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Heritage of American humor. We have many sources of worthwhile laughter all influence our outlook on life from the early days comes a unique heritage for the 20th century American. Heritage enhanced by being shared. The University of North Dakota broadcasting service presents 15 dramatized essays on the American humor found in newspapers books and anthologies old and new. From these the 20th century American can obtain a perspective on the intelligences attitudes styles and sensibilities of the American outlook as it concerns himself and his world neighbors. The heritage of American humor is produced by the University of North Dakota under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The writer narrator is Professor
Joseph F. Smeal of the University of North Dakota Department of English program 12 female education. To help us explore the relation of American humor to so important a change in our society is the change in the role of our women. We have invited the history Committee of the bonnier study week to present some characteristic texts illustrating the relation of the professional humerus of the late 19th century to the agitation for female suffrage. Now Miss Ellison Very understand you are the chairman of the committee. So suppose you tell us chairwoman and chairwoman. I beg your pardon. I'm off as usual on the wrong foot. Well Madam Chairwoman would you tell us just what you intend to do for us today. We intend to do the best of our ability to read certain texts written by professional humorists that bear upon the relationship between American men
and American women. That sounds quite interesting. But lest we forget that our purpose is a serious one even though our texts are humorous. We also intend to start with a serious text it is from Henry Adams book The Education of Henry Adams. But first Miss Barrett will you introduce these ladies of your committee to the audience. It is my turn to beg pardon and we are even up Mr. Narrator This is Mrs. Susan B HORTON This is Mrs. Polly Baker Randolph with Tripp and this is Mrs. Chapman at her back. It's a pleasure ladies and welcome to the program. Now Miss Burrage What is this serious text that you propose to start with. It is from Henry Adams education. He writes The margravine is no virgin ever had value as force in America but only sentiment no American has ever truly been afraid of either woman had been once supreme. Why was she ignored in America. The American always ostentatiously ignored her and American history mentioned
hardly the name of a woman. This change this problem in social dynamics greatly perplexed an American historian and as he grew older he found early institutions lost their interest and early women became a passionate interest. Without understanding the changes in her place in society history seemed mere pedantry that should establish the seriousness of your intentions today Mr narrator are you making fun of me by saying this I was not I wouldn't dare. But I do have one small question about what you are going to do. You say that you and your fellow committee women are going to read a certain text by professional humorist. Weren't those texts written by men and to be read by men. How will you do the men's voices Mr Narrator We simply wish to present the texts. We will read Them to the best of our ability. Our purpose is a serious one to present them as texts bearing upon the question of woman's rights. We do not pretend to be professional funnyman. I think if
this is kept in mind there will be little confusion none at all I'm sure. Mr narrator our time is short so we wish to plunge immediately into our materials. Miss Alice and I leave the floor to you. Our first text relates to an effort to please the American woman in order to keep her in her place. It is from the clockmaker or the sayings and doings of Samuel slick of cynical written by an arch conservative Thomas gender Habberton. The text enunciates Samuel slick famous theory of soft sawder and human nature. Susan will you read it please. Yes this text is in the voice of a Yankee clock peddler traveling in Nova Scotia. As he dismounts in the art of Pugwash in Amherst Mr. Samuel slick is muttering to himself. It is pretty well on in the evening I guess a man hogwash is as certain of her temper as a morning in April. I wonder what on earth prog wash was a thinkin on when he married her. She's like the
