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Suffragists of the East Village

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Following decades of activism, the 19th Amendment was adopted on August 18, 1920. Unsurprisingly, many people and organizations located in Greenwich Village, East Village, and NoHo played key roles in the women’s suffrage movement. These neighborhoods have long been centers for progressive social change, and many of women’s suffrage’s earliest and most important proponents were active here.

The 19th Amendment was a huge step towards gender equality, although African Americans could still not vote in large parts of the country, and in most cases Native Americans and Chinese Americans could not vote.

Our Women’s Suffrage History Map includes 26 entries including women who dedicated their lives to the cause, and the men who backed them up; labor leaders and socialites; 20th-century movers & shakers, and lonely 18th-century pioneers; traditionalists, and revolutionaries. Today, we take a closer look at some of the East Village sites and people active in the battle for gender franchise equality:

Rose Schneiderman

Rose Schneiderman lived at 57-59 2nd Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets in the early 20th century. She was the Vice President of the New York Women’s Trade Union League, which sought to unionize working women and advocate for protective legislation. She organized the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and the Shirtwaist Strike, and fought for suffrage. In a 1912 suffrage debate at Cooper Union, she declared that women wouldn’t “lose any more of their beauty and charm by putting a ballot in a box once a year than they are likely to lose standing in foundries or laundries all year round.”

Women’s Trade Union League

The Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) supported the efforts of women to organize labor unions and eliminate sweatshop conditions. They played an important role in organizing the massive strikes that helped change the industry, as well as campaigning for women’s suffrage.

Beethoven Hall was located at 210-214 East 5th Street, between 2nd Avenue and Cooper Square. On July 14, 1907, the WTUL formally endorsed and committed itself to women’s suffrage at its convention held here. Beethoven Hall was built around 1860, as one of the first and most popular of about 30 German social clubs located here when the area was known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany, due to its large population of German immigrants and their descendants. In the early 20th century, it was a hub for union organizing.

Emma Goldman

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, activist Emma Goldman lived at 208 East 13trh Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Goldman was involved with a number of social justice movements and movements for radical social change, from anarchism to free love. She might have lived here longer but was deported in 1919 following a series of arrests directly resulting from her activism, including being found guilty of violating the 1917 Espionage Act.

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