Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Caroline M. Nichols Churchill, 1833-1926
By Rose Gorrell, Masters Student, Department of History, Colorado State University.
Travel Writer, Feminist, Editor of The Colorado Antelope and The Queen Bee
Caroline Nichols Churchill was born in 1833 in Ontario, Canada. She married in the early 1850's and became a widow with one daughter in 1862. Churchill moved to California in 1870. She wrote several travel books on the California landscape. Two popular titles were, Over the Purple Hills, published in 1874 and, Little Sheaves, published in 1881. Churchill's observations on the status of women in the places she visited provided opportunity for her to begin writing on women's rights.
Churchill moved to Denver, Colorado in 1879. Churchill became part of the Denver suffrage groups in the early 1880's as she began to write on women's suffrage and ideologies of equality. She founded a monthly women's rights newspaper, The Colorado Antelope, in 1879.
In 1882, she renamed her newspaper The Queen Bee and made it a weekly newspaper. The newspaper's theme expanded to include labor rights, political populist parties, and national suffrage. Other topics included temperance, emancipation, and religious tensions between Catholic and Protestants. Churchill's newspaper had subscriptions throughout the West with claims to be the highest weekly circulation at 2,500 readers. The newspaper received national attention from Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1881.
Yet Churchill refused any affiliation or position within the broader feminist movements or women's groups seeking instead to promote her own ideologies without restraint. Churchill was often at odds with local middle-class suffrage group, the temperance organizations, and even religious institutions. She wrote for a female audience but did not promote the separation of men and women's spheres. She chose instead to place women on equal footing with men by arguing for economic independence, equality of labor conditions, and other women's issues. The Queen Bee newspaper lasted until the early 1900's with official editions ending in 1895. Churchill became less active after the Colorado suffrage amendment in 1893; she died in 1926.
Churchill was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 1988 under the Communications category. She wrote an autobiography published in 1909 titled, Active Footsteps. Churchill has been the subject of several books and appeared in broad summaries of Colorado's women's histories.
Churchill, Caroline M. Nichols. Active Footsteps. New York: Arno Press, 1980; originally published in 1909.
Churchill, Caroline M."Little Sheaves" Gathered While Gleaning After Reapers. Being letters of Travel Commencing in 1870, and Ending in 1873. San Francisco, 1874.
Churchill, Caroline M. Over the Purple Hills, or Sketches of Travel in California, Embracing All the Important Points Usually Visited by Tourists. Denver: Churchill, 1881.
Grimshaw, Patricia, and Katherine Ellinghaus. "'A Higher Step for The Race': Caroline Nichols Churchill, The "Queen Bee" and Women's Suffrage In Colorado, 1879-1893," Australasian Journal of American Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2 (December 2001), p. 33
Thompson, Jennifer, "From Travel Writer to Newspaper Editor: Caroline Churchill and the Development of Her Political Ideology within the Public Sphere." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. Vol 20, No 3 (1994).
Caroline Nichols Churchill, "Women at School Elections," The Colorado Antelope, 2 (March 1881), p. 28. [LINK]
Caroline Nichols Churchill, "Woman's Suffrage," The Queen Bee, 14 (26 April 1893), p. 1. [LINK]