting on pottery. Miss McLaughlin, desiring that all artists should share in its benefits, explained her process to every person who asked her, and even wrote a book giving this information. But a certain man, seeing its value, took out a patent upon it, thus prohibiting even its inventor from using the fruit of her own brain.”


In the article, Gage chronicles inventions throughout history that can be attributed to women and ultimately why they weren’t, from thefts like those mentioned above, to laws granting all power to a woman’s husband, to the particular fatigue experienced by those who have no control in their lives. “Inventors must not only possess full freedom to exercise their powers, but there must also be a certain welcome and protection to their ideas,” wrote Gage. “Deprived, as woman is, of political power, she has to face contempt of her sex, open and covert scorn of womanhood, depreciatory allusions to her intellectual powers—all tending to hamper the expression of her inventive genius.”


Gage was born Matilda Electa Joslyn in 1826 to Dr. Hezekiah and Helen Joslyn in Cicero, New York. Both her parents held strong liberal and abolitionist beliefs; Gage’s childhood home was a station on the Underground Railroad, assisting enslaved people as they made their escape to free states and Canada. This environment, and her mother’s love of historical research, heavily influenced Gage’s path in life.


In 1845, at age 18, she married merchant Henry Gage and the two settled in Fayetteville. They had five children though only four lived to adulthood. Following in her parents’ footsteps, their home, too, became a station on the Underground Railroad. She later faced prison time under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which made it a crime to help escaped slaves, even for those residents of the so-called “free states.”


Always willful, Gage officially became involved in the women’s rights movement in 1852 when she spoke at the National Women’s Rights Convention. The NWRC had only had its first meeting two years earlier. Gage became known for her powers of persuasion and her way with words. Regarding a law that permitted a man to leave his children to an unrelated guardian rather than the children’s mother, she wrote, “It is sometimes better to be a dead man than a live woman.” She talked a group of police into leaving the 1876 convention rather than breaking it up as an illegal assembly and she argued with polling station officials who turned away women wanting to vote in 1871. In 1873, she defended Susan B. Anthony when Anthony was put on trial for voting in that election and Gage presented all the sound and moral arguments she had for women’s suffrage, arguments that had grown in strength and conciseness through the years.

“When any man expresses doubt to me as to the use that I or any other woman might make of the ballot if we had it, my answer is, What is that to you?” Gage wrote. “If you have for years defrauded me of my rightful inheritance, and then, as a stroke of policy…concluded to restore to me my own domain, must I ask you whether I may make of it a garden of flowers, or a field of wheat, or a pasture for [cows]?”


She collaborated with Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on three volumes of the History of Women Suffrage. Gage’s stances were far more radical than those of her contemporaries, however, which would eventually lead to a split. Anthony’s primary concern was the vote, but Gage found that goal too narrow. She tried—and failed—to prevent the National Woman Suffrage Association from joining forces with the conservative movements that supported women’s voting rights primarily as a means of advancing temperance and Christian politics. Though deeply religious in her own way, Gage believed in the separation of church and state and was critical of Christianity, viewing organized religion as antagonistic to the progress of women.


“It has not been without bitter resistance by the clergy that woman’s property and education rights have advanced,” Gage wrote. “Woman’s anti-slavery work, her temperance work, her demand for personal rights, for political equality, for religious freedom and every step of kindred character has met with opposition from the church as a body and from the clergy as exponents of its views.”


Gage left the NWSA and founded the Woman’s National Liberal Union in 1890, attracting more like-minded pursuers of suffrage and equality. As president of the WNLU, Gage also acted as editor of the organization’s journal, The Liberal Thinker. In this publication, she continued to criticize what she saw as Christianity’s upholding of men as the masters of women—“Both church and state, claiming to be of divine origin, assume divine right of man over woman; while church and state have thought for man, man has assumed the right to think for woman.”—and also wrote thoughtfully about a wide range of subjects from abortion, to divorce, to the treatment of Native Americans, all with an eye toward individual liberty.


