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Suffrage in Westport: Our Neighbors, Our Crusaders

Suffrage in Westport

Westport’s Suffragists—Our Neighbors, Our Crusaders

Image of Suffrage Protester

The names and contributions of Westport women central to the “Votes for Women” campaign and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 remain nearly forgotten. Learn about the Westport suffragists who helped change the course of history for American women for generations to come. Continue reading from The Westport Library

Connecticut and the 19th Amendment

Not all Connecticut women and men were in favor of women’s suffrage. By the early 1900s, the Connecticut Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage had local branches all across the state. Members of the organization thought voting put an unnecessary burden on women. Like many other states in America, Connecticut was split on the issue of women’s suffrage.

But Connecticut suffragists did not give up. In 1918, women protested in the cities of Hartford and Simsbury. They wrote a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson asking him to support women’s suffrage. He publicly endorsed a woman’s right to vote later that year.

After decades of arguments for and against women's suffrage, Congress finally voted in favor of the 19th Amendment in June 1919. After Congress passed the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law. This process is called ratification. By August of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, ensuring that all across the country, the right to vote could not be denied based on sex. Continue reading from National Park Service


Noteworthy Suffragists with Ties to Westport

Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (1878 – 1942) 

American sculptor; Eberle had strong beliefs and felt a need for artists to create politically and socially conscious works of art that reflected current issues. Eberle spent much of her life working toward equal rights for American women and a widespread push for equality. By 1930, Eberle moved out of New York and settled in Westport. 

Alice Paul (1885-1977) 

A vocal leader of the twentieth century women’s suffrage movement, Alice Paul advocated for and helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Paul next authored the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, which has yet to be adopted. 

Alice Tilton Gardin (1859 - 1949) 

Alice was an artist, active in NY and Connecticut, specializing in painting. She was the daughter of noted abolitionist Theodore Tilton and suffragist Elizabeth Richards. She most of her older days painting landscapes in her Westport Studio.

Amelia Shaw MacDonald Cutler (1887-1942)

A Delhi, NY native, Amelia Cutler moved to Westport by 1914 with her Canadian architect husband, Charles Cutler. She wrote articles and media pieces from Westport for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). One advocacy piece is included in “American Feminism: Key Source Documents, 1848-1920” (2002) by Janet Beer and Katherine Joslin, an anthology  key documents in the history of American feminism.

Anna Holden Mazzanovich (1871-1941)

Writer and playwright, she was the daughter of a female pioneer at the Chicago Herald; in 1909 she and her Jewish husband, painter Lawrence Mazzanovich, moved here from France; she helped organize the Westport EFL, serving as president, and ultimately running for the state legislature in 1927.

Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966)

A sculptor, and wife of sculptor James Earle Fraser, she was active in suffrage in NYC and Westport. As child her mother, Alice Tilton Gardin (1859-1949), knew Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as her parents, Theodore Tilton * Elizabeth Richards Tilton were fervent advocates of women’s rights.

Lillian Wald (1867-1940)

Wald, a nurse and social worker who founded the internationally known Henry Street Settlement in New York City (est. 1893), was involved in suffrage; in 1917 she made a seasonal home here, remaining until her death.

Rose O’Neill (1874-1944)

She was an American cartoonist, illustrator, artist, and writer. Most famous for her creation of the Kewpie doll., O’Neill moved to Westport in 1921 but was associated with illustrators and suffragists living here and in NYC. In September 2019 Rose was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls.

Sara Buek Crawford (1876-1949)

After settling here in 1907, Crawford became involved in the Woman’s Town Improvement Association and in 1912 with the Westport EFL. She was elected in 1924 as the first female state representative for Westport, and most significantly in 1938 as the first female statewide elected official and state’s first female Secretary of State (1939-41).