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Amelia Bloomer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amelia Bloomer
Born Amelia Jenks
May 27, 1818
Homer, New York, United States
Died December 30, 1894(1894-12-30) (aged 76)
Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States
Residence Amelia Bloomer House
Occupation Women's rights and temperance advocate

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (May 27, 1818 – December 30, 1894) was an American women's rights and temperance advocate. Even though she did not create the women's clothing reform style known as bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy. She was the first woman to own, operate and edit a news vehicle for women.

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Hey guys! Today we're gonna read, You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer. It was written by Shana Corey, Illustrated by Chelsey McLaren. I like this book because it tells little girls, "You don't have to wear dresses, you don't have to be like girls, pink, sparkle. And I'm wearing pants! Deal with it! Let's Start Reading. Amelia Bloomer was not a proper lady. In fact, Amelia Bloomer though proper ladies were silly. She thought it was silly that proper ladies were not allowed to vote. So She tried to Change the laws so that they could. Good Grief, people said! Amelia Bloomer thought it was silly that proper ladies were not supposed to work. So she started her own newspaper and went to work on that. She names the newspaper The Lily. It was a special newspaper all about women. She hired other women to work on it too. A shame people said! But the silliest thing of all thought Amelia Bloomer was the way proper ladies were supposed to dress. Theirs dresses were so heavy, wearing them was like carting around. ... A Dozen Bricks! What was proper about that? Their dresses were so long that proper ladies looked like walking broomsticks. The acted like broomsticks too because their skirts swept up all the mud and trash from the street. What was proper about that? The corsets they wore underneath their dresses were so tight it was hard to breathe in them. Proper ladies were fainting at the drop of a hat. What was proper about that? And the hoops they wore beneath their dresses were so wide that no matter how they squeezed, no matter how they squished and squashed, and stuffed themselves through, the proper ladies still got stuck in doorways all over town. What in the world was proper about that? Even little girls had to wear proper dresses, so the couldn't run or play. This has got to stop declared Amelia Bloomer. Then one day, Amelia's friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton came to visit. Elizabeth brought her cousin libby with her. Libby looked remarkable! She was even more improper than Amelia because Libby was not wearing a dress! Dresses, said Libby. Blah! How silly! Instead of a dress, Libby was wearing something that was NOT too heavy and not too long and not too tight and not too wide. It looked just right. Brilliant! announces Amelia. And she went right to her sewing machine and sewed a matching outfit for herself. Then she went out for a walk. The Townspeople were aghast! Can you believe it? You forgot your skirt, Amelia Bloomer, called a little boy. Shocking, everyone said. But Amelia did not care on bit. She thought the new clothes were wonderful! She ran and jumped and twirled and did all the things she had wanted to do. Amelia had such a good time that she wanted other women to know about the new clothes too. So when she got home, she wrote about the in The Lily. Marvelous! said a lady from Boston. I declare! said the lady from Charleston. Where can I get one? asked a lady from Baltimore. Pretty soon Amelia had letters from women everywhere. They all wanted patterns so they could make the new clothes themselves. Some of them even wanted tips on what to wear with the new style. some people called the new style of clothes the American costume. Most people just called them Bloomers. of Course, not everyone liked Bloomers. Hmmph, said on very proper gentleman. Balderdash, said another. This can only lead to more rights for women. Grumbled a third. Over time, Bloomers went out of style. Proper ladies and gentlemen everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness they said. Now everyone will forget this nonsense and things can return to normal. But did people really forget all about Amelia Bloomer and her improper ideas? Well... What do you think? This was all the book, and it was really really fun to read. Bye!


Early life

Amelia Jenks was born in 1818 in Homer, New York. She came from a family of modest means and received only a few years of formal education in the local district school.


After a brief time as a school teacher at the age of 17, she decided to relocate, and moved in with her newly married sister Elvira, then living in Waterloo. Within a year she had moved into the home of the Oren Chamberlain family in Seneca Falls to act as the live-in governess for their three youngest children.[1]

When she was 22, she married attorney Dexter Bloomer who encouraged her to write for his New York newspaper, the Seneca Falls County Courier. Bloomer supported her activism, he even gave up drinking as part of the Temperance Movement

She spent her early years in Cortland County, New York. Bloomer and her family moved to Iowa in 1852.[2]

Social activism

In 1848, Bloomer attended the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, though she did not sign the Declaration of Sentiments and subsequent resolutions. She chose her deep connection with the Episcopal Church over the Declaration of Sentiments. The following year, she began editing the first newspaper for women, The Lily. It was published biweekly from 1849 until 1853. The newspaper began as a temperance journal, but came to have a broad mix of contents ranging from recipes to moralist tracts, particularly when under the influence of suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Bloomer felt that because women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. Originally, The Lily was to be for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848, and eventually had a circulation of over 4,000. The paper encountered several obstacles early on, and the Society’s enthusiasm died out. Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper. Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies.” But after 1850 – only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.[3] This newspaper was a model for later periodicals focused on women's suffrage.

