Suffragist of the Month
This page is dedicated to the suffragists imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse for their efforts in pursuing women's right to vote.
Many of the biographies and photographs are courtesy of the Library of Congress.

August 2014

Iris Calderhead





Iris Calderhead (Mrs. John Brisban Walker)


Iris Calderhead was born in Marysville, KY in 1889. She was the daughter of William Alexander Calderhead, a U.S. Representative to Congress from Kansas who served from March 4, 1895-March 3, 1897. Iris graduated from the University of Kansas and taught literature in Kansas at Wichita High School. She eventually gave up teaching literature to become an organizer for the National Woman’s Party.

In her role as organizer, she would travel to towns throughout the country, particularly in the west to promote suffrage for women and establish new suffrage organizations.  It was the focus of each organizer for the National Woman’s Party to inspire women and leave “an organization of some sort behind her.”

In addition to serving as an organizer for the National Woman’s Party, Iris participated in protests with other party members in Washington, D.C.  It was on Independence Day in 1917, that the 28-year-old Iris marched toward the White House with four other suffragists, Helena Hill Weed, Vida Milholland, Gladys Greiner, and Margaret Whittemore. The group carried a banner that read, “Governments Derive their Just Power from the Consent of the Governed.” As the five approached the sidewalk in front of the White House, twenty-nine policemen arrested them. Two days later Iris was charged with obstructing the sidewalk and was given the choice of a $25 fine or three days in jail. She refused to pay, and served her prison sentence in the District Jail in Washington, D.C.  Later in life, Iris married John Brisben Walker, a prominent magazine publisher who owned Cosmopolitan magazine from 1889 to 1905.

Source: Inez Haynes Irwin, The Story of Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party (Fairfax, Va: Denlinger’s Publishers, 1977), 126-127 and 229; and the Library of Congress; photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.



July 2014


 
Edna Dixon



Edna Dixon was the daughter of a physician and public school teacher of Washington DC.  She served the National Woman’s Party as a “Silent Sentinel” in 1917 at the age of 23.  She was arrested for picketing the President Woodrow Wilson’s White House on August 17, 1917.  At the court hearing the next day, with others she was found guilty of blocking traffic and fined $10 or 30 days in the Government Workhouse, i.e., the DC. Prison at Lorton Va.  She refused to pay the fine because to do so would be an admission of guilt.  With others arrested that day, she served her sentence at Lorton.

 

Source: Irvin, Up Hill with Banners Flying. Traversity Press, Penobscot Maine. P 243. Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, 1920, p 267.



June 2014
                                                                                           
Eunice Dana Brannan (Mrs. John Winters Brannan)

Eunice Dana Brannan was a prominent suffragist, being the daughter of Charles A. Dana, who was the founder and editor of the “New York Sun” and a trusted counselor of President Lincoln. She was also the wife of prominent physician Dr. John Winters Brannan, president of Board of Trustees of Bellvue Hospital.  She was an advisor to Harriot Stanton Blatch, suffragist leader in New York, and later held prominent roles with the National Women’s Party including as a member of the Executive Committee and state chairman of the New York Branch.  She gained attention for her brilliant state suffrage work as an officer of the Woman’s Political Union in NY.  She was elected to the Executive Committee at the first National Convention of the Congressional Union in DC, on December 6-13, 1915. She was in the delegation of women who met with President Woodrow Wilson after the death of noted suffragist, Inez Milholland. It was President Wilson’s refusal at that meeting to act in support of an amendment allowing women’s suffrage that triggered the White House picketing.  When the National Woman’s Party was formed and the Congressional Union for Women Suffrage dissolved in March of 1917, Brannan was elected to serve on the NWP board 

Her first arrest for picketing the White House was on July 14, 1917, for which she was sentenced to 60 days in Occoquan. After three days she and the others were pardoned by President Wilson after one high ranking husband complained to the President. She also led the first group of 41 pickets that protested the treatment of Alice Paul on November 10, 1917. At their trial on November 12, 1917, Brannan said: 

“The responsibility for an agitation like ours against injustice rests with those who deny justice, not those who demand it.  Whatever may be the verdict of this Court, we shall continue our agitation until the grievance of American women is redressed.”

The judge responded by sentencing her to 60 days at the Occoquan Workhouse, making her among those who endured the “night of terror” at the DC prison in Lorton, Va.  Again in late 1918, she was in attendance at the initial speech-burning demonstation at Lafayette Park and was the one who burned the President’s speech in which he ustified the women’s protests by saying:

“We have been told is the unpatriotic to criticise public action. If it is, there is a deep disgrace resting upon the origin of this nation. 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.”  

Sources: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, 1920; Inez Haynes Irwin, Uphill with Banners Flying, 1964; Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress.



May 2014
                                                                                           
Ada Louise Davenport Kendall (1867-1950)
By Melissa J. Harshman, Genealogist 

Ada Louise Davenport was born March 31, 1867 in Elk Creek, Pennsylvania. After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Buffalo, NY. When she was 20, she became the first woman reporter for the Buffalo Express which infuriated the city editor Frederick Kendall. He objected strenuously but within two years they were married on June 4, 1890. They eventually had four children. Her newspaper column was called “The Garrett Philosopher,” which ran for 16 years.  She also wrote poetry, and gave readings and talks around town.

Ada was well aware of the growing movement to win voting rights for women nationally.  She met visiting suffragist Mrs. Harriett Stanton Blatch in 1910, and within a short period of time was participating in soap box speeches on Buffalo’s street corners, following the lead of women in New York City.
 
Ada continued her work for the cause in Buffalo, marching and speaking as the leader of the Erie County Suffragists, which led to her traveling to Washington, DC. In the late afternoon of September 13, 1917, Ada, along with five other suffragists, stood in front of the gates of the White House.  They were all arrested and sentenced to the Occoquan Workhouse at the DC Prison in Lorton, Va.

Once in the Workhouse, conditions quickly became deplorable for all the suffragists. Ada wrote how she had intended to be a “reasonable prisoner” but after discovering the neglect, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the prisoners, she rebelled.  Her account and details of treatment at the Workhouse are vivid and disturbing:

“While in prison I heard men and women crying for help, and heard the sound of brutal lashes for long periods.  I saw a woman have a hemorrhage from the lungs at nine in the morning, saw her lie neglected, heard the matrons refuse to call a doctor; and at eleven saw the woman carry a tobacco pail filled with water to scrub a floor.  I saw her bleeding while she was scrubbing, and when she cried a matron scolded her.” 

Ada was kept in solitary confinement for most of her stay in the Workhouse.  She was given dirty clothes, a pail for a toilet and nothing but bread and water to eat.  According to author Winslow Eliot, her great-granddaughter, Ada made “friends” with one of the rats during her time in solitary, supposedly naming him “Machiavelli,” and shared her tiny portion of maggot-infested food with the animal.

Once released from prison, Ada continued to protest and work for women’s voting rights.  As late as January 1919, Ada was still being asked to participate in protests.  In a letter from Lucy Burns of the National Woman’s Party, Ada was urged to come to Washington immediately after the arrest of Alice Paul and several others.  The letter was urgent, detailing the need for more women there “ready for arrest.”

Following passage of the 19th Amendment recognizing women’s right to vote, Ada kept writing her newspaper columns and was very active in her community.  In her later years, she travelled to Europe and took up painting in her 70s.  She died on April 14, 1950, in her home in Hamburg, New York.  

Source: Inez Haynes Irwin, The Story of the Woman’s Party; Winslow Eliot, http://winsloweliot.com/2012/04/the-lady-of-my-dreams-ada-davenport-kendall/ 



April 2014
                                                                                           
Julia Hurlbut (1882 – 1962)

Julia Hurlbut of Morristown, New Jersey, became involved in the suffrage movement around 1915. Identifying with the radical wing of the movement, she served as Vice President of the New Jersey branch of the Congressional Union for Woman's Suffrage and as a delegate to the National Congressional Union Conference.  In 1916, she was one of the envoys that went to the suffrage states in the west to call for a meeting in Chicago in June to form the National Woman’s Party (NWP).

In 1917, she participated in the NWP’s picketing of the White House.  On July 14, the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille in the French Resolution and fearing for their ill leader Alice Paul’s life as she left for a Philadelphia hospital, the NWP activists made sure that Alice Paul’s plans were fulfilled and sent three contingents of demonstrators to the White House. One banner was inscribed with the French national motto: LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY, another was the NWP tricolor banner.  Julia Hurlbut was in the first group led by Mrs. J. A. H. Hopkins (Allison Turnbull) also from Morristown, New Jersey.  A large crowd had gathered, and the first group took up their position at the upper gate.  There were no arrests.  The second group led by Amelia Walker emerged from NWP headquarters and took up their position at the lower gate of the White House.  The instant the two groups were established, the police arrested them.  The third group led by Mrs. John Winters Brannan took up their position and after four minutes were arrested for “violating an ordinance.”  At the police station they were charged with “unlawful assembly." 

In court on July 17, Judge Mullowney sentenced the 16 women to 60 days in the Occoquan Workhouse on the charge of “obstructing traffic.”  This group of suffragists was pardoned by President Wilson after serving three days.  His action may have resulted from visits to the President by husbands who saw their wives in prison.  One was the husband of Mrs. J.A. H. Hopkins, who had been a member of the Democratic National Campaign Committee in 1916. 

After the arrest and brief imprisonment, Julia Hurlbut spent several months speaking in New Jersey on behalf of woman suffrage.  She also served her country during World War 1. 

Source:  Morris County New Jersey Heritage Commission, http://morriscountynj.gov/MCHC/exhibits/women/, viewed on 1/26/2014. Irwin, Up Hill with Banners Flying, p 154, 232.  



March 2014
                                                                                           
Amelia “Mimi” Walker (July 24, 1880 – July 19, 1974)
By Lynne Garvey-Hodge, Fairfax County History Commission and re-enactor portraying Amelia “Mimi” Walker 

Born the second of six children to Quakers William Alexander Himes and Catherine Wirt Gitt, Amelia “Mimi” Eichelberger Himes was an outgoing, intelligent young woman who grew up in a comfortable home in New Oxford, Pennsylvania.  At a young age, she understood the Quaker theme of “Out of the Darkness and Into the Light” – meaning the Light of God is to shine in all of us.  With a stern but compassionate upbringing, Mimi came to care for those less fortunate than herself and had the intelligence and tenacity to do something about it!

Her years at Swarthmore - where she was a classmate of Alice Paul - provided her with the opportunity to fully develop skills of rhetoric, public speaking, and the ability to command an audience with her musical talents.  She pledged the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, graduating in 1902.  At Swarthmore she also met her future husband Robert Hunt Walker.  Together they raised three children, Talbott, Katherine “Kitty”, and Cooper.  

Robert and Mimi raised their family at the home of his parents, called Drumquhazel, near Towson, Maryland.  The home and land were conducive to entertaining musicians, actors and other Suffragist friends.  Baltimore Suffragist Edith Hooker was a close friend who also served time at the Occoquan Workhouse with her for “obstructing traffic” while picketing in front of the White House in 1917 –on Bastille Day, July 14.