Much of her later years were spent among the Iroquois tribe, whose gender equality she admired. The tribe’s matrilineal system of family groups, as well as female property rights, showed Gage a dynamic between men and women that appeared more equal and desirable. She would eventually be initiated into the Wolf Clan; receive the Iroquois name of Karonienhawi, meaning “she who holds the sky;” and be welcomed into the Iroquois Council of Matrons.


Matilda Joslyn Gage died in March of 1898 at age 71 in the Chicago home of her daughter Maud and son-in-law Frank L. Baum of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fame, whom Maud married long before he experienced any significant writing success of his own (to her mother’s brief chagrin). Baum reportedly claimed his mother-in-law to be the most gifted and educated woman of her age.


A memorial stone in Fayetteville Cemetery bears Gage’s own words as her epitaph: “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven. That word is Liberty.”

National Woman Suffrage Association

National Woman Suffrage Association

Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation

 Dedicated to educating current and future generations about Gage’s work and its power to drive contemporary social change.

The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation was founded in 2000 when Sally Roesch Wagner, the leading authority on Gage, brought together a nationwide network of diverse people with a common goal: to bring this vitally important suffragist back to her rightful place in history.
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation is dedicated to celebrating and promoting Gage’s legacy and the continuing significance of her life, her thought, her writings and her inspiration for the present and the future.


City Council Candidate Forum

October’s biggest event for Voter Service was the City Council Candidate Forum held October 17 at Northside Middle School.  Thirteen of the fifteen candidates were in attendance, and they answered questions on everything from how they will handle transparency in government to how they will deal with the potholes that plague neighborhood streets.  The live broadcast and Facebook livestream/rebroadcast by WLBC and Steve Lindell helped make sure those who could not make it to the Forum were able to access the information from the candidates from home or at a later date.

NAACP sponsored Mayoral Event

In addition to the Forum, Voter Service also staffed a table at the NAACP sponsored Mayoral Candidate Forum on October 3 at the Church of the Living God, registered voters at the Activist Fair on the Ball State University campus October 11, and staffed a table at the October Lunchtime Opportunity Tables event at Muncie Central High School on October 22. 

Muncie Central Opportunity Tables

We staffed a table on October 22nd to introduce the students to the League of Women Voters, explaining how we began, what we do to defend our democracy, what we need help with right now, and inviting students to join us for only $5.00 thanks to the scholarship from the LWV of Indiana. Many students were receptive to the information, some appeared quite interested to join us, and a few took flyers home to their families.

If your club or group would like to know more about the LWV of Muncie/Delaware County please contact to arrange for a speaker or staffed table at your event.



We welcomed BrIan Post from Wisconsin and Bob Barrett from northern California to our planning team.  They briefly shared their background and what brought them to the planning team.  They have brought great insights to our planning already.  Welcome and thank you, Brian and Bob.

NICD Projects

Golden Rule 2020

Do unto others as you want them to do unto you

Cheryl and Petti shared plans and timelines for upcoming National Inst. for Civil Discourse (NICD) projects:

Golden Rule 2020:  A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics . This campaign, initiated by the faith-based community, kicked off on Sunday, November 3, 2019 – which was exactly one year to election day 2020.  Tools for both the faith based and secular community of Americans are welcome to join.

For those of you engaged with Living Room Conversations, they have been working in collaboration with NICD to also post a secular version of the Golden Rule in Politics.  It can be viewed here.

We invite network members to widely share with your faith-based communities, collaborative partners and individuals. 

Common Sense America

      CommonSenseAmerican Cheryl shared information about another NICD program – CommonSense American.  It is bringing common sense to American politics by identifying issues, developing policy briefs, securing input from everyday Americans and advocating for the changes supported is the goal of this program.  To join, go to the link above to find out more and to sign up.  As of right now, there are participants from all 50 states, which include an equal representation of Republicans and Democrats and a large number of independents. Members will be randomly assigned a policy brief to read and weigh in on over the coming weeks.

