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Bella Abzug. Campaign poster. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109588).

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Abzug, Bella (24 July 1920–31 March 1998), lawyer, feminist leader, and U.S. representative, was born Bella Savitsky in the Bronx, New York, the daughter of Emmanuel Savitsky, butcher, and Ester Tanklefsky Savitsky. She attended local schools before entering Hunter College in Manhattan, where she took part in student government and was active in the Zionist movement. She entered Columbia University Law School following her graduation in 1942 but soon left school and took a wartime job in a shipyard. She married Martin Abzug, a writer who later became a stockbroker, in 1944; the couple had two daughters. Abzug returned to Columbia and served as editor of the ...

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Susan B. Anthony. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-23933).

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Anthony, Susan B. (15 February 1820–13 March 1906), reformer and organizer for woman suffrage, was born Susan Brownell Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts, the daughter of Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read. Her father built the town’s first cotton mill. When Susan, the second of eight children, was six, the family moved to Battenville, New York, north of Albany, where Daniel prospered as manager of a larger mill and could send Susan and her sister to a Friends’ seminary near Philadelphia. His good fortune, however, collapsed with the financial crisis of 1837; the mill closed, Susan left boarding school, the family lost its house, and for nearly a decade the family squeaked by, assisted by Susan’s wages as a teacher. Looking for a new start in 1845, Daniel moved to a farm near Rochester, the city that would be Susan’s permanent address for the rest of her life....

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Blair, Emily Newell (09 January 1877–03 August 1951), feminist, politician, and writer, was born in Joplin, Missouri, the daughter of Anna Cynthia Gray and James Patton Newell, a mortgage broker. She enrolled in the Woman’s College of Baltimore (now Goucher College) in 1894, but her father’s death cut short her education after just one year. Returning home, she helped raise her younger siblings, taught school, and attended classes at the University of Missouri without completing a degree. In 1900 she married Harry Wallace Blair, a former classmate at Carthage High School....

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Blankenburg, Lucretia Longshore (08 May 1845–29 March 1937), suffragist and reformer, was born near New Lisbon, Ohio, the daughter of Thomas Ellwood Longshore, a Quaker schoolteacher, and Hannah E. Myers, who also was from a Quaker family and who became the first woman doctor in Philadelphia. She was named for ...

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Inez Milholland Boissevain Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0661-B).

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Boissevain, Inez Milholland (06 August 1886–25 November 1916), lawyer, feminist, and suffrage activist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of John Elmer Milholland, a reporter and editorial writer, and Jean Torrey. Her father supported many reforms, among them world peace, civil rights, and woman suffrage. It was probably through his influence that Inez acquired her sense of moral justice and her activist stance....

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Bradwell, Myra Colby (12 February 1831–14 February 1894), publisher and political activist, was born in Manchester, Vermont, the daughter of Eben Colby and Abigail Willey. She spent her childhood in Vermont and western New York, and when she was twelve, her family moved to Illinois. She attended local schools in Wisconsin and Illinois and became a schoolteacher. In 1852 she married ...

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Coppin, Fanny Jackson (1837–21 January 1913), educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father’s name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by ...

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Crisp, Mary Dent (05 November 1923–24 March 2007), Republican Party leader and women's rights advocate, Republican Party leader and women’s rights advocate, was born Mary Dent in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the seventh child of Harry Dent and Elizabeth Patch Dent. After graduating from Allentown High School, she attended Oberlin College, receiving a degree in botany in 1946. She would later trace her interest in politics to Oberlin’s emphasis on an individual’s responsibility to engage with pressing social issues. She married William Crisp, a doctor, in 1948; the couple had three children and resided in Phoenix, Arizona. There, she took graduate courses in political science at Arizona State University....

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Sarah Platt Decker. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111458).

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Decker, Sarah Sophia Chase Platt (01 October 1855–07 July 1912), clubwoman, suffragist, and community activist, was born in McIndoe Falls, Vermont, the daughter of Edwin Chase, a lumber dealer, paper manufacturer, and Baptist abolitionist known as the “Fighting Deacon,” and Lydia Maria Adams. The family moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, when Sarah was quite young. She graduated from high school in Holyoke and while still in her teens became active in community work as a trustee of a fund to aid the poor. In 1875 she married a Holyoke merchant, Charles B. Harris....

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East, Catherine (15 May 1916–17 Aug. 1996), civil servant and feminist activist, was born Catherine Shipe in Barboursville, West Virginia, the eldest surviving child of Bertha Woody, a former schoolteacher, and Ulysses Grant Shipe, a bank president and construction engineer. (The Shipes’s first child, a boy, died of spinal meningitis before Catherine was born.) She had two younger siblings. The family was moderately well off before the Depression and employed a housekeeper. Her maternal grandmother also lived with them, and she attributed her first feminist leanings to the influence of her mother and grandmother....

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India Edwards Right, at a television broadcast of "Meet the Press." Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-91083).

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Edwards, India (16 June 1895–14 January 1990), politician and women's advocate, politician and women’s advocate, was born India Walker in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Archibald Walker and India Thomas Walker. Her father left home when she was four, and her mother married John A. Gillespie, a Canadian, whom India considered to be her real father. She attended public schools in Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis....

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Ferrin, Mary Upton (27 April 1810–11 April 1881), suffragist and women's rights advocate, suffragist and women’s rights advocate, was born in South Danvers (now Danvers), Massachusetts, the daughter of Jesse Upton, a farmer and tavern keeper, and his second wife Elizabeth (or Eliza) Wyman Wood. Other than her marriage at age thirty-five to Jesse C. Ferrin, a union that inadvertently led to her personal crusade for married women’s property rights, few details of Ferrin’s personal life have been recorded. Jesse Ferrin, identified on the marriage certificate only as a grocer, and Mary Upton were married in 1845 in Danvers. Just three years later, in 1848, Mary sought the advice of a Salem lawyer, Samuel Merritt, regarding her rights to a divorce and her ability to keep her own property. Merritt advised Ferrin that under common law her husband held legal rights to all her personal property including improvements on real estate she brought to the marriage....

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Helen Hamilton Gardener. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92538).

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Gardener, Helen Hamilton (21 January 1853–26 July 1925), author, suffragist, and U.S. Civil Service commissioner, was born Alice Chenoweth in Winchester, Virginia, the daughter of the Reverend Alfred Griffith Chenoweth and Katherine A. Peel. A Methodist minister, Chenoweth freed his inherited slaves in 1854 and transplanted the family to Washington, D.C., so that his children would not grow up tarnished by slavery. In 1855 the family moved to Greencastle, Indiana, where Gardener went to local schools and was tutored at home. In her late teens she moved by herself to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she attended high school. She later was a student at Ohio State Normal School, where she served as a teacher and principal after her graduation in 1873....

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Emma Goldman Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1934. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42504).