Library of Congress > Collections > Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party


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.

Alice Paul (1885-1977)

Alice Paul was raised in a well-to-do Quaker family in New Jersey. Her father was a banker and her parents believed highly in the value of education. Paul graduated with a degree in biology from Swarthmore College (1905), an institution that her grandfather helped to found, earned graduate degrees in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., 1907; Ph.D., 1912), and also studied at the Woodbrooke Settlement for Social Work, the University of Birmingham, and the London School of Economics. She earned a bachelor’s in law from Washington College of Law in 1922, and master’s and doctoral law degrees from American University in 1927 and 1928.

While studying and doing social work in England, Paul learned firsthand the confrontational tactics and civil disobedience used by the militant wing of the British suffrage movement. She participated in demonstrations and was jailed for her suffrage activity in London.

Upon her return to the United States in 1910, Paul pressed the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to adopt approaches like those used in Britain and advocated activism focused on passing a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote. Beginning with her appointment as chairman of NAWSA’s Congressional Committee in 1912, Paul and a small group of key supporters began a long campaign in Washington, D.C., to secure a national woman suffrage amendment. Central in her early organizing efforts was the famous counter-inaugural suffrage parade mounted on March 3, 1913, in which masses of suffragists from many states filled the streets around the U.S. Capitol, White House, and Treasury Building (See Historical Overview and Detailed Chronology [PDF]).

Paul’s belief in the need to attract publicity and keep suffrage visible in the public eye, as well as her determination not to shy away from confrontation and her dogged focus on a federal amendment, led to an irreconcilable break with NAWSA in February 1914. From that time on, Paul worked for suffrage through her own organization, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU), which she and Lucy Burns founded in April 1913 while still serving on NAWSA’s Congressional Committee. The CU became the National Woman’s Party, with which Paul was affiliated until her death.

Like her Quaker hero Susan B. Anthony, Paul single-mindedly pursued a woman suffrage amendment. In the same way that Anthony inspired her, Paul became a role model for other activists who were emboldened by her defiance of authority. In October 1917 she was sentenced to seven months in prison for her role in picketing the Wilson White House. Her subsequent hunger strike led prison officials to retaliate with psychiatric evaluation and force-feeding.

Paul was an ingenious strategist and inspiring leader who gave a public face to the NWP. After 1920 she turned her efforts to the Equal Rights Amendment, which she first proposed at a NWP convention in 1923. She lived to see the ERA passed by Congress in 1972.

Paul’s most important contribution after winning suffrage was building effective international networks among women. She founded the World Woman’s Party in 1938. After World War II, Paul worked to ensure that equal rights for men and women were part of the United Nations platform. She also sought to include sex discrimination as a category in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Paul died at the age of 92 at a nursing care facility in Moorestown, New Jersey, endowed by her family.

Next: Benefactor
Back to top: Back to Top


Alva Belmont (1853-1933)

Often referred to as "Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont" in suffrage literature, wealthy New Yorker Alva Belmont was the most important financial benefactor among the leaders of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) and its successor organization, the National Woman's Party (NWP). Her 1895 divorce from William Vanderbilt, the grandson of mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt, brought her a personal fortune, along with Marble House, the Vanderbilt summer mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

After the death of her second husband in 1908, Belmont devoted herself, her money, and often her home, to women's rights causes–notably suffrage and the rights of laboring women to gain decent standards of work and wages. She was masterful in raising funds and in orchestrating her circles of socialite, business, and political connections to win support for suffrage. Her efforts made New York City an important center of influence for affluent women's rights supporters.

In the period when the NAWSA Congressional Committee became active, Belmont was quick to support Alice Paul and Lucy Burns in their desire to step up the militancy of the American movement. She wanted to make suffrage an election issue nationally, as she had done successfully in New York State. She helped craft the shift in policy in 1914 toward holding the Democratic Party–which then controlled both Congress and the White House–responsible for not adopting a suffrage amendment. A similar technique of political leverage had been used by suffragists in Britain.

Belmont was an important strategist and officer for the suffrage movement. She brought her experience with picket lines and arrests from the 1909-10 shirtwaist workers' strikes in New York. In December 1917, following the November "Night of Terror" at Occoquan Workhouse, Belmont chaired a mass meeting at Belasco Theatre, attended by thousands, at which the newly released prisoners were honored for their service to liberty. She was a member of the executive boards of both the CU and NWP (1914-20). However, the degree to which those organizations were dependent on Belmont's largesse sometimes posed uncomfortable questions regarding her power over the organizations' policies.

