Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Louise Hall
By Scott Vehstedt, independent historian
Louise Hall graduated from Vassar College in 1903. According to alumni records, she went on to work as a teacher until she began working in the suffrage movement full-time. Hall was a member of the National Woman's Party, led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, and her contemporaries remembered her as favoring a radical approach to politics.
Hall was the executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for several years in the 1910s. In this capacity, she spoke at events and represented the suffragists while also performing administrative work for the organization. In 1913 Hall was one of several hundred women to hold a suffrage convention in Washington, DC, with the goal of pressuring President Woodrow Wilson to raise the issue of women's suffrage in Congress before the winter recess.
In November 1914, Hall was a "prominent figure," according to the Evening Ledger, at the Scranton suffrage convention. She rose to prominence in the suffrage movement because of her sharp oratory skills and penchant for public debates. On one occasion, Hall held up traffic in Pittsburgh when "balanced on a candy bucket on top of a soap box" she won the affection of a large crowd of businessmen with her oratory in favor of suffrage. Her dialogue also dealt with improving sanitation and strengthening health and safety codes in factories.
In 1915 Hall was elected to the position of organizing secretary, which replaced her old post with the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association and allowed her to spend more time in the field. This reassignment proved necessary, as she spent much of 1915 traversing Pennsylvania on a tour of all fifty counties. Louise brought the suffrage liberty bell, also known as the "Woman's Liberty Bell," with her as she met with crowds of people and local officials at rallies for suffrage. A Pennsylvania newspaper estimated that before the journey was completed, at least 75,000 people had witnessed the procession. During that journey, Hall also became the first woman to address the Blair County Bar Association, which greeted her warmly. Unfortunately, the state campaign failed, which led Hall to abandon a state-by-state strategy in favor of Alice Paul's congressional strategy.
Louise Hall joined many other activists to serve as a national organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) serving in Pennsylvania in 1915 and New Hampshire in 1918.
Louise Hall's activism is well documented in various newspapers archived in the "Chronicling America" project of the Library of Congress. Her role in the suffrage movement is also included in the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 5 [LINK] and vol. 6 [LINK to PA state report].