The Genius of Liberty, six-minute suffrage stories celebrating the 19th Amendment centennial


Local researcher Katherine Durack came to us last fall with stories to tell. Did we know that The Mercantile Library had once claimed to have been the first organization west of the Alleghenies to support women’s rights? Did we know that Otis Aldrich, an early member of the Library and director in 1838, was married to Elizabeth A. Aldrich, the Cincinnati woman who, in 1851, launched one of the first US periodicals published by a woman? Called The Genius of Liberty, Aldrich’s publication covered national women’s rights conventions and advocated equal access to education, equal pay for equal work, and voting rights for women.

Not every story Durack shared with us about the women and men who fought for women’s right to vote were so closely connected to the Mercantile. But every story highlighted the work of Ohioans in securing the vote for women, and each one uncovered an interesting bit of history that felt relevant to today. That’s why we decided to help Durack share the stories. Recycling the name Elizabeth Aldrich picked for her publication more than a century ago, we launched The Genius of Liberty podcast

Each episode of The Genius of Liberty is a six-minute suffrage story researched, written, and voiced by Durack, and produced by The Mercantile Library. In sharing these stories, Durack hopes to inspire listeners to exercise their right to vote (Ohio ranks 29th in voter turnout) and to support the vital right of citizens to a voice in government, a right that continues to be contested today. 

Find all the episodes here, and scroll down for information on and links to individual episodes of The Genius of Liberty.

Episode 1. Woman with Book

Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library once claimed to be one of the first organizations west of the Alleghenies to support women’s rights.


Elizabeth Aldrich, Otis Aldrich, Henry Blackwell, Edward Mansfield,  Gloria Steinem, Lucy Stone, Timothy Walker, Mary Wollstonecraft

Introduction to American Law (1837), Legal Rights, Liabilities and Duties of Women (1845), “On Woman” (1853)

Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH)

Chamber of Commerce (Cincinnati, OH)

Mercantile Library (Cincinnati, OH)


Episode 2. The Genius of Liberty

The Genius of Liberty was one of the very first feminist newspapers, published by Elizabeth A. Aldrich in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Elizabeth A. Aldrich, Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith, T. S. (Thomas Smith) Grimke

Banner of the Union newspaper (Philadelphia, PA)

Masonic Review (Cincinnati, OH)

Woman’s Rights Convention (Mt. Gilead, OH)

1852 National Woman’s Rights Convention (Syracuse, NY)


Episode 3. Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Trixie!

Of course it was “the Cincinnati Girl,” suffragist and vaudeville star Trixie Friganza, who inspired the iconic song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Who knew a girl could keep score? 


Trixie Friganza (aka, Delia O’Callahan), Jack Norworth

The Prince of Pilsen (play), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (play),

City Hall (New York City, NY Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds (New York City), Pogue’s Department Store (Cincinnati, OH), Vaudeville show (Louisville, KY)


Episode 4. Fake News!

The letter of support sent by Ohio activist Lucius A. Hine to the first national woman’s rights convention made national headlines…and Hine objected. 


Lucius A. Hine

The Cincinnati Nonpareil newspaper

1850 National Woman’s Rights Convention (Worcester, MA)


Episode 5. Shorthand for Suffrage

Suffragist Margaret V. Longley revolutionized office work and created new opportunities for women in the workplace.


Elias Longley, M. V. (Margaret Vater) Longley

The Phonetic Advocate, Typewriter Lessons for Teachers and Learners

1848 Seneca Falls Convention, 1869 Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Assn. (New York City)


Episode 6. “A Greater Menace than War”

In February 1917 the Ohio legislature passed — and the governor signed into law — a bill that allowed Ohio women to vote for President. Male voters repealed the measure that fall. 


Mrs. O.F. Davisson

The Akron Times, The Holden Resolution, The Reynolds Act

“Beer Capital of the World” (Cincinnati, OH), Cuyahoga County (OH), Mahoning County (OH), Montgomery County (OH) Suffrage Association, Ohio State Senate (Columbus, OH), Ohio Supreme Court (Columbus, OH), Scioto County (OH), Trumbull County (OH)


Episode 7. Equal Justice Under Law

How building the United States Supreme Court erased women’s history.


Mrs. John Gordon Battelle, Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, President Warren G. Harding, Mrs. William Howard Taft

Columbus (OH), Marine Band, National Woman’s Party (Washington, DC), “Old Brick Capitol” (Washington, DC), United States Supreme Court (Washington, DC)


Episode 8. “Woman Versus The Indian”

Anna Julia Cooper confronted racism in the women’s suffrage movement in her seminal work of black feminism, A Voice from the South, published in Xenia, Ohio, in 1892.


Anna Julia Cooper

A Voice From the South

Xenia (OH)


Episode 9. Leading the Nation from Warren, Ohio

After President Carrie Chapman Catt suffered a serious illness, the headquarters for the National American Woman Suffrage Association moved to Warren, Ohio, under the leadership of Harriet Taylor Upton from 1903-1910.


Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth J. Hauser, Harriet Taylor Upton

The History of Woman Suffrage

National American Woman Suffrage Association (New York City; Warren, OH)


Episode 10. The Death of Susan B. Anthony

In March 1906, Harriet Taylor Upton shared the news of Susan B. Anthony’s death with readers of The Woman’s Journal.


Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth J. Hauser, Harriet Taylor Upton, Anna Howard Shaw

The Woman’s Journal

Equal suffrage states (CO, ID, UT, WY), Mt. Hope Cemetery (Rochester, NY) National American Woman Suffrage Association (Warren, OH), Susan B. Anthony’s home (Rochester, NY), Utah, Wyoming


Episode 11. One March More

Hallie Quinn Brown of Wilberforce, Ohio, and the members of the National Association of Colored Women fought for civil rights and woman suffrage both before and after adoption of the 19th amendment.


Hallie Quinn Brown, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Queen Victoria, Lester A. Walton, Susan B. Anthony

The New York Age; The Portrait Monument

International Council of Women (London, England), National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (Washington, DC), US Capitol Rotunda (Washington, DC), Wilberforce (OH)


Episode 12. Legally Responsible Women

In December 1877, the Toledo Woman Suffrage Association took on a new cause: the right of responsible women to secure a library card. 


William H. Scott, Timothy Walker; “Ladies of the Toledo Woman Suffrage Association” included Anna C. Mott, secretary, and Rosa L. Segur, President

“The Legal Condition of Women” in The Western Law Journal (1849)

Board of Trustees of the Toledo Public Library (Toledo, OH)