In the year following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Belmont became president of the NWP. When the NWP headquarters in the Old Brick Capitol was seized to construct the Supreme Court building, Belmont purchased a large brick historic home located close to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and donated it for use as NWP headquarters. Dedicated in 1931, the building is still used by the NWP as a nonprofit organization and is open to the public as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum External. Belmont's funeral in 1933 was well-attended by supporters of women's rights.

Next: Icon
Back to top: Back to Top
Previous: Visionaries


Inez Milholland (Boissevain) (1886-1916)

Inez Milholland remains famous as the beautiful Joan of Arc-like symbol of the suffrage movement. She appeared dramatically astride a white horse leading more than 8,000 marchers at the head of the March 3, 1913, suffrage parade held the day before Woodrow Wilson's presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.

Born into a well-to-do New York family, she was the daughter of John Milholland, a newspaper editorialist and a reformer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Milholland studied in schools in England and Germany before attending Vassar College, where she was a star athlete on the track team. She graduated from Vassar in 1909 and earned a law degree at New York University Law School. Milholland married a Dutch businessman, Eugen Jan Boissevain, in London in July 1913. She became a labor and children's rights attorney and later served as a journalist and correspondent. She worked with the Women's Trade Union League and the National Child Labor Committee.

Along with Dorothy Day, Crystal Eastman, Louise Bryant, and other activists, Milholland was part of an avant garde Greenwich Village group of progressives and socialists involved in the production of The Masses, a cutting-edge magazine that fused radical art, graphic satire, and political commentary. The Masses, begun in 1911, was shut down in 1917 because of its editor's antiwar stance. Milholland herself protested the United States entering World War I, and at the end of 1915, she was among those who traveled on Henry Ford's "Peace Ship," Oscar II, to Europe.

Milholland was recruited to the NAWSA Congressional Committee's cause by association with Alice Paul. She soon revealed a powerful ability to move crowds at rallies on behalf of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU).

By 1916 Milholland had become one of the highest-profile leaders of the CU, electrifying audiences as she traveled on a grueling speaking schedule as an envoy to 12 western suffrage states. Despite warnings from her physician, and dispatched by the similarly unflagging Paul, she persisted in touring despite pronounced ill health. The dynamic Milholland collapsed at the podium while delivering a suffrage speech in Los Angeles in the fall of 1916. She was rushed to the hospital and, despite treatment for pernicious anemia and hope of recovery, died weeks later on November 25, 1916. The front-page news shocked the nation and her fellow suffragists. Her dedication, iconic idealism, and tragic death made her a major martyr of the suffrage movement. Her last public words before her collapse were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?" Alice Paul organized Milholland's memorial service, which was held in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building on Christmas Day, 1916.

When Woodrow Wilson spurned a delegation that attempted to present him with resolutions crafted in Milholland's honor in early January 1917, the NWP changed tactics from a focus on lobbying to more direct action. Within days the NWP began a new campaign of picketing the White House.

Next: Lobbyists
Back to top: Back to Top
Previous: Benefactor


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.

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.

In 1918 and 1920, Martin was an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Nevada. She ran to promote pacifist and child welfare positions as well as to advance the role of women officeholders. She garnered support in her campaign from veteran NWP activists Sara Bard Field and Mabel Vernon, as well as from feminist theorist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Martin moved to Carmel, California, with her mother. She became an activist in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in the 1920s. She served as a national board member from 1926 to 1936 and as a regional director and international delegate, but eventually parted ways with the organization because she believed it failed to prioritize feminist goals. Martin was also a vocal opponent of the policies of the League of Women Voters for their emphasis on education rather than direct political action. Martin died in Carmel.

Maud Younger (1870-1936)

Maud Younger was among the NWP leaders who came from upper-class circumstances but identified with working-class life. She was an independently 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.

Next: Propagandist
Back to top: Back to Top
Previous: Icon


Nina Allender (1872-1957)

Born Nina Evans in Auburn, Kansas, Allender was the daughter of a superintendent of schools. She received formal training in art and studied at the Corcoran School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She was an instrumental propagandist for the suffrage movement and the key artist on the staff of the NWP's publication, The Suffragist.

In early 1913 Allender and her mother, Eva Evans–one of the first women employees of the Interior Department–received a visit from Alice Paul, whom they did not know, asking them to contribute money and time to the suffrage cause. Allender was working full time at the Treasury Department to support herself after her husband's desertion. Paul's appeal was hard to refuse, and Allender began a long association with Paul and the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU)–later the National Woman's Party (NWP).

