Lou Rogers

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Lou Rogers
Lou Rogers 1910s.jpg
Lou Rogers about 1910
Born Annie Lucasta Rogers
(1879-11-26)November 26, 1879
Patten, Maine, US
Died 1952 (aged 72–73)
Canton, New York US
Cause of death
multiple sclerosis
Residence Greenwich Village, New York, New Milford, Connecticut
Education Massachusetts Normal Art School, Art Students League
Occupation cartoonist, illustrator, writer, radio host, children's author
Years active 1908-1940
Known for Woman Suffrage cartoons, suffrage speeches, membership in Heterodoxy, Animal News Club
Notable work(s) The Gimmicks, Rise of the Red Alders, Ska-Denge
Spouse(s) Howard Smith

Lou Rogers was a cartoonist, illustrator, writer, storyteller, public speaker, radio host, and political activist.

Family and youth[edit]

Born Annie Lucasta Rogers in 1879 in the small lumbering town of Patten, Maine, Lou Rogers was the fourth of seven children born to Col. Luther Bailey "L. B." Rogers and Mary Elizabeth Barker Rogers. Her childhood was spent on a small farm,[1] with vacations at the family's isolated camp at nearby Shin Pond, where pristine woodlands abutted the quiet lake. From an early age she loved to draw, producing sketches and caricatures, including ones of her teachers.[1] The Rogers children were educated at the Patten Academy that grandfather Dr. Luther Rogers helped found.[2] After working at a district school,[1] Lou was hired as an assistant to teach at the Patten Academy.[2] Education was a family value, and her siblings studied at the University of Maine and McGill University. Brother Lore Rogers became a well-known government bacteriologist and was awarded two honorary doctorates.[3]

Becoming a cartoonist[edit]

Around 1900 Lou Rogers decided on a career in art and enrolled at the Massachusetts Normal Art School,[1] now the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. By her own account, her spirited personality and predilection to explore the city of Boston proved incompatible with these studies.[1] After one year she dropped out.[1] She then enrolled in physical culture classes offered in Washington DC.[1] Afterwards she signed on to a business venture with a classmate, where they traveled out West offering physical culture seminars to communities.[1] Because they lacked business experience, it was a financial disaster.[1] She soon had a new determination: she would become a cartoonist.[1] Off she went to New York City, where she contacted newspaper offices. Finding barriers to being a woman cartoonist, she began submitting her work as "Lou Rogers."[4] In 1908 her earliest known published cartoons appeared in Judge Magazine,[5] one of the popular nationwide humor magazines. By 1912 the Patten Academy Mirror announced that Annie Rogers was a cartoonist in New York City.[6] A year later Cartoons Magazine profiled Lou Rogers as a successful cartoonist in "A Woman Destined to Do Big Things."[7] “Master cartoonist, teacher and critic” Grant Hamilton summarized her talents:

She has what ninety-nine out of a hundred lack, the ability to see the way to get the idea into the picture. And she has forty ideas about everything. So far she is the only woman artist in the world who is seeking her complete artistic destiny in the cartoon. . . She means to win. And she will keep on meaning until she does.[7]

The Woman's Journal, a pro-suffrage newspaper, highlighted Lou Rogers's contribution at about the same time, describing her as the "only woman artist to devote all her time to feminism."[8] Her plan to distribute her suffrage cartoons to newspapers and for campaign literature was announced in 1914.[9] As late as 1924 a news story touted her as the "World's Only Woman Cartoonist," which Rogers herself corrected.[4] New York City alone claimed, among others, resident cartoonist-illustrator Laura Foster and Edwina Dumm, as well as Cornelia Barns and Alice Beach Winter, who contributed to the radical avant-garde magazine, The Masses:[10]


Suffragist, feminist, socialist in Greenwich Village[edit]

"Must She Always Plead in Vain?" Cartoon by Lou Rogers, July 1919 for Birth Control Review.

In the atmosphere of Greenwich Village, Lou Rogers was attracted to the woman suffrage movement[1] and to socialism,[11] perceiving both movements as worthy causes to be promoted through her cartoons. Today her reputation is largely as a cartoonist for woman suffrage.[12][13] She was passionate in her beliefs and prolific in her output, as her work began appearing in the New York Call, Judge, and the Woman's Journal, a propaganda newspaper for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.[12] She was invited to join Heterodoxy, a private club for radical, freethinking professional women, that met twice a month, for lunch and serious discussions.[14] She formed a close friendship with Heterodoxy member Elizabeth C. Watson,[14] a Maryland woman active in prison and labor reform.[15] Both women were passengers on Henry Ford's "Peace Ship,"[16] which carried 102 peace delegates and 46 journalists to Europe in December 1915.[17] Rogers began appearing in Times Square, street corners, fairs, and other locations dressed in her artist's smock, as she drew oversized cartoons in the tradition of chalk talks.[18] She was considered a soapbox orator for her suffrage talks, and her activities were documented in newspapers across the region.[19][20][21][22]

Rogers's endorsement of socialism paralleled her support of women and reflected a philosophy of human liberation.

