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From the Archives

Suffrage in the United States

At the turn of the twentieth century, Jewish women in the United States participated vigorously in virtually all the era’s mass social movements, including the suffrage movement. Although individual American Jewish women had supported suffrage since the movement’s beginning in the mid-1800s, its revitalization during the 1890s—just when the American Jewish population was growing tremendously due to mass migration from eastern Europe—brought ever-increasing numbers of Jewish women (and many men) of all class, ethnic, national, and religious backgrounds to the cause.

Jennie Loitman Barron

Jennie Loitman Barron became a lawyer before women had the right to serve on juries in her state and went on to become the first woman justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court.

Emma Goldman

After fleeing her tyrannical father and an arranged marriage in St. Petersburg, Emma Goldman came to New York at age 15. Inspired to activism by the Haymarket bombing of 1886, Goldman became a lifelong anarchist, feminist, political activist, and public figure. After spending time in federal prison, Goldman was deported from the United States and spent the rest of her life in exile.

Mary Belle Grossman

Mary Belle Grossman made history in 1918 as one of the first two women admitted to the American Bar Association, then dedicated her career to protecting women.

Annie Nathan Meyer

Believing that education was the best path for women’s success, Annie Nathan Meyer founded Barnard College, New York’s first liberal arts college for women.

Maud Nathan

After her daughter’s death, Maud Nathan battled grief by throwing herself into social justice work, transforming herself from a simple society wife to influential social reformer.

Anita Pollitzer

As a party organizer for the National Woman’s Party, Anita Pollitzer travelled across the country to earn crucial support for ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment.

Ernestine Rose

An early feminist who inspired Susan B. Anthony, Ernestine Rose was particularly remarkable for her insistence that women’s rights and slave emancipation needed to be approached as one issue: the freedom of all people.

Rose Schneiderman

After working as a salesgirl in New York City, Rose Schneiderman switched to less-respectable but better-paying factory work. Convinced that unions could help the working class, she became a union organizer for the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers’ Union and, later, the Women’s Trade Union League. After the Triangle Fire in March 1911, Schneiderman became a statewide and national advocate for workers’ rights and women’s suffrage.

Rosika Schwimmer

Rosika Schwimmer’s uncompromising vision of women’s equality and world peace helped advance the women’s movement but caused a backlash that cost Schwimmer everything.

Pauline Perlmutter Steinem

Pauline Perlmutter Steinem, like her granddaughter Gloria Steinem, was an ardent activist for women’s rights, especially suffrage. She was also involved in Jewish activism, serving many local Jewish organizations and devoting a considerable amount of her income to send Jews to Israel just before World War II began.

Gertrude Weil

A dedicated activist for women’s rights and racial equality, Gertrude Weil showed that local, small-scale political action could have far-reaching effects.

Rosalie Loew Whitney

In 1901, Rosalie (Rose) Loew became acting attorney in chief of the New York Legal Aid Society. She was the first woman to hold that post.

Belle Winestine

Belle Winestine is best remembered as Jeannette Rankin’s legislative assistant, though she served in this capacity for only one year (1916–1917). Nonetheless, her work with Rankin served as an important apprenticeship that created a lasting friendship, profoundly influenced her understanding of the legislative process, and solidified what became her lifelong commitment to reform. For over seventy years, she devoted time, money, and energy to support and enforce legislation pertaining to women’s rights and children’s issues.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "From the Archives." (Viewed on May 30, 2020) <https://jwa.org/suffrage/from-the-archives>.

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