Monday, March 26, 2012 — 7 p.m.
McCoy Meetin’ House - Parkville Campus
Clarina Nichols, leader of women's rights and an advocate of other reform causes in the 1800s — Portrayed by Ann Schultis, director of library systems and associate professor of library science at Park University
Clarina Nichols, who was born in 1810 in Vermont, received an above average education for her day. She worked for the Windham County (Vt.) Democrat newspaper and founded a seminary for young ladies in New York. In 1843, soon after divorcing her first husband, she married George W. Nichols, the Democrat's editor, before ultimately taking over the newspaper's editorial duties, making the Democrat more literary and more closely aligned with a variety of reform causes. Nichols inaugurated her women's rights career with a series of articles criticizing standard property restrictions on married women at the time. Her literary campaign, along with the efforts of other women's rights reformers, ultimately succeeded in changing statutes in both New York and Vermont by 1852. When Kansas and Nebraska opened to non-Indian settlement in 1854, Nichols quickly decided to migrate to the new territory, moving to Douglas County, Kan., near what is now Baldwin City.
While Nichols' focused mostly on women's rights, she also was opposed to slavery and subsequently moved her family to Wyandotte County, Kan., where she became associate editor of the Quindaro Chindowan, an anti-slavery newspaper, in 1857. While at the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention in 1859, she lobbied delegates to grant women equal educational opportunities and the right to vote in school district elections, as well as equal standing on child custody matters and equality in holding real and personal property. Largely due to Nichols' lobbying efforts, the Wyandotte Constitution guaranteed these rights to Kansas women; however, when the Kansas campaign for equal suffrage was launched in 1867, Kansas voters rejected amendments for both female and African-American suffrage.
Thereafter, the cause of women's rights advanced slowly, but it did advance, Nichols left Kansas for California in 1871 to be with two of her children in California, where she died in 1885. But, two years after Nichols' death, Kansas women could vote in municipal elections, and in 1912, the state constitution was amended for women to have equality at the polls.
Portraying Nichols will be Ann Schultis, director of library systems and associate professor of library science at Park University. Schultis earned a master's degree in library science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She received her bachelor's degree in history from Cornell College in Iowa.