Document 11: Florence Kitchelt to Chase Going Woodhouse, 7 June 1944, Florence Ledyard Cross Kitchelt Papers, 1885-1961, A-61, Box 8, Folder 248, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


   Kitchelt's letter to Woodhouse exemplified the friendly tone with which she tried to convert opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment. Chase Going Woodhouse (1890-1984) was one of the most politically powerful women in Connecticut. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, she studied at McGill University, the University of Berlin, and the University of Chicago. She taught economics at Smith College, 1917-1925, and at Connecticut College, 1934-1944, specializing on topics related to women's occupations. She served two terms in Congress, 1945-1947 and 1949-1951. In 1946-1947 she was director of the Women's Division of the National Democratic Committee.

   In her letter Kitchelt referred to her "job," by which she might have meant her work as head of the New Haven Chapter of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.

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June 7, 1944
Mrs. Chase Going Woodhouse,
751 Williams Street
New London, Connecticut

Dear Mrs. Woodhouse:

   It would be a great pleasure to sit down with you and go over this Equal Rights question more thoroughly than it is possible to do on paper. Of course I have a job and my Equal Rights Amendment letters have to be brief as well as scattered.

   Yes, I quoted only the essential part of the proposed amendment in my letter to Democrats. The full text is on this slip enclosed. Of course the first sentence is the essence and the other two are what are termed, I suppose, "enabling acts."

   Yes, from the very beginning this committee was organized as a rallying point for Connecticut groups, whether they were unaffiliated individuals or members of L.W.V. or the National Women's Party [sic] or any other group. I may admit to you that I should like to see a similar committee in every state because I want to see a great middle class movement. The N.W.P. is a spearhead but few women, myself included, are extreme feminists. I like to see both men and women working together. Probably I told you we have some splendid men in our membership, both educational and business men.

   Yes, I wish we might get women in industry discussing this whole question. The men officers of their trade unions seem to be reluctant to give them that opportunity. I am handicapped by lack of time but the few approaches I have tried to make have met with no success. Have you the name and address of any women labor leaders who would be willing to have a discussion of this subject?

   Mrs. Howell recently turned my mind to an idea she regards as the fundamental argument for the Amendment and I find it expressed in this statement about Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. He "studied the common law from its beginnings. He studied the formation of great states and the causes of their dissolution. When the pattern of society changes, legislation meets the change---or the state perishes. In THE COMMON LAW, Holmes said again and again that the good judge bears in mind public policy, the

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necessities of the time."

   Do you not agree that the three great intolerances of the ages have been those against race, creed and feminality? Think of the subjection of those human beings, called women until very recent times. Our Constitution guards against discrimination on account of race and creed but not on account of sex. The great principle of equal treatment could not be left to state legislatures.

   Personally I am not interested as to whether there are any discriminations against women in the State of Connecticut. As a matter of fact there are one or two. It was Tennessee that gave the vote to the women of Connecticut and if we can do anything for the women of Tennessee or Georgia, let us do it.

   Of course this is a sketchy letter but all I can do at the moment. I shall try to send you one or two leaflets that may be more thoroughgoing.

Hoping you will write again, I am,

Very sincerely yours,



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