New Jersey Women's History



Notable Facts



 Material Objects


New Jersey Women's Heritage Trail 

 Topical Index








Period One
- 1775
Period Two
1776 - 1843
Period Three
1844 - 1879
Period Four
1880 - 1920
Period Five
1921 - 1960
Period Six
1961 -


1880   The population of New Jersey was 1,131,000 people; 50.5% of whom were female, 3.4% of whom were black, and 54.4% lived in urban areas.
    Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) attempted, unsuccessfully, to exercise the vote in Tenafly.
1882   Elizabeth Almira Allen (1854-1919), a teachers' rights advocate, became vice-president of the New Jersey Teachers' Association and later the first president of the New Jersey Education Association.
1883   Margaret Bancroft (1854-1912) founded the Bancroft Training School for the multiply disabled in Haddonfield.
1884   Suffragists Phebe Hanaford of Jersey City, Therese Walling Seabrook of Keyport, and Henry Blackwell of Massachusetts met with the New Jersey Assembly judiciary committee to press for the introduction of a woman suffrage resolution into the Assembly. The Assembly would take no action on the resolution.
1884   Margaret Anna Cusack (1829-1899) founded the Sisters of Peace, a congregation of women in Jersey City.
1885 oakley_tn.jpg (2582 bytes) Annie Oakley (1860-1926), sharpshooter, and her husband Frank Butler joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (1885-1901). Oakley lived in Nutley.
1886    The Manual Training and Industrial School in Bordentown, a vocational training school for African American girls and boys was founded on the educational principals of Booker T. Washington.
1887 doc03.gif (276 bytes) The Knights of Labor, the first national labor union that welcomed the organization of working women, reached a peak of labor unionizing activity in New Jersey. Of a reported membership of 40,172, Lady Knights totaled 4,400 (or 11%). Leonora Barry, the national women’s organizer for the Knights of Labor visited New Jersey and reported on the abysmal working conditions for women and girls.
    In skilled trade unions, 506 of the reported membership of 17,790 were women.
  doc03.gif (276 bytes) The New Jersey legislature granted women the right to vote at local school meetings. This law affected only rural and small town women.
    The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of New Jersey endorsed woman suffrage at its annual meeting in November.
  evelyn_tn.jpg (3772 bytes) Evelyn College for women was founded as an annex to Princeton University.  It did not succeed and closed in 1897.
1890   The population of New Jersey was 1,445,000 people, 50.1% of whom were female, 3.3% of whom were black, and 62% lived in urban areas.
    The New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association, which had become inactive in the late 1870s, was reorganized and revivified. Largely a white middle-class organization, it led the struggle for women suffrage in the state over the next thirty years.
  prudential_tn.gif (4268 bytes)  Prudential Insurance Company in Newark was the state's first large-scale employer of women as office workers.
1892 Julia Nelson Colles researched and wrote biographies of authors associated with both Morristown and Newark, among them Mary Mapes Dodge.
    Midwives were required to be licensed, but graduation from an accredited school of midwifery was not mandated until 1910.
1893   The New Jersey legislature raised the marital age of consent for girls from 10 years to 16 years.
1894   New Jersey Supreme Court declared rural women's right to vote for school officials at school meetings unconstitutional under the New Jersey Constitution of 1844. Rural and small town women were still permitted to vote on school taxes, however.
  New Jersey's first social settlement, Whittier House, was founded and directed in Jersey City by Cornelia Foster Bradford (1847-1935).
    The New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs was founded and Margaret Tufts Swan Yardley (1844-1928) was elected its first president.
1895   The New Jersey legislature granted married women the right to contract and to sue and be sued for property.
  tn_mphilbrook.gif (1703 bytes) Mary Philbrook (1872-1958) became the first New Jersey woman lawyer to gain admittance to the bar as a result of an enabling act of the New Jersey legislature.
1896   The New Jersey legislature granted women the legal right to their earnings and wages as separate property.
  moore_tn.jpg (6051 bytes) Elizabeth "Bessie" Holmes Moore (1876-1959) of Ridgewood won the United States Women’s Singles lawn-tennis championship. She won the title again in 1901, 1903, and 1905.
  hobart_tn.gif (6501 bytes) Jennie Tuttle Hobart (1849-1941) of Paterson became second lady of the United States when her husband was inaugurated Vice President in the first administration of President William McKinley. 
1897  A women’s school suffrage amendment to the New Jersey Constitution was defeated in a public referendum by 10,000 out of 140,000 votes.
    The Campbell Soup Company of Camden introduced convenience foods such as condensed soup and canned vegetables, to capture the new consumer market for prepared foods for the home.
1899 st.elizabeth_tn.jpg (4483 bytes)  St. Elizabeth's College, a Roman Catholic college for women, opened in Convent Station. This was the first four-year college for women in New Jersey.
1900   The population of New Jersey was 1,884,000 people, 50% of whom were female. 3.7% of whom were black and 70.5% lived in urban areas.
    Women and girls worked as regular operators in more than 55 industries making everything from art tiles to woolen and worsted goods.
  tn_j.cushing.gif (2856 bytes) Juliet Clannon Cushing (1845-1934) of East Orange began the Consumers' League of New Jersey and served as its president for 30 years.
