Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Florence Howe Hall, 1845-1922
By Ian Saum, undergraduate student, Harvard University
Florence Marion Howe Hall was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 25, 1845 to parents Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe and Julia Ward Howe, who is best known for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." As a child, Florence enjoyed skating, riding, and dancing, and was educated in public and private schools around the Boston area, including the Agassiz School in Cambridge. Additionally, Florence studied music with famous pianist and composer Otto Dresel. On November 15, 1871, she married lawyer David Prescott Hall and together they had four children: Samuel Prescott, Caroline Minturn, Henry Marion, and John Howe. Florence had a successful career as an author and lecturer. She won a shared Pulitzer Prize with two of her sisters in 1917 for their work on a book about their mother, titled Julia Ward Howe, 1817-1910. Florence eventually died on April 10, 1922 in High Bridge, New Jersey at the age of 76.
As an adult, Florence and her family lived in Plainfield, New Jersey. It was in New Jersey were Florence was able to become an active and engaged member of the women's suffrage movement. She was a member of several women's organizations, and held leadership in most. She was president of the Plainfield Branch of the National Alliance of Unitarian Women, New Jersey State Women's Suffrage Association, Equal Suffrage League of Plainfield, and the Plainfield Alliance of Unitarian Women. Additionally, she was the chairman of correspondence for New Jersey of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, vice president of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs, and honorary vice president of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Florence Howe Hall's successful career as an author led her to publish many books and essays. One essay, published in the Women's magazine Harper's Bazaar in 1896, was titled "Women's Right to Suffrage Under a Popular Government," and focused on the misconceptions and logical fallacies of anti-suffrage arguments. In addition to writing, Florence became a renowned lecturer. In 1903, Florence was invited to give a speech to the Geneva Political Equality Club. The event was advertised in papers as a huge opportunity for the club because she was "one of the most noted speakers in the country on women suffrage." The speech focused on the justice behind the argument for suffrage and the "folly of the anti-suffrage arguments."
Also in 1903, Florence, with the help of Elizabeth Smith Miller wrote a letter to the Governor of the Arizona territory, A. O. Brodie, urging him to support a bill for women's suffrage. In the letter they wrote, "Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt commend suffrage for women. Hope you will sign bill." For Florence Howe Hall's work in public organizations, writing, and speaking, she was able to eventually become the leader of the 12th Assembly of the Women's Suffrage Party from 1914-1916.
"Florence Howe Hall Talks to Geneva Political Equality Club." American Memory from the Library of Congress - accessed online at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/rbcmillerbib:@field(TITLE+@od1(Florence+Howe+Hall+Talks+to+Geneva+Political+Equality+Club))
FLORENCE HOWE HALL. "WOMAN'S RIGHT OF SUFFRAGE UNDER A POPULAR GOVERNMENT." Harper's Bazaar (1867-1912), vol. 29, no. 4, Jan 25 1896, pp. 62.
"Geneva Political Equality Club Hears Florence Howe Hall's 'Judgment of Minerva'." American Memory from the Library of Congress - Accessed online at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/rbcmillerbib:@field(TITLE+@od1(Geneva+Political+Equality+Club+hears+Florence+Howe+Hall%27s++Judgment+of+Minerva+))
"Hall, Florence (Marion) Howe 1845-1922." Contemporary Authors. .Encyclopedia.com. 3 Mar. 2017 http://www.encyclopedia.com.
Hall, Florence Howe, and Elizabeth Smith Miller. Letter to A. O. Brodie. 19 March 1903, American Memory from the Library of Congress. Accessed online at http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/rbcmiller:@field(DOCID+rbcmilscrp1011501) "Julia Ward Howe and Her Family." American Memory from the Library of Congress - Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.
Leonard, John William, ed. Women's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada (1914-1915).