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[Audio] KY Chautauqua Brings Prominent Kentucky Suffragist to Life

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Kentucky Chautauqua
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Kentucky Humanities Council

In their book "A New History of Kentucky," historians Lowell Harrison and James Klotter called Madeline McDowell Breckinridge the most influential woman in the Commonwealth.  Breckinridge was a descendant of some of Kentucky's most prominent families, and she used the resources her name provided to advocate for women's suffrage.  She's also the subject of an upcoming Kentucky Chautauqua this Wednesday at the GlemaMahr Center for the Arts in Madisonville.  Todd Hatton speaks with Kelly Brengelman, who brings the progressive reformer to life.

Brengelman says it is unfortunate that a woman who played a decisive role in enfranchising women in the Commonwealth and the country has faded from memory.  But Brengelman adds that fame was not among Breckinridge's motivations.

"She grew up and married into this whole idea that they had a duty to serve the people...and that's what she continued all her life."

Brengelman describes Breckinridge, who she refers to by her nickname "Madge," as "warm, but she was sarcastic and she didn't mind being forthright with people."

When asked how she would write Madeline McDowell Breckinridge's epitaph, Brengelman says, "There isn't one line that sums her up.  The only way you could pick an epitaph is to come to the show and write one for yourself."

Kelly O'Connell Brengelman portrays Madeline McDowell Breckinridge in "Votes for Women," part of the Kentucky Chautauqua series, this Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Madisonville's Glema Center for the Arts.  The event is free and open to the public.

Todd Hatton hails from Paducah, Kentucky, where he got into radio under the auspices of the late, great John Stewart of WKYX while a student at Paducah Community College. He also worked at WKMS in the reel-to-reel tape days of the early 1990s before running off first to San Francisco, then Orlando in search of something to do when he grew up. He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Murray State University. He vigorously resists adulthood and watches his wife, Angela Hatton, save the world one plastic bottle at a time.
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