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tv   Amy Sohn The Man Who Hated Women  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 3:27am-4:23am EST

3:27 am >> first of all i'm delighted as always to say thanks to the national archives staff and the acknowledgments of the "the man who hated women," the staff of ash archives of chicago is much appreciated. the anti-vice activist anthony comstock devoted his career to opposing what he deemed immoral. his namesake law the 1873 comstock act outlawed sending obscenity and contraceptives to the u.s. mail. and its it's effect lasted 0 years. after the passage, eight remark would engage in a decade-long fight against comstock law in
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court and the press. in the man who hated women, a nissan brings to light their stories and describes how to activism laid the groundwork for expansion of women's rights in the future. amy sohn is the "new york times" best-selling author of 12 books which been published in 11 linkages and on five continents and is also screenwriter for television. she has written weekly columns for the downtown weekly new york press and the "new york post" and was a contributing editor at new york magazine for six years. as a freelance journalist she's written for the "new york times," slate, arbors bazaar, "men's journal," and many others. moderated elizabeth mitchell is the author of four nonfiction books and formally served as executive director of george magazine, the features editor of spin magazine, and a contributing editor to "newsweek." her writing has appeared in the "wall street journal," "chicago tribune," comcast travel,
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glamour in the nation, among others. mitchell has been interviewed on numerous radio and television shows and desktop nonfiction writing at columbia university. now let's hear from amy sohn and elizabeth mitchell. thank you for joining us. >> either. i am so thrilled to welcome amy sohn today to this program at the national archives. i'm huge fan of this book, "the man who hated women," and i'm so excited to get a chance to ask all the questions i had while i was reading it. so amy i want to start off just without he even came across this story, where did the whole adventure researching this begin? >> thank you so much for doing this. i feel aligned with you in our important work of uncovering women's stories, which is not always easy work, i thank you to the national archive foundation for having us, both of us, which
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i'm sure we'll talk about at some point a little bit. i've done a lot of research at the national archives, and for this book i utilized the archives in chicago and new york and waltham, and, of course, college park. wait, i already forgot the question. how dedicate interest in the subject? i've always been interested in ideas around women's hysteria and women's sanity, or insanity. i love the film gaslight. we use the term gaslight all the time but very few people have seen the incredible ingrid bergman film from which the term derived. i learned about the story of ida craddock who was this odd philadelphian quaker born woman born in 1857 and and i leart she was visited at night by a ghost husband here and to researching her story i learned
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that she was prosecuted under the comstock law. i decided that if i wanted to write a book that included her story i need to be a little broader than that. so i began researching all of the women who i felt had media, juicy, interesting stories into it butted heads with them in one way or another, some were prosecuted, eight women, the consumer prosecuted under state comstock law and some other federal but i thought he was a great opportunity to really tell the stories of these, what i i called sex radicals, these incredibly unconventional women who, some of whom we've heard about the most of whom we hadn't because they were active before suffrage past and they were in this kind of middle generation of women born generally in the 19th century, some of them
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1830s, some 1850s, who don't get a lot of attention. some reviewers have said it's called "the man who hated women" but it's really about the women, editors. anthony comstock is a great foil. if we can use them, i felt like if i i could use them to tell these stories, why not? because -- >> it would be exactly what he wouldn't want, right? >> exactly, yes, yes. he, too, is an evocative character. >> let's get a little sketch of our he comes from. i want to move into the women's stories. >> of course. >> but who was he? he had this profound impact on the lives of women going forward for 100 years and there's still -- >> 150 really. the passage of the comstock act was 1873 so we are now coming up
