Wilton women - suffragists and mothers - and the right to vote

Julie Hughes

Julie Hughes

Wilton Historical Society / Contributed photo

Hannah Ambler and Grace Schenck’s last names may be well known in Wilton - Ambler Farm and Schenck’s Island are local landmarks - but their individual lives are not.

The Wilton Historical Society will present a virtual talk on the role these women played in the movement for women’s enfranchisement on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

In “Caring for the Vote: Mothers and Suffragists in Wilton, Connecticut,” Julie Hughes, Ph.D. will explore the origins of Hannah Ambler and Grace Schenck’s engagement with this progressive movement. What awakened their interest in suffrage, and what kind of women did they come to believe they needed to be in order to win - and deserve - the vote?

“The answer to these questions emerges from what I call the politics of caring,” Hughes said, “as mothers, club women, society women, teachers, and health professionals.”

In 1920, Hannah Raymond Ambler (1843-1925) of Ambler Farm was a lifelong Wilton resident and elderly widowed mother who managed her own finances and rental properties throughout southern Fairfield County. Grace Knight Schenck (1877-1931) was a newcomer in town with her Belgian husband and young children and had worked as a head surgical nurse in New York City.

Like so many other women here and across the country, Hannah and Grace voted for the first time in the presidential election that year. Hughes’ virtual program is offered in conjunction with the Wilton Historical Society’s on-line exhibition “Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote.” There will be time at the end for questions.

Hughes earned her degree in South Asian history from the University of Texas at Austin. Since moving to the Wilton area, she has become interested in local history. She is now archivist at the Wilton History Room at Wilton Library and has worked on history projects with the historical society, Ambler Farm, and the G&B Cultural Center.

For additional information and to register, email info@wiltonhistorical.org to receive a link to the event with information on submitting questions. There is a suggested contribution of $10.