Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement

Home to the Long Island Woman Suffrage Association, Antonia Petrash, Editor

Archive for the ‘Suffragist of the Month’ Category

March 4th, 2021 by burton33

March is Women’s History Month!

Hopefully we will soon reach the day when the celebration of women’s history is not limited to one month, but is celebrated throughout the entire year, marking no difference from men’s – “People’s history” it might be called. But until then we can’t resist this opportunity to use this month to celebrate the special women who helped make our world a better place.

Suffragist of the Month, March 2021

Kate Malcolm Sheppard,  1847 –  1934

American women certainly had no exclusive claim to the quest for woman suffrage. Women around the world worked tirelessly for political equality, experiencing much the same frustrations and, ultimately successes as our suffragists did.

Catherine (Kate) Malcolm was born around March 10, 1847 in Liverpool, England. After her father’s death her mother moved the family to New Zealand in the late 1860s, where Kate married  Walter Allen Sheppard in 1871. Far ahead of her time, Kate believed firmly in full equality for women in all aspects of society, including political equality. She also worked for dress reform, advocating freeing women from restrictive corsets, and encouraging them to exercise and be physically active.

In 1885 she became a founding member of the New Zealand branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. But it became obvious to her that women could not achieve needed societal reforms without the power of the vote. Two years later she began to work for woman suffrage. 

A fervent advocate, she wrote pamphlets, organized countless meetings and lectures, and traveled throughout New Zealand, encouraging women to sign petitions lobbying for the vote. She presented a series of these petitions to Parliament, including one with over 30,000 signatures. New Zealand finally granted women the right to vote in 1893, becoming the first nation to grant universal suffrage.

Sheppard was later active in woman suffrage movements in other countries, including the United States, where she traveled and worked with Carrie Chapman Catt. Her likeness is now on the New Zealand $10 note, as well as a commemorative stamp. She died in 1934.

Sheppard was later active in woman suffrage movements in other countries, including the United States, where she traveled and worked with Carrie Chapman Catt. Her likeness is now on the New Zealand $10 note, as well as a commemorative stamp. She died in 1934.

Happy Birthday, Kate Malcolm Sheppard!

February 1st, 2020 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – February 2020

Louise deKoven Bowen, 1859 – 1953

Louise deKoven was born in Chicago, February 26, 1859 the only child of Helen Hadduck and John DeKoven. Her childhood was one of wealth and privilege; she graduated from the prestigious Dearborn Seminary in 1916, and began teaching Sunday School at St. James Episcopal Church. Although she remained a member of the church for the rest of her life she consistently expressed discontent about its treatment of women. In 1886 she married Joseph Tilton Bowen; the couple had four children.

In 1903 she began working with Jane Addams in Hull House, advocating for the welfare of young people, and established a summer camp for needy children. She served as the first president of the Juvenile Protective Association where she supervised research examining such issues as working conditions, racial prejudice, and popular entertainment and its effects on young people, issues that still resonate today. 

Louise deKoven Bowen became interested in the woman suffrage movement after learning about the activities of British suffragettes; she admired their tenacity and joined forces with Jane Addams, travelling and speaking out about the need of women for the vote. After her husband died in 1911 she divided her time as a Board member for Hull House, and an advocate for woman suffrage.

She geared her appeal to most women’s concerns for home and family. The vote would improve lives, she argued, by allowing women to vote for their family’s best interests – the prevention of child abuse, the education of young people, and the reduction of infant mortality. She campaigned for Theodore Roosevelt for President in 1912 after learning that he had made woman suffrage part of the Progressive party platform. During World War I, Illinois Governor Frank Lowden appointed Bowen to the Illinois Council of Defense, the only woman to serve on the council.

In 1914 she ran for Alderman of the 21st Ward in Chicago, the first year women were eligible to run, and although she was defeated she was so respected in the City that there was talk of running her for mayor, an idea which greatly amused her. After women won the vote she continued to campaign to encourage women to use their vote to improve lives.

As many wealthy women of the time, Louise DeKoven Bowen could have indulged in a life of indolence and pleasure. Instead she chose to use her wealth and influence to work to better the lives of children and families.

Happy Birthday, Louise deKoven Bowen!

January 10th, 2020 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month, January, 2020

Fanny Bullock Workman, 1859 – 1925

Fanny Bullock was born January 8, 1859 to Alexander Hamilton Bullock, who had served as governor of Massachusetts, and Elvira Hazard Bullock. Her childhood was one of privilege and she enjoyed a comprehensive education, both in the US and in Europe. At the age of 22 she married William Workman, a physician twelve years her senior. William was an avid mountain climber and explorer, activities Fanny began to share and enjoy.

