Nina E. Allender
Nina E. Allender (1873-1957) was an American artist, cartoonist, and women's rights activist. She worked as an organizer, speaker, and campaigner for women's suffrage and was the "official cartoonist" for the National Woman's Party's publications, where she created her legendary "Allender Girl."
|Nina E. Allender|
Nina E. Allender Portrait, Harris & Ewing, about 1915
December 25, 1873
Auburn, Kansas, USA
|Died||April 2, 1957
Plainfield, New Jersey, USA
|Education||Corcoran Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts|
|Spouse(s)||Charles H. Allender (divorced 1905)|
Nina Evans was the first of two daughters born in Kansas to David J. Evans and Eva S. (Moore) Evans. David Evans had been a teacher in Steuben, New York, who served three years in the Union Army during the Civil War, where he sustained lasting injuries. He moved to Kansas, where he was hired as superintendent of schools. He boarded with Dr. Cyrus Moore's family, marrying their second daughter, Eva, who was teaching at a prairie school.
In Fall 1880 David Evans was offered a job with the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. The family soon departed from Kansas. By 1883 Eva Evans was working at the Department of the Interior, while David Evans had been hired by the Navy Department, where he remained until his death in 1906. David Evans was also known in Washington as a poet and short story writer.
Young Nina pursued her interest in art, as, still in her teens, she enrolled in classes at the Corcoran Museum of Art. At the age of 19 she married Charles H. Allender, an Englishman nearly eight years older than she. Charles Allender was just over 6 feet tall with blue eyes and dark brown hair. Nina E. Allender was 5 foot seven inches with dark brown hair and brown eyes. Some years later Charles Allender reportedly took a sum of money from the bank where he worked and ran off with another woman. By 1902 the Allenders appear to have separated, and their divorce was granted in 1905.
Art training and style
Nina Allender enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in spring 1903 and continued her studies for four years. She spent the summer of 1903 on a summer painting tour directed by William Merritt Chase. She joined Robert Henri's summer painting tour of Italy in 1905. During one European study trip she became good friends with modernist painters Charles Sheeler and Morton Schamberg. She later cited William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri as her mentors. In London she was a student of Frank Brangwyn.
Following her years of study in Philadelphia and her divorce, Nina Allender returned to Washington and once again shared a home with her mother. She worked for the US Treasury Department, and in 1908 was listed in the Washington City Directory at 1133 24th NW as a clerk. A year later, she modified her directory listing to "artist" living at the Westover. In 1910 she was still listed in Washington, while about this time she maintained an art studio in New York City. In a 1909 exhibit from the Washington Society of Artists, Allender's work was singled out for commentary: "some excellent little snow pictures painted by Mrs. Nina E. Allender."
A description from an unidentified scrapbook clipping held by the National Woman's Party offers tantalizing hints regarding a pair of exhibit entries several years later:
"Nina E. Allender is represented by two pictures absolutely different in subject and sentiment--'Still Life' and 'The Poconos.' In the latter one looks across a wintry landscape to the distant mountains, whose cold blue lights and purple shadows harmonize well with the snowy foreground."
Works by Nina Allender have been exhibited at the following:
- Arts Club of Washington
- Cosmos Club of Washington
- The National Academy of Design
- Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
- The Society of Washington Artists
- Library of Congress.
- Sewall-Belmont House and Museum.
Nina Allender was a founding member of the Arts Club of Washington. She was active in the Art Students League of Washington and listed as its corresponding secretary early in the century. She was a member of the following art organizations.
- Arts Club of Washington DC
- Art Students League of Washington
- Beaux Arts Club
- Society of Washington Artists
- Washington Watercolor Club
At the age of 38, Nina Allender became actively involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In 1912 Ohio held a referendum on woman suffrage, and Allender traveled there to join workers canvassing door to door and demonstrating. She later wrote a co-worker, "I never enjoyed any thing more." In December of that year, Alice Paul, arrived in Washington DC to lead the Congressional Committee of NAWSA. She soon called on Nina Allender and her mother, as Inez Haynes Irwin recounted in her history.
But when the door closed, a few moments later, mother and daughter looked at each other in amazement. Mrs. Evans had promised to contribute to Suffrage a sum of money monthly. Mrs. Allender had promised to contribute to Suffrage a sum of money monthly. Mrs. Evans had agreed to do a certain amount of work monthly. Mrs. Allender had agreed to do a certain amount of work monthly...[B]efore the arrival of this slim little stranger, they had no more idea of contributing so much money or work than of flying. But they agreed to it the instant she requested it of them.