Mimi’s passion for the Feminist Movement lasted until her death in 1974 at 94.  She spoke before the United States Congress on numerous occasions – calling for their support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Earlier, she marched in protest including the great Suffragist Washington DC pageants and parades of 1913 and was active in the National Woman’s Party.  She hung banners from the second floor windows of Drumquhazel that read, “Equal Rights”, “Votes for Women” and “Mr. President, How Long Must Woman Wait for Liberty?”  Her imprisonment at the Occoquan Workhouse, she carried with pride –wearing the iconic “Jailed for Freedom” pin on her lapel for years, given to around 100 women who had endured imprisonment at the Occoquan Workhouse for picketing in front of the White House.  When the DC government finally admitted some years later that the Suffragists had been illegally incarcerated, Mimi wrote to a sister picket of the thrill she felt “at being forever removed from the criminal class.”  

One of her best preserved articles promoting the Equal Rights Amendment, “Equal Right?,” appeared in “The Key”, the official magazine of Kappa Kappa Gamma.  In it Mimi writes, “All the confusion that we now have of different laws for men and women, of male workers and female workers, will be adjusted by the state legislatures to apply to human beings, to workers according to the hazards of the job and not the sex of the worker.”  Mimi took her passion to local politics as well and ran unsuccessfully for the Maryland State Legislature.  Mimi continued to give speeches in the Towson, Maryland area and was remembered as frank and outspoken.  In the 1940’s she took up residence in Winter Park, Florida and occasion ally gave lectures on Equal Rights for Women at Rollins College.  Daring, adventurous, and charming even at the age of 80 she enjoyed a trip around the world and rode camels in Egypt – continuing on to visit Ceylon and Thailand. 

A number of Mimi’s grandchildren have visited the Workhouse Arts Center’s Prison Museum and the Suffragist section there.  Three of them have seen Mimi reenacted by historic re-enactor, Lynne Garvey-Hodge and they are thrilled that the memory of Mimi has been resurrected to encourage the education of so many who know so little about the early 20th century Suffragist movement.  .  Oh, and you may ask where is Mimi’s beloved “Jailed for Freedom” pin?  Generous soul that she was, she proudly donated it to the Smithsonian Museum in 1959, so that the memory of those who fought so valiantly for Equal Rights for Women in getting the 19th Amendment passed, would never, ever be forgotten – or ever have to say, again, “Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”

Photo Courtesy of the family of Amelia Walker and Lynne Garvey-Hodge 




February 2014
                                                                                           
Vida Milholland (1889 - 1952)
BY John Tepper Marlin, great-nephew of Inez Milholland’s husband, Eugen Boissevain.
Photo at left: Vida Milholland and Inez Milholland (Mrs. Eugen) Boissevain

Vida Milholland contributed far more to gaining suffrage for American women than has been recognized. During her childhood, when she was called “Tubby”, she joined her more famous sister Inez in many activities, and at Vassar she joined Inez as a co-conspirator with Inez against the college’s anti-feminist President James Taylor, and in preeminence in sports and theater. Inez played the part of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and was widely viewed as a romantic figure by her peers. 

In 1916, Vida sold some valuable jewelry she had been given in order to help finance the ill-fated whistle-stop train trip across a dozen states that she and Inez took to campaign against Woodrow Wilson. She helped Inez continue the grueling tour even though it was clear Inez was seriously ill. Finally, she stood vigil by her sister’s bedside in Los Angeles until their father and Inez’s husband could come west.

After Inez’s death, Vida gave up her singing career and threw herself into suffrage work. She had a fine voice and sang at suffrage meetings. She joined the picketing of the White House. One of the most common banners one sees in photos is one showing the last words of Inez before she collapsed in Los Angeles: “How Long, Mr. President, Must Women Wait for Liberty.” Vida was one of the first to be arrested for picketing, on July 4, 1917. She served three days in the District of Columbia Jail, during which time she sang every night for the benefit of her fellow prisoners.

In 1919 she toured the United States as part of the "Prison Special" tour of NWP speakers and sang at all the meetings. 
Vida Milholland was the younger daughter of John E. Milholland and his wife Jeanne Torrey. Their third child was a son, John Angus (“Jack”) Milholland, who attended Harvard College, Class of 1914.

After suffrage was won in 1920, Vida worked on peace issues with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She had a partner in this work, Peg Hamilton. With other well-known female couples, they were an early lobbying group not only for peace but for same-sex partnerships. 

After her father died, she actively managed the family estate in Lewis, NY. She lived with Hamilton in Lewis into her old age, and died in 1952, three years after her brother, survived by a distraught Hamilton. 

Her father made a fortune while his children were young, but he lost it soon after World War I, partly because of ill-advised criticism of the Wilson Administration from which he was seeking contracts. Vida struggled to keep up the property upstate and sold off much of it to a well-regarded music school. 

Photo Courtesy of John Tepper Marlin, Vida Milholland and Inez Milholland (Mrs. Eugen) Boissevain. Photographer thought to be Eugen Boissevain. 




January 2014
                                                                                           
Alice Stokes Paul (1885 - 1977)

Alice Paul was, arguably, the most influential individual in the fight for women’s rights of the 20th century.  

Born on January 11, 1885, Paul was the oldest child of successful businessman William Paul and his wife, Tacie. Alice and her siblings were raised on a comfortable New Jersey farm, but as Quakers, the family lived simply, learning firsthand the value of hard work. They also learned gender equality, as well as a necessity to work for the improvement of society. Perhaps one of her strongest influences was Tacie, who as a member of the National American Women’s Suffragist Association (NAWSA), brought Alice along to the meetings.

Paul studied biology at Swarthmore College, earned an MA in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, then studied social work in England. While in England, she became acquainted with Emmeline Pankhurst, the militant suffragist, who used visible means to draw attention to the lack of women’s rights, and to hold the party in power responsible for women’s disenfranchisement. Paul joined their movement and was arrested and jailed several times.

Paul returned to America in 1910, armed with tactics to re-energize the suffrage movement here.  In 1912 she and friend, Lucy Burns, moved to Washington, DC, to organize for suffrage for NAWSA. Reflecting Pankhurst influences, Paul and Burns organized a huge women’s suffrage march in DC to attract ultimate national attention – on the eve of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. Drawing obscenities, insults, and violence, while police looked on, the parade was national news the following day, and suffrage became a popular subject in the news in the years that followed.

Although Paul was a member of the NAWSA, she and its president, Carrie Chapman Catt, disagreed on how to attain suffrage. Paul hoped to achieve women’s voting rights with a constitutional amendment. NAWSA worked closely with state governments to encourage them to change their voting laws, one by one. Paul wanted to hold the national party in power responsible for the lack of women’s voting rights; NAWSA endorsed President Wilson. Paul and her followers broke from NAWSA, forming the National Woman’s Party in 1916.

In 1917 Paul, Burns and others organized the Silent Sentinels. Day after day, women stood silently at the White House gates, picketing for women’s suffrage. They were soon arrested for “blocking traffic,” and refusing to pay their fines, were imprisoned in the Washington, DC jail and the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Va. Considering themselves political prisoners, when given that status, Paul and the others began hunger strikes; their tactics were met with brutality. Paul was considered the ringleader and, as such, was held separately at the DC Jail, and later in the psychiatric ward there where an attempt was made to declare her insane. (It is unclear if Paul was ever incarcerated at the Occoquan Workhouse.) The women’s efforts were not in vain. With the bad publicity that ensued, President Wilson soon gave his support for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

After gaining passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Alice Paul considered the battle for equality incomplete, and continued to work on women’s issues.  She returned to college and earned three degrees in law. In 1923 Paul began efforts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment, which was introduced in every Congress until passage (but never ratified) in 1972. She worked tirelessly for women’s causes worldwide, including the establishment of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She also led a US coalition to successfully include a clause prohibiting sexual discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Source: Alice Paul Institute,  Alice Paul: Feminist, Suffragist and Political Strategist.




December 2013
                                                                                           
Dorothy Day (1897 - 1980)

Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn, NY, and lived in San Francisco with her parents until the 1906 earthquake, and then in Chicago. Her father was a Journalist, and she was an avid reader. She moved to New York City as a young adult. From NYC, she went to Washington DC to work with the National Woman’s Party on women’s right to vote.

She participated in the NWP group that protested the treatment of their leader Alice Paul, then imprisoned in DC. With the others, she was sent to prison in the Occoquan Workhouse on November 14, 1917, and experienced the “night of terror.”

On that night “. . . two men brought in Dorothy Day, --a very slight, delicate girl; her captors were twisting her arms above her head. Suddenly they lifted her, brought her body down twice over the back of an iron bench. One of the men called: ‘The damned Suffrager! . . . I will put you through hell!’” [Irwin]. Her arm was cut. [Stevens]

She became a famous leader as a pacifist, a social activist, and for her work to improve the lives of the poor. She wrote for The Call and The Masses, and co-founded The Catholic Worker.

Sources: Irwin, Up Hill with Banners Flying, Traversity Press, Penobscot Maine, 1920, p 280-281. Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, 1920.
Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress



November 2013
                                                                                           
Camilla G. Whitcomb (1860 - 1949)

Camilla Gertrude Whitcomb from Worcester, Massachusetts was a suffragist in her hometown and in DC with the National Woman’s Party.  She was the newly added Corresponding Secretary of the Worcester Equal Franchise Club, which was formed in 1913, and its President in 1915.  For the National Woman’s Party, she was chairman for the 4th Congressional District of Massachusetts.  She participated in NWP action in Washington DC and in Boston Massachusetts.   In protest of authorities holding NWP leader Alice Paul as prisoner in DC, on Nov. 10, 1917, she was among the 41 pickets who marched to the White House in five groups.  All were arrested.  She was sentenced to 30 days in the Occoquan Workhouse, which was part the DC Prison in Lorton Virginia.  

On February 24, 1919 when President Wilson returned from Europe landing in Boston, a huge welcome parade was arranged for the public.  Alice Paul personally organized NWP participation in the parade and demonstration to greet him. NWP marched with a banner that read 

“Mr. President, you said in the Senate on September 30, ‘we shall not be trusted . . . if we do not enfranchise women.’  You alone can remove this distrust now by securing the one vote needed to pass the suffrage amendment before March 4.”  

 Against police orders they marched in front of the reviewing stand.  Camilla Whitcomb was politely arrested with all other NWP marchers for “loitering more than seven minutes.”  Later that day the NWP demonstration included a watch fire on the Boston Common, burning the President’s speech that he was making at Mechanics Hall at the same time.  The NWP group continued speaking all afternoon on the Common [Irwin, p 420-421].  Camilla Whitcomb later worked on the Equal Rights Amendment with the NWP.

Sources: Inez Haynes Irwin, Up Hill with Banners Flying (Penobscot Maine, Traversity Press, 1964), Karen Board Moran, from City Directories at the Worcester Historical Museum.
 


October 2013
                                                                                           
Doris Stevens (1888 [1892?] -1963)

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Doris Stevens graduated from Oberlin College in 1911. She worked as a teacher and social worker in Ohio and Michigan before she became a regional organizer with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In New York, she was friends with leading members of the Greenwich Village radical scene, including Louise Bryant and John Reed. In 1914 Stevens became a full-time organizer, as well as executive secretary, for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) in Washington, D.C. After working on the East Coast, including in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1913-14, she moved west to Colorado (1914), and then to California (1915). She organized the first convention of women voters at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and the NWP election campaign in California in 1916.

Over the years, Stevens held several important NWP leadership positions, including membership on the executive committee. She served as vice chairman of NWP’s New York branch, spearheaded the NWP Women for Congress campaign in 1924, and worked in states where female candidates were among contenders for office. She also served as Alva Belmont’s personal assistant. 