  Several years of lobbying and study by the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs led to the preservation of the preservation of the Palisades of the Hudson River from commercial development and to the creation of  the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by New Jersey and New York.
1901   The New Jersey Nurses' Association was founded at Newark City Hospital for nurses across the state; Irene Taylor Fallon (1860-1952) served as its first president.
  maass_tn.jpg (2317 bytes) Nurse Clara Louise Maass (1876-1901) of East Orange volunteered to participate in an immunization experiment against yellow fever in Cuba.
  tn_pillaroffire.gif (3175 bytes) Alma Bridwell White (1862-1948) founded her own church, The Pillar of Fire (formerly the Pentecostal Union Church). In 1918, White was consecrated a bishop of the church
1902 Rachel K. McDowell (1880 - 1949) began her career in journalism that spanned a half century.  
1903   The report was published on "Housing Conditions in Jersey City" by social reformer Mary Buel Sayles (1878-1959), a resident of the Whittier House social settlement in Jersey City. The report led to the formation of the New Jersey State Tenement House Commission.
  The Newark Female Charitable Society, which provided extensive services to the city's immigrant families and the poor, celebrated its centennial year.
1904   By this date, 30 New Jersey hospitals provided nurses' training.
1908 The Equality League for Self-Supporting Women of New Jersey was founded by Mina C. Van Winkle of Newark to draw New Jersey working women into the suffrage movement. In 1912 it changed its name to the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey.  
  ramsey_tn.jpg (2433 bytes) Alice Huyler Ramsey (1886-1983) of Hackensack drove her Maxwell from New York City to San Francisco, the first woman to make a cross-country trip in an automobile.
1909 doc03.gif (276 bytes) The Newark Female Charitable Society provided extensive services to the poor and to immigrant women.
1910   The population of New Jersey had more than doubled since 1880: 2,537,000 people, 49.3% of whom were female, 3.5% of whom were black and over 75% lived in urban areas.
    Hetty Howland Robinson Green (1834-1916), a Hoboken financier, became a multimillionaire. The press dubbed her the "Witch of Wall Street."
    Lydia Young Hayes (1871-1943) organized and directed the New Jersey Commission for the Blind.
  paul_tn.jpg (6420 bytes) Alice Paul (1885-1977) of Mount Laurel returned to New Jersey from London where she had been active in the radical English suffrage movement. She later became the acknowledged leader of the radical wing of the national woman suffrage movement.
  basketball_tn.gif (2504 bytes)
  gym_tn.jpg (5486 bytes)
Active physical sport for girls and women was well established in schools and the larger community.  Tennis, golf, bicycling, gymnastics, and the newly developed game of basketball, were all considered appropriate recreation for girls and women.  Women also played professional baseball.
  moore_tn.jpg (6051 bytes)
  ramsey_tn.jpg (2433 bytes)
1911   New Jersey passed a sterilization law. It was declared unconstitutional in 1913.
1912 lffeickert_tn.gif (1940 bytes) Lillian Ford Feickert (1877-1945), of Plainfield, was elected president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association and led the organization until 1920.
    The New Jersey Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was founded with Anna Dayton of Trenton as its first president.
    In the law suit Carpenter v. Cornish, attorney Mary Philbrook (1872-1958) argued that the 1844 Constitution’s limit of the franchise to white males was invalid because women had been illegally barred from voting on it by the Act of 1807. The court decided against her client.
    Russian-born Vera Schectman (1890-1971), of Newark, became the first female intern at Newark’s Beth Israel Hospital.
1913 tn_silkworkers.gif (3751 bytes) Thousands of girls and women employed in the Paterson silk industry went out on a Socialist and IWW led strike protesting speedup and poor wages.
  botto_tn.jpg (2409 bytes)
  doc03.gif (276 bytes)
The home of Maria Botto (1870-1915), an immigrant silk worker, was a meeting place for striking workers during the Paterson strike and a home for visiting IWW leaders. The house in Haledon, north of Paterson, is now a national historic landmark and labor museum.
  doc03.gif (276 bytes)
    Jersey City Hospital appointed Margaret Sullivan Herberman (1878-1963) its first woman staff physician.
    Sarah Spence Washington (1889-1953) founded a highly successful African-American beauty culture and hair care product company.
1914   Grace Baxter Fenderson (1882-1962) founded the Newark chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
  tn_l.gilbreth.gif (2974 bytes) Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972) of Montclair published The Psychology of Management, which pioneered in recognizing management as a province for psychology. In 1921, she became an honorary member of the Society of Industrial Engineers.
  Violet Oakley, an important American muralist, was born in Bergen Heights in 1874. The “Unity” frieze expresses her vision of a peaceful world. She was a pacifist and feminist.
After several years of political organizing, suffrage organizations in New Jersey succeeded in getting a woman suffrage amendment to the New Jersey constitution approved by two successive legislatures and put to public referendum.  Despite a vigorous campaign by suffragists, the amendment was defeated in October by a margin of 51,108 out of 317,672 votes.  Similar referenda were also defeated that year in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

