Suffragist of the Month – August 2015

HaycropLOCMary Garrett Hay, 1857 – 1928

The 1915 campaign for a suffrage amendment to the New York State Constitution was one of the most highly organized campaigns in political history. The State was divided into twelve campaign districts and the district of Greater New York was under the management of Mary Garrett Hay. Under her capable leadership, the New York City Woman Suffrage Party held conventions, printed and distributed leaflets and suffrage papers, raised over $50,000 in funds, and undertook the formidable task of canvassing every registered voter in the City. Although that campaign ultimately failed, it helped to lay the groundwork for the next campaign two years later, when the suffragists would ultimately enjoy victory, thanks in great part to the work of Mary Garrett Hay.

Mary Garrett Hay was born August 29, 1857. Her father was politically active, and often took his young daughter to political rallies and meetings where she developed an interest in politics herself. After attending the Western College for Women in Oxford Ohio, she joined the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) and became involved in the cause of Prohibition, which later morphed into an interest in suffrage.

In 1909 she became President of the New York City Woman Suffrage Party, and worked closely with NAWSA President Carrie Chapman Catt. After Catt’s husband died she and Mary Garrett Hay made their home together for thirty years. After the vote was won Hay went on to chair the New York City League of Women Voters, and worked to educate women in the best use of their newly-found political powers.

Mary Garrett Hay died on her birthday, August 29, 1928. On our recent trip to the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx we discovered Carrie Chapman Catt and Mary Garret Hay were both buried there,  together in both life and death.

Happy Birthday, Mary Garrett Hay!

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