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October Surprise ProFile Friday

Annie Lucaster “Lou” Rogers Smith (1879-1952) was a prolific editorial cartoonist in the early 20th century.  Most of her cartoons were in support of women’s suffrage.

Born in Patten, Maine to Col. Luther Bailey “L.B.” Rogers (a Civil War veteran of the Union Army) and Mary Elizabeth Barker Rogers, she was educated at Patten Academy.  After working as a teaching assistant at the academy for a year, she decided to become an artist and attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School.  After dropping out due to a free-spirited incompatibility with the school, she traveled to Washington DC and New York City, where she pursued her new dream of being a cartoonist.

Originally rejected from publications on the grounds of her gender, she began submitting her work as “Lou Rogers”, and was first published in 1908.  She soon became one of the country’s leading cartoonists with her pictures appearing in The Judge, Ladies’ Home Journal, New York Call and the New York Tribune. A committed supporter of women’s suffrage, she also contributed cartoons to the Suffragist, Woman Citizen, Women Voter and the Woman’s Journal. Rogers also took part in suffrage lecture tours and was a well-known soap-box orator in Times Square. She later became a member of Heterodoxy, a private club for radical, freethinking professional women, that met twice a month, for lunch and serious discussions.

After the passage of women’s suffrage, Rogers contracted with Ladies Home Journal to produce “Gimmicks”, a series of illustrated rhymes for children. She later wrote and illustrated two adventure books for children (Ska-Denge and Rise of the Red Alders).  Around this time she married Howard Smith, her colorist. In 1927, she contributed a short autobiography to The Nation magazine as part of their “These Modern Women” series, which highlighted opportunities for modern, professional women. In the 1930s hosted a weekly NBC radio program, Animal News Club. Her work was also featured in the 1934 collection of women’s humor, Laughing Their Way: Women’s Humor in America.

In 1935 Rogers and Smith purchased an old farm outside Brookfield, CT. She died in 1952 of multiple sclerosis.

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