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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.