Biographical Sketch of Miriam Michelson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Miriam Michelson, 1868-1942

By Harjot Dhaliwal, undergraduate, University of California, Berkeley
and Noe Tapia, Undergraduate, San Jose State University

Miriam Michelson was a writer who lived in San Francisco, California. Michelson was born to parents who were originally from Poland. The 1930 United States Federal Census notes that Miriam Michelson was born in about 1870 in California. However, the California, Death Index, 1940-1997 notes that Miriam Michelson was born in October 3, 1868 in Nevada. Initially, writing her first piece for her brother-in-law's weekly called "Arthur McEwen's Letter," Michelson furthered her career in journalism as she wrote for The Call. Michelson served as a special correspondent for San Francisco and Philadelphia newspapers while she also wrote dramatic criticism for daily newspapers in Philadelphia and New York. Miriam Michelson found success as a novelist with her first book, In the Bishop's Carriage, centered on a female character called Nance Olden. In fact, Michelson was described, in "Jewish Women of New York" in the San Francisco Chronicle, as a prominent Jewish writer in both fiction and journalism.

Besides being a writer who focused on fictional works, Miriam Michelson was part of the women's branch of Citizens' League of Justice that fought against graft. As part of the league, Michelson strongly opposed grafters, and in one newspaper article of the San Francisco Call, "Miriam Michelson Scores Grafters," she was noted as asking members of the California Club to join the league and back the prosecution of grafters. Moreover, Miriam Michelson was a key editor for The Liberator, a newspaper published by the League of Justice, that advocated against corruption in order to protect freedom of citizens. Besides, local advocacy, Miriam Michelson was also part of the executive committee for The All Parties' League of Wilson which was an organization based in California and consisted of suffragists from California and women who supported the candidacy of President Wilson and aimed at the re-election of President Wilson. Moreover, the league went on a speaking campaign to show support for the administration.

In 1895, Miriam Michelson attended the Woman's Congress and wrote in an article, "The Real New Woman," in the San Francisco Call, that she began to see the Woman's Congress as reasonable and that she gained hope about the impact the suffrage movement would have upon women. Miriam Michelson joined the Purity League in San Francisco and advocated that both men and women should be aware of public affairs as she called for participation of women in the purification efforts in San Francisco. Joining the suffrage movement, Miriam Michelson became part of the College Equal Suffrage League. In 1911, Miriam Michelson was a guest of honor for the College Equal Suffrage League's luncheon, and made a key speech full of sarcasm arguing that women's roles had changed over time and that suffrage would bring more change in the lives of women. Also, in 1911, Miriam Michelson gave a speech in Alameda at an equal suffrage rally. Miriam Michelson also expressed her support for women's right to vote, at a suffrage meeting in Alameda, as she believed women also contributed to the development of California, so they should have a right to vote. Moreover, Michelson wrote an article, "Women's Great Gain; Has Ballot Right" in the San Francisco Call, in which she noted that women had gained the right to vote, but they should realize that their vote affected everyone in society who did not vote and that suffrage was just a small step as suffrage would now allow for more development.

Following the 1911 vote, the College Equal Suffrage League founded the Civic Center and they asked Michelson to serve on the board of directors. Her work and status as an author brought awareness to the California vote and to the issue of women's suffrage overall. Miriam's writings helped educate the public of San Francisco and helped gain the vote. She continued her political work campaigning on behalf of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916 and advocating for a federal suffrage amendment.

Miriam Michelson passed away in San Francisco on May 28, 1942.

Sources:

"College Suffrage League Luncheon." The San Bernardino County Sun, 9 July 1911,10.

Matz, Pamela. Miriam Michelson in Jewish Women's Archive, 2009, available from https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/michelson-miriam.

"Alameda Women to Work at the Polls," San Francisco Call, Vol. 110, No. 120, September 28, 1911. Accessed March 14, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19110928.2.35&srpos=16&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-%22Miriam Michelson%22 -------1.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. Accessed: April 20, 2017.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. Accessed: April 20, 2017.

Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997. Accessed: April 20, 2017.

"California Women Work For Wilson All Parties League, Supporting Candidacy of President, to Open Many Coast Branches," Sacramento Union, No. 42, October 12 1916. Accessed March 28, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SU19161012.2.130&srpos=27&e=-------en--20--21--txt-txIN-Miriam+Michelson-------1

"Crowds Flock to Hear Lights of Literature," San Francisco Call, Vol. 110, No. 31, July 1 1911. Accessed April 4, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19110701.2.41&srpos=5&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-Miriam+Michelson+SUFFRAGE-------1

"Jewish Women of New York," San Francisco Chronicle, October 17 1907, p. 6. Accessed March 28, 2017. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. http://search.proquest.com/docview/251419164/60527C44104E4E29PQ/38?accountid=14496. (ProQuest document ID: 251419164).

"League Of Justice To Issue A Weekly," San Francisco Call, Vol. 105, No. 12, December 12, 1908. Accessed March 28. 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19081212.2.87&srpos=14&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-Miriam+Michelson-------1

Michelson, Miriam. "The Real New Woman," San Francisco Call, Vol. 77, No. 167, May 26, 1895, p. 8 Accessed April 20, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC18950526.2.110.1&srpos=10&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-Miriam+Michelson+SUFFRAGE-------1

Michelson, Miriam. "Women's Great Gain; Has Ballot Right," San Francisco Call, Vol. 113, No.32, January 1, 1913, p. 5. Accessed March 19, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19130101.2.36&srpos=20&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-%22Miriam+Michelson%22+-------1

"Miriam Michelson Scores Grafters," San Francisco Call, Vol. 105, No.3, December 3, 1908. Accessed March 18, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19081203.2.24&srpos=12&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN- %22Miriam+Michelson%22+-------1

"Miriam Michelson Speaks in Oakland," San Francisco Call, Vol. 105, No.44, January 13, 1909. Accessed March 14, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19090113.2.29.5&srpos=7&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-%22Miriam+Michelson%22-------1

"San Francisco Newspaper Woman Wins Success With Her First Book," San Francisco Call, Vol. 95, No. 174, March 22 1904. Accessed May 19, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19040522.2.182.4.7&srpos=35&e=-------en--20--21--txt-txIN-%22Miriam+Michelson%22-------1

"Women Helped To Make State," San Francisco Call, Vol. 110, No. 122, September 30, 1911. Accessed March 18, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19110930.2.65.23&srpos=1&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-Miriam+Michelson+SUFFRAGE-------1

"Work of Suffrage Speakers About Bay," San Francisco Call, Vol. 110, No. 121, September 29, 1911. Accessed March 18, 2017. California Digital Newspaper Collection. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19110929.2.67.9&srpos=3&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN-Miriam+Michelson+SUFFRAGE-------1

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