When William retired they began in earnest their adventurous activities, exploring and reporting on the flora, fauna, people, and sights of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They traveled through the Mediterranean and near east, bicycling thousands of miles through Ceylon, Java and India. Along the way they made scientific observations on meteorological data – glacier changes, ice conditions, and physiological responses to altitude. At a time when women were expected to be solely wives and homemakers, Fanny left her daughter with nannies and set off to set altitude records for women, scaling the 21,000 foot Koser Gunga in Pakistan, the 23,300 foot peak of Nun Kun in the Himalayas, and in 1906 the 22,810 foot Pinnacle Peak in India.  Seemingly immune to altitude sickness, she climbed at a slow pace, while observing conditions around her. She and her husband wrote many books and magazine articles about their record-breaking adventures.

Fanny Bullock Workman was an outspoken advocate for woman suffrage, but not in the traditional way. She probably never marched or spoke at a convention, nor wrote an article promoting political equality for women. But devotion to the cause of equal rights for women was demonstrated by her daring, unconventional life style of mountain climbing and exploring, and her feminist determination to prove that women were equal to men in all things. In 1912 she was photographed at 21,000 feet on the Siachen Glacier in Karakoram, (near the India-Pakistan border) holding a newspaper with the headline “Votes for Women,” sending an indisputable message from the mountaintop around the world.

Fanny Bullock Workman was the recipient of many awards from Geographical Societies and was the first woman to lecture at the Sorbonne. She died in France in 1925.

Happy Birthday, Fanny Bullock Workman!

November 10th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month- November, 2019

Rheta Childe Dorr, 1868 – 1948

Rheta Childe was born in Lincoln, Nebraska November 2, 1868. Her father Edward Childe, was a druggist and a probate judge; her mother, Lucie Mitchell a homemaker. Both parents held the conservative belief that women should cleave to traditional roles of wife and mother, a belief that Rheta chafed against from an early age.

When she was twelve years old she sneaked out of her home to attend a suffrage rally featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, using her only prized silver dollar to join the National Woman Suffrage Association. Listening to the speeches of these pioneering suffragists only solidified her belief that a woman should work towards financial and social independence, and should depend only on herself. A brief marriage to John Pixley Dorr in 1890 ended in divorce when her husband did not share her views; Rheta moved with her son to New York to begin a career as a free-lance writer.

While she enjoyed some success – writing for the New York Evening Post, and Everybody’s Magazine – she was continually frustrated by the discrimination imposed on women by conservative editors, whom she discovered often gave credit for her writing to men.  She then joined the staff at Hampton’s magazine where her ideas of outlawing child labor and increasing wages for women were better received. In 1910 she wrote her signature work, What Eight Million Women Want, detailing the work of suffrage clubs, trade unions and consumer leagues towards equality for women. She argued: “Women are not better than men. The mantle of moral superiority forced upon them as a substitute for intellectual equality they accepted because they could not help themselves. They dropped it as soon as the substitute was no longer necessary.”

Dorr’s belief in woman’s independence led her quite naturally to work for suffrage. In 1912 she had travelled to England to interview suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst. The British suffrage movement was more militant than the American, and Dorr’s time in England had convinced her that the American movement could learn from the British. In 1913 Alice Paul, founder of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, convinced Dorr to become the editor of the fledgling organization’s newspaper, The Suffragist. Although Dorr stayed on as editor for only a year she helped to make the publication financially self-sufficient, as well as prominent in the public eye.

After suffrage Dorr continued to espouse her then-radical beliefs of equality for women, both in marriage and in the workplace, also working as a war correspondent and journalist. She died in 1948.

Happy Birthday, Rheta Childe Dorr!

September 26th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – September, 2019

Anne Henrietta Martin, 1875 – 1951

Anne Henrietta Martin was born September 30, 1875 in Empire City, Nevada, the daughter of William O’Hara Martin and Lousie Stadtmuller. Unlike many parents of the day, Anne’s parents believed in educating their daughters; Anne and her sisters attended Whitaker’s School for girls, and Anne graduated from the University of Nevada in 1894. Over the next few years she studied at various universities, including Stanford where she earned a BA in 1896 and an MA in history in 1897. She served as the head of the history department at Stanford for two years.

