Achieving Votes for Women on Long Island and the Nation

Updated: May 6

Women in New York secured the vote in 1917, first voted in 1918, and in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified extending the vote to all women. National leaders came to Long Island and several Long Islanders made a mark on the national scene. Alva Belmont, Harriot Stanton Blatch, and Rosalie Jones are among the better-known local names, but countless woman campaigned for suffrage.


Natalie Naylor taught Long Island history and other courses in American social history at Hofstra where she was also Director of Hofstra’s Long Island Studies Institute from its founding in 1985 until she retired in 2000 and edited several of its books. Dr. Naylor was President of the Nassau County Historical Society for 12 years, the author of Women in Long Island’s Past (2012) and many articles on local history.

 

Lizabeth Halsey White: Suffragette

by Stephen Gould, Museum Volunteer

Lizabeth Halsey White

Susan B. Anthony, an abolition activist and champion of women’s rights, was an early supporter of the women’s suffrage movement and helped form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association In 1888. She continued to agitate for women’s suffrage and lobbied Congress every year until her death in 1906. One of the many women who followed in Susan’s footsteps was Lizbeth Halsey White, a descendant of the founding Halsey family of Southampton. She and her sister Abigale Fithian Halsey were powerful voices for the right for women to vote. Lizabeth was the first Secretary of the Women’s Political Union (“WPU”) chapter in Southampton, formed in August 1913 by 30 women. Proudly displaying the WPU’s colors of white, purple and green, she hosted meetings at her home, the Post House on Main Street.

Votes for Women Button - Library of Congress

The Southampton WPU also sponsored rallies in Agawam Park in July 1913 and participated in the 1915 Torch Relay from Montauk to Buffalo.


The WPU also supported the Suffrage Tent Tour at the Suffolk County Fair in 1914 (note the sign "Children (checked) cared for here no charge”). Despite these efforts, in 1915 a proposed amendment to the New York State Constitution allowing women to vote was defeated by approximately 400,000 votes (in Southampton, suffrage lost 1,208 to 924). After defeat, the WPU reorganized as the Southampton League of the Congressional Union, with Lizabeth as Chairman. Guided by Lizabeth, the Southampton League continued to fight for women’s suffrage with rallies in 1917 at the Southampton First Methodist Church and Parish Hall. After massive rallies throughout New York, an amendment to the state’s Constitution finally passed on November 6th, 1917, granting women full suffrage. It took nearly two more years for U.S Congress to pass the 19th Amendment, finally giving women the national right to vote.

Suffrage tent tour at Suffolk County Fair - Library of Congress

In addition to her devotion to the suffrage movement, Lizabeth was an advocate for Southampton history, including the Shinnecock people. She was the first woman to become Historian of the Town of Southampton, where she designed the Town Seal. Lizbeth died on October 25, 1932, after suffering a stroke while riding in a car driven by her sister Abigail. She was 68 years old. In recognition of her community service, a plaque honoring Lizbeth Halsey White was dedicated at the Southampton History Museum in May 1985.

 

Women and Family History

by Laurie Collins, Museum Manager


With lots of free time on their hands, many people decided to research and record their family history during the past two years of the pandemic. Some have excellent tech skills, and some not, but no matter their methods of researching, most have generously shared the results.


Ruth Raynor Lapp took the time to put all of her family information together and published, “The Raynors of Beaver Dam Creek” in 2020. She shared books with her family and has also made it available to the public to purchase. There is now a copy in the library at the Rogers Mansion.


With the support of the Edward Howell Family Association, after 22 years of research, Cindy Clark had three thick volumes of Howell Family history published in 2021. All volumes of “Descendants of Edward Howell” are available for purchase and they are also available in the library at the Rogers Mansion.


Researching ones family history is a big undertaking that is addicting and very rewarding. I’ve never met a person yet who regretted starting this endless quest.


The following two books were published before the pandemic and are available for purchase in the Southampton History Museum’s shop.


“With A Heart For Any Fate” was published in 2016 by Sharon S. Atkins. The book is a historical memoir based on the diaries of Hazel Hungerford Howland who grew up on a farm in LeRay, NY. Hazel accepted an opportunity to teach in Southampton, LI, 400 miles east of LeRay where she met James Carlton Corwith a farmer from Water Mill. They were married in October 1921. Not only does this book reveal the story of both families, it also tells what life was like in Southampton in the early 1900’s. Many of our local families are descended from the young women who traveled to Southampton from distant places to teach and ended up marrying local men.


“Son Jardin” was published in 2012. The book is based on the memories of Fleurette Guilloz which were carefully recorded by Deborah Guilloz over a period of time. Fleurette was an avid gardener. The book includes memories of her family and memories of life in Southampton from the time of her arrival in the early 1900’s.