Book preserves memory of group dedicated to Chapman Catt home

Wendy Johnson, author of “Preserving Carrie’s Legacy: The National 19th Amendment Society,” sits with Rhoda McCartney, founder of the group dedicated to preserving the childhood home and the memory of the women’s suffrage leader. Press photo by  Bob Steenson
Wendy Johnson, author of “Preserving Carrie’s Legacy: The National 19th Amendment Society,” sits with Rhoda McCartney, founder of the group dedicated to preserving the childhood home and the memory of the women’s suffrage leader.
Press photo by Bob Steenson

Meet the author at event set for May 29

By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

When she was approached to write the history of The National 19th Amendment Society, Wendy Johnson recognized the significance of the task.

“The right to vote is a very important opportunity,” Johnson said. “We all need to take advantage of it.”

Johnson, a former and now current Charles City resident, is the author of “Preserving Carrie’s Legacy: The National 19th Amendment Society.” The book is a history of how the group started and its efforts to save and preserve the girlhood home of women’s suffrage leader Carrie Lane Chapman Catt.

A public reception with the author will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday, May 29, at the Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home and Interpretive Center, 2379 Timber Ave. Copies of the book will also be available at the site.

Chapman Catt grew up on the farm where the home is located, about three miles south of Charles City. The 19th Amendment Society is dedicated to preserving the home and Catt’s legacy.

The group commissioned the book to celebrate the approaching 100th anniversary of the year that the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified and became law in 1920, largely as a result of Chapman Catt’s efforts leading the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

The book includes a series of interviews with many of the people who were involved in the effort to save and preserve the Chapman Catt home.

Rhoda McCartney of Charles City founded the National 19th Amendment Society in 1991, and had a chance to read the book.

“I thought it was wonderful,” McCartney said. “The interviews were fun, but it was the timeline that brought back so many things.

“I thought it was very well put together. I thought she represented the people who have worked extraordinarily hard,” McCartney said of the author. “It was a great overview. It will be a good reference for the future.”

Johnson, the author, is a graduate of Charles City High School and a world traveler. She moved away and was a copywriter for a time before moving back to Charles City to farm. She also is a blogger and has done freelance writing.

“When they offered me the opportunity I didn’t hesitate,” Johnson said. “I thought it would be a worthwhile project.

“It didn’t seem like work,” she said of writing the book. “A lot of the book is interviews — I really enjoyed doing the interviews — the people were really unique.”

McCartney said Chapman Catt is a person who deserves to be recognized and remembered.

“She’s done things that made our culture different,” she said. “The right to vote has opened up so many doors.”

For more information about the Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home and Interpretive Center, go to www.catt.org or call 641-228-3033.

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