Amelia Jenks Bloomer

Lived:May 27, 1818—December 30, 1894 (aged 76)

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was a temperance activist, suffragist and editor.

Bloomer was born on May 27, 1818, in Homer, New York. Though she received only few years of formal education, she worked briefly as a teacher in Homer and then, after to moving to live with her sister in Waterloo, New York, she worked for several years as a live-in governess for a family. She married David Bloomer of Seneca Falls in 1840. She became active in the Seneca Falls political and social community, joined the local women’s Temperance Society, and started a column in her husband's newspaper, the Seneca County Courier.

In 1848, Bloomer attended a session of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, though she did not sign the Declaration of Sentiments. In January of 1849, she began editing The Lily, the first newspaper by and for women which became a model for later women's suffrage publications. Originally covering only the temperance movement, the paper later included articles about other topics, including the women’s rights movement after Bloomer met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1849, Dexter Bloomer was appointed postmaster of Seneca Falls, and he appointed Amelia as his deputy. In addition to performing her official duties, Bloomer also used a room adjoining the post office as a headquarters for the Seneca Fall’s women’s rights movement. In 1851, Bloomer introduced Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Though Bloomer did not create the clothing style known as bloomers, her name became associated with them after she began wearing them and promoted them in The Lily as a safer alternative to corsets and dresses. Bloomers came to represent the women’s rights movement, and the women who wore them were often ridiculed by more conservative men and women.

The Bloomer family moved to Ohio in 1853, eventually settling in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1855. Bloomer attempted to keep The Lily going, but the move to Iowa made it too difficult and she sold the paper. Bloomer remained active in social reform in Iowa, and was the first state resident to speak publicly for women's suffrage. During the Civil War, she started the Soldier’s Aid Society of Council Bluffs to help Union soldiers, and she served as president of the Iowa Suffrage Association from 1871-1873.

Bloomer passed away on December 30, 1894, in Council Bluffs.

Sources:

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, May 23). Amelia Bloomer: American social reformer. In Britannica. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Amelia-Bloomer.

Norwood, A. R. (2017). Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894). Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/amelia-bloomer.