1872 (Auburn, Kansas)
1957 (Plainfield, New Jersey)
Kansas/District Of Columbia/Illinois/New Jersey / England
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Women's suffrage cartoons, painting
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|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 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.
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 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."
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.
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
By now Allender had volunteered to assist
NAWSA's Congressional Committee in planning their March 3rd 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 Jeanette 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
2nd. 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 9th, 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.
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
Rheta Childe Dorr had been persuaded to come
to Washington by suffrage leaders Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. Nina
Allender's artistic contributions were solicited by similar tactics.
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
The Suffragist was formatted 10" x 13" on heavy
paper. The entire front page was soon occupied by a cartoon by Nina
Allender. Her 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
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.
• 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.
• Arts Club of Washington DC, founding member
• Art Students League of Washington, corresponding secretary
• Beaux Arts Club
• Society of Washington Artists
• Washington Watercolor Club
• Women's suffrage
"Nine E. Allender", Wikipedia, //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nina_E._Allender (Accessed 6/22/2013)
Submitted by Alice Sheppard, writer of the Wikipedia entry and author of Cartooning for Suffrage
Washington Society of Artists.
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