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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.