Document 36B: "Statement by Dr. Alice Hamilton on the Equal Rights for Women Amendment," [May 1952], National Woman's Party Papers, Reel #98.


   Florence Kitchelt was not the only person who was urging Alice Hamilton to change her stance against the ERA. In the surviving papers of the NWP this unsigned carbon copy is said to be a statement by Alice Hamilton. However, internal evidence indicates that Hamilton did not author the statement, and differences between this statement and Hamilton's letter to Kitchelt of 13 May 1952 (See Document 36A) suggest that this statement was drafted by Alice Paul (or a colleague at the NWP headquarters) to secure more emphatic support for the ERA than Hamilton had expressed in her letter to Kitchelt.

   Three features of the draft "statement" would not have been authored by Hamilton. First, there is nothing in Hamilton's actual letter to Kitchelt that would support this statement's assertion that Hamilton found her reputation as an opponent of the ERA "distressing." In her letter, Hamilton did not actually support the ERA, but only said that her opposition "has lost much of its force." Second, Jane Addams's name is misspelled in the "statement," an error that Hamilton would never have initiated. Third, Hamilton would not have said that Jane Addams "never opposed" the ERA. Addams's papers show that her reputation as an opponent of the ERA was clear. One colleague in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom wrote Addams in 1935: "Will you not tell me clearly why you are so strongly opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment. I want to be on your side."[36]

   Thus this bogus "statement" represented wishful thinking on the NWP's part as to what Hamilton might say, but it differed substantially from what Hamilton actually did say--in her letter to Kitchelt.


[May, 1952]


On the Equal Rights for Women Amendment

    (Dr. Hamilton was the first woman ever to be appointed to the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School and is an authority in the field of occupational diseases. She was associated with Miss Jane Adams at the Hull House Settlement in Chicago and has long been a leader in the field of Social Work in America.)

Dear Alice Paul:

    It has been brought to my attention just lately that I have been quoted as being still an opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment. This is distressing for it is some years since I made a statement which I thought was given publicity, that I had changed my stand on that question.

    My early opposition was based on the fear that the Amendment would remove certain legal measures for the protection of working women in dangerous trades where the danger to women is greater than it is to men, such as the trades using lead, benzol, etc. But in recent years, laws have been passed which provide protection for men as well as women in such work, and in addition women now have the advantage of trade union membership.

    For these reasons I no longer see any need for special laws for women in industry and I no longer oppose the Equal Rights Amendment.

    I have been asked what was the attitude of Jane Adams toward the Amendment. While I cannot remember ever discussing it with her, I feel fairly sure that she never opposed it, certainly never in her public speeches.


(signed) Alice Hamilton

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