Anne’s education was further developed when she began travelling, studying in the Orient and Europe, and finally finding herself in England in 1910 as a disciple of Emmeline Pankhurst, suffragette who founded the WSPU, the Woman’s Social and Political Union that was advocating for the vote for women in England. After demonstrating, being arrested and imprisoned,  Anne’s spirit as a suffragist was born. She returned to Nevada and became President of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society.

In 1914 Mabel Vernon, Alice Paul’s most trusted organizer, came to Nevada to help Anne with the suffrage campaign. Nevada’s population was only 80,000 people at the time, but it was spread over 112,000 square miles. The two women crisscrossed the state, visiting every Nevada County, making speeches, convincing voters of the need for the franchise for women. Their campaign was successful – women in Nevada won the vote on November 5, 1914, becoming one of only eleven states that had thus far granted women full suffrage.

Anne continued to work for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and in 1918 became the first American woman to run for the US Senate. With Mabel Vernon again coming to her aid, she campaigned across the state, using contacts and techniques she had developed during the suffrage campaign. When she was defeated she ran again in 1920, and after that defeat again turned her attention to women’s rights. With Mabel Vernon she was active in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, wrote numerous articles for leading magazines and journals, and spent the rest of her life as a spokeswoman for feminist goals.

Anne Henrietta Martin came from a comfortable family and could have enjoyed a life of peace and leisure. Instead she chose to work for equal rights for women, as well as international world peace. She died in 1951.

Happy Birthday, Anne Henrietta Martin!

 

 

August 6th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – August 2019

Inez Milholland Boissevain

1886 – 1916

“Martyr for the Cause”

Inez Milholland was born August 6, 1886 to a wealthy, progressive family in Brooklyn, New York. Her family spent much of their time in London, where she attended the Kensington High School for Girls. She then attended Vassar College, graduated in 1909, and, in an unusual move for a woman at that time, went on to work for a law degree from New York University, which she was awarded in 1912.

From her early years Inez was drawn to work for progressive and social causes, always demonstrating for the disenfranchised, the poor and those unable to help themselves. She represented shirtwaist and laundry factory workers in New York City when they struck for higher wages and better working conditions, and worked for fair child labor laws.

While at Vassar Inez had joined Harriot Stanton Blatch’s Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later the Women’s Political Union), despite the fact the Vassar President, James Monroe Taylor refused to allow Vassar students any discussion of the suffrage movement. She continued to demonstrate and rally for suffrage, and in 1913 worked for the WPU in Washington, DC, headed by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. In 1913 she married Eugen Jan Boissevain, a Dutch coffee importer.

On March 3, 1913 in a daring publicity stunt designed to embarrass the new president, Inez led a massive parade in Washington DC that was scheduled for the day before President Wilson’s inauguration. Riding a majestic white horse, she led thousands of marchers down Pennsylvania Avenue, thus becoming a symbol of the brave, daring women working for suffrage. In May of that year she reprised that role, leading a massive parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City, becoming the symbol of the “new women” whose beauty, brains and brave spirit rallied thousands of women to work for suffrage.

In 1916 Alice Paul convinced Inez to undertake a tour of the western states in an effort to gain backing for the movement from women in states that had already granted women suffrage. But Inez had been in poor health for some time, and the arduous trip proved too much for her. On October 19, 1916, while giving a speech in Los Angeles she collapsed, and died ten weeks later from pernicious anemia. An article in the Philadelphia Public Lodger at the time of her death described her as epitomizing the “determination of modern women to live a full free life, unhampered by tradition.”

The woman suffrage movement claimed her as the first martyr to the cause, and her work for suffrage is regarded as some of the most important and influential. Unfortunately, she died before the battle was won, but will always be remembered for her unstinting devotion to the cause of freedom everywhere. Her funeral service was held in Statuary Hall under the dome of the  Capitol, the first woman to be so honored.

Happy Birthday, Inez Mulholland Boissevain!

Filmaker Martha Wheelock, in collaboration with Wild West Women, Inc., has created a short DVD of Inez’s life, Forward Into Light. To learn more about this inspirational story, and to order the DVD log onto: http://inezmilholland.org

July 10th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – July, 2019

Gertrude Bustill Mossell – 1855 – 1948

Quite often the work of African-American suffragists went unrecognized, hidden in plain view by the work of others, but the contributions they made to the movement were no less meaningful or important. In addition to being an avid suffragist, Gertrude Bustill Mossell held the rare position of an influential journalist, and was able to use her position as a writer for a prominent African-American newspaper to give voice to the ideas of other Black women who advocated for suffrage.

