Document 32: Florence Kitchelt to the National Woman's Party, 21 July 1948, in National Woman's Party Papers, 1913-1974 (Glen Rock, N. J.: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1977-1978), Reel 93.


   Kitchelt resigned from the National Woman's Party five years after she had joined in 1943. She criticized the party's undemocratic mode of operation as well as its rigid ideas.

51 Mill Rock Road New Haven II, Connecticut Telephone 6-7366

July 21, 1948

To the National Woman's Party
144 B St., N.E.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Friends;

   Let me reply to the enclosed request to renew my dues to the National Woman's Party.

   I should indeed like to be a member, but I could not honestly join. In general, here are the reasons, which may be summed up in the Party's disregard of the principles of democracy which underlie most, and various kinds of, institutions in America.

   You ask for dues, but members have neither vote nor voice in what goes on.

   Although the idea of equal rights for women is very old, the Party seems to claim it as its own patent by refusing to share the movement with other women. In proof, witness the lack of new blood in its leadership and the consequent weakening of the Party. To all of us who believe in the E.R.Amendment, it is a shame to see the Seneca Falls celebration in the hands of the opposition[A].

   Just as now from the vantage-point of years, I conclude that the League of Women Voters made an initial blunder by not putting women into the political Parties en masse, so that they might learn by doing (membership in a Party necessary to membership in the League), so I think that the National Woman's Party has made a great mistake by functioning as a small God-given committee, instead of drawing a large membership into the Party through democratic methods.

Sincerely yours,

Florence L.C. Kitchelt


A. For an account of the 1948 centennial celebration of the original Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, see Judith Wellman, The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman's Rights Convention (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), pp. 234-36.
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