Stevens was arrested for picketing at the White House in the summer of 1917 and served three days of her 60-day sentence at Occoquan Workhouse before receiving a pardon. She was arrested again in the NWP demonstration at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in March 1919. Stevens published the quintessential insider account of imprisonment of NWP activists, Jailed for Freedom, in 1920.

Stevens clashed with Alice Paul and led an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the leadership of Paul’s successor, Anita Pollitzer. She was part of an internal dispute over the NWP’s emphasis on the World Woman’s Party and international rights rather than domestic organizing. During these tensions, a dissenting faction of NWP members tried to take over party headquarters and elect their own slate of officers, but Pollitzer’s claim to leadership was supported by a ruling of a federal district judge. Stevens parted ways with the NWP in 1947 and turned instead to activity in the Lucy Stone League, another women’s rights organization. In the 1950s she was a supporter of McCarthyism and anti-communism. In her last years, Stevens supported the establishment of feminist studies as a legitimate field of academic inquiry in American universities.


September 2013


Margaret Fay Whittemore (b. 1884)

Margaret Fay Whittemore from Detroit Michigan was a devoted suffragist worker since 1914.  Her Grandmother, a Quaker, started suffrage work in Michigan.   The daughter of a leading patent attorney, James Whittemore, Margaret Fay started her suffrage work in Michigan in 1914 becoming an organizer for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage.  She led the Congressional Union’s and National Woman’s Party’s (NWP) federal election campaigns in Seattle, Washington in 1914 and 1916; and worked in Oregon and Idaho as well.  In the 1918 federal election campaign she was in charge of the NWP’s efforts in Idaho.  She first asked Idaho voters to pressure Senator Borah to vote for the suffrage amendment, but once he voted against it and failed to publically endorse the amendment, her efforts were unsuccessfully turned to defeating his re-election.  

Continuing her strong suffrage support in the NWP in DC, she was in the group that picketed the White House on July 4 and was arrested and imprisoned 3 days at the Occoquan Workhouse.  She participated in early 1919 when the suffragists kept watch fires in front of the White House to burn the President’s speeches on democracy.  Suffragists were arrested.  In one case, when a suffragist being tried alone was brought into the Court room, there was sustained applause.  When the Judge unsuccessfully ordered the applause stopped, Margaret Fay Whittemore and two others were charged, sentenced, and served 24 hours in the DC jail.  

Sources:  Inez Haynes Irwin, Up Hill with Banners Flying (Penobscot Maine, Traversity Press, 1964), 392, 408; Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (Lexington Kentucky, Hard Press, 1920), 281.  Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.



August 2013


Joy 
Young

Joy Young, of New York City, formerly of Washington, D.C. was Assistant Editor of "The Suffragist," the weekly organ of the National Woman's Party and the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage.  She was also an organizer for the National Woman's Party in various parts of the country.
 

Representing the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, on May 1, 1916, Joy Young presented President Wilson with a basket of flowers in which was contained messages from women voters of the West.  One of the notes read: "Theodore Roosevelt has come out for national woman suffrage."  (The photo shows her on the way to the White House.)

She was on the first picket line at the White House on January 10, 1917.  She was arrested for picketing at the White House on July 4, 1917 and sentenced and served five days in the District Jail. 


Sources: Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, Hard Press, 1920; New York Times, May 2, 1916; Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress.





July 2013

Mary Winsor

Mary Winsor was from Haverford, Pennsylvania and came from a family of pioneer Quaker descent.  She was educated at Drexel Institute of Philadelphia, at Bryn Mawr, and abroad.  At the request of the American Academy of Political and Social Science she made a survey of the English Suffrage movement.  She was Founder and President of the Pennsylvania Limited Suffrage Society and was active with the National Woman’s Party.  At its Draftee Parade on September 4, 1917, she was arrested at the age of 44 and sentenced to 60 days at the Occoquan Workhouse.  On August 6, 1918, she was again arrested at the Lafayette statue in D.C.  At the trial on August, 15, 1918, for “holding a meeting on public grounds” the arrestees refused to participate in their trial.  Mary Winsor said “it is quite enough to pay taxes when you are not represented, let alone pay a fine if you object to this arrangement.” She was sentenced with the others to 10 days in the D C. Jail.  She had worked and spoken for suffrage in many parts of the country and participated on the “Prison Special’ speaking tour in February 1919. 

Sources: Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, Hard Press, p282. Irwin, Up Hill with Banners Flying, Traversity Press, Maine, 1964. © NWP, p368. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.



June 2013

Abby Scott Baker (1871-1944)

Abby Scott Baker, of Washington, D.C., came from a multi-generational military family. She was one of Alice Paul’s earliest associates and helped Paul and Burns plan their first major event–the March 3, 1913, national suffrage parade on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She served as treasurer of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) in 1914 and quickly became one of the most effective lobbyists for both the CU and its successor, the National Woman’s Party (NWP).

Baker traveled the country as part of the CU’s “Suffrage Special” train tour of western states in April-May 1916. The envoys set off with fanfare from Union Station in Washington, D.C., and Baker was in charge of handling the press for the tour. The support that she helped raise from women in states that had already granted women’s suffrage culminated in a June 1916 meeting in Chicago to form what was at first called the Woman’s Party of Western Voters, or Woman’s Party, for short (later, the NWP). When the NWP was more formally organized in relation to the CU in March 1917, Baker was elected to the NWP executive committee and served as its press chairman (1917-18) and political chairman (1917; 1919-21).

Baker was among the first demonstrators to picket the White House; she was arrested in September 1917 and sentenced to 60 days in the Occoquan Workhouse. In February-March 1919, she served as publicity manager and speaker for the “Prison Special,” a three-week lecture tour by NWP activists who spoke to packed audiences about their jail experiences in an effort to generate support for the suffrage cause. 

Baker was an important lobbyist during the key years (1917-20) that the NWP pressured for passage of what became the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Known as the diplomat of the NWP, Baker was a significant presence in the organization’s ongoing tactic of asserting personal influence upon leading authorities in public and private life. When the NWP’s patriotism was challenged, she reminded critics that her three sons were fighting in World War I. In the midst of the ratification process for the 19th Amendment, Baker was among the NWP members who attended the Democratic National Convention of 1920 in San Francisco and successfully brokered a pro-suffrage plank as part of the party platform. She subsequently lobbied the presidential candidates from both political parties, James M. Cox and Warren G. Harding, to support the women’s rights cause.

After suffrage was achieved, Baker became a member of the NWP’s Committee on International Relations and the Women’s Consultative Committee of the League of Nations. She also represented the NWP at the League’s 1935 international conferences in Geneva where the 
issue of equal rights was discussed.


May 2013


Mrs. Sarah Tarleton Colvin, of St. Paul, Minn., was a member of the well known Tarleton family of Alabama. Her husband, Dr. A. R. Colvin, was a major in the Army, and acting surgical chief at Fort McHenry during World War I. She was a graduate nurse of the Johns Hopkins training school, and worked as a Red Cross nurse in the United States during the war. She was the Minnesota state chairman of the NWP, and a member of the "Prison Special" nationwide tour of speakers in Feb-Mar 1919. She was arrested in watchfire demonstrations Jan. 1919 and sentenced to two terms of five days each. 

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 357.






April 2013


Mary H. Ingam

Mary H. Ingham of Philadelphia, PA and graduate from Bryn Mawr College in 1903, was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Branch of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), and was arrested three times for picketing the White House. The Bryn Mawr Alumnae Quarterly of November 1917 commended the sacrifice she made in picketing the White House and serving her term in the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia. At a meeting at her house after her release from prison over $8,000 was raised for the NWP suffrage campaign.


She was dedicated to the suffrage cause and the NWP as her consistent participation shows. Besides picketing in 1917, she spoke at the event in Lafayette Park on December 16, 1918, when the NWP burned President Wilson’s speeches on democracy to show his hypocrisy towards democracy for women. Mary Ingham burned a speech in which he said, “There is nothing in liberty unless it is translated into definite action in our lives today.” She commented as she tossed the speech into the flame, “In the name of the women of Pennsylvania who are demanding action of the President, I consign these words to the flames.” She participated in the continuing watchfire demonstrations in front of the White House burning the President Wilson’s words, which began shortly after the event in Lafayette Park. On February 9, 1919, two days before a date set for a vote on the 19th Amendment in Congress, Mary Ingham was at the front of a procession of 100 women near the White House, and with Mrs. John Rogers carried a banner which read: “. . . For more than a year the President’s Party has blocked suffrage in Senate. . . . The President is responsible for the betrayal of American Womanhood.” She was arrested that day along with many others. Shortly afterwards, she was part of the nationwide speaking tour by those imprisoned. This train tour, known as the “Prison Special,” was designed to build pressure on the Senate to pass the Amendment. 

After the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress, Mary Ingham in her role as NWP Pennsylvania state Chairman was a leader in the ratification campaign in that state. The difficult campaign enlisted the aid of the Governor to help persuade opponents, and every legislator was lobbied. She effectively applied the forces of the Pennsylvania NWP, using press bulletins to keep newspaper attention, and drawing crowds at meetings and legislative sessions. The tri-color badges of the NWP could be seen everywhere in the Capitol. Following the Pennsylvania ratification vote, a celebratory parade of the tri-color banners marched through the capital city, Harrisburg. 

But Pennsylvania was not her only ratification venue; she participated in a protest at the 1920 Republican National Convention in Chicago to bring pressure through the Party to persuade the Republican governors of Vermont and Connecticut to ratify. Her banner read: “The Republican Party has the power to enfranchise women. When will it do so?” Following the nomination of Senator Warren G. Harding as the Republican Presidential nominee, she and others met with him to urge pressure on Republican states to ratify, but to no avail. 

She was active in the Women’s Trade Union League and an investment broker.

Sources: Bryn Mawr library exhibits, “Bryn Mawr on the Picket Lines, the Radicals and Activists;” Up Hill with Banners Flying, Irwin, NWP, 1964; and Jailed for Freedom, Stevens, 1995.




March 2013


Katharine Rolston Fisher


Katharine Rolston Fisher, Washington, D. C., native of Massachusetts. Great-great granddaughter of Artemas Ward, ranking Major General in Revolutionary War. Teacher, social worker and later employee of U. S. War Risk Bureau. She was a prolific writer of prose and verse  on suffrage and feminist topics. She was arrested picketing Sept. 13, 1917, and sentenced to 30 days at the Occoquan workhouse.

Examples of her verse:

I watched a river of women

Rippling purple, white and golden,
Stream toward the National Capitol

Along its border,
Like a purple flower floating
Moved a young woman, worn, wraithlike.
All eyes alight, keenly observing the marchers
Out there on the curb, she looked so little, so lonely,
Few appeared even to see her,
No one saluted her.

Yet commander was she of the column, its leader,
She was the sprin whence arose that irresistible river of women
Streaming steadily towards the National Capitol.


THE EMPTY CUP 

Evening at Occoquan. Rain pelts the workhouse roof .

The prison matrons are sewing together for the Red Cross.
The women prisoners are going to bed in two long rows.
Some of the Suffrage pickets lie reading in the dim light.
Through the dark, above the rain, rings out a cry 

We listen at the windows (Oh those cries from punishment cells!)

A voice calls one of us by name.
“Miss Burns! Miss Burns! Will you see that I have a drink of water?”
Lucy Burns arises; slips on the coarse blue prison gown.
Over it her swinging hair, red-gold, throws a regal mantle.