Gertrude Bustill was born July 3, 1855 to a prominent family in Philadelphia and attended public schools. After graduation she taught in the public school districts in Philadelphia and New Jersey, while at the same time beginning her career as a journalist, contributing to several newspapers in Philadelphia, giving the Black woman’s point of view of the important issues of the day. In 1883 she married Nathan Mossell, the first African-American to receive a medical license from the University of Pennsylvania. The couple had two children.

In 1885 Gertrude became the woman’s editor of the New York Age, a prominent African-American newspaper, and continued to report on issues of interest to her contemporaries; in that same year she began writing a woman’s column for T. Thomas Fortune’s Black newspaper, The New York Freeman. Her first article for the Freeman was entitled “Woman Suffrage,” where she encouraged African-American women to familiarize themselves with the movement, and to get involved in working for its success. Mossell favored the Constitutional amendment route favored by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton over the state-by-state method favored by Lucy Stone. She also encouraged women to become journalists themselves, to write and submit articles to various publications, expressing their own views about current events, including suffrage.

Mossell and her husband also supported philanthropic causes; in 1895, they establishing Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital, the second private Black hospital in the nation. Her articles inspired her most successful publication, The Work of the Afro-American Woman, in 1894, a survey of the century’s Black female leaders, from poet Francis Harper to scholar Anna Cooper.

Gertrude Bustill Mossell came from a comfortable family, and could have spent her days in leisure. Instead she chose to give voice to the often-ignored African-American woman suffragist, and in so doing helped to have her influential voice heard as well.

Happy Birthday Gertrude Bustill Mossell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 11th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month- June, 2019

Catherine Waugh McCulloch, 1862 – 1945

Catherine Waugh was born June 4, 1862 in Ransomville, New York, the only daughter of Susan Gougher and Abraham Waugh. When she was five years old her family moved to New Milford, Illinois. Catherine was fortunate  –  her parents believed in educating both girls and boys. She graduated from the Rockford Female Seminary in 1882, and in 1885 enrolled in The Union College of Law in Chicago. Upon graduation she was admitted to the Illinois Bar, a very unusual triumph for a young woman at that time. She continued her education at Rockford Seminary, and in 1888 was awarded both a B.A. and an M.A.

Catherine was also fortunate in her marriage. In 1890 she married Frank H. McCulloch, a fellow law student, and the two founded the law firm of McCulloch and McCulloch, another unusual arrangement for the time. The couple had four children.

Using her unique position as a female attorney Catherine was able to fight for women’s rights through the legal system, defending women in cases of abuse, wage discrimination and divorce. In 1901 one of her first legislative triumphs was passage of legislation that granted women guardianship of their own children. She also was responsible for a law raising the legal age of consent for women from fourteen to sixteen. But her strongest and most fervent devotion was reserved for the woman suffrage movement. In 1913 she was instrumental in passing legislation that allowed women in Illinois to vote in presidential and local elections not constitutionally limited to male voters. She served as both legal advisor and first vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Illinois, and worked closely with other suffragists, including Jane Addams, who founded Hull House settlement house in Chicago.

Catherine also offered a supportive voice to African-American suffragists, including Ida Wells-Barnett who had been discouraged from marching in the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington DC because of the prejudice of southern women. As a woman lawyer Catherine was no stranger to prejudice, and her unqualified support forged a strong friendship between the two suffragists. “It (success) only requires,” she wrote to Wells-Barnett, “that our women should be as firm in standing up for their principles as the Southern women are for their prejudices.”

Her law career continued to flourish; she was the first woman to be elected Justice of the Peace in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1917 won an appointment as a master in chancery of the Cook County Superior Court in Chicago. She continued working for equal rights for women until her death in 1945.

Catherine McCulloch enjoyed the good fortune of supportive parents and husband. She could have led a life of leisure and ease, but she chose instead to study the law and use her legal expertise to better the lives of all women, including securing for them the right to exercise their voice through the vote.

Happy Birthday, Catherine Waugh McCulloch!

May 11th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – May, 2019

Julia Ward Howe, 1819 – 1910

Julia Ward Howe is probably best known for her poem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was set to the music of an old folk tune, and became the semi-official song of the Union Army during the Civil War. But in addition to writing poetry, biographies and essays she was also an avid suffragist who, in 1868 helped form and was the first president of the New England Woman Suffrage Association.

