America's founding mothers

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, courtesy the Library of Congress

On the 100th birthday of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote, the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) hosts a celebration of that struggle with a virtual webinar discussion featuring the 1999 Ken Burns documentary Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Paul Barnes, editor and co-producer of the film, will host alongside actor Ali MacGraw at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9.

The film explores the lives of the two titular women and their common goal to obtain the vote. The two met in 1851, both with experience as activists. “It was a remarkable political partnership that the two of them had,” Barnes says. “They were great compliments for each other. Stanton was the thinker behind the women’s movement and so she would write up all the polemics. Susan, who was a great organizer and proselytizer, traveled the country and organized women.”

“With the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the vote for women passing, I thought it would be a good time to celebrate that,” Barnes says. Not for Ourselves Alone runs for more than three hours over two episodes. For the screening, though, Barnes edited the film down to 70 minutes of clips that pertain to the vote.

Between clips, MacGraw will read excerpts from Elaine Weiss’ Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. “It’s very detailed about the month leading up to the vote for the ratification. It also has wonderful flashbacks to the Stanton/Anthony stories from the 19th century,” Barnes says. He will also provide historical context with narration written specifically for this screening.

The film was the first that Barnes produced in his work with Ken Burns. Prior to that, Barnes edited The Civil War and The Statue of Liberty. “Ken and I made the film back in 1998. We made it because both he and I, even though we are major history buffs, were almost completely unaware of the 19th-century women’s movement. Neither of us even knew who Elizabeth Cady Stanton was,” Barnes says. “The intention of doing it was to let people know that not only did America have founding fathers, but we had founding mothers.”

The program ran in February for Susan B. Anthony’s birthday and received such a positive response that CCA is bringing it back for this second iteration. The virtual program includes all of the same elements but will run entirely online. The event is free of charge. To register go to

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