Document 28: Florence L. C. Kitchelt to Alice Paul, 16 October 1945, in National Woman's Party Papers, 1913-1974 (Glen Rock, N. J.: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1977-1978), Reel 88.


   Kitchelt wrote Paul about the central issue of her Herald Tribune article (See Document 22)--whether or not the Equal Rights Amendment removes or "does not remove from law--or ethics--the function of protection."


Oct. 16, 1945

Dear Miss Paul;

   Thank you very much for your letter on the 11th, with memorandum of leaflets you are sending us. I can use them very well.

   Yes, Ella Sherwin wrote me that the opposition had quoted—-Sept. 28th—-from that Herald Tribune article[A]. We all know the opposition is prejudiced and muddle-headed. I am curious to know who quoted and in what way. Is it possible to buy a copy of the minutes of that hearing? I should like it very much.

   What the lawyers say in my article is that the Equal Rights Amendment does not remove from law-—or ethics-—the function of protection. The opposition says it does remove protection. The lawyers say the Amendment only removes laws that no longer protect, that are harmful, even if at one time they were not so.

   If the opposition quoted my article, as you say, they were denying their own contention, that we lose function of protection from the law, if we have the Amendment.

Oct. 19, 1945

   The printed material has come and I am very glad to have it. The statements from clergymen are perhaps the beginning of a church campaign? I remember the churches helped us greatly in the suffrage campaign. I have just telephoned a man in the Yale Divinity School to whom I am sending my one and only copies---Boyd, Cloward, Tippy. If you will send me more of these, I shall be glad to use them for personal conferences with clergymen, asking them for similar statements.

   When the equal rights discussion started in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, I sent a copy of the first letter, by Wm. J. Kirby asking questions, to Jeannette Marks, urging her to answer. No reply; I supposed she is much handicapped by Miss Woolley's illness. Many people feel that the reworded Amendment-—since May 1943-—is more definite, less open to misunderstanding. The familiar phraseology of the old suffrage amendment is reassuring[B].

   I'm very sorry you question my spirit of cooperation-—because I want to cooperate. Does the question come because I accept the point of view of various congressmen and legal authorities who nevertheless are staunch supporters of the Amendment? Or because I organize an all-inclusive committee in order to reach hundreds of women?

Very sincerely,
[signed] Florence L.C. Kitchelt


A. Ella Sherwin was president of the Industrial Women's League for Equality (IWLE), which was formed with the assistance of the NWP in 1944 to mobilize working-class support for the ERA and counter the strong opposition to the amendment among labor feminists. (See Document 19) For the text of Kitchelt's Herald Tribune article that had appeared 1 July 1945, see Document 22.
Back to Text

B. Kitchelt is writing here in support of Paul's recent rewording of the ERA. The original language of the ERA as proposed by the National Woman's Party in 1923 read: "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction." Recently, Alice Paul had offered a new version that stated: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of sex." These words paralleled the text of the women's suffrage amendment, ratified in 1920, which affirmed: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
Back to Text

back to top