1892 - 1966
The daughter of a suffragette and a physician, Lucy Gwynne Branham was born in Kempsville, Virginia, and raised in Baltimore. She was highly educated, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Washington College (Maryland), a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. from Columbia. Lucy’s bravery was evident early on. As a 23 year old teacher in Florida, she was awarded a Carnegie Hero Medal for jumping into the ocean to rescue a drowning swimmer.
Lucy began her major work with the National Woman’s Party as an organizer in Utah during the 1916 election. Her job was to encourage voters to boycott Democratic Party candidates such as Woodrow Wilson over their failure to endorse women’s suffrage.
After Wilson’s election, she was one of the silent sentinels picketing the White House for women’s suffrage. She was arrested in 1917 and served two months in the Occoquan Workhouse and the District jail. These arrests were front page news during the First World War because of to the brutal treatment of the protestors, including forced feeding of hunger strikers.
In 1918, Lucy travelled through Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, lobbying for support of a federal women’s suffrage amendment. That same year, Lucy played a prominent role in the Lafayette Park watch fire demonstrations. Protestors burned those speeches of Wilson’s that extolled the rights of Europeans to self-govern because Wilson did not support the right of American women to have say in their government. Lucy’s mother was arrested during one of these demonstrations and spent three days in jail.
Lucy participated in the “Prison Special” tour of 1919 with other National Woman’s Party members who had been imprisoned. They traveled around the country to talk of their experiences and garner support for suffrage. The photo above is from this tour and Lucy is wearing her prison dress and a suffrage sash.
After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Lucy headed the Inez Milholland Memorial Fund Committee, taught at Columbia University, worked with the American Friends Service Committee, and was part of the American Society for Cultural Relations with Russia. Fluent in French, Russian, and German, Lucy worked with the World Woman’s Party in Geneva and lobbied the League of Nations on women’s rights issues.
In the late 1950s, Lucy served on the National Woman’s Party’s Congressional Committee to lobby for the Equal Rights Amendment and lived with her mother at Sewall-Belmont House. After her mother’s death, Lucy suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for several years. She died in July 1966.
How does Snooki have a Wikipedia page but not Lucy Gwynne Branham?