Amelia Bloomer, 1818-1894

  • Amelia-Bloomer-WWP

Woman Category: Activism & Feminism and MediaWoman Tags: 19th Amendment Centennial Anniversary, Journalist, and Suffragist

  • HerStory

    Suffragist, temperance advocate, writer, publicist, and promoter of women’s dress reform. The first woman to own, edit and operate a newspaper for women.

    Born as Amelia Jenks in Homer, New York. Although she received only a few years of formal education, her first job was a school teacher. At age 17, she left her parents’ home to live with her sister and later moved to Seneca Falls to work as a governess. At 22, she married Dexter Bloomer, who encouraged her to write a column for the local newspaper he owned.
    In 1848 Bloomer attended the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, and after a year, she became the publisher and editor of The Lily – the first newspaper by and for women. “DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS OF WOMEN” was stated on the front. At first, the newspaper focused on the temperance movement ideas, but later expanded to other women’s rights issues. In its first year, it was home distributed among the Seneca Falls temperance ladies, but gradually expanded all over the country.
    Bloomer was aware of the health hazards and restrictiveness of women’s clothing, and she used the newspaper to promote dress reform. She adopted a new style of women custom inspired by trousers women wore in the Middle East and Central Asia – loose trousers covered by a knee-length dress. In a short time, those pants were known as the “bloomers.” Though the trousers depicted the changes in women’s clothing, they were ridiculed by both men and women.
    At 33, Bloomer sold the newspaper due to her family’s relocation to Iowa, but stayed as a corresponding editor. The Lily kept the publication going until 1856–1870 (sources vary when was the last edition). The Lily came back with a full women staff in 2017 as one of the Washington Post products. In Iowa, Bloomer continued to advocate for women’s rights, encouraged women to become property owners, and served as president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association for a few years.

    “The costume of women should be suited to her wants and needs”

    “The costume of women should be suited to her wants and needs”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Her husband gave up drinking to support her dedication to the Temperance Movement.
    • On 12.5.1851, she introduced Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Susan B. Anthony. This historic meeting is commemorated in the statue “When Anthony Met Stanton” in Seneca Falls, NY.
    • In her biography, she is quoted to never liking the “pretty” name of The Lily, but since the newspaper got familiar with the name, she decided not to change it.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Books about her


    * Commemorated on the calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church
    * Inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame
    * Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • How bloomers became a feminist fashion statement | BBC Ideas

    The story of Amelia Jenks Bloomer, the woman who helped made it acceptable for women to wear trousers. Subscribe to BBC Ideas ?
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  • Photo credit - Wikipedia.