She begs the night watch to give the girl water.
One of the matrons leaves her war bandages; we see her hasten to the cell.
The light in it goes out.
The voice despairing cries: 
“She has taken away the cup and she will not bring me water.”
Rain pours on the roof. The Suffragists lie awake.
The matrons work busily for the Red Cross.

Katherine Rolston Fisher The Suffragist October 17, 1917

 


February 2013

Ernestine Hara (Kettler) b. 1896

Kettler was a young Romanian who lived in New York City. She was arrested for picketing Sept., 1917, and sentenced to 30 days in Occoquan workhouse. She remained an ardent feminist her entire life and had a long history of labor and socialist activism. Her involvement with the suffrage struggle, although brief, was an outgrowth of both her feminist beliefs and her ties to political and bohemian circles in New York that began in her teen years. After she was arrested for picketing and spent 30 days in jail, she was tempted to go back on the picket line, but could not stand the thought of going back into the Occoquan Workhouse. She said the food was especially bad and that’s why several women tried to starve themselves. When visiting a fellow suffragist, Peggy Johns, who became sick from the food and was hospitalized, she found Johns dressed and ready to be transferred to a psychopathic facility in Washington, D.C. Kettler quickly gathered other women and they forced their way into the prison superintendent’s office. Kettler says Superintendent Whittaker tore the phone from the wall to keep them from dialing for help, and then called in other prisoners to beat them.

In an interview in the 1970’s Kettler recalled visiting a friend who believed that the picketers were ineffective in getting women the vote. Kettler argued that the picketers did make an impact on government officials because many of the women who were arrested and jailed were the mothers, sisters, wives, or relatives of congressmen and other prominent men in Washington, DC. She remembered how those who were jailed were really "beaten up" and physically injured as a result of their picketing efforts.

(Excerpts taken from “From Parlor to Prison: Five American Suffragists Talk About Their Lives.” Edited by Sherna Gluck)


January 2013

Virginia Arnold

Miss Virginia Arnold, of North Carolina, was one of six pickets arrested in June of 1917 and was sentenced to three days in District jail after refusing to pay $25 fines for obstructing traffic. They were the first women to serve time for suffrage activities. Her sign scandalized many by comparing President Woodrow Wilson with the German ruler during the First World War. She was one of the organizers for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, serving at one point as the National Executive Secretary. She was in charge of planning conventions and establishing state branches in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington and North Dakota. Prior to engaging in suffrage work, she was a student at George Washington University and Columbia University.






December 2012


Annie Arniel (April 24, 1861-January 7, 1941)

Annie Arniel was among the first suffragists jailed for three days on June 27th, 1917, for picketing the White House – choosing prison rather than pay a fine of $25. A factory worker living in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, she was recruited by Mabel Vernon and Alice Paul for membership in the National Woman’s Party. She served a total of eight jail terms for suffrage protesting and served a total of 103 days, including: 3 days June, 1917; 60 days in the Occoquan prison in Virginia, August-September, 1917 for picketing; 15 days for Lafayette Square meeting, and five sentences of 5 days each in January and February, 1919 for the watchfire demonstrations. During one of her arrests when she was picketing Congress, she was knocked senseless by the police. While picketing she held one of the more notable banners that read: “As our boys are fighting for democracy abroad, is it a crime to ask for democracy in our own country?” She also argued after one of her arrests that “We were good enough to work in the steel plant and help load shells for the battlefields of France, but we are still not good enough to vote it seems. Can anyone see justice in this? We are protesting against the unjust delay of the Senate in passing the Susan B. Anthony suffrage amendment and why shouldn’t we? She said the rations served in prison made her so weak, she fainted for the first time in her life.


Portions taken from: Doris Stevens, 
Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 355.


November 2012

Katharine A. Morey

Katharine A. Morey of Brookline, Mass., was an officer of the Massachusetts State Branch of the NWP. She was the daughter of NWP organizer and state suffrage activist Agnes H. Morey. As state chairman, she was in charge of introducing the Woman’s Party Bill for Equal Rights. Katharine Morey worked as an organizer in the election campaign of 1916 in Kansas and frequently assisted at NWP national headquarters in Washington, D.C. She and Lucy Burns were the first suffragists to be arrested for picketing at the White House, and she served three days in June 1917. In February 1919 she was arrested again in Boston demonstration against President Woodrow Wilson and was sentenced to eight days in the Charles St. Jail.

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 365.



October 2012

Minnie Quay

Minnie Quay of Salt Lake City, Utah, was arrested Nov. 10, 1917, while picketing the White House in Washington, D.C., and sentenced to 30 days in District Jail. She was sent instead to the Occoquan Workhouse and was there during the "Night of Terror," Nov. 15, 1917, during which guards used violence toward imprisoned protestors.





September 2012


Mary A. Nolan

Mrs. Mary A. Nolan of Jacksonville, Florida, was often described as one of the oldest suffragists active on NWP picket lines. Of Irish descent, Nolan was born in Virginia and educated at the convent of Mont de Chantal in West Virginia. As a young woman she worked as a teacher and leader in the Southern library movement. She was also prominent in Confederate organizations and a suffrage pioneer. In 1917 she joined the NWP and came to Washington, D.C., to picket. She was arrested on November 10, 1917, and sentenced to six days in District Jail, but was actually sent to Occoquan Workhouse. She was there for the so-called "Night of Terror" November 15, 1917, during which guards turned violent toward imprisoned protesters. In January 1919, she was arrested many times during the Watchfire demonstrations outside theWhite House, and was sentenced to 24 hours in jail. She was the oldest suffrage prisoner. She participated in the nationwide "Prison Special" tour in which NWP activists traveled from city to city speaking of their experiences in jail.


August 2012
 
  

Rose Winslow (d. 1977)

Born Ruza Wenclawska in Poland, Rose Winslow was brought to the United States as an infant with her immigrant parents. Winslow’s father worked as a coal miner and steelworker in Pennsylvania. She began working as a mill girl in the hosiery industry in Pittsburgh at age 11 and was also employed as a shop girl in Philadelphia, but was forced to quit work temporarily at age 19 when she contracted tuberculosis, leaving her disabled for the next two years. Winslow became a factory inspector and a trade union organizer in New York City with the National Consumers’ League and the National Women’s Trade Union League. In addition to her labor and suffrage activism, she was an actress and poet. 

Winslow’s NWP activism is emblematic of the somewhat uneasy role of working-class women and labor rights advocates in the suffrage movement, as well as the NWP’s stated–but imperfectly realized–desire to reach out to women across the social spectrum. Winslow differed with Alice Paul over the former’s desire for outreach to male miners and factory workers and whether the NWP program was too focused  on upper- and middle-class women.  

Winslow brought her speaking and organizing powers first to the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) and then to the NWP by addressing gatherings on the streets, in union halls, and at suffrage rallies. In February 1914 she and Doris Stevens spoke at a mass meeting for working women, after which a contingent of working women marched to the White House to meet with Woodrow Wilson on suffrage rights. That same year, Winslow joined Lucy Burns as leaders of the CU campaign in California to urge voters to oppose Democratic congressional candidates. Later, she worked similarly with other organizers in Wyoming during the electoral campaigns of 1916.
 
Winslow, like Inez Milholland and many of the other speakers sent out by Alice Paul on extensive speaking tours, displayed great energy at the podium or on the platform, but suffered privately from periodic collapse and exhaustion. Paul became irritated with Winslow when she became incapacitated, despite her history of ill-health. Demonstrating persistency and endurance was, after all, part of the NWP strategy.
 
Winslow was a leading demonstrator on the picket lines in the 1917 silent protests at the White House in Washington, D. C. She subsequently served time in the District jail and the Occoquan Workhouse.
 
In October 1917 Winslow and Alice Paul combined forces to set examples by refusing to eat or do work while they were imprisoned. Their actions demonstrated that they were political prisoners who refused to be classified and treated as criminals by the courts for exercising their First Amendment right to public assembly. Weakened by their hunger strike, Winslow and Paul were subjected to force-feedings. Their determination helped inspire other suffragists to perform acts of civil disobedience–defying court authority to convict them on false charges and placing even more pressure on the Wilson White House to accede to suffrage demands.


July 2012
 
  

Dora Lewis (b. 1862?)

Often referred to as “Mrs. Lawrence Lewis” in suffrage literature, Dora Lewis was from an influential Philadelphia family. She was part of the earliest core of activists who worked with Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others in the 1913-15 period of internal conflict–between the members of Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CU) who favored more innovative methods over the more staid leaders of NAWSA. Lewis was a member of the initial executive committee of the NAWSA Congressional Committee in 1913; she remained a central figure throughout the NWP’s major public demonstration campaigns.

Lewis was among the outspoken hunger-striking suffragist prisoners and she received some of the most brutal treatment at the hands of wardens at the District jail and the Occoquan Workhouse. During the infamous “Night of Terror” of November 15, 1917, at Occoquan, Lewis was hurled bodily into her cell. She was knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against her iron bed frame. Lewis and Lucy Burns were initial leaders of the hunger strike in Occoquan; both grew so weak that they were held down by attendants and force-fed through a tube.

Lewis was the primary speaker at a protest held in memory of Inez Milholland at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on August 6, 1918. When she was dragged away and arrested before finishing her first sentences–much to the consternation of the gathered crowd–other speakers rose to take her place. One after another, they too were arrested.

Lewis began the NWP’s watch fire protest when she set to flames copies of Woodrow Wilson’s speeches in a demonstration New Year’s Day, 1919. She was arrested for her part in the actions.  In the summer of 1919, Lewis was among NWP organizers who worked in Georgia to try (unsuccessfully) to secure that state’s support in the ratification process for the 19th Amendment. When Georgia repudiated ratification, she moved on to Kentucky, which ratified the amendment in January 1920. Lewis also served as treasurer and as member of the executive committee of the NWP. 


June 2012   

Lucy Gwynne Branham (1892 -1966)

Lucy Gwynne Branham was born in Kempsville, Virginia, and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a suffrage activist and a physician. A student of history, Branham graduated from Washington College in Maryland and earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. While teaching in Florida, she received a Carnegie Hero Medal for saving a swimmer from drowning in the ocean.

Branham and her mother (also named Lucy) embraced the cause of a federal suffrage amendment despite antagonism from some members of their southern-based family. The younger Lucy worked as a NWP organizer in Utah during the elections of 1916, when the party urged voters to boycott Democratic Party candidates because of their failure to endorse woman suffrage. She was arrested in the NWP campaign of silent picketing at the White House in September 1917 and served two months in the Occoquan Workhouse and the District jail. (Her mother also was arrested for her part in the watch fire demonstrations in January 1919 and served three days in the District jail.)

In 1918 Branham joined the huge push by the NWP to lobby for passage of a federal amendment in the Senate and focused her organizing efforts in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. That same year, Branham played a prominent role in the Lafayette Park demonstrations. During one such protest, she held aloft a message from President Woodrow Wilson before “consigning” his “empty words” into a fire, declaring, “We want action, not words.” Branham was a participant in the “Prison Special” tour of 1919, during which NWP women who had been imprisoned traveled to cities around the country to talk of their experiences, often wearing prison garb when they spoke.

After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Branham headed the Inez Milholland Memorial Fund Committee, which created an ongoing endowment fund for the NWP. She taught briefly at Columbia University, worked with the American Friends Service Committee, and became executive secretary of the American Society for Cultural Relations with Russia (1926-30). Fluent in French, Russian, and German, she worked with the World Woman’s Party in Geneva and lobbied the League of Nations on equal rights issues.

