Category: history

Frances Willard rode a bicycle

March is Women’s History Month.

Yesterday, we met Annie Londonderry, who cycled around the world in 1894. Today, we’ll look briefly at suffragist Frances Willard. As president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), she developed the slogan “Do Everything” to encourage women to lobby, petition, preach and publish on a wide variety of issues of the day. She was instrumental in the passage of Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage. To this day, Willard is the often-mocked template of the old, do-gooder spinster who loudly condemns the culture of machismo, but this brave women empowered her sisters to take charge and took on a number of progressive causes: public education funding, free school lunches, unions, the eight-hour work day, homelessness, public health, transportation, violence against women, and child abuse.

In 1893, at the age of 53, Frances Willard learned to ride a bicycle to counteract her ailing health.

Frances Willard says Let It Go!


Annie Cohen Kopchovsky biked around the world

March is Women’s History Month, when bike bloggers quote Susan B. Anthony ( bicycling “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world”) and temperance reformer Frances Willard, who used bicycling as a metaphor for control over her destiny.

Their achievements are notable, but let’s talk about the first woman to wheel her bicycle around the world: 24-year-old Annie Cohen Kopchovsky who changed her name to Annie Londonderry in a wager to show that women are capable of anything a man can do.

Annie Londonderry on a bicycle