By now Allender had volunteered to assist NAWSA's Congressional Committee in planning their March 3 suffrage pageant in Washington. Allender was appointed chair of the committee on "outdoor meetings" as well as on "posters, post cards and colors." Within the year she became president of the District of Columbia Woman Suffrage Association and was a featured speaker at numerous local gatherings. In spring 1913 she was president of the Stanton Suffrage Club with a talk on "Suffrage as Relating to Business Women" and shared the speaker's platform with future congresswoman Jeannette Rankin. She was one of about 14 women representing various states to meet with President Wilson in a suffrage deputation. In April 1914 she relocated temporarily to Wilmington, DE to head the Delaware Congressional Union for Equal Suffrage and to coordinate a parade on May 2. A year later she was on the advisory council of the national Congressional Union for Woman's Suffrage and became chairman of the newly organized local branch of the Congressional Union. In a press release on suffrage, Nina Allender's photo was one of six accompanying the article on "crack street orators" of the suffrage campaign. On December 9, 1915 she was slated to preside over a meeting of the state chairs and officers. In 1916 Allender was listed as an official delegate attending the Chicago convention of the newly launched National Woman's Party. In fall 1916 she was sent by the National Woman's Party to lobby in Wyoming for the federal amendment. When the National Woman's Party began picketing the White House to pressure President Wilson, Allender joined the picket line. She also served as a delegate to a large suffrage parade in support of the pickets.
National Woman's Party cartoonist
Integral to the women's rights and suffrage campaigns were its newspapers. The Woman's Journal was founded in 1870 for the American Woman Suffrage Association. When in 1890 the organization merged with the Anthony-Stanton National Woman Suffrage Association, the Woman's Journal became the news and propaganda outlet for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Congressional Union under Alice Paul founded its own periodical, The Suffragist, in 1913. It was soon to feature political cartoons and to have its "official cartoonist." Its founding editor Rheta Childe Dorr explained:
My part of the work was to found and edit "The Suffragist," the official organ of the Congressional Union, and to give all the material I could to the correspondents. The paper was largely written by Alice Paul and myself, and was illustrated by Nina Allender, a clever cartoonist.
When Alice Paul asked Mrs. Allender to draw a cartoon for The Suffragist in 1914 she didn't know she could. Mrs. Allender said she painted and preferred to paint. But unconsciously, as she had herself felt the new suffrage spirit to oblige, she expressed this spirit in the series of drawings that suffragists in every state now know so well.
The Suffragist was formatted 10" x 13" on heavy paper. The entire front page was soon occupied by a cartoon by Nina Allender. Nina Allender's first political cartoon appeared in the 6 June 1914 issue. Allender's initial cartoons portrayed the campaign and women's need for the ballot. A 1918 review of her work conceded that her early period "dealt with old suffrage texts, still trying to prove that woman's place was no longer in the home." Early 20th-century American cartoons had enjoyed the Gibson Girl from Charles Dana Gibson and the Brinkley Girl from Nell Brinkley. Now there was the "Allender girl," tied to "the new spirit that came into the suffrage movement when Alice Paul and Lucy Burns came to the National Capital in 1913."
With the birth of the Woman's Party in Chicago, Mrs. Allender introduced the new suffrage group [sic] as a capable-looking young American girl put forward by Uncle Sam.
By the time of the suffrage victory, Nina Allender was credited with producing "287 cartoons on the one subject of suffrage."
She gave to the American public in cartoons that have been widely copied and commented on, a new type of suffragist--the young and zealous women of a new generation determined to wait no longer for a just right. It was Mrs. Allender's cartoons more than any other one thing that in the newspapers of this country began to change the cartoonist's idea of the suffragist.
Following the culmination of the suffrage crusade, Nina Allender remained active in the National Woman's Party in its work for gender equality, and remained on its council for another two decades. Her original drawings were initially housed in the Library of Congress, until reclaimed by the National Woman's Party and exhibited at its Sewall-Belmont House national headquarters. Some were reprinted in collections. In 1942 the Kansas-born woman headed west to Chicago, where she remained for over a decade. She later moved to Plainfield, NJ, where a niece, Mrs. Frank Detweiler (Joan) resided. She died on April 2, 1957 in her mid eighties.
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- Editorial cartoonist Nina Allender needs you
- Sewall-Belmont House & Museum
- History Makers: Nina Evans Allender
- Nina E. Allender at Find a Grave