Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement

Home to the Long Island Woman Suffrage Association, Antonia Petrash, Editor
October 5th, 2014 by burton33

Suffragist of The Month – October

Belva Lockwood2Belva Ann Lockwood

1830 – 1917

 Today, in October of 2014 with three women sitting on the Supreme Court it seems unbelievable that until 1879 women attorneys (of which there were few) were not even permitted to present cases before the Supreme Court. Women were discouraged from becoming attorneys, since most law schools would not accept them.

But the most determined among us will always find a way. Belva Ann Lockwood was born in Royalton, NY, October 24, 1830, second of five children of Hannah and Lewis J. Bennett. She was married at 18 and widowed at 23, left with a young daughter to support. Determined to secure an education, she attended Genesee College, graduating in 1857. After college she followed the prescribed path for young women, becoming a teacher in upstate New York; she then moved to Washington DC where she opened her own school. She married Ezekiel Lockwood in 1868.

In 1871 she decided to study law, a laudable goal that was easier said than done when she discovered that no law school would admit her. She finally entered the New National University law school, graduated in 1873 and began her career as one of the first women attorneys in the nation. Belva used her newly-minted law degree to lobby Congress for legislation that favored equality for women, drafting a bill for equal pay for equal work for women in government positions, and becoming the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court.

In 1884 she was nominated to run for President under the National Equal Rights Party, despite the fact that she herself could not vote. Belva hoped that her presidential campaign would bring attention to the suffrage cause, and show that women could succeed in the “man’s world” of politics. She ran again in 1888, losing both times but running dignified campaigns that won the grudging respect of her male opponents.

Belva Lockwood strongly believed in educating girls and women, for only through education could they make their own way in the world and be self-supporting. She devoted her life to working for equality for women, including suffrage, serving in many suffrage associations. She died May 19, 1917, three years before the national amendment was passed, but not before she had made her mark battling for a woman’s right to enter any profession and follow any path she chose.


September 23rd, 2014 by burton33

One Hundred Years Ago Today

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported today, September 23, 1914 about suffrage activity at the Mineola Fair:

The Nassau County Woman’s Suffrage Party has a tent, and beginning today prominent speakers will attempt to make converts to the cause throughout the week. At a distant point the management has placed the antis, and they also will have speakers for the remainder of the week who will dissuade the women visitors from joining the suffrage cause. One of the new features in the tent of the Nassau County Association in which the poor whom they have helped to become self-supporting the past year will show the results of their work. Mrs. Emily Ladenburg will preside over this exhibit and she will be assisted by many of the prominent society people. It is expected that later in the week many of the younger society members will sell Red Cross stamps in aid of the tubercular patients in the county.

As we have mentioned before, the anti-suffrage movement was alive and very powerful on Long Island, especially on the east end. Anti-suffragists used many of the tactics of the suffragists, making speeches, publishing papers and articles, exhibiting a strength of purpose that suffragists grudgingly admired, even though it was in direct conflict with their cause. And, certainly, a county fair was the perfect place to air their views.

Susan Goodier’s wonderful book, No Votes for Women, offers an in-depth glimpse into the lives of these women who fought against the vote in part because they feared the imposition of masculine political responsibilities. (Additional information can be found in my book, Chapter 13.) It is interesting to note that many of the antis calmly moved over to accept their right to vote when the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920.

September 8th, 2014 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – September

jane-addams2Jane Addams

1860 – 1935


Laura Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois on September 6, 1860 youngest of nine children. Her father was a state senator, and a wealthy industrialist, but her childhood was not without challenges. Her mother died when she was two years old, and two years later she suffered from tuberculosis of the spine, which was to cause her pain and debilitation for much of her life.