minister's Apple's great temptin fruit to look at but desperate sour. If I wash out a watery mouth when I'm married I guess it's pretty properly by this time. However she goes to actin ugly I'll give her I dose of soft sawder that'll take the frown off her front piece. Well here I go now we'll see what soft sawder will do Polly beaker when you play ma'am Pugwash for me. Oh yes there I am. On entering the in the travelers room was all in darkness and on opening the opposite door into the sitting room. We find the female part of the innkeeper's family putting out the fire for the night when her little boy nods in his chair. Ma'am Pugwash as the clock makers dials her has a broom in her hand and is in the act of sweeping the hearth. A strong flickering light from the fire shows her fine tall figure and beautiful face. Good evening ma'am how do you do. I was mystified washer why he's been a bit at this hour. You don't expect this to be in this time of night I hope. Oh no certainly not and I'm sorry to disturb you but I got
detained longer than I expected. I am sorry but if Mr. Pugwash will keep a man when he has no meat to his family and children can't expect anything else. Well if that is a beautiful child. Come here little man come out from behind and shake hands alone with me. Well I declare if that ere little fellow and the finest child I ever seed. What. Not a bad yet how young or old. Where did you get them pretty rosy cheeks. Stole them from your mamma. Me well I wish my old mother could see you. It'd be a treat for her in our country ma'am. The children are all Palin strong are yellow as an orange. Laurie that little fellow would be a show in our country. Tom come on little man shake along with me. Go ahead James. Go ahead. Let the gentleman shake your hand. Would you like to come to the states with me. The little girls will fall for you or they don't see such faces in a month of Sundays. Black eyes. Let me see oh mama's eyes toe and black here also as I'm alive you are mama's own
boy the very image of mama do be seated so I'll have Sally make the fire in the next room your mama should be proud of you if I live to return here I must paint your face to put on my clocks. I'm sure you have no supper. You must be hungry and weary too. I'll get you a cup of tea. I'm sorry to trouble you so much only not the least trouble. And as the door closed Mr. Slick said. Any man that understands horses has a pretty considerable Thayer knowledge of women for they are just alike in temper and require the same treatment. You hear folks say oh he's an ugly green critter. He'll break his wife's heart just as if a woman's heart was as brutal as a pipe stalk the female heart as far as my experience goes is just like a new India rubber shoe. You may pull it till it stretches out a yard long and then let go and it will fly right back to its own shape.
Our second text shows how soft sawder or the wish to please women was associated with the wish to instruct them concerning their place in American society. This text is a letter by Josh Billings to Misty mama Josephine Jenkins. Would you read it for us Mrs. Utterback. Ma Diao miss demanded Josephine Jenkins. I received your kind letter on time asking me to impart my influence to procure for you and sundry and divers that the females in your school district the privilege to vote and have all and do this same thing that man do. I have thought over the thing industriously and should the happy moments and all my energies that you think in any cause that I thought was for your happiness and tunnels like that. I am in favor of women and they can all me at any moment by asking for me or dropping me a letter. I hold them back. This done
map first nourishment and my first virtues you are an adversary that will be the result the womens can influence at a time when I was worse than women has done for me. What no man could do or would do. My advise to you is this day right where you are you have a power now that never can be left if you hold to it. But if you're a bit on your hands to get out that I hold you may lose your grip em tabbing when you begin to vote you have got to learn how to wangle the door back to intrigue and back your stance on the elections and if you vote contrary to your heart then there will be a MUST NOT family and if you hold onto it you there will be a big ol March they'll need to manage Josephine Jenkins The more are ground these things in.
