Friday Flashback #26

Last month’s Women’s March on Washington was quite an event. It drew dozens of Westporters — some of whom had never participated in anything like it before. They returned home excited, energized and empowered.

Just imagine how the women of the Westport Equal Franchise League felt, when they participated in Suffrage Week activities right here in 1913.

Kathie Motes Bennewitz — the town art curator and amateur historian who unearthed all this information — provides a clipping from the Bridgeport Evening Farmer of November 13 of that year. It says:

A meeting of the Westport Equal Franchise League was held at the home of Mrs. Rose Barrell on Myrtle avenue yesterday afternoon. The final arrangements for the Suffrage Week which will be held next week was made. The first gun of the week will be fired on Sunday evening when the Rev. K. McKenzie will address the gathering at Holy Trinity church at 7:30 o’clock. On Monday a rally and parade will be held which will be followed by addresses.

The parade will form at the corner of Myrtle avenue and Main street and will march to the Square. A brass band has been secured and it is expected that a large number of women will be in line. After the parade a rally will be held at which the following will give addresses: The Wage Earning Women, Mrs. E. Gregory of South Norwalk; The Necessary of Mother’s Vote, Mrs. Robert Fuller; Probation Work by Mrs. D. O. Parker of Greenwich, who at present is probation officer of that town; Taxation Without Representation, Mrs. Rose Barrell. The other speakers of the evening will be Mrs. G. C. Brown, Mrs. Rufus Putney and others.

How did the parade and rally go?

We don’t know. There was no follow-up report.

However, Kathie did find out that the Westport Equal Franchise League — to support women’s right to vote — had been formed a year earlier, in March 1912.

And Kathie learned that the 1913 Suffrage Week events in Westport were part of a national movement, kicked off by a parade in Washington, DC.

The women's suffrage parade marches down Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913. The National Park Service did not offer a crowd estimate.

The women’s suffrage parade marches down Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913. The National Park Service did not offer a crowd estimate.

The Westport Equal Franchise League kept going. The participated in the Hartford Suffrage Parade on May 2, 1914.

Six years later, the 19th Amendment — giving women the vote — became the law of the land.

A poster for the Hartford suffrage event. Westport women participated.

A poster for a Hartford suffrage event.

8 responses to “Friday Flashback #26

  1. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    It pays to keep on trying, to speak up, to persevere, to network…

  2. Almost impossible to realize that my mother, her 4 siblings and my father and all but one of his 5 siblings were born before women could vote. I wonder when either of my grandmothers actually voted since I’m sure it was considered somewhat radical when the 19th Amendment was passed. I think we take so much for granted and rarely think about the efforts of those men and women who went before us to change things, to keep bending that arc of history toward justice. I am actually surprised that suffrage was a hot topic for women in Westport as early as 1912 and 1913. A hotbed of radicalism!!!

  3. Krystof Bondar

    Very “impressive” Krystof Bondar

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  4. Dorothy Abrams

    As we found out, we are inclined to take too much for granted. It’s not only a privilege to vote, it is a responsibility.

    • Bobbie Herman

      That’s exactly what my beloved Grandma always told me. She was an immigrant and a Suffragist and told me how many people had given their lives for the right to vote. I have never missed a vote since I was old enough.

      The article says, “The parade will form at the corner of Myrtle avenue and Main street and will march to the Square.” Does anyone know to what square they are referring?

  5. Kathie Bennewitz

    I was working on the wives of the early artists here at the time of the Trump inauguration, and found out that many were suffragists–Mrs Neil (Agnes Lewis) Mitchill; Mrs. Arthur (Florence Dorsey) Dove; Mrs. Lawrence (Ann Holden) Mazzzanovich) and Mrs. George Hand Wright–and then I found this account–. Westport Women who marched two weeks ago inspired me to send this in.

    The Westport paper no longer exists for these years sadly.
    I wonder what archives, photographs, flyers, documents from these years may still be in families’ attics or trunks???