Union Ties to Women's Suffrage

During the time of the women's suffrage movement, its proponents would often point to the Iroquois Confederacy as a culture that proved women as capable of leadership.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s older brother, Eleazar Stanton, had attended Union College as a part of the Class of 1826. Elizabeth had wanted to follow in his footsteps. She was somewhat crestfallen to be unable to do so, and she was sent to the Troy Female Seminary (later renamed the Emma Willard School after its founder) in Troy although she had, as she says, “...fixed my mind on Union College.”3 After she attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention and found that neither she nor female delegates were allowed to participate, she went on to become one of the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement.4

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with two sons, 1848. Image is in the public domain courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Elizabeth Cady Staton penned this letter pushing for women's suffrage to John Bigelow. The date reads July 20th, but the year is unknown. Item from the Bigelow Papers, SCA-0022. Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library.

Image of a page from a scrapbook created by members of the Schenectady Branch of the Association of University Women. From the Association of University Women, Schenectady Branch Records, SCA-1150. Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Other Women

Other women of the larger Union College community who were active in the women’s suffrage movement included as Rose Perkins Hale, daughter of Anne Perkins and wife of UC Professor Edward Everett Hale Jr.  According to The Encyclopedia of Union College History, “...Rose Perkins Hale served as president of the Schenectady Board of Education in 1916 and ran successfully for the Schenectady County Board of Supervisors in 1920; she was said to be the first woman elected to public office in New York State.”5

Schaffer Library's Department of Special Collections and Archives houses the records of the Association of University Women's Schenectady Branch, who exemplify one group of women in Schenectady who combined their strong efforts to engage and promote education for other women. In addition,  they worked to improve access to resources and develop educational methods and general curricula for all. 

3Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Eighty-Years and More (1815-1897): Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. New York: European Publishing Co., 1898, p. 35.
4Curtis, C. (2014). Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. In L. E. Ford, Facts on File library of American history: Encyclopedia of women and American politics (2nd ed.). Facts On File. Credo Reference: http://libproxy.union.edu/login?auth=shibboleth&url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/fofwomen/stanton_elizabeth_cady/0?institutionId=5120
5Somers, Wayne. The Encyclopedia of Union College History. Schenectady, NY: Union College Press, 2003:  360.
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