If the cartoon has never appealed to women workers, isn't it because it has never covered a class of interests with direct bearing on them? Then it seems to me of great moment that national and municipal issues should be handled from the woman's standpoint as well as the man's.[7]

She published cartoons in the socialist paper, The New York Call as early as 1911, and by 1919 was a regular contributor to the Call with a featured cartoon series on Woman's Sphere.[23] When American women finally achieved the vote, Lou Rogers continued her activism by contributing cartoons to the New Yorker Volkzeitung and the Birth Control Review.[24][25]

Author, illustrator, radio host[edit]

The 1920s was a decade of productivity for Lou Rogers. She contracted with the Ladies Home Journal to produce a series of children's stories in rhyme about imaginary little people called "Gimmicks."[26][27][28] The stories were accompanied by a full-page of illustrations to be cut out and mounted on cardboard allowing the child to interact with the storyline. Lou wrote the verses and provided illustrations, providing color originals 30" in height.[29] Color for the illustrations was provided by her partner, Howard Smith, a New York City artist who, at about this time, became her husband.[30] In 1927 she was invited to write a short anonymous autobiography for The Nation Magazine.[31] The magazine was presenting a series called "These Modern Women," and Lou Rogers had been selected by managing editor Freda Kirchwey as a successful woman typifying new feminist possibilities.[32]

The success of the Gimmicks persuaded Lou to try her hand at children's books. The Rise of the Red Alders was published by Harper and Brothers in 1928.[33] The following year she completed Ska-Denge (Beaver for Revenge).[34] In the early 1930s she became a radio personality. Her program was called "Animal News Club," and aired over NBC radio.[35] The program offered a poster and a membership pin.[36] Lou's work was also included in a collection of women's humor, Laughing Their Way: Women's Humor in America.[37]

Later years[edit]

In 1935 Lou Rogers and Howard Smith purchased an old farm in New Milford, CT.[38] It was nestled in a scenic hillside and provided a quiet getaway, studio space and an opportunity for renovation. Lou's nieces and nephews relished their visits there, spending time with their fun-loving aunt in the countryside.

The 1940s saw the death of Lou Rogers's mother, Mary Elizabeth Barker Rogers, at the age of 89.[39] Her older sister, Mary Helen, passed away in her late sixties.[40] By the early 1950s, Lou was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.[12] Her condition degenerated rapidly, and she died at the age of 72.[41]


In 1913, Cartoons Magazine had written of Lou Rogers: "Her pen is destined to win battles for the Woman's Movement and her name will be recorded when the history of the early days of the fight for equal rights is written."[7]

