- Joanne Oppenheim
When a postage stamp was 2 cents, a knish was a nickel, and women did not have the vote!
I came across this picture recently of Margaret Foley, a leading suffragette leader and speaker who was cheered by crowds in Sullivan County in 1917. Although local history was a required "subject" that we studied in 9th grade, I'm sure no one ever mentioned that national and local activists—first wave feminists—toured the county gathering signatures and enlisting followers in the long struggle for women's rights to vote. There's a full story of these courageous crusaders by John Conway on the Local History of Sullivan County Facebook page.
Who knew that summer boarders cheered the ardent feminists and their cause? In 1914, the New York Times reported that Mrs. R.J. Muller, the well-known suffragette of Monticello, and her associates drew crowds as they toured with an 'gypsy wagon' drawn by black and white oxen. In 1917, before the gigantic New York City Parade of Suffragettes with 50,000 women marchers, 6,500 Sullivan County women had signed petitions in support of suffrage.
I wonder if many recently arrived immigrants, like my grandmother, Jane Fleischer, who lived in Monticello, signed her name to one of those beaver boards that were carried in the parade in New York City ( photo below). I like to think her name was there, among the signatures of 1,012,407 women of New York State. And maybe my city Grandma, Katie Jassem, who lived on the Lower East Side (not far from Rivington Street) also signed one of those boards and marched or watched that parade with her three little daughters. In 1917, New York State legalized suffrage, although it did not become federal law until 1920.
Suffragettes carrying the signatures of 1,012,407 women of New York State petitioning for the right to vote in 1917.