Bloomer described her experience as the first woman to own, operate and edit a news vehicle for women:

It was a needed instrument to spread abroad the truth of a new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun. I saw not the end from the beginning and dreamed where to my propositions to society would lead me.

Bloomer Suit
Bloomer Suit

In her publication, Bloomer promoted a change in dress standards for women that would be less restrictive in regular activities.

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.

In 1851, New England temperance activist Elizabeth Smith Miller (aka Libby Miller) adopted what she considered a more rational costume: loose trousers gathered at the ankles, like women's trousers worn in the Middle East and Central Asia, topped by a short dress or skirt and vest. The costume was worn publicly by actress Fanny Kemble. Miller displayed her new clothing to Stanton, her cousin, who found it sensible and becoming, and adopted it immediately. In this garb Stanton visited Bloomer, who began to wear the costume and promote it enthusiastically in her magazine. Articles on the clothing trend were picked up in The New York Tribune. More women wore the fashion which was promptly dubbed The Bloomer Costume or "Bloomers". However, the Bloomers were subjected to ceaseless ridicule in the press and harassment on the street. Bloomer herself dropped the fashion in 1859, saying that a new invention, the crinoline, was a sufficient reform that she could return to conventional dress.

Also in 1851, Bloomer introduced the suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to each other.[4][5]

Bloomer remained a suffrage pioneer and writer throughout her life, writing for a wide array of periodicals. Although Bloomer was far less famous than some other feminists, she made many significant contributions to the women’s movement — particularly concerning dress reform. Bloomer also led suffrage campaigns in Nebraska and Iowa, and served as president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association from 1871 until 1873.

Death and burial

She died in 1894, at the age of 76, and is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Iowa.[6][7]


She is commemorated together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman in the calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church on July 20.

In 1975 she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.[8]

In 1980 her home at Seneca Falls, New York, known as the Amelia Bloomer House, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

In 1995 she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[9][10]

In 1999 a sculpture by Ted Aub was unveiled commemorating when on May 12, 1851, Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[11][4] This sculpture, called "When Anthony Met Stanton", consists of the three women depicted as life-size bronze statues, and is placed overlooking Van Cleef Lake in Seneca Falls, New York, where the introduction occurred.[4][11]

Since 2002, the American Library Association has produced an annual Amelia Bloomer List of recently published books with significant feminist content for younger readers.

See also


  1. ^ Weber, Sandra S., "Special History Sturdy", Women's Rights National Historic Park, Seneca Falls, New York, US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, September 1985
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ Women's Rights National Historic Park
  4. ^ a b c "Aub Discusses Commemorative Sculpture - Hobart and William Smith Colleges". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  5. ^ "Susan Campbell: We Lost This Time, But Women Push Back - Hartford Courant". Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  6. ^ Editors, The (1945-10-24). "Amelia Bloomer | American social reformer". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  7. ^ City Clerk. "Cemeteries | Council Bluffs, IA - Official Website". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  8. ^ "1975 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honoree:  Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894)". Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  9. ^ "Congressional Record | | Library of Congress". 1995-09-15. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  10. ^ "Bloomer, Amelia - National Women's Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  11. ^ a b "The Freethought Trail". The Freethought Trail. Retrieved 2017-10-28.


  • Bloomer, Dexter C. Life and Writings of Amelia Bloomer. Boston: Arena Pub. Co., 1895. Reprinted 1975 by Schocken Books, New York. Includes bibliographical references.
  • Coon, Anne C. Hear Me Patiently: The Reform Speeches of Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Vol. 138. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 1994.
  • Smith, Stephanie, Household Words: Bloomers, sucker, bombshell, scab, cyber (2006) -- material on changing usage of words.
  • The Lily: A Ladies' Journal, devoted to Temperance and Literature. 1849.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 September 2018, at 19:05
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