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on -- amite adding correctly? 150 years. anthony comstock was born in 1844 in new canaan connecticut. then an agrarian part of connecticut, grew up on a farm. he could see the long island sound on the farm, and every sunday he and his brothers and sisters and parents went to the congregationalist church for many, many hours. his mother was a direct descendent of the puritans. anthony fought in the civil war. his brother samuel, died in service, and he enlisted afterwards. he appears from the civil war diaries to have masturbated obsessively and then felt obsessively guilty about it. we think that some of his animus towards obscenity came from the fact that during the civil war, men were passing around books in
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pictures and this kind of thing because it'd become cheaper to mail those kinds of materials. he moved to new york around 1867-1868 like many young veterans and you want to become a dry goods salesman. because he was interacting a lot with other men his age were visiting prostitutes and sporting culture, supporting life which included boxing, billiards, pretty waiter girl saloons, bars, the wonderful book lowlife by looks to want it to all of this. he became very bothered by the men's pursuit of advice. through a series of kind a small world coincidences he was able to befriend the silence of the ymca which is found in this country in 1852, and through the connections that he made to those guys which included samuel colegate, and name you might
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know from your toothpaste tube and john pierpont morgan, he was sent to washington in 1872 and 1873, and got this law passed that became known as the comstock law, even though it has a much longer and more complicated name. >> so anthony comstock was essentially, he was an iconic figure in the sense he had kind of the classic civil war era biography, which was young, religious, christian, fought in the war and then moved to a large city and became really overwhelmed by the amount of vice, noise, craziness, manufacturing of new york. it drove him to become what i call a monomania. >> i found it fascinating actually one of the key streets with this is all happening was
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nassau street which i happen to live done so it was interesting to see that was the place where pornography was sold and produced and all the rest and it was then quite openly, and it seems i think one of the interesting things people often have this impression of that era as if it was this really puritan across-the-board society but, in fact, it wasn't really. even when you're talking about the women you're coming across i, too, was finding women had a certain level of liberation in the sort of mid to late 1800s, which they seem to have lost when world war i came along. can you describe a little more what that new york was like? you get some adjective there but -- >> go ahead. >> i mean, how prevalent was this kind of cd society, as far as you could tell? >> some people if you're familiar with this will at all,
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maybe you have seen gangs of new york, new york at the time was only downtown. we think of the links of manhattan. he lived on a boarding house on pearl street newer your old apartment. this is where a lot of people were arriving by boat. there was shipping. that was what downtime was all about at that time. and you had cigar shops. sometimes -- you could rent a room at lunch and take a girl up to a room upstairs. there were bookshops that solve all kinds of materials. given and idea of what the stuff was, some of which by the what is at the municipal archives in new york where you and i both also have done work, postcards that had kind of tricks, special
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ways a look at images. i wish i could find the page in my book, if you find it before i do, we will have to read. these books one of them was called women's rights convention. jesse idea of pornographic works called women's rights convention, that's all you really need to know. it really was a combination, one thing that was fasting to me was, anthony comstock is associate with the mail. one of the reasons is because the mail and the way the paper was printed really changed what i call smut in the book because you could have, they often had these very small books of images and words that you could-very easily. that was a really big deal to be able to print so small that you could have some kind of discretion. remember all these young men that were engaging in this kind of sporting life, sporting culture they were living in boarding houses with other men and they were going out all night doing crazy things.
