Singer and historian Linda Radtke, in period garb and “Votes for Women” sash, celebrates the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, specifically highlighting the decades-long persistence of Vermonters, both women and men. Music was essential to the movement: each state convention of suffragists began and ended with songs such as “Shall Women Vote?” “New America,” “Giving the Ballot to the Mother” or “Voting as we Pray,” as well as rousing Christian hymns. Radtke also traces the movement’s alignment with other social justice initiatives such as temperance, labor conditions, wage equity, peace, and children’s welfare.
Touring the state in 1870, suffragist Lucy Stone urged resistant citizens to see women’s involvement in civic life as “Enlarged Housekeeping,” expanding women’s traditional efforts to nurture hearth and home to a wider focus to improve the greater community. (The Rutland Herald reporter expected “Harpies and Amazons,” and was impressed by suffragists’ mild and rational approach!)
Both the songs and stories in Radtke’s engaging presentation, accompanied by pianist David Gibson, highlight Vermonters’ efforts from 1840-1921, as they lobbied in churches, at “parlor meetings” at town halls and at the State House for total enfranchisement.
Linda Radtke was a Vermont high school teacher for thirty-one years and now produces the VPR Choral Hour on Vermont Public Radio. She has a special interest in local history, and enjoys doing research on each town she visits with her programs.
A classically trained singer, Linda is a member of Vermont’s professional vocal ensemble, Counterpoint, the Oriana Singers, and the Arioso Chamber Ensemble. She also sings with a vocal quartet, Ah!Capella, sponsored by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, which brings music to Vermont schools.