Women’s Suffrage; Anthropology; Creativity; Women and Spirituality; Ethnomusicology
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin
M.A., University of Texas at Austin
B.A., Wesleyan University
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Pam Swing is an anthropologist, folklorist and photographer. Recently, Pam has become fascinated by her militant suffragist grandmother, Betty Gram Swing. From 1917-1920, Betty worked full time for the National Woman’s Party. She was jailed for picketing and participated in hunger strikes. As Pam sorts her grandmother’s papers for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, Pam has been doing additional primary research at the Library of Congress and other archives, meeting Gram relatives she never knew existed, and collecting additional papers and materials from them. Her grandmother’s papers are very incomplete, and it has been detective work to figure out the significance of scraps of writing and other material. Pam’s goal is to write a book about the process of discovering the many decades of work her grandmother did for women’s rights.
Another interesting chapter of Betty Gram Swing’s life was a sojourn in Berlin in the early 1920s after the 19th Amendment was ratified. She went there to study lieder and art. Betty met and married radio news commentator Raymond Gram Swing while in Berlin. He legally took her maiden name for his middle name, which was unusual at the time. Betty became friends with many German Expressionist artists and collected their art. Pam has been researching the artists and would like to travel to Germany to do more research there.
For ten years, Pam has facilitated circles of women. She uses ritual, art, silence, poetry and play to create sacred time/space where women feel safe to explore their unique inner voice. She is especially interested in feminist approaches to how we access and sustain creativity. Her underlying goal is to help women recognize and cultivate the conditions that foster renewal and growth. Her work with women grows from her connection with Greenfire Women’s Retreat in Maine. She began going on personal retreats in 1992, and became a team member for consultations with retreatants as well as facilitating retreats.
I am researching my militant suffragist grandmother, Betty Gram Swing, whose first jail term began in 1917 with the infamous “Night of Terror” at the Occoquan Workhouse. She was a national organizer for the National Woman’s Party, and worked for ratification of the 19th Amendment in many states. She continued work on women’s rights nationally and internationally through the 1950s.
Swing, Pamela. “Teaching Traditional Fiddle in Shetland Isles Schools,” Folklife Annual 88-89 (1998): 86-99.
"Gram Swing, Betty," biographical entry for American National Biography, a website of Oxford University Press. April, 2015.