  randolph_tn.jpg (5522 bytes) Florence Spearing Randolph (1866-1951) organized the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.
1916 The annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association was held in Atlantic City.  President Woodrow Wilson, former governor of New Jersey, participated as a speaker on September 8.
  paul2_tn.jpg (5519 bytes) Alice Paul's (1885-1977) Congressional Union became the National Woman's Party and the New Jersey chapter of the National Women's Party formed with Alison Turnbull Hopkins (1880-1951) as president.
  white_tn.jpg (2626 bytes) Elizabeth Coleman White (1871-1954) was instrumental in developing the nation's first cultivated blueberry. It led to the commercial production of blueberries.
1917   Five New Jersey woman suffragists were arrested and jailed for picketing the White House in Washington, DC, in protest over President Wilson’s failure to endorse a federal woman suffrage amendment. They were Julia Hurlbut (1882-1962) and Alison Turnbull Hopkins (1880-1951) of Morristown, Phebe Persons Scott (1878-1959) and Beatrice Kinkead (1874-1947) of Montclair, and Mary Abbott (dates unknown) of Atlantic City.
  More and more women, at this time, especially in the urban areas, delivered babies in hospitals under the care of doctors rather than at home with midwives.
    The New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs affiliated with the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association.
During World War I, New Jersey women volunteered for home support efforts such as the Red Cross, the Women's Land Army, Liberty Loan Committees, community kitchens, recreation projects at Camp Dix and Camp Merritt, and foreign relief projects.
  doc03.gif (276 bytes)  
1918   Governor Walter E. Edge announced his support of women's suffrage.
  douglass_tn.jpg (3572 bytes) New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass College) was founded in affiliation with Rutgers University. Mabel Smith Douglass (1877-1933) was its first dean from 1918 to 1933.
1919   The New Jersey Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (BPW) was established.
1920     The population of New Jersey was 3,156,000 people, 49.6% of whom were female, 3.7% of whom were black, and nearly 80% lived in urban areas.
  In February, the New Jersey legislature became the twenty-ninth state legislature to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which granted women the right to the vote.
  doc03.gif (276 bytes)
  tn_womanjury.gif (2340 bytes) New Jersey women voted for the first time in the presidential election of 1920. Registered women voters were now called for jury duty.
  minutes_tn.gif (1478 bytes)
The New Jersey League of Women Voters, the successor organization to the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association, was established. Agnes Schermerhorn of East Orange was elected its first president.
  Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968), dancer and choreographer, was born in Newark and educated in Somerville. She left a lasting mark on the development of modern dance. 

Selected Sources

Joan N. Burstyn, ed., Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997).

Delight W. Dodyk, "Education and Agitation: the Woman Suffrage Movement in New Jersey," (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 1997).

Howard L. Green, ed., Words that Make New Jersey History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995).

Carmela A. Karnoutsos, New Jersey Women (Trenton: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1997).

Maxine N. Lurie, ed., A New Jersey Anthology (Newark: New Jersey Historical Society, 1994).

Top of Page


Women's Project of New Jersey
Copyright 2002, The Women's Project of New Jersey, Inc.

This page was last updated on 12/07/2007.  Questions or concerns regarding this website? Please contact the web manager.
To view this website correctly, it is recommended you set your screen resolution to 1024 x 768.