In the late 1950s she and her elderly mother lived at Sewall-Belmont House while Branham served on the NWP’s Congressional Committee to lobby for the Equal Rights Amendment. After her mother’s death, Branham suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for several years near her home in Delaware. Alice Paul, Mabel Vernon, and Edith Goode visited her there shortly before her death in July 1966. 


May 2012
                                                                                           
Doris Stevens (1888 [1892?] -1963)

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Doris Stevens graduated from Oberlin College in 1911. She worked as a teacher and social worker in Ohio and Michigan before she became a regional organizer with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In New York, she was friends with leading members of the Greenwich Village radical scene, including Louise Bryant and John Reed. In 1914 Stevens became a full-time organizer, as well as executive secretary, for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) in Washington, D.C. After working on the East Coast, including in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1913-14, she moved west to Colorado (1914), and then to California (1915). She organized the first convention of women voters at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and the NWP election campaign in California in 1916.

Over the years, Stevens held several important NWP leadership positions, including membership on the executive committee. She served as vice chairman of NWP’s New York branch, spearheaded the NWP Women for Congress campaign in 1924, and worked in states where female candidates were among contenders for office. She also served as Alva Belmont’s personal assistant. 

Stevens was arrested for picketing at the White House in the summer of 1917 and served three days of her 60-day sentence at Occoquan Workhouse before receiving a pardon. She was arrested again in the NWP demonstration at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in March 1919. Stevens published the quintessential insider account of imprisonment of NWP activists, Jailed for Freedom, in 1920. 



April 2012

Matilda Young

Matilda Young of Washington, D.C., was the sister of NWP activist Joy Young. She worked full-time for suffrage for several years. She was the youngest NWP picket arrested, only 19 years old when she served her first prison term. She was arrested for picketing Nov. 10, 1917, sentenced to 15 days in District Jail, and served two terms in jail in January 1919; five days for watchfire demonstrations and three days for applauding suffrage prisoners in court. While burning one of the president’s speeches in Lafayette Square, she said, “The women of the country will keep the flame of liberty ablaze until complete victory is assured.”

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 371. 






March 2012
 


Beulah Amidon

Ms. Amadon was born in Fargo, N.D., the daughter of the late U.S. District Judge Charles Freemont Amidon and Mrs. Beulah McHenry Amidon. After graduation from Barnard College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Mrs. Amidon studied law at the University of Southern California. She began her career as press secretary of the National Woman's Party, a writer for the Committee on Public Information and feature writer for the Non-Partisan League. Called the “prettiest suffragist” by the other women, she was jailed after picketing on August 15th, 1917. On that day, fifty purple, white and gold flags were destroyed by a mob led by sailors in uniform. Ms. Amidon was knocked down by one of the sailors. In prison she remembered the “dear funny, sickening little kindnesses prisoners showed me…especially the Negroes are good to us.” She encouraged the other suffragists and told them the “big world is watching -- and learning – and admiring, and pretty soon the job…will be done.”


February 2012 


Mary Church Terrell

Superbly-educated and multi-lingual, Mary Church Terrell was well-equipped to fight for suffrage on two fronts: gender and racial equality. The daughter of former slaves, she earned a Master's degree from Oberlin College, and eventually received three honorary doctorates in recognition of her literary, oratorical and civil rights achievements. A high school teacher and principal, Terrell was appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education, the first black woman in this country to hold such a position. Terrell was also an active member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association to lobby for suffrage among black women. With Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, she formed the Federation of Afro-American Women, and became the first president of the newly formed National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. Terrell also founded the National Association of College Women, which later became the National Association of University Women (NAUW), and broke the color barrier to become the first black member of the American Association of University Women. She also co-founded the NAACP and the influential Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. With Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, she and her daughter picketed the White House in support of adoption of the 19th Amendment. After WWI, she was a delegate to the International Peace Conference, and was elected President of the Republican Women's League during President Harding's administration, the first presidential election in which all American women could vote.

Throughout her life she worked to engage women in the political process, and to eliminate Jim Crow laws. Notably, she was instrumental in eliminating segregation policies in the District of Columbia. She lived to see the Supreme Court rule in Brown vs. the Board of Education, and died shortly afterwards at the age of 90.


January 2012 


Mrs. Helena Hill Weed

Mrs. Helena Hill Weed of Norwalk, Conn., was a graduate of Vassar College and Montana School of Mines. She became one of the first women geologists. She was also the daughter of Congressman Ebenezer Hill of Connecticut who served from 1895 to 1913. She was a founding member of the Women’s National Press Club and a vice-president of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She was a prominent member of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and the NWP. She was one of the first pickets arrested, July 4, 1917, and served three days in District Jail for carrying a banner: “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In January 1918, she was arrested for applauding in court and sentenced to 24 hours, and in August 1918 she was arrested for participation in Lafayette Square meeting, and sentenced to 15 days. When she died in 1958 at the age of 83, TIME Magazine described her as a “kinetic suffragette who crisscrossed the nation crusading for the right to vote."

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 369.

December 2011


Matilda Hall Gardner (1871-1954)

Matilda Hall Gardner, of Washington, D.C., formerly of Chicago, was the daughter of Frederick Hall, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and wife of Gilson Gardner, Washington representative of Scripps newspapers. Educated in Chicago, Paris, and Brussels, Gardner was one of the original core of activists who worked with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns when they first came to Washington to work for the Congressional Committee. She was a member of the national executive committee of the NWP beginning in 1914. She was arrested July 14, 1917, and sentenced to 60 days in Occoquan Workhouse; and Jan. 13, 1919, and sentenced to 5 days in District Jail. She said of her first arrest that an officer came up to her and politely said, “It is a beautiful day.”  She concurred.  They carried on a conversation and after looking up and down the avenue the officer finally said, “I think the patrol will be along presently.” Mrs. Gardner didn’t realize up until that point that she had been arrested.

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 359;  Inez Haynes Gillmore, The Story of the Woman’s Party (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1921), 466.



November 2011

Mary Gertrude Fendall (1889-1971)

Mary Gertrude Fendall of Baltimore, Md., campaigned for the National Woman’s Party in the West in 1916 and was national treasurer of the NWP June 1917 to December 1919. She was the national organizer for the NWP in Oregon.She was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College. She holds the distinction of being the sergeant of the guard on the first day the NWP picketed the White House in January of 1917. She was often referred to as “the girl who managed the picket line” since one of her key duties while working for the NWP was enlisting women to picket.  During the demonstration of March 4th, 1917 she provided a line of nearly a thousand. She was arrested and sentenced to three days in jail, January 1919, for applauding in court.

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 358.









October 2011

Abby Scott Baker (1871-1944)

Abby Scott Baker, of Washington, D.C., came from a multi-generational military family. She was one of Alice Paul’s earliest associates and helped Paul and Burns plan their first major event–the March 3, 1913, national suffrage parade on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She served as treasurer of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) in 1914 and quickly became one of the most effective lobbyists for both the CU and its successor, the National Woman’s Party (NWP).

Baker traveled the country as part of the CU’s “Suffrage Special” train tour of western states in April-May 1916. The envoys set off with fanfare from Union Station in Washington, D.C., and Baker was in charge of handling the press for the tour. The support that she helped raise from women in states that had already granted women’s suffrage culminated in a June 1916 meeting in Chicago to form what was at first called the Woman’s Party of Western Voters, or Woman’s Party, for short (later, the NWP). When the NWP was more formally organized in relation to the CU in March 1917, Baker was elected to the NWP executive committee and served as its press chairman (1917-18) and political chairman (1917; 1919-21).

Baker was among the first demonstrators to picket the White House; she was arrested in September 1917 and sentenced to 60 days in the Occoquan Workhouse. In February-March 1919, she served as publicity manager and speaker for the “Prison Special,” a three-week lecture tour by NWP activists who spoke to packed audiences about their jail experiences in an effort to generate support for the suffrage cause.

Baker was an important lobbyist during the key years (1917-20) that the NWP pressured for passage of what became the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Known as the diplomat of the NWP, Baker was a significant presence in the organization’s ongoing tactic of asserting personal influence upon leading authorities in public and private life. When the NWP’s patriotism was challenged, she reminded critics that her three sons were fighting in World War I. In the midst of the ratification process for the 19th Amendment, Baker was among the NWP members who attended the Democratic National Convention of 1920 in San Francisco and successfully brokered a pro-suffrage plank as part of the party platform. She subsequently lobbied the presidential candidates from both political parties, James M. Cox and Warren G. Harding, to support the women’s rights cause.

After suffrage was achieved, Baker became a member of the NWP’s Committee on International Relations and the Women’s Consultative Committee of the League of Nations. She also represented the NWP at the League’s 1935 international conferences in Geneva where the issue of equal rights was discussed.

September 2011


Sarah Tarleton Colvin

Mrs. Sarah Tarleton Colvin, of St. Paul, Minn., was a member of the well known Tarleton family of Alabama. Her husband, Dr. A. R. Colvin, was a major in the Army, and acting surgical chief at Fort McHenry during World War I. She was a graduate nurse of the Johns Hopkins training school, and worked as a Red Cross nurse in the United States during the war. She was the Minnesota state chairman of the NWP, and a member of the "Prison Special" nationwide tour of speakers in Feb-Mar 1919. She was arrested in watchfire demonstrations Jan. 1919 and sentenced to two terms of five days each. 

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 357.




August 2011


Catherine Flanagan

Catherine Flanagan of Hartford, Conn., was a state and national organizer for the National Woman’s Party. She was formerly secretary for the Conn. Woman Suffrage Association (CWSA). Her father came to the United States as a political exile because of his efforts in the movement for Irish freedom.  She decided to travel to Washington on her vacation and participated in the picketing at the White House in August of 1917.  During the second week, the women were attacked by the crowd and their banners were taken from them and torn apart. The women refused to disperse, were arrested for disrupting traffic and sentenced to 30 days at the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Va.

While members of the Conn. Woman Suffrage Association condemned Flanagan for the picketing, CWSA member Mrs.Thomas N. Hepburn (mother of actress Katherine Hepburn) defended them. “I admire Miss Flanagan very much for being willing to go to jail for her convictions, “ said Hepburn. “It is more than most people could even conceive of doing for an ideal…If she prefers to spend her vacation working to make our own country safe for democracy…it behooves those who are less public spirited to try to comprehend her unselfish devotion.” Mrs. M. Tuscan Bennett, treasurer of the CWSA, told the Hartford Courant the same day, “We are indeed in a sad state of affairs in this country when the government uses its strong arm to protest disorderly mobs in their cowardly assault upon American women who are still fighting after 50 years for a principle which was held to be a self-evident truth nearly a century and a half ago:  namely that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Flanagan, after arriving back in Connecticut, commented to reporters, “I am perfectly willing to go back to the picket line.  I feel that it is a little thing to do toward the accomplishment of such a great purpose, especially since it seems to be the only thing left for us to do now.” She was so revered by her fellow suffragists that when Connecticut ratified the 19th Amendment, she was asked to present the historic document to the U-S Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby.

Sources: Excerpts from Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 359.Bridgeport  Herald,  Sept. 23,  1917.  Hartford  Courant,  Aug. 18-25  and  Sept.  13-16,  1917;  Sept. 15,  1920.  Hartford  Daily  Times, Sept.  15,  20,  1920.  Meriden  Morning Record,  Aug.  26-Sept.  21,  1920. Library of  Congress,  Records  of  the National  Woman's  Party,  American Memory  Project.  Geer's  Hariford Directory,  1886-1920.  Suffragist newspaper ,   Aug. -Sept .   1917. Rampant women:  Suffragists and the right  of   assembly  by  Linda  Lumsden.  Votes  and  More  for Woman:  Suffrage  and  After  in Connecticut by Carole Nicho.Collection. 