In 1881 she graduated from the Rockford Female Seminary, one of the first women of her time to attend college, and briefly attended medical school. But even though she had a college degree, as a woman she faced limited opportunities. She was still expected to marry and devote herself to caring for a family, neither of which appealed to her. With her friend Ellen Gates Starr she visited Toynbee Hall in England, one of the first settlement houses established to help the poor. Since childhood Jane had felt a special affinity for those less fortunate than she, and a strong leaning towards the reform of society’s injustices. She returned home determined to open a settlement house of her own.

In 1899 she and Ellen opened Hull House, one of the first settlement houses in the United States in Chicago. The settlement house movement grew out of the reform movement of the time, and offered educational, vocational and domestic programs. Arts and craft classes, libraries, language classes, music, summer camp – all were geared to improving the lives of the less fortunate.

Hull House eventually grew to thirteen buildings; Jane Addams went on to become active in the suffrage movement, and supported Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive party in the 1912 election. As the effectiveness of Hull House and other settlement houses spread, she was called “the most influential woman in Chicago history.”

In later years she served as President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, (sharing it with Nicholas Murray Butler.) She died May 21, 1935, after spending most of her life campaigning for freedom and prosperity for the less fortunate in society. In 2012 Hull House closed its doors after 122 years of service, but the original mansion remains as a museum. For further information, visit www.uic.edu.




August 26th, 2014 by burton33

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

burnAugust 26

Thank you, Harry Burn!

In 1971, at the urging of Bella Abzug, the US Congress designated August 26th as “Women’s Equality Day,” marking the anniversary of the historic passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, finally granting women the right to vote and ending a determined non-violent campaign that lasted over seventy years and involved the actions of tens of thousands men and women.

On May 21, 1919 the House of Representatives passed the Amendment; the Senate followed suit on June 4, 1919. The fight then shifted to the states. By mid-summer of 1920, thirty-five of the needed thirty-six states had ratified the amendment, with the last hope for passage resting on the slender shoulders of twenty-four year old Harry Burn from McKinn County. Harry Burn was the youngest man ever elected to the State Legislature in Tennessee. A professed anti-suffragist, he had planned to vote against the measure. The legislators who were in favor of passage wore yellow roses in their lapels, while the anti-suffragists wore red. Harry proudly sported a red rose in his lapel pocket, and took his seat on that momentous late-summer day. But Harry was also a devoted son of a pro-suffrage mother, whose influence (we will find) was not to be denied. Earlier she had slipped him a note, which he carried in his breast pocket with a last-minute plea for him to “Vote for suffrage, and don’t keep them in doubt… Don’t forget to be a good boy.” At the last minute, as the historic vote was being tallied, Harry decided to listen to his mother, and, much to the consternation of his anti-suffrage colleagues, he changed his vote from nay to aye. The measure passed, the Amendment was ratified, and seventy-two years of steadfast persistence was successful at last.

When Harry was later asked why he suddenly changed his mind her replied, “I knew that a mother’s advice is always the safest for a boy to follow.” But whatever his reason, Harry Burn will be forever enshrined as one of the saviors of the movement. (For the full story of Harry Burn, log onto www.teachamericanhistory.org.)

So, don’t forget to celebrate, and even more important, don’t forget to exercise that hard-won right on Election Day this fall. Happy Women’s Equality Day!






August 12th, 2014 by burton33

The Suffragist

Recently I was fortunate to be able to purchase an issue of The Suffragist, dated August 29, 1914. The Suffragist was the “Weekly organ of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage,” published in Washington DC, and sold then for the princely sum of five cents a copy.

Leafing through the eight pages of this treasure brings one back in time exactly one hundred years, and yet some things remain unchanged. An article on page two tells us that the Progressive Party in NY has decided not to endorse Mr. Harvey D. Hinman for Governor of New York State because he “did not represent Progressive principles.” Mr. Hinman, an ardent anti-suffragist, had originally received the endorsement of the Progressive Party by Theodore Roosevelt, but when the former President learned of Hinman’s feelings regarding suffrage he joined his colleagues in retracting the endorsement. Hinman subsequently withdrew from the governor’s race.

