Sara Bard Field

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Sara Bard Field
Sara Bard Field.png
Field, c. 1915
Born September 1, 1882
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died June 15, 1974(1974-06-15) (aged 91)
Berkeley, California
Nationality American
Other names Sara Ehrgott
Occupation Poet
Suffragist
Spouse(s) Albert Ehrgott (c. 1900–1914)
Charles Erskine Scott Wood (1938–1944)

Sara Bard Field (September 1, 1882 – June 15, 1974) was an American poet and suffragist. She worked on successful campaigns for women's suffrage in Oregon and Nevada.[1] Field drove a petition containing 500,000 signatures asking for suffrage from California to Washington, D.C. to present to President Woodrow Wilson. She was a skilled orator and became a poet later in her career, marrying C.E.S. Wood.

Early life and marriage[edit]

Sara Bard Field was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 1, 1882, to Annie Jenkins (née Stevens) and George Bard Field. Her mother had a Quaker background and her father was a strict Baptist. Their family moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1885. Sara graduated from Detroit Central High School in 1900. She married minister Albert Ehrgott, a man twice her age, in September 1900. She traveled with Ehrgott through India to Rangoon, Burma. She gave birth to a son, Albert Field, in 1901 and sustained injuries from childbirth. She returned to the United States in 1902 and the family settled in New Haven, Connecticut.[2]

Ehrgott relocated to a parish in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1903. The pair were influenced by the Christian socialism movement. Sara started a kindergarten and soup kitchen there and came to the attention of Progressive Cleveland mayor Tom L. Johnson. Her sister, Mary Field, introduced her to lawyer Clarence Darrow. Sara gave birth to a daughter, Katherine Louise, in 1906.[2]

Oregon, Nevada, and suffrage[edit]

Following the birth of their daughter, the Ehrgotts moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1910. Sara was introduced to C.E.S. Wood by Clarence Darrow.[3] The two became friends and she was hired to be Wood's assistant, offering critiques of his work. Their friendship grew into a love affair.[4] She joined the Oregon College Equal Suffrage League and continued the work of Abigail Scott Duniway, campaigning for suffrage throughout Oregon.[2] She toured the state giving speeches during the summer of 1911 and that fall she worked as a reporter for the Oregon Daily Journal, covering the trial of the McNamara brothers, who had bombed the Los Angeles Times building. She toured Oregon again during the summer of 1912 and her marriage began to crumble.[2]

During 1913–1914, she campaigned for women's suffrage in Nevada. Over the objection of her husband, she was granted a divorce in November 1914, reverting to her maiden name. Ehrgott was awarded custody of their children and moved to Berkeley, California. Field moved to San Francisco to be close to her son and daughter.[2]

Field became involved in the national movement for women's suffrage and became a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association's Congressional Union and later the National Woman's Party. Suffragist leader Alice Paul selected Field to take a petition with 500,000 signatures across the United States in an automobile tour. Suffragist Mabel Vernon organized greeting parades ahead of the often hazardous route. Field and two Swedish women left San Francisco on September 16, 1915. They completed their journey on December 6, 1915 and presented the petition to President Woodrow Wilson in Washington D.C.[2][5]

Field spoke at the Chicago convention of the National Woman's Party in 1916, and on behalf of Anne Henrietta Martin during Martin's bid for the U.S. Senate from Nevada.[2] Field also suggested the suffragist slogan "No votes, no babies!"[6] In the summer of 1917, Field stayed in Newport, Oregon, where she helped millionaire socialite Alva Belmont write her memoirs.[7]

Field's son died in an automobile accident while she was driving in October 1918. She suffered a breakdown from which she never completely recovered.[2]

Later life and poetry[edit]

Entrance to "The Cats" in Los Gatos

Field began living with lawyer and poet Charles Erskine Scott Wood in San Francisco after 1918. His wife refused to grant him a divorce. Field became involved with her poetry. They hosted local artists at their home such as Genevieve Taggard, Benny Bufano, Ralph Stackpole, Llewelyn Powys, and George Sterling. Wood was wealthy and the couple were patrons of the arts and supported political causes, including the pardon of Tom Mooney and a birth control clinic.[2] In 1923 Field moved with Wood to a 30-acre (12 ha) estate named "The Cats" in Los Gatos, California.

Field's first collection of poetry, The Pale Woman, was published in 1927. She followed the collection with the epic poem Barabbas in 1932. Barabbas earned her a gold medal from the Book Club of California. Her second collection of poetry, Darkling Plain, was published in 1936.[2]

Following the death of his wife, Wood married Field in 1938. Wood died in 1944 and in 1955, Field moved near her daughter in Berkeley. Field died from arteriosclerotic heart disease on June 15, 1974.[2]

Selected works[edit]

  • Field, Sara Bard (1927). The Pale Woman: And other poems. New York: William Edwin Rudge. OCLC 3597110. 
  • ——— (1932). Barabbas. New York: A. & C. Boni, Inc. OCLC 2928485. 
  • ——— (1936). Darkling Plain. New York: Random House. OCLC 2868011. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barnes, Tim. "Sara Bard Field (1882-1974)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Scholten, Catherine M. (1993). "FIELD, Sara Bard". Notable American Women: The Modern Period (6th ed.). Cambridge, Mass [u.a.]: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. pp. 232–234. ISBN 978-0-674-62733-8. 
  3. ^ Munker, Dona. "The Story of Sara Bard Field and C.E.S. Wood". Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Hamburger, Robert (1998). "A Deeper Gladness of Soul". Two Rooms: The Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood. Lincoln [u.a.]: Univ. of Nebraska Press. pp. 157–161. ISBN 978-0-8032-7315-3. 
  5. ^ "Brief Timeline of the National Woman's Party 1912-1997". Library of Congress. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Conaway, Peggy (2007). Los Gatos Generations. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-7385-5561-4. 
  7. ^ Stuart, Amanda Mackenzie (2012). Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Mother and a Daughter in the ‘Gilded Age’. HarperCollins UK. ISBN 978-0-00-744568-4.