 

July 2011


Florence Bayard Hilles (1865-1954)

Florence Bayard Hilles, of Newcastle, Del., was the daughter of Thomas Bayard, American ambassador to Great Britain and secretary of state under President Grover Cleveland. She became involved in the suffrage movement after hearing Mabel Vernon speak. She realized that Vernon was saying what she believed in – yet she was doing nothing about it.  They quickly became good friends. Hilles gave her time, her money and her car – the “Votes for Women Flyer” to the cause.  She was chairman of the Delaware Branch of the National Women’s Party and member of the national executive committee. One of the “Silent Sentinels” who picketed the White House, she was arrested on July 13, 1917, and sentenced to 60 days in Occoquan Workhouse. She was pardoned by President Wilson after serving three days of her term. The library at the Sewall-Belmont House, is named after her.

Excerpts from Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 361. Portrait: 1916.  Copied from original in the collection of the Jewish Historical Society of Delaware Archives, Sally Grinns Collection.


June 2011 


Maud Younger (1870-1936)

Maud Younger was among the NWP leaders who came from upper-class circumstances but dentified with working-class life. She was anindependently wealthy socialite in San Francisco when, at age 30, she witnessed effective settlement house work in New York City and became a convert to the power of grassroots reform. She also worked briefly in New York as a waitress to acquire personal experience in the service sector. Younger returned to California, where she organized San Francisco's first waitress union (1908) and was instrumental in the passage of the state's eight-hour-day work law.

Since Younger viewed working and voting rights as closely related issues, she helped found the Wage Earners' Equal Suffrage League for Working Women, spoke on the vote in union halls around the state, and encouraged men to support the women's cause. A master of showmanship, she created publicity for state suffrage with a Wage Earner's Equal Suffrage League float in the 1911 Labor Day parade in San Francisco. In that year she helped lobby for passage of a woman suffrage amendment to the California constitution.

In 1913 Younger brought her considerable organizing experience to the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CU) and later the National Woman's Party (NWP). Working closely with Alice Paul, she soon emerged as one of the NWP's most effective orators and was a leading presence at several major NWP events. She was a keynote speaker at the NWP's founding convention in Chicago in June 1916, and later that year spoke at the memorial service for Inez Milholland. In 1917 Younger traveled throughout the nation to speak about the NWP's picketing of the White House and the arrest and imprisonment of demonstrators. She chaired the NWP's lobbying committee (1917-19) and legislative committee (1919), and described her experiences in a 1919 McCall's Magazine article “Revelations of a Woman Lobbyist.” After 1920 Younger worked with the Women's Trade Union League and then focused her activism on the NWP campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment. She served as congressional chairman of the NWP from 1921 until her death.  



May 2011


Anne Kelton Wiley (1877-1964)

Anna Kelton Wiley was born in Oakland, California in 1877. She graduated from George Washington University, Washington, DC, in 1897 and worked in various government offices. She married Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, in 1911; they had two children, Harvey, Jr. and John P.

Anna Wiley was active in various Washington organizations for fifty-five years. As a suffragist she was arrested for picketing the White House on November 10, 1917, and sentenced to 15 days in District Jail; she appealed her case and it was later upheld by a higher court. She served as Chairman of the National Woman's Party (1930-1932, 1940-1942) as well as editor (1940-1945) of its periodical, Equal Rights. She belonged to over forty organizations, as diverse as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Consumers' League. Using her knowledge of and interest in politics, she lobbied for legislation on behalf of many of these organizations. Anna Kelton Wiley and Rheta Childe Dorr led a delegation of women to a meeting with President Wilson.  Mr. Wilson again said he supported leaving suffrage to states and became annoyed when the women pressed him about the possibility of a Constitutional Amendment.  The exchange reportedly fueled the growing view that women in the Congressional Union were “hecklers” and “women howlers.”

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 370. 

Photo Source: Studio portrait of Anal Kelton Wiley, seated, in embroidered apron, with sons John Preston Wiley (1914-1998) and Harvey W. Wiley, Jr. (1912-1951), in sailor suits.


April 2011


Sue Shelton White (1887-1943)

Sue Shelton White, of Jackson, Tenn., was state chairman of the National Woman’s Party and one of the editors of The Suffragist weekly newspaper. She was a court and convention reporter for ten years and in 1918 was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to the State Commission for the Blind. She was active with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as the Federation of Women's Clubs and the Parent Teachers' Association. She was arrested Feb. 9, 1919, and served five days in District Jail for participating in a watchfire demonstration. She soon after participated in the NWP's "Prison Special" tour of the United States.  She is largely credited with helping win ratification of the 19th Amendment by helping win passage in the Tennessee legislature- the 36th and clinching state for ratification. Shelton eventually earned her law degree in 1923 and helped to draft the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). She soon left the NWP after being discouraged by President Hoover’s failure to support the Amendment.

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 370. 

     Photo Source: Sue Shelton White, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, (mnwp 158006). Photographer: Harris&Ewing [c. 1920] 


March 2011


Lucy Burns (1879-1966)

Lucy Burns was a versatile and pivotal figure within the National Woman’s Party (NWP). With distinctive flame-red hair that matched her personality and convictions, she was often characterized as a charmer and a firebrand–and the crucial support behind her friend Alice Paul’s higher-profile leadership. 

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Irish Catholic family, Burns was a brilliant student of language and linguistics. She studied at Vassar College and Yale University in the United States and at the University of Berlin in Germany (1906-8). While a student at Oxford College in Cambridge, England, Burns witnessed the militancy of the British suffrage movement.

Burns set her academic goals aside and in 1909 became an activist with Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). She perfected the art of street speaking, was arrested repeatedly, and was imprisoned four times. From 1910 to 1912 she worked as a suffrage organizer in Scotland.

Burns was a driving force behind the picketing of President Woodrow Wilson’s administration in Washington, D.C., beginning in January 1917. Six months later, she and Dora Lewis–targeting the attention of visiting Russian envoys–attracted controversy by prominently displaying a banner outside the White House declaring that America was not a free democracy as long as women were denied the vote. When Burns participated in a similar action with Katharine Morey later the same month, they were arrested for obstructing traffic. The banners displeased President Wilson and escalated the administration’s response to the picketing.

Burns was arrested and imprisoned six times. Declaring that suffragists were political prisoners, she was among those in the Occoquan Workhouse who instigated hunger strikes in October 1917 and were subsequently placed in solitary confinement. Jailed again when protesting the treatment of the imprisoned Alice Paul, Burns joined Paul and others in another round of Occoquan hunger strikes. Burns was in Occoquan for what became known as the “Night of Terror” on November 15, 1917, during which she was beaten and her arms were handcuffed above her head in her cell. Particularly brutal force-feeding soon followed. After her release, Burns commenced nationwide speaking tours. Unlike Paul, who remained active in the NWP until her death, Burns retired from public campaigns with the success of the 19th Amendment. She spent the rest of her life working with the Catholic Church.

Burns met Alice Paul in a London police station after both were arrested during a suffrage demonstration outside Parliament. Their alliance was powerful and long-lasting. Returning to the United States (Paul in 1910, Burns in 1912), the two women worked first with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) as leaders of its Congressional Committee. In April 1913 they founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU), which evolved into the NWP. Burns organized campaigns in the West (1914, 1916), served as NWP legislative chairman in Washington, D.C., and, beginning in April 1914, edited the organization’s weekly journal, The Suffragist.



February 2011


Rheta Childe Door (1868 - 1948)

Born in Nebraska, Rheta Childe Dorr earned a reputation as a disobedient child, sneaking out of the house to attend a suffragist rally held by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony when she was 12.  Her parents discovered her actions only after reading in the paper the list of women who had joined the National Woman Suffrage Association. She had used her only silver dollar to pay dues. She later pursued journalism, but was shocked to learn that editors refused to put her on the staff simply because she was a woman. While covering the coronation of a new king in Norway, she became acquainted with prominent British suffragists. She later decided to go underground to learn and write about the experiences of everyday workers, later learning that her stories were given a male byline. In 1910 she wrote, “What Eight Million Women Want” about suffrage clubs, trade unions, and consumers leagues in Europe and the United States. That led her to assisting British suffragist, Emmeline Pankhurst, in writing Pankhurst’s autobiography, “My Own Story.” She was selected to be the editor of the new weekly suffrage newspaper, “The Suffragist,” the first of which appeared on November 15, 1913.  It was the official publication of those trying to influence national legislation for the cause.  She once explained that the idea of the paper was to bring to the attention of women all over the country that they may have a voice in government by making it a political issue and electing men who are favorable to equal suffrage.  She eventually quit her position as editor over frustration over suffragist Alice Paul’s autocratic manner.


January 2011


Alison Turnbull Hopkins (1880 - 1951)

Alison Turnbull Hopkins of Morristown, N.J., was New Jersey state chairman of the National Woman’s Party and a member of the NWP executive committee in 1917, as well as president of various women's clubs. Her husband was a supporter of  President Woodrow Wilson and he served on the Democratic National Committee in 1916. She was arrested July 14, 1917, for picketing the White House, and sentenced to 60 days in the Occoquan Workhouse. She was pardoned by President Wilson after three days at the request of her husband. Hopkins, however, claimed that Wilson had acted only to save himself political embarrassment and stood alone at the White House gates with a sign reading, “We ask not pardon for ourselves but justice for all American women.” 

 

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 361-62.




December 2010

Lavinia Lloyd Dock (1858 - 1956)

Lavinia Lloyd Dock was a nurse and social reformer born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1858.  From a well-to-do family, she chose to train as a nurse and after serving as a visiting nurse among the poor she compiled the first manual of drugs for nurses, Materia Medica for Nurses (1890).  She devoted her life to improving the health of the poor and the profession of nursing. She gave up nursing around the age of 50, but dedicated her energies to other causes such as improved working conditions, birth control, and women’s right to vote.  She was jailed briefly three times for taking part in suffrage demonstrations. Some say her courageous stand for womens’ suffrage and womens’ rights was her greatest contribution to nursing.  She felt if nursing was going to be the profession that the early leaders envisioned, nurses would need the power and respect that only gender equality could offer. She is quoted in the NLN publication, “Open Mind” (1996), “We owe the existence of our profession to the womens’ movement. We owe it all that we are, all that we have of opportunity and advancement.” (Forest, n.d.)


November 2010

Pauline Forstall Colclough Adams (1874 - 1957) 

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1874, suffragist and local activist Pauline Forstall Colclough Adams was living in Brunswick County, North Carolina, by 1898, when she married Norfolk physician Walter J. Adams. They returned to Norfolk, where Walter established a medical practice and Pauline gave birth to their two sons. She hosted an influential meeting at her home on 18 November 1910, when the Norfolk Equal Suffrage League was organized. Adams served as the first president of the Norfolk league (a National American Woman Suffrage Association affiliate) and was elected twice more before declining to run again. Unlike her fellow Virginia suffragists, Adams advocated a militant approach to winning the vote for women, shunning the primarily educational activities of the Norfolk league to speak in the city’s streets and to march in Washington, D.C., during President Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parade. Her opinions and actions prompted a serious rift in the conservative Norfolk league and a reprimand from state league headquarters in Richmond. 

