New York [Vols 1-2], Rochester [Vols 3-4]: Fowler & Wells [Vols 1-2], Susan B. Anthony [Vols 3-4], 1881, 1882, 1887, 1902. First edition. Including the first four of six volumes contained within the final version of the set, these being the only volumes published in Anthony and Stanton's lifetimes. Original publisher's cloth bindings with titles in gilt to spines. Some rubbing to extremities, particularly at crowns and feet of spines. Brown coated endpapers. Front endpaper excised from Volume II. Light scattered foxing throughout. Handwritten publisher's office note on the footer of the Dedication page of Volume I and a contemporary handwritten list of illustrations pasted to the verso. An exceptional set with an important association, Susan B. Anthony writes lengthy inscriptions to Caroline A. Sherman, the Recording Secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association, on the flyleaves of Volumes III and IV. While one to two volumes of the set occasionally appear on the market, it is quite rare to find the first four volumes of this important work together, and with such an important association. Four volume sets have appeared at auction only twice, in 2008 and 1911, with the complete six volume set in first edition appearing only once, over a decade ago.
Spanning over 5,000 pages and drawing on primary sources from the National Woman Suffrage Association leaders and their archives, The History of Woman Suffrage is still considered one of the most important accounts of this American equality movement. For Anthony, it was critical that women write themselves into U.S. history as well as leave a road map for future activists. To this end, when it became clear in 1885 that this comprehensive project would cost more money than it would raise, she purchased the rights to the contents and plates for Volumes I-II and published Volumes III-IV as sole owner. To promote the movement, she donated copies to libraries and presented copies to contributors and people with political influence.
The present set is an example of Anthony's strategy. Within the later two volumes, those owned and published by Anthony, the suffrage leader left personal inscriptions to an important associate who had worked closely with her on the lengthy History. Caroline A. Sherman had served as the Recording Secretary to Anthony and the NWSA, helping organize key documents and make the book's production possible. In Volume III Anthony writes to her friend at the Riggs House Hotel, a frequent meeting space for the NWSA, in the year of publication: "To Caroline A. Sherman, from her loving friend Susan B. Anthony. Rochester NY | The Riggs House Washington DC March 2, '87." In Volume IV Anthony becomes more effusive, writing, "Miss Caroline A. Sherman, Washington DC. See how the world of women's freedom and equality has moved on in the past twenty years, of the past 19th century! The memory of the good work you with Miss Ellen H. Sheldon did in that long ago -- I send this book -- hoping it may beguile the many weary hours of your invalidism. Yours in the old love & sympathy, Susan B. Anthony. 17 Madison Street Rochester, NY | July 11, 1902." The 15 years between Volumes III and IV had seen a massive and effective expansion of voting rights to women on the state level; and a federal law nicknamed the Susan B. Anthony Amendment had been proposed for ratification to extend voting rights to women at the national level. While Sherman descended into ill health at the time of this inscription, Anthony, whose fight for equality had begun in 1848, would die within four years of the volume's release. Yet Anthony had set her cohort up for success and had established her legacy. Under her protegees Gage and Harper, another two massive volumes would be released documenting what her mentee Carrie Chapman Catt accomplished: the ratification of the 19th Amendment and extension of the franchise to women in 1920.
A work of exceptional importance, with a scarce association.
Krichmar 1996. (Item #3213)