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and so they were living in close quarters with other men, as f these books would be kind of passed around. walt whitman who was prosecuted, whose writing was prosecuted under the comstock law wrote to a common prostitute. one thing that's shocking to people is prostitution existed in many different forms from brothel houses to these waiter girls who would so you drinks but really they were trying to sell you sex, to streetwalkers. so the idea, meaning it was not behind the scenes. it was open and you can imagine how shocking this would be to write congregationalist from rural connecticut. >> can you give sort of concise form what the law was he got past? because this is key to how we fight all of these women that crop up. >> yes, there was already an obscenity law before he went to washington, but what made the comstock law unique was it
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criminalize the mailing of both obscenity and contraception, contraception information and abortion information, with much steeper sentences, with steep sentences and fines. so what it did for the first time was it included in existing obscenity law information about an actual contraception. >> so that's where he first get into these fights with the women. which woman is the first going up against in terms of what information he's trying to get out there and what, you know -- >> the first woman he butted heads with in a public way really is, i mean the first ones were wives of smut sellers because he started by seizing dirty books and burning the place. so it's actually interesting to
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see that his very first interactions with women or men men who were married to men who were making a living in the smut trait. at that time not that unusual. there was a lot of it. but the first high-profile woman he came in contact with was the tory woodall and, of course, are sister. the sisters moved to new york. within a few years of when anthony comstock moved to new york which i love the parallel. they were close in age, a little bit older but this idea of coming to new york to make it in these totally different ways. he wanted to be a dry goods salesman, find a nice christian woman, build a family. and they wanted to take new york by storm. they, you know, one can eat at delmont echoes without a man to accompany them -- tell monaco -- they started radical newspaper
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called would hold and claflin sweetly. they started the first e-mail owned brokerage house in i believe it was 1870. they were said to have both prostitute themselves before they came to near-peer adversaries we don't know the details on that. we don't know how much of that is true but what we do know is that both make a living as clairvoyance. they were from a large family and the father capitalized on their incredible charisma and as you've written about this is coming off the civil war when people are wanting to get in touch with dead relatives. and so clairvoyance was big business. anyway, i'm trying to be concise because we've got so much to cover. >> and he ultimately runs for president, to. >> yes. not to mention that the first women to run for president did so in 1872. she did it while living with two
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has been under the same roof. >> just amazing. also i never realize it until i read your book frederick douglass although he was on the ticket as vice president have not been alerted that he was -- >> yeah, that whole story is bizarre. i i mean, they created this legl rights party -- equal rights party which had a lot of incredible ideas and i think he was used ascension as a publicity point and never consented to his nomination and never campaigned with her. the way she butted heads with comstock was, in the newspaper they published these scandals articles, what about an alleged gang rape that it happened resulting from a basketball and involve teenage girls and a prominent businessman named luther. the other involved the well-known plymouth church
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preacher henry ward beecher who was having an affair with the wife of one of his accolades. the obscene issue of this newspaper they published to the explosive articles, one which contained the term the red trophy of her virginity to her virtue, the hymen, and the other that was writing about one of the most revered religion figures in new york at the time and saying that he was in an adulterous affair. and so anthony comstock loss of might and wanted to ban this newspaper, and the short version is that when the comstock act was passed in 1873 it included the term newspapers specifically to cover woodhull & claflin's weekly. i feel like this isn't often
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written about. he passed this law, the specifics of this law were for the direct purpose of getting tennessee and victoria in to prison. >> i find it so interesting, like sex is not just sex. that the wait weight is crs an obscenity issue is actually a fight over political power on a certain level. the women you're writing about for the most part, they get entangled because of either issues about women's rights and the rights to the bodies are what have you are like you said they are taking down one of the biggest celebrity preachers, sort of guide to the moral fiber of this country, and that's the kind of thing that gets them in trouble. >> they were representatives of a kind of womanhood that was deeply offensive to him, which was they were taking the
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victorian ideal, which was that women should be wives and mothers and devoted to family and to god, and completely upending it saying that some marriages were worse than prostitution. writing about, as you said, high-powered political figures in taking them down. there were rumors that comstock was paid off by beecher and his associates to go after them. i mean, even if that's not true they all knew each other and that world of kind of the wasp elite was starting to form at that time and he was incredibly well-connected. >> i wrote about in my book because he was one of abraham lincoln's advisors and supporters, and may have one in the election in new york.