Adams joined the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, a more militant group, and after it was renamed the National Woman’s Party, she served as president of the Norfolk branch from 1917 to 1920. With the outbreak of World War I, Adams sprang into action, calling in April 1917 for the formation of a Woman’s Home Guard in Norfolk. Unlike the Equal Suffrage League, which suspended political activities in favor of charitable work, the National Woman’s Party continued the fight for suffrage during the war. As local NWP president, Adams led the women’s section of Norfolk’s Preparedness Parade and sold war bonds and stamps at local hotels. On 4 September 1917, Adams was one of thirteen picketers arrested for “flaunting their banners” in front of President Woodrow Wilson’s reviewing stand before a selective service parade. When given a choice between sixty days in jail or a $25 fine, the suffragists as a whole chose prison and were sent to the Occoquan workhouse in Fairfax County, Va. She was arrested again at a watchfire demonstration on Feb. 9, 1919, but was released on account of lack of evidence. She was one of the speakers on the "Prison Special" tour of Feb-Mar 1919.

After passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in August 1920, Adams looked for new challenges. She passed the bar examination in 1921 and became the second woman to practice law in Norfolk. Pauline Adams died on 10 September 1957 and was buried in Norfolk.


October 2010

Anne Martin (1875 - 1951)


Anne Henrietta Martin was born into a large Irish-German family in Empire, Nevada, near Carson City. She was the daughter of a prominent Populist politician and businessman. Martin was well-educated at a school for girls and at the University of Nevada, from which she graduated in 1894. She earned a second bachelor’s and a master’s degree in history from Stanford University (1896, 1897). She was also a superb athlete and equestrian, excelling especially in tennis and golf. Martin founded and headed the History Department at the University of Nevada in 1897 and from 1899 to 1901 continued her graduate studies in New York, London, and Leipzig.


After receiving an inheritance from her share of the family business following her father’s death in 1901, Martin traveled in Asia and Europe. She later said that the dismissal of her business acumen in favor of her brothers’ had made her a feminist. While in England, Martin became interested in Fabianism and joined in the militant British suffrage movement. In 1910 she was arrested for participating in a demonstration in London.

 

In 1911 Martin returned to Nevada, where she became the press secretary and then the president for the Nevada Equal Franchise Society (NEFS, later the Nevada Woman’s Civic League). Under her leadership, the NEFS lobbied successfully for ratification of a state woman suffrage amendment in 1914.


Martin was a member of the executive committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) as well as the executive committee of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU). She was chosen as the NWP’s first chairman at its founding convention in Chicago in June 1916 (when it began as the Woman’s Party of Western Voters, comprised of women from the 12 suffrage states).

 

Martin was among the organizers who targeted congressional campaigns in the fall of 1916. She traveled and spoke widely to sway voters to boycott the Democratic Party unless it began to facilitate congressional action on a federal suffrage amendment. Martin was selected vice-chairman and legislative chairman of the NWP when it formally merged with the CU in March 1917. Based in Washington, D.C., from 1916 to 1918, she coordinated work in various congressional districts and organized pressure from the state level on national legislators. With the advent of World War I, Martin argued with U.S. senators that woman suffrage should be passed in order to allow women to respond to the war effort. In July 1917 she was arrested for picketing at the White House. Martin was among the women who argued in court that they had a right to stand peacefully outside the White House gates. She told the court, “We stand on the Bill of Rights.”

 

Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Martin moved to Carmel, California, with her mother. Martin died in Carmel in 1951.


September 2010

Mabel Vernon (1883 - 1975)

Mabel Vernon was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father was editor and publisher of the Wilmington Daily Republican. Part of a large Quaker-Presbyterian family, she went to Swarthmore with Alice Paul and graduated in 1906. During her college career she won awards as a debater. Vernon taught Latin and German in a Pennsylvania high school before attending a National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) conference in Philadelphia in 1912. She later returned to school and earned a master’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 1924.


At Paul’s invitation, Vernon worked as a regional fund-raiser and recruiter for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) shortly after its formal organization in 1913. The following year she led the CU campaign against Democratic congressional candidates in Nevada along with Anne Martin. She soon headed the push to establish state branches in several western states. When the CU asked Sara Bard Field and other suffrage envoys to travel cross-country by automobile in 1915, Vernon worked as the advance person, organizing events and meetings in several major cities. She joined Alice Paul and others in testifying for woman suffrage before the House Judiciary Committee at the end of that year.


Vernon has been described by her fellow activists as the first, and perhaps the most outstanding, of NWP organizers. She was named secretary of the newly formed NWP in June 1916. The following autumn, Vernon worked as a regional organizer, doing street speaking and holding rallies to encourage citizens not to support the reelection of legislators opposed to a federal suffrage amendment. She participated in the 1919 “Prison Special” tour, which did much to dispel popular fears of NWP militancy and win sympathy for the sacrifices that NWP activists had made for the suffrage cause. During the two years leading up to the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Vernon reprised her role as a regional organizer, working especially in Georgia, Kentucky, and Delaware.


Vernon was also notable for her audacious demonstrations during major presidential addresses–calling out to President Wilson during his Independence Day speech in 1916. After Wilson’s closely contested reelection in November 1916, she and other NWP activists secured front-row gallery seats for his annual address to Congress. During the speech, Vernon and the others unfurled a suffrage banner from inside Vernon’s coat, an action that won publicity across the country. Vernon was also among the first group of NWP women sentenced to brief terms in the District jail when she was charged with obstructing traffic while picketing the White House in June 1917.Vernon remained active in the NWP in the 1920s and served as its executive secretary.


August 2010


Anita Pollitzer (1894 - 1975)

Anita Lily Pollitzer was from Charleston, South Carolina, where her father worked as a cotton exporter and civic reformer. Her mother, Clara Guinzburg Pollitzer, was the daughter of an immigrant rabbi from Prague. Pollitzer graduated from Hunter College and taught German before marrying freelance press agent Elie Charlier Edson in 1928. Edson encouraged Pollitzer in her career and her studies.

Pollitzer also trained as an artist in New York City and studied with Alfred Stieglitz. She graduated from the School of Practical Arts at the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1916, where she was a good friend of Georgia O’Keeffe. Pollitzer also earned a master’s degree in international law from Columbia University in 1933.

Pollitzer turned to the suffrage cause while at home on a vacation break from school. Her two sisters, Mabel and Carrie Pollitzer, as well as two aunts, were active in the local suffrage movement. Her family was supportive of her move to Washington after her graduation from college to work for the NWP.

Pollitzer became a stalwart of both the suffrage and equal rights movements. She traveled extensively across the country to speak, organize, and participate in picketing. As a young activist, Pollitzer was praised by her co-workers and NWP head Alice Paul for her ever-sunny disposition and effectiveness in fund-raising and speaking. Pollitzer had a personal hand in the lobbying effort that helped secure the ratification of the 19th Amendment. In August 1920, the night before a special session of the Tennessee legislature voted on the amendment, she dined with legislator Harry T. Burn. The next day, Burn cast the critical vote making Tennessee the 36th and decisive state to ratify the amendment.

Pollitzer’s career in the NWP extended well after suffrage was won. She began a long-time stint as a member of the NWP executive committee in 1921 and served as national secretary (1921-26), national congressional secretary, Congressional Committee vice-chairman, national vice-chairman (1927-38), and national chairman (1945-49). When Alice Paul proposed the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment in Seneca Falls in 1923, Pollitzer seconded the proposal. She died in Queens, New York, at the home of a caretaker.


July 2010



Lillian Ascough

Lillian Ascough of Detroit, Mich., served as the Connecticut State Chairman of the National Womens Party.  She studied for the concert stage in London and Paris. But she abandoned the concert stage to devote time to suffrage. She was sentenced to fifteen days in jail in August of 1918, following a Lafayette Square demonstration, and sentenced to five days in February of 1919,  following a watchfire demonstration. She was a speaker in the "Prison Special" tour of Feb-Mar 1919.

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 355.



June 2010

Lucy Ewing

Lucy Ewing, of Chicago, Illinois was the Chairman of the National Woman's Party, who served a thirty day sentence in the Government Workhouse at Occoquan for holding a banner in front of the Executive Mansion, demanding the enfranchisement of women. She was niece of Adlai Stevenson, vice president of the U.S. under Grover Cleveland, and officer in the Illinois branch of the NWP. She was arrested picketing Aug. 17, 1917 and sentenced to 30 days in the Occoquan Workhouse and was among those speakers who toured with the "Prison Special" in Feb-Mar 1919.


May 2010


Kate Heffelfinger

Kate Heffelfinger, of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, was an art student and NWP activist. She was sentenced to six months in District Jail for picketing Oct. 15, 1917; another month was later added to her sentence for a previous offense. In August 1918, she was sentenced to 15 days for participating in a Lafayette Square meeting; in January 1919 she was sentenced to five days for participation in a watchfire demonstration.

To the left is a photograph of a woman escorting Kate Heffelfinger, wrapped in blanket, outside near a car, after release from Occoquan Prison, ca. 1917.


April 2010

Minnie Quay

Minnie Quay of Salt Lake City, Utah, was arrested Nov. 10, 1917, while picketing the White House in Washington, D.C., and sentenced to 30 days in District Jail. She was sent instead to the Occoquan Workhouse and was there during the "Night of Terror," Nov. 15, 1917, during which guards used violence toward imprisoned protestors.






 

March 2010
Mary A. Nolan

Mrs. Mary A. Nolan of Jacksonville, Florida, was often described as one of the oldest suffragists active on NWP picket lines. Of Irish descent, Nolan was born in Virginia and educated at the convent of Mont de Chantal in West Virginia. As a young woman she worked as a teacher and leader in the Southern library movement. She was also prominent in Confederate organizations and a suffrage pioneer. In 1917 she joined the NWP and came to Washington, D.C., to picket. She was arrested on November 10, 1917, and sentenced to six days in District Jail, but was actually sent to Occoquan Workhouse. She was there for the so-called "Night of Terror" November 15, 1917, during which guards turned violent toward imprisoned protesters. In January 1919, she was arrested many times during the Watchfire demonstrations outside the White House, and was sentenced to 24 hours in jail. She was the oldest suffrage prisoner. She participated in the nationwide "Prison Special" tour in which NWP activists traveled from city to city speaking of their experiences in jail.


February 2010

Rose Winslow (d. 1977)

Born Ruza Wenclawska in Poland, Rose Winslow was brought to the United States as an infant with her immigrant parents. Winslow’s father worked as a coal miner and steelworker in Pennsylvania. She began working as a mill girl in the hosiery industry in Pittsburgh at age 11 and was also employed as a shop girl in Philadelphia, but was forced to quit work temporarily at age 19 when she contracted tuberculosis, leaving her disabled for the next two years. Winslow became a factory inspector and a trade union organizer in New York City with the National Consumers’ League and the National Women’s Trade Union League. In addition to her labor and suffrage activism, she was an actress and poet. 

Winslow’s NWP activism is emblematic of the somewhat uneasy role of working-class women and labor rights advocates in the suffrage movement, as well as the NWP’s stated–but imperfectly realized–desire to reach out to women across the social spectrum. Winslow differed with Alice Paul over the former’s desire for outreach to male miners and factory workers and whether the NWP program was too focused  on upper- and middle-class women.  