Julia Ward was born May 27, 1819 in New York City to prominent banker Samuel Ward and poet Julia Rush. Her mother died when she was five years old, and her education was assumed by an aunt who believed strongly in educating girls in the arts, literature and sciences. Julia developed a love of poetry, and had poems published at an early age. In 1843 she married Samuel Gridley Howe. The couple had six children, but the marriage was not a happy one; Samuel Howe was autocratic, and did not approve of Julia’s literary efforts, nor of her involvement in public life. Despite his disapproval she continued writing; her success with The Battle Hymn of the Republic brought her fame and some independence.

Her work with the New England Woman Suffrage Association resulted in a friendship with suffragist Lucy Stone from Boston. Together they created the American Woman Suffrage Association, a conservative organization whose beliefs contrasted with those of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, founders of the more “radical” National Woman’s Suffrage Association. In 1870 Julia and Lucy published the Woman’s Journal, a suffrage newspaper that promoted their more conservative ideas, in direct conflict with The Revolution, Stanton and Anthony’s newspaper.

One of their differences centered on the participation and influence of men in their respective organizations. Men were actively encouraged to join the Boston group; Henry Ward Beecher was its first president. They also limited their focus to woman suffrage, and were not interested in working on other issues. Stanton and Anthony preferred to give only women prominent positions in their organization, while also working on other issues, such as equal pay for women and divorce reform. In 1890 the two groups decided to put their differences aside and join together for the greater good of both, resulting in the creation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), a melding Julia Ward Howe strongly supported.

In addition to her suffrage work she traveled and lectured on the importance of world peace, and in 1871 became the first president of the American branch of the Women’s International Peace Association. In 1908, in another “first,” she became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She continued to publish travel books, biographies, poems and essays until her death in 1910.

Like many wealthy women of her era, Julia Ward Howe could have enjoyed a life of leisure. Instead, she chose the difficulties of a very public life, and worked to better the lives of others.

Happy Birthday, Julia Ward Howe!

 

 

 

February 18th, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – February, 2019

Angelina Grimké Weld, 1805 – 1879

Angelina Grimké Weld was born in Charleston, South Carolina, February 20, 1805, the fourteenth and youngest child of the wealthy and influential Grimké family. Her father John was a well-known jurist; her mother Mary Smith managed her large family and numerous slaves with an iron fist, but by the time Angelina was born her exhausted mother gladly gave her over to the care of her older sister, Sarah, whose position as Angelina’s godmother fostered in both girls an especially close relationship.

From an early age Sarah railed against the strictures imposed upon the daughters of the family, particularly the lack of a comprehensive education. As a child, she tried to teach her family’s slaves to read and write, but was rebuked by her father for breaking a 1740 law against educating blacks. These experiences led both girls to become abolitionists at an early age, which was a shocking and direct rebuke to their slave-owning family. A visit to Philadelphia in 1821 introduced Sarah to the Society of Friends (Quakers), and much taken by their views against slavery, she decided to join them. In 1829 Angelina left the family in Charleston and joined her.

But although the sisters shared a hatred for slavery they approached it in very different ways. Sarah was more reticent; she cared for the opinion of others. Angelina’s youth made her more daring; she cared little what others thought of her and began writing and publishing pamphlets against slavery. In 1835 she wrote to William Lloyd Garrison who published her letter in his newspaper, The Liberator, and her career as a teacher and public speaker was born. In 1836 her Appeal to the Christian Women of the Southern States was an attempt to convince former friends and residents of the South of the “exceeding sinfulness of slavery,” but only resulted in both sisters being told they would never be welcome in Charleston again.

Although the Quakers were abolitionists, they practiced segregation, requiring African-Americans to sit in the back of the meeting house. When they were rebuked for speaking out against such practices, the Grimké sisters turned their efforts to fighting for equal rights for women, firm in their belief that only through the ability to speak out could women ever know freedom and independence.

In 1838 Angelina married fellow abolitionist Theodore Weld, thus causing both sisters to be expelled from the Quaker meeting. That same year Angelina became the first woman to speak before the Massachusetts Legislature, bringing a petition signed by 20,000 women voicing their opposition to slavery. Both sisters were advocates of suffrage, serving as vice-presidents of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Society and were close friends with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family.

Despite being born into a life of wealth and luxury, Angelina Grimké Weld could not escape her abhorrence for slavery. She courageously left that life and risked the dangers of public censor to follow her beliefs. It wasn’t until after she died in 1879 that the tide of public opinion turned, and they were praised as pioneers in the fight against slavery, and for women’s rights.

Happy Birthday, Angelina Grimké Weld!