Civility Poll

We briefly discussed the findings of the new Georgetown University poll regarding our political divisions which 2/3 of the country believes are so bad that we’re at the edge of a civil war.  We talked about the mixed messages from the results, which indicate that voters want political leaders to be focused on compromise and finding common ground to solve problems.  At the same time, the same numbers want leaders “to stand up to the other side” and to stand up to “powerful special interests.”

Preparing for Challenging Candidate Forums

Brian and Martha shared information such as Guide to Writing Unbiased Questions and Facilitation of Civil Discourse in Candidate Forums from the LWV of California (attached)  and FAQs for Candidate Forums from LWVUS which you are free to share with your voter service teams as you prepare for a busy election season.  Not mentioned during the call was the importance of reviewing and adopting your “Candidate Forum Guidelines” documents.  You might wish to review strict elements of your guidelines to give you some flexibility at the event, such as indicating that you will be seating candidates in alphabetical order, for instance, if that would place two openly sparring candidates or one bullying/intimidating another side by side. The documents will provide detailed information that you can immediately put to use.  The rationale (and federal requirements) is for our process and guidelines; the way in which we ask our questions (are they really asunbiased as we intend?); and suggestions for dealing with disruptive situations.  And, in the end, we need to recognize that we are all doing the best we can.


Conducting a Community Dialogue

Bob introduced Marieann Shovlin, civil discourse chair for the Cupertino CA LWV, who shared the work that her team is doing in the Santa Clara region.  They are now planning regionally.  She shared information about the topics, the collaborative partners, and the numbers in attendance (approx. 50 at their last workshop on Sept. 21st, for instance.)  They have used National Issues Forums ‘issue guides’ for discussion facilitation with great success.  For instance, they used, A House Divided:  What Would We Have to Give Up to Get the Political System We Want?  for their recent workshop.  The issue guides may also be paired with local data/specifics that local groups prepare as an insert to drill down on the local need, as you look at the broad spectrum of the issue.

A number of resources were mentioned in the call and links have been provided throughout the recap.  They are also listed here:



The League of Women Voters supports the following provisions: • Independent redistricting commissions in every state • Redistricting guidelines o Ensures communities of interest, neighborhoods be maintained o A partisanship test (efficiency gap) must be applied o Process must be transparent and allow for public participation o Plans must be enacted by a 3-judge court o Payments for the commission to operate must be made (???) • Same day registration • Automatic registration (already the case in 27 states) • Online voter registration • A commitment to restore the VRA (Voting Rights Act) that was rolled back with the Shelby County ruling. • An end to voter purges • Small donor public financing to level the playing field o Each donor’s contribution would be matched 1:6 from non-taxpayer funds in the Freedom from Influence Fund garnered from fines and seizures in court judgments o Participation by candidates would be voluntary o Transparency would increase by closing disclosure loopholes [$5B spent on 2018 elections, but much about donors has not been disclosed] o Federal Election Commission reform to enable it to function (5 commissioners so no tie votes, more staff, judges) • Ethics and transparency provisions for the executive and judicial branches

The League of Women Voters supports HR1, the For The People Act that passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 8, 2019.   

Support HR1 For The People Act

The For The People Act is core to decades of League work.   This democracy reform bill will give states the resources to ensure the voting rights of all citizens.

The bill was introduced in the Senate on March 28, 2019 and is now in the Senate Finance Committee.  It could also go to the Judiciary Committee, the Rules Committee, and/or others before coming to the floor for a final vote. 