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the other thing that's fascinating, which is that comstock isn't content to just do this from a distance. he is frequently really in the thick of it, and so can you talk a little bit about his sting operations? >> yeah. there were many americans who agreed with him from a religious perspective, who believed that reading, or looking at porn could lead to terrible things. but he was not that unusual in kind of his upbringing and his rationale. but he walked around with a revolver. he in his spare time tried to shut down saloons. during the civil war he would take his whiskey ration and dump it out so know what else could drink it either. it's one thing if you're not going to drink it. he was like such a spoiler, a party pooper. what he was very controversial for among free lovers and
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freethinkers, his antagonists, is a radical antagonists, was he would decoy people. he would use of these crazy names like the edge well and he pretended to be teenage girls, frankie streeter was another name. he concocted an entire family and he would send decoy letters from post office boxes some end-state and some out-of-state but when he sent them out of state it was so he could get interstate mail. he couldn't nail people for that. he walked into abortionists and women's health practitioners offices to buy contraceptives under false names, false premises, and then reveal himself as anthony comstock. he would wave a white handkerchief across the street to the waiting officers. frequently he took reporters with him. now, as i'm saying all this i'm
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talking about fake names, using the press, manipulating. it might be reminded of someone, especially that idea of using false names. but he was very aware of his power, and so many people who agreed that even people agreed that abortion was wrong and contraception was wrong didn't think the way he went about getting these prosecutions was right. and decoy was illegal. they tried many times to get him on that and it never went anywhere. >> now, of the women he tangled with, which of them do you find most sort of heroic or -- >> can we talk about ida craddock? >> sure. >> as a to b for much of my book maybe about a quarter of it is about this woman ida craddock
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who, my mother samet is from philadelphia, and also the was an incredible flourishing radical scene in philadelphia in the 1850s, '60s, '70s. i think in part connected to the strong quaker tradition and the liberalism of quakerism. so ida craddock went to friends at central which is still a highly regarded quaker school in philadelphia and she was a star student, very brilliant and she wanted to be the first woman in the undergraduate program at the university of pennsylvania and it would not accept her because she was a woman. so what did she do? she turned to sex trading. the reason she did that was she was really interested in world religion and chip taking a trip to alaska where she saw these very phallic looking totem poles. i feel very connected to her because i went to brown university which specializes in semiotics and she reminds me of
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myself. did you also? now i know why we like each other so much. i don't need to tell you about -- you were there in the peak of semiotics but she became obsessed with sex and symbolism and she went to the world's there in 1893 and saw the belly dancers at the time and she was interested in sex. as you mentioned before, history comes in these waves. the stereotype, victorian women were repressed and never had orgasms and hated sex. there was this flourishing sex list in the 1840s. a lot of it coming out of, for example, croft evidence work was making its way to the united states. freud wouldn't be that many years before his writings were certain to make the way across. there were books on childbirth
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and how to have less pain during pregnancy. it was everything from marital advice to free love treatises which can get into. but ida craddock over x-rayed, i'll tell you if you like the digest, over a period of about nine years went to washington, d.c., chicago, philadelphia and new york and was told not to mail her marital sex manuals, and ultimately went head-to-head with comstock in new york. what you and and i both likt are the most is she claims never to have had a human living lover and she claimed all of her sex information contained in these kind of marriage guides that she wrote came from her ghost husband who was the ghost of a business man she met as a teenager who in real life had
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died young of tuberculosis. no one knows whether she said this because it would be scandalous to claim to have sex knowledge as an unmarried woman, or whether, in fact, the relationship she had with a ghost did teach her some amazing things. but you know what's crazy? she didn't always have orgasms with a ghost. >> i know. i thought to writing about her ghost was really interesting because it's so nuanced. it's not like everything is the best it could possibly be because she's imagining it. she's got all sorts of levels to it. but also a fan of faceting fso the people seem to have given her a hard time about the whole idea. >> that's not true. i write about, this is a little later in the early 1900s, in the liberal world, i usually use the word progressive or radical to describe the world she was
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in. she did meet a lot of very rationalist guys who believed she was delusional and insane. and so what i like about her issues kind of an outcast in every world she was in because she, i mean, her mother was a unitarian so then the daughter is having sex with a ghost. the rational people they are like ghosts don't exist. even within this spiritualist world she was kind of controversial because she liked her alliances with other religious groups, she wasn't a separatist as other spiritualists, so she was just a mass of contradictions. >> but her marital guides sold pretty well, right? >> yeah. i mean, i don't have good, i don't have sales figures on her books.