The lives of these remarkable Grimké sisters is the subject of a book written by Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings. Although fiction, it is an accurate and beautifully written account of their remarkable battles for freedom and equality for all.

For more information on Sarah Grimké see Suffragist of the Month, November 2014

January 3rd, 2019 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month, January 2019

Harriot Stanton Blatch, 1856 – 1940

From the moment of her birth on January 8,1856 Harriot Stanton Blatch had the mantle of the woman suffrage movement tucked firmly around her. As the daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, organizer of the 1848 Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Conference, and head of the movement, there was small chance she could escape involvement, had she even wanted to.

The Stanton family would eventually include seven children and was lively and boisterous. Her father Henry was a journalist and popular speaker for the abolition movement, and since both parents were intensely involved with the politics and issues of the day Harriot and her sister spent summers with their aunts and grandmother in Johnstown, New York. In that enclave of women Harriot learned to think for herself, and to form and voice her own opinions, the first action of which was changing the spelling of her first name from Harriet to Harriot!

She graduated from Vassar College in 1878 and spent the next few years traveling through Europe, eventually meeting William Henry Blatch, (Harry), an Englishman whom she married in 1882. For twenty years she lived in Basingstoke, England where their two daughters were born. But Harriot never really felt at home in England, especially since marriage to Harry caused her to lose her American citizenship. (Such restrictions didn’t apply to men.)

When Harriot and her family eventually moved back to the United States in 1902, she discovered the suffrage movement was mired in “the doldrums” of inactivity and lethargy. Only five states offered women the rights of full suffrage, and interest in the movement had waned. When her mother died in 1902 she began working in earnest to infuse it with new energy and spirit.

One of her first goals was to make known to all women, across the spectrums of ethnicity, age, race and income, the importance the vote held for them. In 1907 she founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women to help impress upon such women the ways in which the vote could change their lives. She also began involving wealthy women in the movement, reasoning that the wealthy had the time and resources to work for the cause. In 1910 the organization’s name was officially changed to the Women’s Political Union. (WPU).

Harriot was active in the communities near her home at Shoreham on Long Island, organizing and speaking at meetings, inviting Long Island suffragists to march with her in New York City, and generally trying to include all groups in the work. In 1916 the WPU joined with the Congressional Union (CU) of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, and became active in picketing the White House, attempting to convince President Wilson to back the suffrage cause.

With the advent of World War I Harriot left the vigorous battle for the Amendment in the hands of the younger suffragists, convinced that it would only be a matter of time before victory would be achieved, and put her prodigious energies into the war effort, heading the Food Administration’s Speakers’ Bureau and the Woman’s Land Army. Her book, Mobilizing Woman Power, written in 1918 emphasized the contributions European women were making to the War effort, and the need for their American counterparts to do the same. After full suffrage was finally won in 1920 Harriot continued to work with the National Woman’s Party for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and for rights of women throughout the world. She died in 1940, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City.

Harriot Stanton Blatch’s legacy as a great leader of the woman suffrage movement does not rest simply on her position as the daughter of its founder. Rather it rests on what she did with that inheritance, how she shaped it and refocused it to fit the challenges of her own life and times. Her life was not without sorrow – her daughter Helen died in 1896; she lost her husband in 1915. But she did not let sorrow deter her from her work, skillfully drawing on the lessons of the past to plan for the needs of the future, pioneering alliances that were crucial to the movement’s success. She may have begun with a desire to continue her mother’s life’s work, but in the end her efforts created a lasting legacy that was entirely her own.

Happy Birthday, Harriot Stanton Blatch!

November 8th, 2018 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month, November 2018

In a break from my traditional celebration of an individual for Suffragist of the Month, this month we celebrate all the women who ran for office this midterm election. Some won, some lost, but all exhibited the same courage and stamina of the suffragists, and all should be celebrated.

We began on November 5th with a celebration of the work of Huntington suffragist Ida Bunce Sammis. In addition to being an avid suffragist, Ida was also one of the first of two women elected to the New York State Assembly in 1918. Although her term was only for a year, during that year she proposed fourteen laws, and saw ten passed. Our local US Representative, Tom Suozzi, helped us celebrate her contributions at a ceremony at her home November 5, 2018. Not even heavy rain dampened our enthusiasm.