Winslow brought her speaking and organizing powers first to the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) and then to the NWP by addressing gatherings on the streets, in union halls, and at suffrage rallies. In February 1914 she and Doris Stevens spoke at a mass meeting for working women, after which a contingent of working women marched to the White House to meet with Woodrow Wilson on suffrage rights. That same year, Winslow joined Lucy Burns as leaders of the CU campaign in California to urge voters to oppose Democratic congressional candidates. Later, she worked similarly with other organizers in Wyoming during the electoral campaigns of 1916.

 

Winslow, like Inez Milholland and many of the other speakers sent out by Alice Paul on extensive speaking tours, displayed great energy at the podium or on the platform, but suffered privately from periodic collapse and exhaustion. Paul became irritated with Winslow when she became incapacitated, despite her history of ill-health. Demonstrating persistency and endurance was, after all, part of the NWP strategy.

 

Winslow was a leading demonstrator on the picket lines in the 1917 silent protests at the White House in Washington, D. C. She subsequently served time in the District jail and the Occoquan Workhouse.

 

In October 1917 Winslow and Alice Paul combined forces to set examples by refusing to eat or do work while they were imprisoned. Their actions demonstrated that they were political prisoners who refused to be classified and treated as criminals by the courts for exercising their First Amendment right to public assembly. Weakened by their hunger strike, Winslow and Paul were subjected to force-feedings. Their determination helped inspire other suffragists to perform acts of civil disobedience–defying court authority to convict them on false charges and placing even more pressure on the Wilson White House to accede to suffrage demands.


January 2010   

Dora Lewis (b. 1862?)

Often referred to as “Mrs. Lawrence Lewis” in suffrage literature, Dora Lewis was from an influential Philadelphia family. She was part of the earliest core of activists who worked with Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others in the 1913-15 period of internal conflict–between the members of Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CU) who favored more innovative methods over the more staid leaders of NAWSA. Lewis was a member of the initial executive committee of the NAWSA Congressional Committee in 1913; she remained a central figure throughout the NWP’s major public demonstration campaigns.

Lewis was among the outspoken hunger-striking suffragist prisoners and she received some of the most brutal treatment at the hands of wardens at the District jail and the Occoquan Workhouse. During the infamous “Night of Terror” of November 15, 1917, at Occoquan, Lewis was hurled bodily into her cell. She was knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against her iron bed frame. Lewis and Lucy Burns were initial leaders of the hunger strike in Occoquan; both grew so weak that they were held down by attendants and force-fed through a tube.

Lewis was the primary speaker at a protest held in memory of Inez Milholland at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on August 6, 1918. When she was dragged away and arrested before finishing her first sentences–much to the consternation of the gathered crowd–other speakers rose to take her place. One after another, they too were arrested.

Lewis began the NWP’s watch fire protest when she set to flames copies of Woodrow Wilson’s speeches in a demonstration New Year’s Day, 1919. She was arrested for her part in the actions.  In the summer of 1919, Lewis was among NWP organizers who worked in Georgia to try (unsuccessfully) to secure that state’s support in the ratification process for the 19th Amendment. When Georgia repudiated ratification, she moved on to Kentucky, which ratified the amendment in January 1920. Lewis also served as treasurer and as member of the executive committee of the NWP.



December 2009   

Lucy Gwynne Branham (1892 -1966)

Lucy Gwynne Branham was born in Kempsville, Virginia, and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a suffrage activist and a physician. A student of history, Branham graduated from Washington College in Maryland and earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. While teaching in Florida, she received a Carnegie Hero Medal for saving a swimmer from drowning in the ocean.

Branham and her mother (also named Lucy) embraced the cause of a federal suffrage amendment despite antagonism from some members of their southern-based family. The younger Lucy worked as a NWP organizer in Utah during the elections of 1916, when the party urged voters to boycott Democratic Party candidates because of their failure to endorse woman suffrage. She was arrested in the NWP campaign of silent picketing at the White House in September 1917 and served two months in the Occoquan Workhouse and the District jail. (Her mother also was arrested for her part in the watch fire demonstrations in January 1919 and served three days in the District jail.)

In 1918 Branham joined the huge push by the NWP to lobby for passage of a federal amendment in the Senate and focused her organizing efforts in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. That same year, Branham played a prominent role in the Lafayette Park demonstrations. During one such protest, she held aloft a message from President Woodrow Wilson before “consigning” his “empty words” into a fire, declaring, “We want action, not words.” Branham was a participant in the “Prison Special” tour of 1919, during which NWP women who had been imprisoned traveled to cities around the country to talk of their experiences, often wearing prison garb when they spoke.

After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Branham headed the Inez Milholland Memorial Fund Committee, which created an ongoing endowment fund for the NWP. She taught briefly at Columbia University, worked with the American Friends Service Committee, and became executive secretary of the American Society for Cultural Relations with Russia (1926-30). Fluent in French, Russian, and German, she worked with the World Woman’s Party in Geneva and lobbied the League of Nations on equal rights issues.

In the late 1950s she and her elderly mother lived at Sewall-Belmont House while Branham served on the NWP’s Congressional Committee to lobby for the Equal Rights Amendment. After her mother’s death, Branham suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for several years near her home in Delaware. Alice Paul, Mabel Vernon, and Edith Goode visited her there shortly before her death in July 1966.

 

 

November 2009

                                                                                          
Doris Stevens (1888 [1892?] -1963)

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Doris Stevens graduated from Oberlin College in 1911. She worked as a teacher and social worker in Ohio and Michigan before she became a regional organizer with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In New York, she was friends with leading members of the Greenwich Village radical scene, including Louise Bryant and John Reed. In 1914 Stevens became a full-time organizer, as well as executive secretary, for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) in Washington, D.C. After working on the East Coast, including in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1913-14, she moved west to Colorado (1914), and then to California (1915). She organized the first convention of women voters at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and the NWP election campaign in California in 1916.

Over the years, Stevens held several important NWP leadership positions, including membership on the executive committee. She served as vice chairman of NWP’s New York branch, spearheaded the NWP Women for Congress campaign in 1924, and worked in states where female candidates were among contenders for office. She also served as Alva Belmont’s personal assistant. 

Stevens was arrested for picketing at the White House in the summer of 1917 and served three days of her 60-day sentence at Occoquan Workhouse before receiving a pardon. She was arrested again in the NWP demonstration at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in March 1919. Stevens published the quintessential insider account of imprisonment of NWP activists, Jailed for Freedom, in 1920.

Stevens clashed with Alice Paul and led an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the leadership of Paul’s successor, Anita Pollitzer. She was part of an internal dispute over the NWP’s emphasis on the World Woman’s Party and international rights rather than domestic organizing. During these tensions, a dissenting faction of NWP members tried to take over party headquarters and elect their own slate of officers, but Pollitzer’s claim to leadership was supported by a ruling of a federal district judge. Stevens parted ways with the NWP in 1947 and turned instead to activity in the Lucy Stone League, another women’s rights organization. In the 1950s she was a supporter of McCarthyism and anti-communism. In her last years, Stevens supported the establishment of feminist studies as a legitimate field of academic inquiry in American universities.



October 2009

Abby Scott Baker (1871-1944)

Abby Scott Baker, of Washington, D.C., came from a multi-generational military family. She was one of Alice Paul’s earliest associates and helped Paul and Burns plan their first major event–the March 3, 1913, national suffrage parade on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She served as treasurer of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) in 1914 and quickly became one of the most effective lobbyists for both the CU and its successor, the National Woman’s Party (NWP).

Baker traveled the country as part of the CU’s “Suffrage Special” train tour of western states in April-May 1916. The envoys set off with fanfare from Union Station in Washington, D.C., and Baker was in charge of handling the press for the tour. The support that she helped raise from women in states that had already granted women’s suffrage culminated in a June 1916 meeting in Chicago to form what was at first called the Woman’s Party of Western Voters, or Woman’s Party, for short (later, the NWP). When the NWP was more formally organized in relation to the CU in March 1917, Baker was elected to the NWP executive committee and served as its press chairman (1917-18) and political chairman (1917; 1919-21).

Baker was among the first demonstrators to picket the White House; she was arrested in September 1917 and sentenced to 60 days in the Occoquan Workhouse. In February-March 1919, she served as publicity manager and speaker for the “Prison Special,” a three-week lecture tour by NWP activists who spoke to packed audiences about their jail experiences in an effort to generate support for the suffrage cause.


Baker was an important lobbyist during the key years (1917-20) that the NWP pressured for passage of what became the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Known as the diplomat of the NWP, Baker was a significant presence in the organization’s ongoing tactic of asserting personal influence upon leading authorities in public and private life. When the NWP’s patriotism was challenged, she reminded critics that her three sons were fighting in World War I. In the midst of the ratification process for the 19th Amendment, Baker was among the NWP members who attended the Democratic National Convention of 1920 in San Francisco and successfully brokered a pro-suffrage plank as part of the party platform. She subsequently lobbied the presidential candidates from both political parties, James M. Cox and Warren G. Harding, to support the women’s rights cause.


After suffrage was achieved, Baker became a member of the NWP’s Committee on International Relations and the Women’s Consultative Committee of the League of Nations. She also represented the NWP at the League’s 1935 international conferences in Geneva where the issue of equal rights was discussed.



September 2009

Lucy Burns (1879-1966)

Lucy Burns was a versatile and pivotal figure within the National Woman’s Party (NWP). With distinctive flame-red hair that matched her personality and convictions, she was often characterized as a charmer and a firebrand–and the crucial support behind her friend Alice Paul’s higher-profile leadership. 

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Irish Catholic family, Burns was a brilliant student of language and linguistics. She studied at Vassar College and Yale University in the United States and at the University of Berlin in Germany (1906-8). While a student at Oxford College in Cambridge, England, Burns witnessed the militancy of the British suffrage movement.

Burns set her academic goals aside and in 1909 became an activist with Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). She perfected the art of street speaking, was arrested repeatedly, and was imprisoned four times. From 1910 to 1912 she worked as a suffrage organizer in Scotland.

Burns met Alice Paul in a London police station after both were arrested during a suffrage demonstration outside Parliament. Their alliance was powerful and long-lasting. Returning to the United States (Paul in 1910, Burns in 1912), the two women worked first with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) as leaders of its Congressional Committee. In April 1913 they founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU), which evolved into the NWP. Burns organized campaigns in the West (1914, 1916), served as NWP legislative chairman in Washington, D.C., and, beginning in April 1914, edited the organization’s weekly journal, The Suffragist.

Burns was a driving force behind the picketing of President Woodrow Wilson’s administration in Washington, D.C., beginning in January 1917. Six months later, she and Dora Lewis–targeting the attention of visiting Russian envoys–attracted controversy by prominently displaying a banner outside the White House declaring that America was not a free democracy as long as women were denied the vote. When Burns participated in a similar action with Katharine Morey later the same month, they were arrested for obstructing traffic. The banners displeased President Wilson and escalated the administration’s response to the picketing.

Burns was arrested and imprisoned six times. Declaring that suffragists were political prisoners, she was among those in the Occoquan Workhouse who instigated hunger strikes in October 1917 and were subsequently placed in solitary confinement. Jailed again when protesting the treatment of the imprisoned Alice Paul, Burns joined Paul and others in another round of Occoquan hunger strikes. Burns was in Occoquan for what became known as the “Night of Terror” on November 15, 1917, during which she was beaten and her arms were handcuffed above her head in her cell. Particularly brutal force-feeding soon followed. After her release, Burns commenced nationwide speaking tours. Unlike Paul, who remained active in the NWP until her death, Burns retired from public campaigns with the success of the 19th Amendment. She spent the rest of her life working with the Catholic Church.