The more I think you had better turn your attention to a harvest in a good hug. And make a New Year's How are the envy of the neighborhood Baba. Jan tell him Don't miss that. Virtues which haven't has the lavishness alone to you rather than attending the caucuses holding women conventions or rabble in the proper country in company with a set of long haired male hybrid who haven't got any reputation to spare and who are teachers out of what you have got. If you or any other virtuous Jan. 2 woman wanted and asked the fandom one who believes that your facts hold the balance of power now want to look the part of the mother. Whoever she is as the queen of the situation. One who looks upon us that as an angel. Brand one who looks upon adored as a gift from God
one who looks upon a wife with all the pain of veneration. If you want any help from such a fella. In that line with the triathlon Heaven has planted in the pathway of a woman's legitimates play on them all me I am your all men but I have no ambition to see you both and I think the hour which your sex in this country Voda will see that easy enwrapped the dissolution are the only barrier we have between the core instincts of man and the sacred safety other don't mistake virtues of which you have been ordained of vestal keep prodding me to my name in this letter my language is strong. It comes from a drawer played mah heart. If I didn't say what I asked and asked should have been a Swede is a cool ass should have talked about the go to submission of women the exalted
career that might be. Open for her in walks yet on trial. And although perhaps that these unlucky bugles style but I know the power that women have over on me and I know where it led. You know in the ballot box you live in those you know women whose power in the simple. Remain. Such sweet talk such soft sawder and then to say if I didn't mean what I say I should have been as sweet as a courtier as if he wasn't being sweet as a courtier while he said it. But when men began to realize that women were serious about having the vote and some equality before the law the soft sawder hardened a little. Men began to make fun of the less acceptable features of our efforts. Our next text shows both the conservative position of these professional funny men
and their satirical efforts to keep women in line. It is from the reminiscences of the famous show man and the exhibitor of wax figures and exotic animals. Artemus Ward. It concerns one of the lunatic fringe activities of the earlier workers for a better place for women. Mrs. Horton and Mrs. Randolph Winthrop will you read the text please. The text is entitled among the Free Lovers and it begins in this way. Some years ago I pitched my tent on for Oldham a banner to the breeze in Berwyn Heights Ohio. I had heard that BERLIJN Heights was occupied by extensive sick coal Free Lovers who believed in affinities and switch the one back on their domestic ties without no hesitation whatsoever. There was likewise spirit rappers and high pressure reformers on general principles. If I can improve these airmen mitigated people by showing them my own parallel show with the
usual price of admissions me think I shall not have lived in vain but viscerally did I post today that I ever set up my tent in the wretched place armory or set. I have never seen on the men's faces it was all covered with hair and they look half starved to death. Their pockets was full of tracks and pamphlets and they was very pointed and the women was worse than the men they wore trousers short downs straw hats with green ribbons and carried blue cotton umbrella. But presently a perfectly Arfa looking female presented herself at the door. Her gown is scandalously short and her trousers is shameful to behold. I mean me over very sharp and then start back she says in a wild voice. Can I get to be rich. Yes. True want is true admissions 15 cents ma'am and so I have found you at last. Oh Lars. Yes you have found me at last and you would have found me at first too if it comes down or are you a man. I think I care but if you doubt it you can address Mrs Artemas Ward Boldin villain G.A.
postage paid and she'll probably give you the desired information. Dollars talk to cole world calls Mary. Madam I just know you are mine You are mine I scarcely scarcely wear my vanity What upon air is that stuff. No no I just didn't listen man and for years I have yearned for the style most in the world somewhere as though I didn't know where my heart would come and I took great. He has come here. You know I am you. Finnerty Oh too much tomorrow. Yes I think it is a damn sight too much has not yet done for me. Not only your personal animals creatures go away from me and take this wretched women with you. I'm a law abiding man and not even going to fashion institutions. I'm married and my offspring resemble me. If I am a showman I think your affinity business is constant nonsense besides being an