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similar writers at that time sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their books. this woman alice stocking who was in evanston gynecologist wrote his pregnancy and childbirth guys that did very well. books by the haywood, be very well-known free lovers. when i was looking at these, you and i too have hundreds of thousands copies of our books sold, you know, we would just be partying every night. it's really incredible to think there was no traditional publishing as we know it today. books were sold through canvassing agents. the way you found out about these books was from reading radical publications that advertise them. what was interesting is those a whole network of support where ida craddock would sell alice's books and the hayrides with so all this kind of medical advice
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books. they really created like a system of alternative self-publishing that seems to me like it was a working and many, many people, this is how most people were getting their books. >> it helped there was no tv or anything else. so then how did some of these women actually sort his efforts? i thought one of the interesting things was the way that they were circulating the syringe, because you can talk all of it about that. >> one of the women whom he went after was a doctor named sarah chase. unclear whether she provided abortions are just sold contraceptives. she claims only come she claims never to have that an abortion. but he decoy her, pretending to
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be this guy named mr. farnsworth, and she was publishing a health magazine called the physiologist and family physician. .. and they were somewhat.
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it's very hard statistics but will do humanity concepts were in and in worcester county massachusetts picked up on it and started calling us that comstock you are and youwent on to these advertising . they wrote things like comstock's mother had had a syringe and known how to use it what a world of wall it would have saved us and i can only imagine the fear that he felt reading this. it reminded me of the ways that i don't know how old the people listening to this are
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but the way that rick santorum's name was used, just look it up. >> so in the diaries that you found of him, you found a diary? >> you mean comstock's civil war early marriage diaries? i got them from secondary sources. they appeared to be lost and we don't have them beyond a couple of years after the passage of the law. >> i was curious how farinto his life they go . >> everyone wants to get theirhands on them . >> can you talk a bit about how intensely he fought for these things to the point where some of thesewomen ended up in jail ? >> yeah, again, the title of my book is tricky because he didn't believe that he hated
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women and if you look at just the statistics in his arrest logbook which now are online but when i was researching at the library of congress, he went after many many more men than women and that has something to do with who was publishing dirty books. abortionists were notoriously very difficult to get in court because witnesses do not want to testify, women who have gotten abortions even if bad things happen didn't want to talk. two of the women in my book i guess i will try to give too much away matt was one of the most famous abortionists in the entire was 67 when he joined her in prison for what would have been the second or third time. it was the first time he had for.
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and on the eve of her sentencing , wrote twice in her bathtub because she was certain he was going to be sent to the women's workhouse and die in prison. there were rumors for many years that it wasn't actually her body that it had been switched. so there's a wonderful fiction book about this on my story of life. by kate manning which is, in essence what might have happened. and she was not the only woman in my book of her own life and comstock was said to have grind of the suicide that because at one point saying he lost 16 suicides. >> i think we can call it based on that.
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i just want to say to everyone who wants to post questions, look in the chat. >> and actually the national archive foundation is selling the book, i don't know where the link is but that's something that maybe one could put in the chat. if you want to support my work but also the national archives. >> i think everybody needs to buy this book because the other thing i found interesting is it's a primer on activism . i mean, were there a few things in their that were particularly impressed by in terms of organizing or the tactics that some of these women used to drive their agenda forward? i didn't think that people might not understand how much brilliance went on in the political arena.
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>> this is activism through writing which is another reason i was the stories is the most almost all of them were writers meaning she these marriage manuals, sex also in revisions of her own book about being the. may your concept loss in progress is sometimes called the world or the world at what is was a series of transferees you say these thousands publications around the 1830s to 1880s, 1890s as a.