The day after our Sammis celebration became a remarkable day for women throughout the nation. Over 270 women ran for various offices, 121 were elected, and their unprecedented victories changed the face of our government. Results are still trickling in, but in January we will most likely see almost 100 women in the House of Representatives, (formerly 84), 23 women in the Senate, and 9 women governors, (formerly 6). Many of those elected reflect both ethnic and occupational firsts: first African-American Congresswoman elected from Massachusetts; first Native American women elected to Congress, (Kansas, New Mexico); first Korean-American woman elected to Congress, (California); and two first Muslim women elected to Congress, (Michigan and Minnesota). Occupations ranged from pediatrician to a retired Air Force pilot who was one of the first women to fly in combat.

Bella Abzug, elected to the House of Representatives in 1970 when there were only 13 women members, encouraged other women to run for office. “In my heart I believe that women will change the nature of power rather than power change the nature of women,” she said. She also warned that we would never have true equality until our governing bodies reflected our country’s own diversity.

Within the shadow of our suffragist leaders like Ida Bunce Sammis, and feminist leaders like Bella Abzug that goal came a little closer on Tuesday.

Congratulations, Suffragists of the Month!

 

 

October 18th, 2018 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – October, 2018

Pauline Newman, 1890 – 1986

Pauline Newman was first and foremost a labor organizer whose childhood spent in the sweatshops of lower Manhattan showed her first-hand the need for working women to organize and lobby for higher wages, better working conditions and restrictions on child labor. But she was also a suffragist, who believed the vote was the only way to affect political and social change.

Pauline Newman was born to a poor Jewish family in the small Lithuanian town of Kovno, in October around 1890. (Reports of her birth date vary.) Her father was a teacher, her mother a skilled businesswoman who sold fruit in the town market. As a child she despaired of her lack of education, so while her father did not approve of formally educating girls he did allow her to sit in on some of his classes, thus whetting her appetite for further study. But these dreams died with her father in 1901. The family immigrated to the United States, settling on the lower east side of Manhattan where, at the age of 10 Pauline found work in one of the hundreds of factories that were crammed into that area, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on Greene Street.

Conditions in the Triangle factory were similar to those in others – mostly young immigrant women labored over 50 to 60 hours a week in overcrowded, poorly ventilated workrooms. The staff was locked in to prevent theft; bathroom breaks were limited; talking or singing prohibited. The youngest workers spent 56 hours a week snipping threads from the blouses, earning $1.50 for their efforts. Wages for the seamstresses were not much better.

Nine years working in these conditions engendered in Pauline a spirit of activism; she was convinced of the need for change, and in 1909 she helped organize a strike. Forty thousand garment workers walked off their jobs in protest against low wages and poor working conditions. While results of the strike were varied, its effect on Pauline’s life was immense. She was offered a job as an organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, the first woman to hold such a position. She often credited the ILGWU with saving her life; she was travelling for the Union in Ohio when the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory went up in flames March 25, 1911, killing 146 of her friends and co-workers.

The tragedy strengthened her resolve to work even harder to improve working conditions in factories, but also began her career as a suffragist. The woman suffrage movement had tried for years to engage the women’s labor movement in the battle for the vote, with mixed results. While working women understood the vote could help them see laws passed that would benefit them, they were often so overwhelmed with working and raising families that suffrage had taken a back seat. Now, with the encouragement of such activists as Pauline, Clara Lemlich, and Rose Schneiderman they began to realize that the vote could help them to enact a wide range of social and political change.

In 1914 Pauline helped form the Industrial Section of the New York Woman Suffrage Party, where her skills as a negotiator helped bridge the gap between the two vital organizations to the benefit of both. Organized women labor leaders understood the value of rallies, parades and demonstrations, and brought those skills to the suffrage movement. Wealthy suffragists, such as Alva Belmont and Harriot Stanton Blatch offered monetary support. And both groups could celebrate together the success of New York State when women won the vote in 1917, and the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.

Pauline Newman continued to work for the ILGWU for over seventy years as an activist, educator and liaison between the union and government officials, as well as a mentor for young feminists. She died in 1986 at the age of 96.

Happy Birthday, Pauline Newman!

September 8th, 2018 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – September, 2018

From left, Sara Bard Field, Maria Kindberg and Ingeborg Kindstedt stand in front of the automobile they drove from California to Washington, D.C. (LOC)

Sara Bard Field, 1882 – 1974

Sara Bard Field was born September 1, 1882 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to George Bard Field and Annie Jenkins; the family would eventually consist of five children. Her father was a staunch Baptist and imposed his iron will on his children; he refused to allow Sara to attend college because he feared it would endanger her faith.