The League of Women Voters supports the following provisions:

  • Independent redistricting commissions in every state
  • Redistricting guidelines
    • Ensures communities of interest, neighborhoods be maintained
    • A partisanship test (efficiency gap) must be applied
    • Process must be transparent and allow for public participation
    • Plans must be enacted by a 3-judge court
    • Payments for the commission to operate must be made (???)
  • Same day registration
  • Automatic registration (already the case in 27 states)
  • Online voter registration
  • A commitment to restore the VRA (Voting Rights Act) that was rolled back with the Shelby County ruling.
  • An end to voter purges
  • Small donor public financing to level the playing field
    • Each donor’s contribution would be matched 1:6 from non-taxpayer funds in the Freedom from Influence Fund garnered from fines and seizures in court judgments
    • Participation by candidates would be voluntary
    • Transparency would increase by closing disclosure loopholes [$5B spent on 2018 elections, but much about donors has not been disclosed]
    • Federal Election Commission reform to enable it to function (5 commissioners so no tie votes, more staff, judges)
  • Ethics and transparency provisions for the executive and judicial branches


Natural Resources

IndyStar Article, “The White River Will Never Be Clean Until We Tackle This Filth Hiding in Plain Sight”

The IndyStar examines the issue of toxic runoff into the White River. While the article focuses on the effects on water quality in the Indianapolis area, the problem is widespread and affects us all.

From the Sierra Club Newsletter:

Article: You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Life

The Trump administration’s proposal to dramatically weaken the Endangered Species Act amounts to death by a thousand cuts. If the administration has its way, profit-seeking will eventually eclipse the need to protect at-risk species.

Link: You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Life

From the Sierra Club Newsletter:

Campaign (form for submitting a message through the EPA Official Comment Docket on Water):

The Trump administration’s next attack on the Clean Water Act would keep your state from demanding that big polluters protect local waterways and drinking water sources. State governments and groups like the Sierra Club use Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to protect your local waterways.

Trump’s Coming for Your Local Waterways 

Climate Strike in Muncie

An older gentleman and a younger man sit side by side holding signs that say Climate Crisis! We demand action!

As part of the global climate strike held on Friday, September 20, approximately 25 activists from the  Muncie area gathered in front of the Delaware County Building at 4:00 pm. Ranging in age from under six months to over 70 years old, demonstrators drew attention to the need for governments worldwide to take measures to combat climate change. 

Drivers-by registered their support at the busy intersection by honking their horns as the lights changed.  

Friday, September 20

Demonstrators were supplemented by Muncie schools when the Homecoming Parade marched down Walnut Street. 

A group of protesters young and old march down the sidewalk holding signs demanding action on Climate Change.

The takeaway, in Muncie and across the globe, is clear:

If we hope to survive climate change, we must insist that governments devise and implement comprehensive, wide-ranging plans that effectively tackle it, before it’s too late.


Father and two children fishing off pier in Indiana pond

Calendar of Events

Get involved in protecting Indiana’s Natural Resources! 

November 2019

Saturday, November 16

HEC 12th Annual Greening the Statehouse

IMMI Conference Center, Westfield, IN

From HEC’s website: “the largest annual gathering of environmentally-minded Hoosiers. It is the year’s best chance to learn about upcoming legislative issues, engage with environmental public policy experts, and network with environmental-minded Hoosiers and green-minded businesses from across the state.”

HEC’s Greening the Statehouse website (to learn more and register): 

Wednesday, November 13, 7:00-8:00 pm


Environmental Sustainability in Indiana

Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington, IN

“Learn how Indiana has progressed, where it stands today, and how to make your daily life as sustainable as possible.”

Monroe County Public Library Events Facebook page:

Tuesday, November 12, 5:00-6:00 pm


Muncie Environmental Impact Committee Meeting

Muncie City Hall, Muncie, IN

Facebook page:

Friday, November 1, 9-10:00 am
                 (repeats monthly to May 1)


IU Environmental Resilience Institute Climate Conversations

For more information, see the Environmental Resilience Institute Events website: 

CONTACT your Legislators to Register your Support for these Important Bills!