Page six gives us the Treasurer’s report, with such expenses listed as “Sale and rental of costumes, $70.27,” and lists in detail the expenses incurred for travel for demonstrations and training organizers. Balance on hand was $62.89. The last page lists the names of sixteen new subscribers, recruitment of whom the editor feels is crucial to the cause.

The front cover of each issue is graced by a cartoon by artist Nina Allender, who sketched political cartoons for the National Woman’s Party (NWP) from 1914 to 1927. According to the Sewall-Belmont House web page, Allender “created a suffragist image labeled the Allender Girl, who was young, slender, and energetic—a capable woman with an intense commitment to the cause. Allender used her illustrations to present a spectrum of women: feminist, wife, mother, student, and activist.” More about Allender can be found at: www.sewallbelmont.org.

USAWsuffragistThe Sewall-Belmont House in Washington DC also has a rich collection of Allender’s art, as well as copies of The Suffragist. Browsing such primary sources brings us close to the movement and to the men and women who worked so hard for its success.allender

July 30th, 2014 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – August

Lucy Stone

August 13, 1818


Lucy Stone represented women active in the early days of the suffrage battle. Born in West Brookfield, MA, in 1818, she first worked for abolition, and later for suffrage. A colleague of both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she worked with them at the National Woman Suffrage Association, but later parted ways with them and formed the rival American Woman Suffrage Association. The women were finally reunited in 1890 with the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was also close friends with Louisine Havermeyer of Long Island.

Lucy Stone had a fierce desire for an education, and after many years of struggle finally graduated from Oberlin College, becoming the first women in Massachusetts to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Despite her laudable work for suffrage and women’s rights, she is probably best remembered for her refusal to take her husband Henry Blackwell’s name after marriage, retaining her maiden name, and prompting women who followed her lead to be called “Lucy Stoners.” She died in 1893.

Happy Birthday, Lucy Stone!

July 27th, 2014 by burton33

One Hundred Years Ago Today


Tell President That Suffragists Are Not Representative of the State

One hundred years ago today, on July 27, 1914 The New York Times reported that the Nevada Association of Women Opposed to Equal Suffrage handed to officials at the White House a formal protest against any action by the President that would give encouragement to the “Votes for Women” propaganda in that state. The protest said in part:

“We are informed that Congress has been petitioned in the name of the women of Nevada and that the President has been urged to advocate an extension of the franchise by amendment of the Federal Constitution, notwithstanding the fact that the last three and most representative and populous states voting on the questions Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, have recorded their vote against it by majorities approximating 90,000 each.”

“We are advised that after a most strenuous and expensive campaign covering many months these petitions assuming to voice the sentiments of the womanhood of Nevada bore the signatures of more than 500 women…We deny the right of these 500 women to speak, without consent, for the 17,000 women in Nevada…on a subject so vitally affecting the State, the family and the home.”

Such protests illustrate the strong presence the Anti-Suffrage movement presented throughout the country. As Susan Goodier has reported in her excellent book, No Votes for Women, many women who opposed suffrage were not against equal rights for women. Rather they were concerned about losing their “distinctive feminine identities as protectors of their homes and families.” After suffrage was achieved Goodier reported that many of them accepted the change graciously and became active in the League of Women Voters.


July 12th, 2014 by burton33

One Hundred Years Ago Today

As we work towards a celebration of suffrage victory in 1917 in New York State, and 1920 for the nation, I thought it might be interesting to see, from time to time, what was happening one hundred years ago on today’s date.

July 12, 1914 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran an article on their “Woman of Today” page describing exactly why many women in favor of suffrage championed federal action, as apposed to the state-by-state method.

Since it is a bit difficult to read, you can access the article at this link:


As you might know, Long Island’s Edna Buckman Kearns was an editor at the Eagle, and used her pen to further the rights for women that we all now enjoy. You can read more about Edna in Chapter 7 of my book, and also at her granddaughter Marguerite Kearn’s wonderful Suffrage Wagon News Channel at http://www.suffragewagon.org.