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he will release. some were health oriented, and i'll and political writing and it had used circulation and their letter writers sometimes became colonists. i had this column in new york in the 1990s and some artist letter writers were desires. not me. and so what really inspired me was the idea of radical and they would sometimes include positions and circulars and things like that in these applications but radical action through radical polishing . >> women talking about a publication is amazing, you are allowed to make available even talk a little about your getting into an era where is
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actually appreciated to write about in history and yes is very difficult for both of them to find the source materials and can you talk a littleabout that now ? >> absolutely. most of these publications exist such places as medical libraries like harvard medical library. let's see if i can get this right. the new york academy of medicine library you're in manhattan. with all these things you have to go to weird places to get them and you can get a couple issues atthe time . some of them are in the national archives because they're in therecords . the word which was a freelance publication of
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worcester county you can read issues of it in the postal records at the national archives in washington dc. we were talking about women's history. i've often said, i don't know if you made these jokes to but you'd have to be a total masochist to write women's history because it is the hardest research in the world . i should add research about underrepresented groups of any kind is incredibly difficult because people tend to only leave records when they were involved with someone. and you and i and narrative nonfiction authors always get personal materials and i really did the best i could with these women in terms of shading in the personal details of their life. and in not every case was able to get diaries and letters so in some cases i had to rely on court transcripts.
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sometimes newspaper articles or smaller newspapers could be instructive and contain personal details in them. you might hunt down a first-person story in one of these newspapers. but it's the real tragedy of women's history which is the more unconventional lives that these women lead, frequently the less likely they were to marry and have children and kind of have me but women in my book were not wealthy. they were not well-connected and many of them had unconventional romantic lives . so it's tough to find letters and diaries. angela haywood i was happy to be able to find about 30 to 40 letters at the wellesley historic society because
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there happened to be a prominent wellesley radical was on archives were there so a lot of our work as i'm sure you agree with is working backwards. who did they correspond with, and then getting that person's archive. >> and you always with the women i find that out even go onto ebay orsomething . some giant had been selling their postcards. >> i've done the same thing where you get the postcards to the nice thing is angela haywood's granddaughter to me last week. but i don't know at this point whether i knowmore than she does . she's starting to put together a family history but it's incredible to think that that's not that many generations down that her great-granddaughter is still alive. it's not that long ago. >> that's the one positive us
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history is because it's still so young there is some archive somewhere that has these letters or diaries. can you talk about the national archive itself? what kind of space it defines their that was useful? >> i got the tip from a woman named amy were whole published book having to do with comstock's delusional world and she said you want to look into the postal records. i don't remember what she said i want international archives in washington dc postal records are pretty wonderful and exhaustive their. using battle of an archivist, independent archivist there named john. i was listening to, i was able to figure out where to get these files that were individual postal records related to people prosecuted
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for doing things connected to the mail and they're basically like fbi files. there was a predecessor call material investigations and it may have had adifferent time , different name of there are these size of a mailing envelope. they have that person's name and you open it up and these files contain the actual material. sitting there in the national archive which is a story although place and you're reading about sexual scenarios. unlike this. >> who knew you could find these things but i'm telling you, if you want was material
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postal records. >> i think we both are extremely grateful for the work of the national archives because first of all those archivists, we need them when you go in there. the. it's the beginning but it's just a beginning and you have to know how to look. that's what they were able to help me with. >> but that preservation work is so crucial. you never know when one of those documents will fit in and help you understand your work. >> it's that feeling because you're kind of like a detective. that's how i always feel is i see something no one else has written about and when i was able to read anthony comstock's own arrest report, it's so immediate.
