Elizabeth Upham Yates (1857–1942) was a nationally known reformer in the United States in the fields of temperance, women’s suffrage, simple living, and missionary work. The Life and Times of Elizabeth Upham Yates: A Crusader for Women’s Suffrage, Temperance, and Missionary Work documents Yates’s life from her coastal Maine origins through her missionary activities in China in the 1880s to her political career in the 1920s. Upon her return from China to the United States, Yates’s reputation grew as a master orator who stirred the suffrage spirit on campaign trails across the country. In 1920, the first year that women could campaign for office in Rhode Island, she ran for the Democratic ticket for lieutenant governor, earning 50,000 votes. She railed against jingoists like Theodore Roosevelt in the New York Times and chastised male political leadership for ignoring the lynching crisis. During her long career, her suffrage sisters memorialized her as a “prophet and a dreamer.” Shannon M. Risk draws on sources ranging from regional histories and shipping passenger manifests to archival papers at the Library of Congress and Yates’s own writing to shed new light on this suffragist’s life and work.
Shannon M. Risk is associate professor of history and directs the public history and women’s studies minors at Niagara University in New York.
Introduction: The Life of Elizabeth Upham Yates
Chapter 1. Growing Up in Maine, 1857--1880: Steeped in Methodism
Chapter 2. Missionary, 1880--1885: Yates’ Role in a Modernizing China
Chapter 3. A New Path, 1885-1896: Lecturing for Temperance and Women’s Suffrage
Chapter 4. In Between the Nation and Maine, 1896-1908: Balancing Home and National Work
Chapter 5. “The Last General of Rhode Island,” 1909-1920: Leading the Final
Chapter 6. Victory and Defeat, 1920: The Nineteenth Amendment and Running for Lieutenant
Governor of Rhode Island
Chapter 7. Towards the Setting Sun, 1920-1942: Battling Disability in Trying Times
The Life and Times of Elizabeth Upham Yates by Shannon Risk, chronicling the life-story of one of the second-generation leaders in the struggles for temperance and woman’s suffrage, is a book that is long overdue. Although she was as successful a lecturer and leader as Frances Willard, Susan B. Anthony, Anna Howard Shaw, and many others, and became one of the first women in this country to run for high state office, Elizabeth Upham Yates has remained in their shadow for many generations. With her in-depth research, Risk not only recounts Yates’s lifelong involvement with these issues but also describes with an impartial voice the conflicts that existed among the women themselves, along with the reality that this was a movement primarily for white women’s rights, as well. This book is an important addition to the history of the struggle for women’s rights in this country.