Today, Brooklyn is home of all things avant-garde, but King’s County has always led the pack. Beginning as early as 1868, the women of Brooklyn established one of the first suffrage organizations in the country and began advocating for women’s enfranchisement and political equality. The “wise women of Brooklyn,”as they were lauded in suffrage literature, made some of the foremost contributions to the movement. From the Silent Sentinels, who organized the first March on Washington, to the African American women who established the nation’s first suffrage organization by and for black women, Brooklyn was home to extraordinary advocates. Here are 8 badass Brooklynites who brought us the ballot.
Women’s History Month
A cartoon mocking the Ordinance from The Evening World
On January 21, 1908, it became illegal for women to smoke in public in New York City. That day, the Committee on Laws of the Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to ban females from lighting up in public places. The law, called the Sullivan Ordinance, put the responsibility of preventing women from smoking not on the women themselves but on business owners.
It’s not surprising one of the original observances of Women’s History Month got its start in New York in 1909; the first women’s rights convention in the U.S. happened upstate at Seneca Falls, the first large-scale suffrage parade ran through the city and in 1917, the state became the first on the East Coast to grant women suffrage. A century later, there are countless ways to celebrate Women’s History Month in New York City, so to narrow it down, we’ve rounded up 15 feminist-friendly bookstores, art galleries, and educational events. Whether you want to shop for girl-power-themed swag at Bulletin or enjoy a female-led mediation session at the United Nations, there’s something empowering for everyone this month. Get the scoop
Greenwich Village is well known as the home to libertines in the 1920s and feminists in the 1960s and ’70s. But going back to at least the 19th century, the neighborhoods now known as Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho were home to pioneering women who defied convention and changed the course of history, from the first female candidate for President, to America’s first woman doctor, to the “mother of birth control.” This Women’s History Month, here are just a few of those trailblazing women, and the sites associated with them.
Instead of hitting the bars this Friday night, check out the “Library After Hours” event at the main branch of the New York Public Library. On select Fridays, the landmarked library hosts a party after closing that lets guests mingle with food and drinks, music, and a behind-the-scenes look at some of their collections. This Friday, March 31st, the library is holding the event, “Women Marching Through History,” to coincide with the last day of Women’s History Month, where guests can admire feminist manuscripts, rare books, photographs, artwork, and films as well as participate in an interactive project to record one’s own story about living through this time in women’s history.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has added more notable female figures to their Civil Rights and Social Justice Map. You can now explore sites such as the now-demolished building where Hellen Keller wrote for “The Masses,” learn more about Mine Okubo’s struggle to expose the cruelty of Japanese internment camps through her artwork kept in the East Village, and visit the home of Clara Lemlich, a feminist who demanded thousands of shirtwaist factory workers go on strike to demand better working conditions and higher wages.
Suffragists outside the White House. Credit Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress
Now celebrated worldwide during the month of March, the observance originated in New York City in 1909 as “Women’s Day,” on February 28 to mark the anniversary of the city’s garment industry strike led by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union one year prior. The Socialist Party of America chose the day to honor the women who bravely protested miserable labor conditions. American Socialist and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman addressed a New York crowd, saying, “It is true that a woman’s duty is centered in her home and motherhood but home should mean the whole country and not be confined to three or four rooms of a city or a state.” At the time, women still couldn’t vote.