Emily Pierson handing out leaflets in New York State suffrage campaign, circa 1915.
Emily Pierson (1881-1971) was a Connecticut suffragette. The daughter of a wealthy family, she began her professional career as a teacher and later became vice-president of her family’s rose growing business. But her deepest commitment was the campaign for women’s suffrage, a cause she advocated through public speeches, community organizing and financial contributions. Katharine Houghton Hepburn, mother of the actress, was one of Emily’s close colleagues in the Connecticut suffrage movement.
Following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Emily helped reorganized the National Woman’s Party in Connecticut before deciding on a significant career change. Already a graduate of Vassar and Columbia, Emily began medical school at Yale at the age of 40. She graduated from medical school in 1924, the only woman in her class. For over 30 years she served as the director of health and school physician in Cromwell, CT and ran a private practice out of her home.
Emily’s interest in progressive causes and her travels to communist countries led her to advocate socialism, a highly controversial political position. In 1955, the board of selectmen forced her to resign as health director because she refused to approve a multifamily development in town.
Emily died in 1971.