Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Almira Pitman, 1854-1939
By Arushi Sharma, student, Harvard University
Chairman of Ways and Means Committee, MWSA; Hawaiian Suffrage
Almira Pitman, nee Hollander, was born in Massachusetts in 1854 to Jacob Louis and Maria Theresa Hollander, founders of L. P. Hollander & Co, a successful women's clothing retailer. In 1875, she married the wealthy merchant Benjamin F. Pitman, and henceforth became commonly known as Mrs. Benjamin F. Pitman, but she also went by Almira Pitman and her nickname Mira H. Pitman. The couple had two sons: Benjamin and Theodore Baldwin Pitman.
Having grown up in Brookline, Massachusetts, Pitman was highly active in the local suffrage movement. She joined the New England Woman Suffrage Association in 1884, and in 1904, she was elected as the recording secretary for the Brookline Equal Suffrage Association, a position she held for numerous years. In 1913, Pitman became Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association, or MWSA, and remained in this position until 1919. In this senior role, Pitman was directly responsible for planning and managing a variety of events. Notably, she oversaw the 1913, 1915, and 1919 Bay State Suffrage Festivals in Boston, the latter two of which raised $9,200 and $11,200 respectively for MWSA and other women's organizations.
Pitman published several works about women's rights in the 1900s, including a 1912 poem in The Women's Journal called "In Freedom's Land". Pitman was bold and outspoken for her times, even writing a poem in 1909 for The Boston Herald titled "The Turnip and the Rose", in which she referred to a male politician who opposed suffrage as "a poor little bilious turnip".
Pitman is particularly notable for her work towards suffrage in Hawaii. Pitman's husband was a descendant of five kings of Hawaii, so he and his wife were well respected there. In 1917, Pitman became engaged in the Hawaiian suffrage movement and held suffrage meetings with the local people. Afterwards, she used her influence to speak at U.S. Congressional hearings and is largely credited with the passage of the 1918 congressional bill granting women the right to vote in Hawaii. In 1931, Pitman published a book called After Fifty Years: An Appreciation, and a Record of a Unique Incident, documenting her family's experience in Hawaii. She visited Honolulu several times even after her husband's passing, and considered it to be a second home.
In her later life, Pitman continued to remain an active champion for women and was often written about in The Boston Globe for hosting events at her Carlton Street estate in Brookline. For example, in 1924 she held a large reception for Mrs. Charles Bird, a candidate for delegate to the Republican National Convention. Moreover, Pitman was president of The Christopher Shop, a women's clothing retailer. She was also involved in the Women's Republican Club of Massachusetts and organized a variety of events, including a 1926 bridge party for 400 of the members.
Pitman passed away in 1939 in Brookline, at the age of 85.
"Almira G. Pitman (Born Hollander)." Historical records and family trees - MyHeritage, www.myheritage.com/names/almira_hollander.
"Bazaar Nets Good Sum." Woman's Journal, 25 Jan. 1919, p. 712. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UMAV3.
"BROOKLINE." Boston Daily Globe (1923-1927), Feb 19 1924, pp. 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Boston Globe, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/497644174?accountid=11311.
"Deaths: Benjamin F. Pitman." Women's Wear, vol. 17, no. 5, Jul 06 1918, pp. 16. The Women's Wear Daily Archive, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1666251656?accountid=11311.
Extending the Right of Suffrage to Women: Hearings Before the Committee on Woman Suffrage, House of Representatives, Sixty-Fifth Congress, Second Session on H.j. Res 200. January 3, 4, 5, and 7, 1918. Washington: Govt. Print. Off, 1918. Print.
"MANY ATTRACTIVE FEATURES OFFERED." Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922), Oct 26 1913, pp. 56. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Boston Globe, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/502355976?accountid=11311.
"Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association correspondence." Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association, Feb. 1915. Women's Studies Manuscript Collections from The Schlesinger Library, http://congressional.proquest.com/histvault?q=002690-039-0629.
"Memberships and Donations." Woman's Journal, 14 June 1884, p. 193. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UNHs2.
"Miss Shaw to Speak." Woman's Journal, 11 Nov. 1911, p. 357. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UNGm0.
"Obituary 4 -- no Title." Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922), Jul 02 1918, pp. 11. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Boston Globe, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/503519922?accountid=11311.
Pitman, Almira. After Fifty Years; An Appreciation, and a Record of a Unique Incident. The Plimpton press, 1931.
Pitman, Mira H. "Conundrums." Woman's Journal, 20 Nov. 1909, p. 190. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UMDLX.
Pitman, Mira H. "In Freedom's Land." Woman's Journal, 3 Feb. 1912, p. 34. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UNJa1.
Pitman, Mira H. "Massachusetts Clubs and Leagues." Woman's Journal, 3 Dec. 1904, p. 392. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4Uc7n1.
Pitman, Mira H., and Boston Herald. "The Turnip and the Rose." Woman's Journal, 3 Apr. 1909, p. 56. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UMDH5.
"Suffrage Bazaar Nets Large Sum." Woman's Journal, 11 Dec. 1915, p. 393. Nineteenth Century Collections Online, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4UNG78.
"TABLE GOSSIP (5)." Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960), Jun 10 1928, pp. 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Boston Globe, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/847323392?accountid=11311.
The Hawaiian gazette. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii]), 30 July 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1918-07-30/ed-1/seq-8/.
"400 TAKE PART IN BRIDGE PARTY." Boston Daily Globe (1923-1927), Dec 14 1926, pp. 15. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Boston Globe, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/498967121?accountid=11311.