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1995, the National Museum of Women in the Arts hosted an exhibition, "Artful Advocacy: Cartoons of the Woman Suffrage Movement." Featured artists were Lou Rogers, Nina Allender, and Blanche Ames.[13][42] Eight decades later, the prophecy had been realized.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rogers, Lou (1927). "Lightning Speed Through Life". The Nation 124 (3223): 395–397. 
  2. ^ a b Olsen, Irene (1947). History of Patten Academy. Patten, ME: Trustees of Patten Academy. 
  3. ^ Alford, John A. (February 1975). "Lore A. Rogers, A Rare Species". American Society for Microbiology News 41 (2). 
  4. ^ a b "Maine Girl World's Only Woman Cartoonist". Lewiston Daily Sun. 28 Jan 1924. 
  5. ^ Rogers, Lou (February 1908). "In the Screech Owl Family [cartoon]". Judge 54. 
  6. ^ Class of 1913 (1912). PA Mirror '13. Patten, ME: Patten Academy. 
  7. ^ a b c d "A Woman Destined to Do Big Things". Cartoons Magazine 3 (2): 76–77. 1913. 
  8. ^ "Lou Rogers, Cartoonist". Woman's Journal and Suffrage News 44 (31): 1–2. 2 August 1913. 
  9. ^ "Cartoon Service by Lou Rogers". Woman's Journal and Suffrage News 45: 301. 14 November 1914. 
  10. ^ Zurier, Rebecca (1988). Art for the Masses. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. p. 216. ISBN 0877225133. 
  11. ^ "Suffrage Women Threaten Wilson". New York Times. 12 Nov 1917. 
  12. ^ a b c Sheppard, Alice (1994). Cartooning for Suffrage. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 276. ISBN 0826314589. 
  13. ^ a b Bass, Holly (1 Sep 1995). "'Artful Advocacy: Cartoons From the Woman Suffrage Movement'". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 19 Jan 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Schwarz, Judith (1986). Radical Feminists of Heterodoxy (Rev. ed.). Norwich, VT: New Victoria Publishers. p. 147. ISBN 0934678081. 
  15. ^ Colby, Frank Moore (Ed.) (1914). The New International Year Book. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. p. 531. 
  16. ^ Kraft, Barbara S. (1978). The Peace Ship: Henry Ford's Pacifist Adventure In The First World War. New York: Macmillan. pp. 301, 304. 
  17. ^ "Guests on the Ford Peace Ship and the Places They Hail From". Bismark Daily Tribune. 10 Dec 1915. 
  18. ^ "Suffrage Cartoons for Street Crowds". The New York Times. 19 Jul 1915. 
  19. ^ "Suffrage Campaign to End in a Whirl". The New York Times. 29 Oct 1915. 
  20. ^ "Cartoonist to Present Suffrage". Watertown Daily Times. 30 Aug 1915. Retrieved 19 Jan 2013. 
  21. ^ "Not a Heckler as 'Wilsonettes' Talk to Ford Employees in Long Island City". New York Herald. 26 Oct 1916. 
  22. ^ "Suffrage Cartoonist". The Glimmerglass Daily. 28 Jul 1915. Retrieved 22 Jan 2013. 
  23. ^ "Woman's Sphere". The New York Call. 15 Feb 1919. Retrieved 19 Jan 2013. 
  24. ^ "Cartoonist". Birth Control Review 2–6. 1918–1922. 
  25. ^ Hougan, Jim. "Margaret Sanger – Biography". Reference Center for Marxist Studies. Retrieved 22 Jan 2013. 
  26. ^ Rogers, Lou (December 1923). "The Gimmick Santy Claus". The Ladies Home Journal: 12–13, 38. 
  27. ^ Telegram Staff (2 Aug 1924). ""Foreigners'" Friend Studies Them at Close Range". The Bridgeport Telegram. 
  28. ^ "The FictionMags Index". Retrieved 18 Jan 2013. 
  29. ^ Stolzer, Rob. "Rogers, Annie (Lou) - Rob Stolzer's Original Comic Art Gallery at ComicArtFans.com". Retrieved 18 Jan 2013. 
  30. ^ "Howard Smith". Retrieved 17 Jan 2013. 
  31. ^ Rogers, Lou (April 13, 1927). "These Modern Women: Lightning Speed Through Life's". The Nation 124 (3223): 395–397. 
  32. ^ Showalter, Elaine (Ed.) (1989). These Modern Women; Autobiographical Essays from the Twenties. New York, NY: The Feminist Press. pp. 97–104. ISBN 1558610073. 
  33. ^ Rogers, Lou (1928). The Rise of the Red Alders. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers. p. 190. 
  34. ^ Rogers, Lou (1929). Ska-Denge (Beaver for Revenge). New York, NY: Harper & Brothers. 
  35. ^ "RADIO PROGRAMME FOR TO-DAY". Brooklyn Standard Union. 
  36. ^ "ANTIQUE LAPEL PIN N.B.C. LOU ROGERS ANIMAL NEWS CLUB". Retrieved 17 Jan 2013. 
  37. ^ Bruere, Martha Bensley & Mary Ritter Beard (Eds.) (1934). Laughing their Way; Women's Humor in America. New York, NY: MacMillan Co. p. 295. 
  38. ^ "House on Pumpkin Hill Road sold to Howard Smith et ux". New Milford Town Hall, CT. May 27, 1935. 
  39. ^ "Find-A-Grave". Retrieved 19 Jan 2013. 
  40. ^ "Find-A-Grave". Retrieved 19 Jan 2013. 
  41. ^ Bernanke, Max & Florence (12 Mar 1952). "Condolences". Western Union Telegram. 
  42. ^ Myers, Laura (20 August 1995). "Cartoonists' Role in Suffrage Debate Focus of Exhibit". The Daily Gazette.