Camilla Gertrude Whitcomb (1860 – 1949)
Camilla Gertrude Whitcomb (1860 – 1949) 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.