outrageously wicked. Why don't you behave decent like other folks go to work and earn an honest living and not stay around here in this lazy shiftless way. Pi isn't in the atmosphere with your pestiferous ideas. You women folks go back to your lawful husbands if you've got any and take off them scandalous gowns and trousers and dress respectable like other women. Thank. You for fourth is indignation in that way until we got out of breath and then I suppose he stopped. You have seen how the professional funny man Mr. Artemus Ward believed in good old fashioned institutions. That is the sure sign of a conservative mind. And you've heard the soft sawder harden a little. There is just a bit of bitterness in Mr. Ward's portrait of a lady in trousers isn't there. You know Allison I think it could be added to the materials supporting the thesis that a change of fashion in dress marks a change in culture. Susan I think you're right. We'll go over it next meeting. Now lest we
forget that the humor in these texts deceives us and turns our minds from the real intention of the text which is to instruct. I would ask you all to remember this important question about these texts namely who is asked to live. Are the women who are satirized for their zeal in seeking freedom. Asked to laugh. In a word are these texts really addressed to the women at all. Are they addressed to man. We present one for example from the writings of Artemus Ward so that you may answer the question for yourself who is asked to laugh. Mrs. Horton and Mrs. Polly Baker will you go on. This text is called women's rights and in it Mr. war reports in this way. Pitched March 10th in a small town in Janney one day last season and while I was standing at the gate taking money at the predation of ladies come up and said they were members of the bunkum Ville
female reform and women's rights association and I axed me the server could we enter without pay. Not exactly but you can pay without entering. Do you know who we air. Why she shaking their blue cotton umbrella at me for do you know we air. Do you know that my impression is from a cursory view that you air females we are there we belong to was society which believes women has rights which believes in raising her to her proper sphere which believe she is in doubt with as much intellect as man is which believes she is terrible wrong and of view and who will resist hints for them for ever. The encroachment of proud and domineering men. I hope ma'am that your intentions is honorable. I'm a lone man here in a strange place which was I got away from home. Yes she's a slave. Does she ever dream of freedom. Does she never think of throwing off the yoke of tyranny I think and far south does she never think of these here thinks not being a natural born fool I can safely say that she doesn't know what what oh
what is the price that woman pays for her experience I don't know the price to my show is 15 cents per individual and can't our society go in free. Not if I know what a cruel cruel man would you let my daughter mean oh please let my daughter and she's a sweet gushing child the nature let our gosh let our gosh beast. My female friend before your leave a few remarks during a mock weigh them well. The female woman is one of the greatest institutions of which this land can boast possible to get along without her. Had there been no female women in the world I should scarcely be here with my own parallel show at this very occasion. She is good in sickness good in wellness and good all the time. Oh a woman more woman. You are an angel when you behave yourself. But when you take off your proper apparel and metaphorically speak and get into pantaloons. When you desert your firesides and with your heads a filled in women's rights notions you go around like a roaring lions seeking whom you may devour somebody in short when
you undertake to please the man you play the devil an air and emphatic nuisance. My female friend when you are well what are her origin. Say. They are so pitiful aren't they. These men trying to hold the old find comfortable things. I sometimes think when I hear these texts read the poem by Robert Frost called The Road Not Taken. And when one chooses to take one road in life the one not taken does take on a certain charm of the far away and the long ago. And I must confess that something of nostalgia touches me when I hear the next text. It is called the new woman and it was written by Finley Peter Dunne or as he is better known. Mr. Dooley is from a collection of sketches called Mr. Dooley in peace and in war. I will read it for us and Mrs. Utterback and Mrs. Horton will help me. This scene is Dooley's bar of an afternoon
in the spring. Dooley is talking with one of his customers named John. While Donna you were hoping to become the new woman but it's been a good thing for all man dar you all the sign you should do everything the more her man could stand. He seen her appearing in the role where I'm close look no lady should wear them right now boy sick or he was who really did when she demanded to vote. People have prayed and Arizona and Marshall the host country committed assault and battery on the PR. But it's got to the end of the rope now he was in here last night how come his soul Withers had hawked over a story when a local result an honest face and what he left me he says he says as he duly uses Konqueror or I'll do it he says. It's been common for months but it's only Boston dawn last week he came home from the entire route and after supper he was pulling off his boots when Molly began talking about a female does the area the
