Welcome to my website!
I'm Virginia Elwood-Akers, author of Caroline Severance.
I am a retired librarian who worked for thirty years at California State University, Northridge, as the subject specialist in the field of women studies. I am a second-generation native of Los Angeles - unusual for a person in my generation - who received her BA from UCLA. her MLS from the University of Oregon, and a Master's Degree in Mass Communication from California State University, Northridge. My first book Women War Correspondents in the Vietnam War, 1961-1975, was published in 1988. I began researching the life of Caroline Severance in 1990.
Caroline Severance is the biography of one of the forgotten heroines of the American woman suffrage movement of the nineteenth century. Based upon twenty years of exhaustive research, this is the biography of a woman who was in the forefront of every human rights movement of her time. Caroline was an abolitionist, a suffragist, an advocate for women's health and women physicians, a peace activist, and a socialist. She was a leader of the woman suffrage movement before the Civil War and lived to vote in an American presidential election.
Born in western New York when it was the frontier of the United States, she ended her life on another western frontier, in Los Angeles, California. She has been recognized as one of the "builders of the city of Los Angeles." She witnessed the opening of the Erie Canal, and more than eighty years later, the first air show ever held in Los Angeles. Always advocating the rights of women and realizing their potential as full citizens, she was a founder of the Women's Club Movement, which, far from being a purely social movement, was designed to allow women to discover that they had brains and leadership abilities. This movement was instrumental in the final passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
Photo of Caroline Severance ca. 1870, courtesy of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University