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i don't know if you've discovered this when you rely on these secondary sources when you're doing this work you think this must all be threats and you start tracing the research and you go wrong, wrong. >> it really requires some impact on the source and you have to battle it out after that . and then in terms of so this is going out to an audience of readers now and there are many young readers of comstock because it's such an important history but what would you hope would be your main take away from it? and in any aspect of it. >> it's twofold. as you and ihave talked about , reproductive rights are another assault on our country and have been for about 15 years in a serious way and in about half the
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country you may have one abortion clinic within a distance of your home. so that is very scary and upsetting to me and i think that young women , when what i was going to say is don't take your reproductive rights for granted but i feel strongly that they already don't take their reproductive rights for granted depending on where they live because they'vealready been stripped away from them . what i'm proud is about in the book is to take away that i want people to have is that i started out thinking i was going to be writing about birth control and i realized that ultimately i was writing about pleasure which is you can't enjoy sex if you're terrified of having your 12 segments that could kill you while you're having a baby and cripple you economically so as i started to learn more about this i realized that what these women were writing
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about was sure, women's liberation but it was women's right to pleasure in the context of not feeling that sex could mean death and that's what we're talking about because of just the history of nancy and childbirth in our country is that it was dangerous especially with each repeated pregnancy and childbirth it became more dangerous so what i want young people to think about a lot is you weren't the first radical. there's such an incredible radical history and radical women's history and i feel that sometimes people that write narrative nonfiction about leftism they don't include women even though leftism includes so many wonderful vibrant exciting women.
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like i have a love affair with emma goldman through writing this book and i guess the second thing is direct action work and getting control of the narrative through writing and media is one way to affect change in addition to the vote and another thing i should mention is that all of the women in my book lived before they could vote and were tried by all-male judges or all-male juries. it's a different world, the whole legal system was stacked against them. can you imagine standing in front of 12 men talking about your sex writing trying to make them understand it? they didn't even know the difference between contraception and abortion. >> i think that's what's striking is what allowed them to have these rights when there was nothing in the law that was suggesting that they should have their equal
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rights. i do think it's very impressive what they were willing to do for many of these people. >> you think in some ways not being an franchised with the vote made the world seem more all ofpossibilities ? >> .good question. i think that traditionally that's how it worked. the less you feel part of the system, the more hopeless you usually feel and particularly you don't get the feeling, suffragettes are a little bit later but it's not like this is a group of people marching in the streets. >> remember 1848. >> but it felt a little bit of that amazing thing that happened. >> i guess what i also wonder is why it was that so strong
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in these years that you don't associate? you don't tend to associate with radicalism but that is before the civil war, the end of the 1800s. >> it's amazing to think there are people on all towns who are buying these publications. this woman has five children but she's reading this radical publications. >> i think the circle back to why it all connects to anthony comstock, the mail which allowed men in the civil war to get modern pornography and this type of thing allowed radical minds to share ideas and exchange opinions because railway service and paper really changed things in this country so obviously you
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about the internet, the early days of the internet in terms of mail as a connector and was a force of good. that's what he knew better than anyone. what he understood, anthony comstock understood the power of the mail. >> it's really fascinating. i hope everyone goes out and gets this book and then we can all have larger conversations because it really is tremendous work. i don't know exactly how many years you fit in on this. >> five. >> you dug into the research and we're all grateful so i think we are out of time. >> thank you so much for doing this. i hope we can have more conversations about this in the future . >> we would love to thank everybody at the national archives and all the rest for putting on this program and
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all programs that they produce because it's such a gift to people speaking from their research. thank you amy. >> i should say one other thing, the book is available through the national archives if you'd like to support the message that were getting through here. if you'd like to support the national archive foundation and some of the money you paid for the book will go to support his work. i think we're waiting to see, why don't you say the name of your most recent work? >> it lincoln's life which is a paper about fake news in the white house. >> it is amazing that this idea, so far i haven't managed to say our former president's name but this idea of things being so cyclical and the use of the
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media, we think of it as beginning in the 1990s and our work shows there's nothing new under the sun and in fact, what does it say when you enter the national archive ? >> i always find that. >> i'm getting a message to say i am encouraging people to buy this book at independent bookshops which i've had a hard time over the past 15 months getting them to open their doors again to physical shoppers. so is the way you get it online and support independent bookstores where you live that are watching us . walk in and order it there because they need you and
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books like this need independent stores so that people like myself can keep writing our book
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book tv continues and now television for serious readers


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