October, 2019

Public Transportation—SB285

SB285 is intended to enable communities across Indiana to raise dedicated funds for mass transit. (Public transportation lowers demand for fossil fuels and reduces carbon emissions contributing to climate change.)


Summary of SB285 (

Regional transit expansion.

Allows counties to impose an additional local income tax rate to fund the operations of a public transportation corporation and the operations of a rural transportation assistance program if the: (1) voters of the county approve a local public question; and (2) fiscal body of the county adopts an ordinance to impose the additional tax rate.

Provides that the rate must be at least 0.1% but not more than 0.25%. Excludes from this provision any county that is eligible to hold a referendum on funding transportation projects under the central Indiana public transportation projects statute.


CFO Regulation—HB1378

This legislation aims to impose, for the first time, air pollution limits on factory farms. It would also establish protective setbacks—a buffer zone between factory farms and nearby homes, public places, and environmentally-sensitive resources.


Summary of HB1378 (

Regulation of confined feeding operations.

Amends the law on confined feeding operations (CFOs), which include any confined feeding of at least 300 cattle, 600 swine or sheep, 30,000 fowl, or 500 horses.

Provides for the department of environmental management (IDEM) to issue CFO permits instead of “approvals.”

Provides that a person that owns a CFO, owns the livestock in a CFO, applies for a permit, permit renewal, or permit modification for a CFO, or is otherwise in direct or responsible charge of a CFO, is a “responsible party” with respect to the CFO and must disclose certain information.

Provides that a person may not start construction or operation of a CFO without obtaining a permit from IDEM and may not modify a CFO without obtaining a permit modification from IDEM.

Provides that the application for a permit or permit modification must be accompanied by: (1) plans and specifications prepared or certified by a professional engineer; (2) certain site-specific information; and (3) a site-specific air pollution control plan.

Requires IDEM to: (1) provide public access to a permit application through IDEM’s virtual file cabinet; (2) publish a notice requesting public comments on the application; (3) allow interested persons to submit written comments; and (4) hold a public hearing on the permit application upon written request.

Requires the commissioner of IDEM (commissioner) to deny an application for a permit or permit modification if the proposed activity would substantially endanger public health or the environment.

Authorizes IDEM to revoke a CFO permit if necessary to prevent or abate a substantial endangerment to public health or the environment.

Requires the environmental rules board (board) to adopt rules establishing: (1) limits on hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia emissions; and (2) requirements and prohibitions applying to new CFOs, CFOs proposed for expansion, and other existing CFOs.

Provides that the rules must prohibit a new or expanded CFO from being located within one mile of a residence unless the owner of the residence consents to a lesser setback or the commissioner determines that the CFO’s air pollution control plan will prevent the CFO from exceeding the limits on hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia emissions established by the rules of the board.

Makes technical corrections.

Net Metering—SB430 and HB1331

SB430 restores net metering, and HB1331 reduces burdens on potential solar panel owners who are part of homeowner associations.


Summary of SB430 (

Elimination of net metering phase out.

Eliminates provisions under which net metering (an arrangement under which an electric utility’s customer who has equipment for the production of electricity and who intermittently supplies electricity from that equipment to the electric utility is credited for the electricity that the customer supplies to the electric utility) would be partially ended by 2032 and completely ended by 2047.

Eliminates a limit on the aggregate amount of an electric utility’s net metering facility nameplate capacity that can be made available for customers’ participation in net metering.

Provides instead that the net metering facility nameplate capacity that an electric utility makes available for customers’ participation in net metering must be at least 3% of the electric utility’s most recent summer peak load.

Provides that, of the net metering facility nameplate capacity made available for customers’ participation in net metering, 30% must be reserved for participation by residential customers and not more than 5% must be reserved for participation by customers that install net metering facilities that use organic waste biomass.


Summary of HB1331 (

Homeowners associations.