Watch for more “What happened Today” postings!



July 2nd, 2014 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – July

Sarah J. Smith Thompson Garnet, July 31, 1831

African-American Champion of Voting Rights for Women

Sarah Garnet was born on Long Island July 31, 1831 to Sylvanus Smith and Ann Eliza Springsteel Smith.  Her parents were of mixed race, Native-American, black and white, and had lived for a time on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on eastern Long Island, where Sara and her sister Susan were born. The family would eventually move to Queens County, (later known as Brooklyn) and would welcome nine more children.

 In 1845, three years before the first Woman’s Rights Convention was called at Seneca Falls, New York, Sarah began working as a teacher’s assistant at the age of fourteen in the African Free School in Williamsburg. The African Free School was founded in 1787 by the New York Manumission Society, whose goal was the abolition of slavery. In 1834 the once private institution founded by John Jay was integrated with the New York Public School system.

In the late 1880s Sarah organized the Equal Suffrage League, the first organized in Brooklyn by a black woman, thus enabling black women to work for suffrage from within their own neighborhoods. After her retirement from teaching she travelled to England to learn about the suffrage movement’s activities there.

 She worked on the national scene as well as the local, taking an active role in the National Association of Colored Women, becoming superintendent of the Suffrage department for several years. She was active in the Niagara movement, which was a forerunner of the NAACP. (National American Association of Colored People). She was a brave and daring suffragist.

Read more about Sarah in Chapter 13 of my book.



June 3rd, 2014 by burton33

Suffragist of the Month – June

Rankin-2673195xJeanette Rankin

Jeanette Rankin is probably best known for being the first woman elected to the United States Congress, but few people know that she began her life of public service as a suffragist, a campaign that helped her hone skills that would carry her to the House of Representatives in Washington in 1916. There she made her mark working on social issues, and was one of only a few members of Congress to vote against our country’s entrance to both World War I and World War II.

Jeanette was born near Missoula Montana, June 11, 1880. Her mother was a seamstress and teacher, her father a rancher. She attended the University of Montana, graduated in 1902 and worked as a teacher and a social worker. She moved to the State of Washington to work on the woman suffrage movement, and when Washington women achieved full suffrage in 1910 she moved back to Montana to work for the movement there.

When women achieved full suffrage in Montana in 1914, only ten other states offered women that benefit. While many states offered some form of suffrage, it was usually limited to allowing women to vote in school board elections and for other local issues. While in Congress Jeanette Rankin used her position to lobby for the amendment to the Constitution that would extend full suffrage to all women, using President Wilson’s own words against him. “How shall we explain…the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?” She lost a run for the Senate in 1918, and was reelected to the House of Representatives in 1940.

Jeanette Rankin again voted against war in 1941, the only member of the House of Representative to do so, a lonely move that brought her much criticism. “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else,” she said. She continued to work for peace until her death in 1973 at the age of 90.

As the women of Montana celebrate one hundred years of full suffrage this year it is altogether fitting that Jeanette Rankin be honored for her role in that important fight, as well as in other battles for peace and equality. While some of her moves were controversial, she would never compromise her own personal values and beliefs.

Happy Birthday, Jeanette Rankin!


May 23rd, 2014 by burton33

The Well-Dressed Suffragist

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe woman suffrage movement is alive and well on Long Island, at least when it comes to the clothes the women wore. I just spent a delightful afternoon with Nan Altman Guzzetta, owner of Nan’s Antique Costume and Prop Rental in Port Jefferson. Nan specializes in period clothing, from medieval to modern, and has some wonderful clothes from the Edwardian era that could have been proudly worn by any of our suffragists, complete with sash and hat banners.

Nan specializes in dressing people for weddings, garden parties, balls and all types of celebrations. Click on her website at http://antiquecostumes.com and travel back in sartorial time to the suffrage era and before.