At the age of eighteen Sara married Albert Ehrgott, a Baptist minister twice her age, and moved with him to Rangoon, Burma. There she viewed first-hand the evils of child labor, and the inequity that required women to work long hours for little compensation, what she later called the “slavery of greed.” When she and her husband returned home in 1902 she put her outrage at social injustice to work by establishing a soup kitchen and kindergarten in her husband’s parish. In 1910, she and her husband moved their family to Portland Oregon where, fueled by a further desire for social reform, she began to work for suffrage.

As her marriage began to flounder, Sara began working as the paid state organizer for the campaign that won suffrage in Oregon in 1912. She became a gifted speaker and a skilled field worker, adept at developing clever publicity for the movement. She worked closely with Mabel Vernon, Alva Belmont and Alice Paul, and it was Alice Paul who conceived of the dramatic publicity stunt of a cross-country drive. She asked Sara Bard Field to help her.

On September 16, 1915, Sara left San Francisco with two Swedish women who had volunteered to drive their car from California to Rhode Island to campaign for suffrage. Sara made speeches on street corners in dusty, small towns, delivered suffrage materials, and sought signatures on a petition calling for the passage of the 19th Amendment. In three months the trio traveled 5000 miles over rough, muddy roads, visited twenty states and 48 cities, and garnered 500,000 signatures on their petition. When they reached Washington DC on December 6th they were granted a private meeting with President Wilson who marveled at their achievement and promised to consider the matter “very carefully.”

For Sara the end of the trip merely marked the beginning of another campaign. With little time to rest she continued travelling, campaigning and working for suffrage. After her divorce from her first husband she established a home with Charles Erskine Scott Wood, a lawyer, writer, and advocate of liberal causes. In 1925, with suffrage safely won, she and Wood built a house in Los Gatos California that became a gathering place for writers and poets, and a place where she could indulge another of her loves, writing and reading poetry. She continued to advocate for social justice, establishing a birth-control clinic and working for equal rights for African-Americans. She died in 1974.

Sara Bard Field is remembered not just for her daring, cross-country trek for suffrage, but for her work for the underdog, for those who had no one to speak for them. She also continually sought to prove that women working together could achieve great things.

Happy Birthday, Sara Bard Field!

August 19th, 2018 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – August, 2018

Eunice Dana Brannan, 1854 – 1936

On November 10, 1917, forty women representing the National Woman’s Party picketed the White House gates, protesting their lack of the right to vote. Although their actions were peaceful and legal, they were arrested, and four days later taken to a rough workhouse, Occoquan Prison, in Virginia, where they were physically abused, denied basic supplies and food, and threatened with even greater harm. Eunice Dana Brannan was one of the forty. Later she recalled: “We were absolutely in the power of a gang of prison thugs. Women were hurled down steps and into cells with narrow beds and dirty blankets…The scene that took place in the reception room of the workhouse was of incredibly infamous cruelty. Nothing that we know…could exceed the brutality that was used towards us.” Eunice was kept at Occoquan for a week before being released.

That fateful November night spent in a dirty prison cell, later known as the “Night of Terror,” must have seemed far away from her usual life of privilege. She was born August 24, 1854 in Connecticut to the wealthy family of Charles Dana, who would later become the editor of the New York Sun newspaper. Charles Dana and his wife Eunice MacDaniel later moved to an estate in Glen Cove, New York, “The Wings,” which was a favorite vacation spot for suffrage leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Eunice married John Winters Brannan, President of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals. Around 1910 she joined the Women’s Political Union as Chair of the Finance Committee, and worked with Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She later joined the Congressional Union with Alice Paul, where she was elected to the Executive Committee at the CU’s first national convention, and was a prodigious fundraiser.

Eunice had picketed and been imprisoned before that November night, and had refused then to back down and plead guilty. “We will not sit in silence,” she declared, “while the President (Wilson) presents himself to the people of Europe as the representative of a free people when the American people are not free, and he is chiefly responsible for it.”

Her nights in Occoquan only solidified her resolve to work even harder for suffrage. After their release she and other former prisoners donned replicas of their prison uniforms and met with the press to publicize their mistreatment. After suffrage was won she continued to work on women’s issues, “keeping the flag of freedom high.” She died in 1936.

Her belief in the right to publicly demonstrate one’s beliefs resonates to this day: “We have been told it is unpatriotic to criticize public action…We have forgotten the history of our country if we have forgotten how to object, how to resist, how to agitate when it is necessary to readjust matters.”

Happy Birthday, Eunice Dana Brannan!