Provides that, subject to certain specified exceptions, a homeowners association may not: (1) prohibit the owner of a dwelling unit from installing a solar energy system; (2) impose unreasonable limitations on the owner’s ability to install or use a solar energy system; or (3) require the removal of a solar energy system that has been installed.

Provides, however, that a homeowners association may require: (1) compliance with screening requirements imposed by the homeowners association; and (2) preapproval of the location of a solar energy system and of the manner in which the solar energy system is installed.

Applies only to rules, covenants, declarations of restrictions, and other governing documents adopted or amended by a homeowners association after June 30, 2019.

Provides that if a party to a dispute involving a homeowners association requests mediation, mediation is mandatory.

Provides that if neither party requests mediation, or if mediation is unsuccessful, a claimant may begin legal proceedings. Requires a mediation to be conducted in compliance with the Indiana supreme court rules for alternative dispute resolution.

Makes corresponding amendments to the provisions regarding grievance resolutions involving condominium associations.



Since 2005, 300-400% increases in logging have hurt wildlife habitats and hiking trails, also resulting in further damage caused by the growth of invasive plants and the construction of new gravel roads. Management plans must be developed for our state forests that require the exemption of a minimum of 10% of forested land from logging activity. SB610 offers a plan to limit logging in Indiana state forests.


Summary of SB610 (

State forest commission and management plan.

Establishes a state forest commission. Specifies the membership of the commission. Requires the commission to meet in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and to issue a written report establishing a plan for the management of the state forests for the 100-year period beginning in 2022.

Provides that the commission’s plan must contain certain recommendations and must embody certain principles.

Requires the state forest commission to set forth in its report the subjects discussed and issues raised concerning which the general assembly may choose to pass legislation.

Requires the natural resources commission to adopt rules incorporating the state forest commission’s determination about the percentage of state forest land falling within each of the three “priority use” categories.

Requires the natural resources commission, every seven years, to conduct a review of the implementation of the state forest commission’s plan and to adopt rules to revise the plan, as appropriate.


Legislators to contact to voice your support for SB610:

Melanie Wright is a member of the committee and local legislator; Jean Leising is the committee chairman; and committee members Mike Crider, Susan Glick, Don Lehe, and J. D. Prescott are opposed to the proposed changes in logging, and they need to hear from us.


The Complexity Index

School children studying chemistry
Image from ICPE Notes

 – and why you should care about it


Why does it cost more
to educate children
who live in poverty?

  1. Children who grow up in homes of poverty have fewer early childhood educational opportunities.
  2. Children in single-parent homes, or homes where parents have to work evenings, more often experience deficits in language development.
  3. Children who grow up in poverty start school significantly behind their wealthier peers.
  4. Children who grow up in poverty are less likely to be exposed to adults with advanced educational degrees.
  5. Impoverished parents cannot afford the cost of additional tutoring or even transportation to the public library or their school for additional support.
  6. Students who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience medical and emotional trauma.
  7. Public schools that serve the highest proportion of students of poverty need to provide more resources for academic aides, tutoring staff, nurses and social workers than are needed in schools serving wealthy families.
  8. Schools of poverty need to provide more after-school and summer remediation programs.
  9. Schools of poverty need to offer competitive salaries to attract and hold highly qualified teachers.


Find out more in this article by Dr. Tony Lux, school superintendent

What is the complexity index?

The Indiana General Assembly establishes a per-pupil basic tuition support amount for each budget year. Multiply that times the district’s number of students (ADM) on count day in the fall and spring, and it is the state-funded amount school districts receive for general classroom expenses, including teacher pay.

The complexity index is a component of school funding that allocates additional money to school districts based upon the number of disadvantaged students served.It is based on a district’s poverty level and other factors. 

Why is the complexity index important now?

Some legislators are again asking why disadvantaged students need additional funding beyond the basic school formula.

What you can do about it?

Understand the issues and discuss them with people in your social circles.