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J.D. Zahniser presents Alice Paul: Claiming Power

Alice Paul, a passionate and outspoken leader of the woman suffrage movement, has long been an elusive figure in the political history of American women. In ALICE PAUL: Claiming Power (Oxford University Press | July 2014) by J.D. Zahniser and Amelia R. Fry (1925-2009) examine for the first time the sources of Paul's ambition and the growth of her political consciousness. Amelia Fry developed the research and early drafts for this book over a period of 25 years. She was originally contracted to prepare a biography of Alice Paul in 1980 because of the extensive oral history she completed with Paul in the early 1970s, before Paul’s death in 1977. Fry’s talks and lectures at conferences over the years were instrumental in raising Alice Paul’s profile as an historical figure.

This biography of Paul's early years and suffrage leadership offers fresh insight into her private persona and public image, examining for the first time the sources of Paul's ambition and the growth of her political consciousness. Using extensive oral history interviews with Paul and her colleagues, Zahniser and Fry substantially revise our understanding about Paul's engagement with suffrage activism in England and later emergence onto the American scene. Though her Quaker upbringing has long been seen as the spark for her commitment to women's rights Zahniser and Fry show how her childhood among the Friends forged crucial aspects of Paul's character, but her political zeal developed out of years of education and exploration. The authors explore the ways in which her involvement with the British suffragists Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst honed her instincts and skills, especially her dealings with her most important political adversaries, Woodrow Wilson and rival suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt. Applying new research to the persistent questions about Alice Paul and her legacy this compelling biography analyzes Paul's charisma and leadership qualities, sheds new light on her life and work and is essential reading for anyone interested the woman suffrage movement.

ABOUT THE AUTHORSJ.D. Zahniser is an independent scholar. She holds a doctorate in American and Women's Studies. Amelia R. Fry was an oral historian at Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

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