April 23rd, 2014 by burton33

Suffrage and the Pulitzer Prize


Congratulations to Megan Marshall for winning the coveted 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her wonderful biography, Margaret Fuller, A New American Life. When the prizes were announced on April 14th those of us who study the suffrage movement were delighted to see such a wonderful accolade for a “a richly researched book that tells the remarkable story of a 19th century author, journalist, critic and pioneering advocate of women’s rights.”

Margaret Fuller was a member of the New England intellectual elite, friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Horace Greeley. She was an accomplished writer, becoming the editor of the transcendentalist journal, The Dial in 1840 and also writing for the New York Tribune under Horace Greeley in 1844. Margaret was an early champion of the poor and disadvantaged, and stressed the importance of education for women. She was the author of Women in the Nineteenth Century. In 1846, acting as an American correspondent for Horace Greeley, she sailed for Italy where she entered  into a relationship and had a son with Giovanni Ossoli. The small family was on its way home to the United States when the ship floundered and sunk off the coast of Fire Island in 1850. Margaret’s body was never found.

For more about this remarkable woman, please click on the link on the left, “Margaret Fuller’s Life” to fine a wonderful website that continues the story.

Margaret Fuller, A New American Life was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston – New York, 2013.

April 11th, 2014 by burton33

Traveling for Suffrage Part 2

My good friend Marguerite Kearns has published a wonderful article on the New York History blog about three women who traveled around Long Island by wagon to spread the suffrage message. The three Wagon Women were Rosalie Gardiner Jones, Elisabeth Freeman and Marguerite’s grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns. We are so grateful to Marguerite for keeping the history of the movement on Long Island alive and well!

Check it out here – http://newyorkhistoryblog.org/2014/04/09/suffrage-history-long-islands-three-wagon-women/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NewYorkHistory+%28New+York+History%29


April 8th, 2014 by burton33

Traveling for Suffrage

For an insightful and exciting look at different transportation methods used by suffragists, log on to Traveling for Suffrage, at the American History blog of the Smithsonian. http://blog.americanhistory.si.edu. The series of four articles offers some wonderful photographs, as well as a small trove of information on how the suffragists spread their message using the transportation tools of the day – automobiles, planes and trains.


Our own suffragists on Long Island also spent time and effort traveling all over the Island, bringing the message of political equality to the small villages and rural towns that dotted the Long Island landscape. Edna Buckman Kearns took her wagon, the Spirit of 1776 (photo above) throughout the area, loaded with suffrage leaflets and her young daughter, Serena. Rosalie Gardiner Jones and Elisabeth Freeman hitched up a horse to their wagon and also traveled up and down our bucolic Island, bringing the information and news to those who would otherwise be uninformed of the issues. In the days before any advanced forms of communication theirs was a priceless service that saved the movement well. Photo of Elisabeth Smith (below) courtesy of the Library of Congress. Photo of the Spirit of 176 Wagon courtesy of Marguerite Kearns,  The Suffrage Wagon News Channel.


April 8th, 2014 by burton33

Suffragist of The Month – April

Mary Louise Booth


Mary Louise Booth was born in Millville, Long Island (later known as Yaphank) April 19, 1831. Her father, William  Booth was the local miller and schoolteacher who believed strongly in the value of education for girls. Through diligent study she became fluent in seven foreign languages and later, when her father became principle of a school in Williamsburg, (later known as Brooklyn) she joined him there as a teacher. She began a literary career as a translator during the Civil War, translating works by French writers who were supporters of the Union cause, and continued this profession for the rest of her life. In 1867 she became the editor of the fledgling publication Harper’s Bazaar, a position she also continued until her death.

Her work for suffrage began after a chance meeting with Susan B. Anthony. She served as first secretary to the Women’s Rights convention in 1855 in Seneca Falls, NY. While not one of the most active suffragists, she served as an example that women could hold a difficult and arduous position in a profession that had been previously dominated by men. She died in 1889.