new women whether you like money that it is. What do you mean be the new woman. Father The new woman will be free from the oppression of men. So work out her own way without help or hindrance. She knew where I worked last year once and she'll be no months leave. They'll be no such thing it's given a girl in marriage to a clown and making her dependent on his whims. The women learn that only one in maybe the men will stay at home and reject the housework. But the next morning Mrs Donahue and Molly come to Donahue's door and she says that or give up your dollar Z-man and bring in some core of your belief or do you work for a bit or call out hitch and leave me alone. You're interrupting me dreams man. Get up go away leave me slumber. The idea of a couple of big strong women like you making me work for you. Oh you'll bring in the call of this for you on audio you best see what there is in the cupboard and put it in your dinner pail I heard the first whistle roll a minute ago and there's a
pilot's like at the mill this to be wheeled off before the superintendent comes around you know you can't afford to lose your job with me in this delicate condition. I'm going to sleep now. And Molly do you bring me a cup of cocoa to porch to get tea and expect me you sick teacher about that time. We'll have to take a wallop I want Norm Coleman before noon the Lord save us from harm. The man's pleading crazy a bit trying to man. Never done it you told me that floor room complete. Molly was game and she finished in the hole. But Mrs. Donohue got nervous as eight o'clock problem so she returned to Donahue's began. You're not going to stay in bed all day and here is your job. To job. Why not demand to be taken work when there is industrious women with nothing to do. Show me the papers. I want to see where you can get me an 80 cent bonnet for two and a half. Come now don't be foolish to want to know. You wouldn't want their own woman working in the mill
wasn't your drone in your. New old woman what does the old woman always want to know that's a horse of a different color so I don't mind the middles this close down today. And I'm done with you Grace himself from the window and says he to Molly he says this new woman you may find work enough around the house and if you have time you might be a pain in the stoop. The old man's going to take the old woman down to host to greet her own self for a new shawl for her. And Donahue he's been very proud of the victory that he's been a regular costumer for all. Right. Thanks very much Lee. Now I have time for one more text from quite a different sort of man than Sam Slick. Josh Billings Artemus Ward Oh Mr. Dooley the text I'm about to read is from the 30th chapter dated 19:3
of the education of Henry Adams. It begins once thought is mostly subconscious and particularly sensitive to disturbing suggestion. So Adams tried tricks and devices to disclose it. The woman seldom knows her own thought. She is as curious to understand herself as the man to understand her. And responds far more quickly than a man to a sudden idea. Sometimes you know one might wait to talk and then possible ask one's liveliest neighbor whether she could explain why woman was without an instant's hesitation. She was sure to answer because the America is here. Thank you ladies for your help your texts from the professional humorist marking the New Woman bring us up against two basic questions about American humor don't they. The first
asks Is American humor a conservative force that always aims to preserve old ways. The second asks Why do men laugh when women talk of their rights and that is indeed a deep question. This program has been devoted to text illustrating some relation's of American humor through the agitation for female suffrage. You have heard text from Thomas Chandler Halliburton's a clockmaker from the complete works of Josh Billings by Henry W. Shaw from Artemus Ward his book by Charles Farmer Brown from Mr Dooley in peace and in war by Finley Peter Dunne. I'm from the education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams We hope that you have enjoyed that. Today's voices Barbara Lee Jane O'Reilly Dorothy Olson produced by E. Scott Bryce technical operation by George Lawrence.
Heritage of American humor
Female agitations
Producing Organization
University of North Dakota
KFJM (Radio Station : Grand Forks, N.D.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, "Female Agitations," looks at women and humor.
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Dramatic essays on the history and nature of American humor. Written by J.F.S. Smeall, assistant professor of English at the University of North Dakota and editor of the North Dakota Quarterly.
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Actor: Lee, Barbara
Actor: Olson, Dorothy
Narrator: Smeall, J.F.S.
Producing Organization: University of North Dakota
Producing Organization: KFJM (Radio Station : Grand Forks, N.D.)
Production Manager: Bryce, E. Scott
Writer: Smeall, J. F. S.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-4-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:46
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Chicago: “Heritage of American humor; Female agitations,” 1961-02-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 16, 2021,
MLA: “Heritage of American humor; Female agitations.” 1961-02-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 16, 2021. <>.
APA: Heritage of American humor; Female agitations. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from