olvwork20003535, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute,
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Responding to Kitchelt's article in the New York Herald Tribune (See Document 22), Alice Hamilton wrote to say that her opposition to the ERA "would die down" if her prediction were true that "the Equal Rights Amendment will not do away with protective laws for women."
Alice Hamilton (1869-1970) was born in Indiana. She completed an M.D. at the University of Michigan in 1893 and graduate study at the University of Munich and University of Leipzig and Johns Hopkins University Medical School. In 1897 she became a resident at Hull House in Chicago, where she formed a life-long friendship with Jane Addams and became her personal physician. Living in a poor immigrant neighborhood, she began to study the illnesses caused by specific jobs and did much to create the field of industrial toxicology in the United States. From 1911 to 1921 she studied the hazards posed by exposure to lead, arsenic, mercury and radium. In 1919 she became the first woman faculty member appointed at Harvard Medical School. From 1924 to 1930 she served as the only woman member of the Health Committee of the League of Nations. In 1925 she exposed the harmful effects of lead in gasoline. After retiring from Harvard in 1935, she served as a consultant to the U.S. Division of Labor Standards. In 1943 she published her autobiography, Exploring the Dangerous Trades. From 1944 to 1949 she served as president of the National Consumers' League.
ALICE HAMILTON, M. D.
Aug. 2, 1945
My dear Mrs. Kitchelt:
I read with much interest your letter and the reprint from the New York Herald Tribune. You certainly cite an impressive number of legal authorities to the effect that the Equal Rights Amendment will not do away with protective laws for women. If that is true, most of my opposition to it would die down, for though I can see other objections to it, my real interest in the controversy is in the field of labor legislation.
There must surely be a difference of opinion on the part of legal authorities concerning the effect of the amendment on protective laws for women. Through all the years of the Women's Party campaign I have been involved in debates, in print and before audiences, with members of that party, and always their representatives insisted that such laws only hampered women in their struggle for a living and that they should be abolished. Never was there any claim that the protective laws would not be affected. They must have had some authority for their statements. Indeed, it is only within the last few months that I have heard anything to the contrary. Mrs. Hepburn[A] sent me a letter from a Hartford lawyer to that effect.
I fervently hope that you are right, but I am still a bit doubtful.
A. This would have been Katharine Houghton Hepburn, an 1899 Bryn Mawr graduate and a leading
suffrage activist in Hartford. She served as president of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage
Association in the 1910s and later on the National Executive Committee of the NWP. Her
daughter, Katharine Hepburn, became a famous actress. For a biographical sketch, see
http://www.brynmawr.edu/hepburn/about_1899.shtml. She and Florence Kitchelt would no
doubt have known each other and have worked together on numerous campaigns.
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