Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Florence Ledyard Cross Kitchelt, 1874-1961
By David Corporan
Undergraduate Student, Central Connecticut State University
Suffragist, housing reformer, poet, and socialist
Florence Ledyard Cross Kitchelt was born in Rochester, New York, on December 17th 1874. She graduated from Wells College in 1897.
In the first decade of the 20th century, Kitchelt was heavily involved in various reform movements. In 1904, she was involved with reform work as a volunteer probation officer for women with New York City's Essex Market Court. From 1904 to 1905, she worked at the Lowell House settlement in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1903, she was the head worker in the Little Italy House in Brooklyn. During this time she became particularly interested in working with Italian immigrants, and spent several months of 1907 in Italy, reportedly "to gain knowledge of the conditions which surround the Italians in their native land." Afterwards, from 1907-1910, Kitchelt opened a new Italian American settlement, the "Housekeeping Center," in Rochester.
In 1911, she married Richard Kitchelt, a native of New York City and an active socialist. The couple had no children. After her marriage, she was active in several civic and political causes. She volunteered and wrote articles for suffrage, trade union, socialist, and pacifist organizations in New York and Connecticut. Once an outspoken opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, Kitchelt became Chairman of the Connecticut Committee for the ERA in 1943. She actively supported the group until 1956 when she and her husband moved to Ohio to live with Kitchelt's sister, Dorothy Zeiger.
Kitchelt was the author of several books of poetry. They included Poetry in the Boston Common (1910), The Public (1912), The Twentieth Century (1912), and a book of prose, The World's Work (1912). She was also on the editorial board of The Common Good, a Rochester magazine. Throughout her life, Kitchelt was an active socialist. She died in Wilberforce, Ohio, on April 4, 1961.
Florence Ledyard Cross Kitchelt's role in uniting social feminists and equal rights feminists is documented in Kathryn Kish Sklar and Danelle Moon's WASM document project, "How Did Florence Kitchelt Bring Together Social Feminists and Equal Rights Feminists to Reconfigure the Campaign for the ERA in the 1940s and 50s?" (Alexandria, VA : Alexander Street Press, 2010) on this database [LINK]. Primary sources regarding Kitchelt's life and travel are available through Ancestry.com.