At Paul's request, Allender submitted her first cartoon to The Suffragist, initially hesitating because she saw herself as a painter and not a cartoonist. From 1914 to 1922 Allender produced some 200 political cartoons that were published in The Suffragist and its successor journal, Equal Rights. Many of these cartoons featured what became known as the "Allender girl"–a positive representation of a suffragist as a winsomely attractive, stylish, and self-possessed young woman deeply dedicated to the cause. This portrayal helped shift the public image of what a women's rights advocate was like. Other Allender drawings featured Uncle Sam, members of Congress, or the woman suffrage ("Anthony") amendment itself in allegorical form, the latter often as a slim young girl awaiting her rights.

The distinctive style of Allender's pencil drawings, along with the NWP's use of photography, provided readers with visual propaganda that helped convey information about current events and advertise the NWP cause, as well as to publicize graphically specific NWP activities. To view digital versions of Allender's suffrage cartoons, some of which originally appeared on the front cover of The Suffragist, see the Sewall-Belmont House Web site External.

Allender also spent time in the field as an organizer. She worked in Wyoming during the elections of 1916, informing fellow suffragist Margaret Foley, "I never enjoyed any thing more." She remained active in the NWP during its campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, and served on the NWP council until poor health forced her resignation in 1946.

Back to top: Back to Top
Previous: Lobbyists

Officers and National Organizers

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 (see Detailed Chronology). 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.

Elsie Hill (1883-1970)

An indefatigable and long-term organizer and officer of the NWP, Elsie Hill, of Norwalk, Connecticut, was the daughter of Republican Congressman Ebenezer J. Hill, a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. She cited the positive relationship of her parents as an early example of the happy coalition possible between men and women. A graduate of Vassar College, Hill taught French at a Washington, D.C., high school. When Alice Paul and Lucy Burns became active in Washington, Hill was a leader of the D.C. Branch of the College Equal Suffrage League. She led a delegation from the League to meet with President Woodrow Wilson on the suffrage issue shortly after the Congressional Committee of NAWSA staged its huge suffrage parade in the nation's capital in March 1913.

Hill joined the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage's executive committee in 1914-15 and headed CU organizing efforts to establish branches in South Carolina and Virginia. Paul dispatched Hill, along with other reliable organizers with exceptional managerial and speaking skills and a knack for effective fund-raising, on public tours in the fall of 1916, when the NWP targeted congressional campaigns on the issue of female suffrage. In August 1918 Hill was arrested for speaking at a Lafayette Square meeting and served a 15-day sentence. She was arrested in Boston in February 1919, where she was picketing Woodrow Wilson upon his return from Europe–and jailed again.

Hill chaired the 1921 convention in Washington, D.C., at which the NWP regrouped after the suffrage victory and decided on a course of international action and a focus on equal rights. She became the new chairman of the NWP National Council (serving until 1925) and, in 1924, was a member of the NWP deputation that visited President Calvin Coolidge to lobby on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her activism spanned the time period from the inception of the CU through the ERA era. She and Paul remained lifelong friends and shared a house in their later years. Hill's sister, Helena Hill Weed, was also active in the suffrage movement.

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.

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. As she became older, her leadership was publicly and privately challenged.

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 wrote for Equal Rights and testified repeatedly before congressional committees, working nationwide to bring the ERA successfully to the Senate calendar for the first time in 1938.

That same year, Pollitzer was influential in the passage of the National Fair Labor Standards Act and joined with Paul to form the World Woman's Party (WWP), which worked for recognition of women's equality in the United Nations charter. Pollitzer was a delegate to the San Francisco conference of the United Nations in 1945, the same year that she succeeded Paul as NWP chairman. She became vice chairman of the WWP, and she and Paul were also active together in the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. Pollitzer was honorary national chairman of the NWP from 1949 until her death. She died in Queens, New York, at the home of a caretaker.

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.

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. Deeply involved in the Women for Congress campaign, she participated in a 1926 transcontinental motor trip that encouraged support for female candidates for office. Vernon also worked for the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1930 she shifted her activism to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. From the 1930s through the 1950s she devoted her time to the issues of disarmament, peace, Latin American rights, and international relations. She shared a Washington, D.C., residence with her close companion and fellow activist Consuelo Reyes-Calderon, from 1951 to 1975.

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.

Back to top: Back to Top
Previous: Propagandist