Winthrop Maine Historical Society will host a Zoom presentation by Bonnie Wilder from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, about Susan B. Anthony and the Centennial of the 19th Women’s Suffrage Amendment. It will include slides of the private tour Wilder was given by the director of the Susan B. Anthony birthplace in Adams, Massachusetts, last summer, according to a news release from the society.

Zoom Link: https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/81096636540. Meeting ID: 810 9663 6540. For more information, contact Nick Perry at [email protected]ibrary.org. Business meeting to follow.

Bonnie Wilder at the Anthony’s fortuitous introduction to Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls, New York. Photo courtesy of the Winthrop Maine Historical Society

Anthony’s fortuitous introduction to Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls, New York, is memorialized with a life-size statue that honors their half-century of perseverance in spite of decades of resistance and ridicule for daring to think that all women should have equal suffrage rights with men.

The long 72-year journey toward ratification of the 19th Women’s Suffrage Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified on Aug. 22, 1920. This victory was won by one single vote in the Tennessee state house!

Both suffragists in these latter years realized they would never live to see their dream come true. But they spent their final years together writing their own history and cataloging a mountain of national suffrage ephemera that Stanton had stored in her attic. This treasure trove is now preserved in the Library of Congress.

According to the release, Wilder is a summer resident of Wayne, where, until the turn of the 20th century, four generations of her ancestors farmed the land. She is the Constitution Week Chairwoman for the Koussinoc Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Augusta, and the director of a DAR choir in an associate chapter in Florida, where she winters with John, her husband of 53 years. Bonnie is a retired music educator, having taught for 30 years. She began her research on 19th-century accomplished women while working on her Master’s Thesis at Lowell University back in the early 1980s. Teaming up with the Lowell National Historical Park and the University College of Music, she wrote, directed and produced her first historical musical for 100 fifth- and sixth-graders who had no previous theater experience. Her thesis was based on an interdisciplinary concept which was innovative at the time. The students recorded positive memories after studying the Birth of the American Industrial Revolution via a field trip to the LNHP and after classroom experiences in reading, creative writing, and creating a self-portrait art of their character. Music and theater arts were central to the social studies curriculum.

Bonnie Wilder at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. Photo courtesy of the Winthrop Maine Historical Society

Spindle City Sisters features the story of the Lowell Mill Girls who were recruited from New England farms and became the world’s first en masse female labor force via textile manufacturing. It was also the first youth historical musical based on the primary source writings that had been published in The Lowell Offering which was the world’s first magazine of, by and for these working women of the 1840s.

The SCS experience was Bonnie’s springboard for decades of further research into the lives of many other amazing American women who persevered in diverse educational and professional fields—even though doors routinely slammed in their faces.

In 1995, Wilder was selected as one of 50 Massachusett’s teachers to learn and network at a Teachers As Writers retreat held at a Cape Cod resort and sponsored by the Edward F. Calesa Foundation. Each teacher was awarded a grant to create a special project that could be utilized by other educators. Bonnie wrote the The Massachusetts Songbook, which includes original stories and songs of heroes and heroines from the history of the Commonwealth.

Performing on stage together as a team, enhances learning and memory in a social framework that goes far beyond the classroom. Watching the students get excited about history as though they were actually living it, is what theater arts and music can accomplish. Decades later, her former students still recall SCS in terms of a peak experience from their elementary schooling.

The contents of this songbook have proved to be ageless. Wilder taught suffrage songs and choreographed her original Suffragette Quartet with the DAR choir in Florida and was invited to serve on the 2020 Centennial for Women Suffrage event in Citrus County.