Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Theresa Stitch, 1899-1981
By Kristen C. Howard
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Arizona
Theresa Stitch (alternately spelled Stich, Stick) was born on 15 February 1899 to parents Meyer B. and Jennie Saltser (Settser, Selser) Stitch in Manhattan, New York. Meyer and Jennie were Russian immigrants who both arrived in the United States in 1887, were naturalized in 1890, and married in New York in 1892. Meyer was a salesman at and later owner of a dry goods store (an occupation Jennie also later took up). In addition to Theresa, Meyer and Jennie had three sons (Hyman, Nathan, and Henry) and two other daughters (Leonara/Leonia and Ethel/Estelle). Meyer and Jennie were part of the large numbers of Eastern European Jews who emigrated to America following the assassination of the czar in 1881, and spoke Yiddish in their home (according to the 1930 census).
By 1915, Leonara (age19) had taken up work as a stenographer. By 1920, several of her siblings followed her in this work, with Leonara employed at the Police Department, Estelle at the Patent House, Theresa at a piano factory, and Nathan at the New York City Board of Estimate. In 1925, Theresa was still employed as a stenographer and living with her parents, although her older siblings had by now moved out and only she and younger brother Henry (now 14) were living at home. Theresa moved out by 1930, when she was living as a boarder in the Manhattan home of John G. Kemple and working as a writer. At least one of her boarding-mates at this time, Delphine Sheck (also the daughter of Russian immigrants) was working as a stenographer.
Theresa participated in a so-called "anti-Wilson" suffragist demonstration in 1919 in New York City protesting the failure of Wilson’s Democratic Party to pass the constitutional amendment for woman suffrage. Six women were arrested, including three National Woman's Party leaders: Alice Paul, Doris Stevens, and Elsie Hill. Theresa was one of fourteen New York women who participated in this demonstration as part of a parade, although Theresa was not arrested. There is no further evidence of Theresa's participation in NWP or suffragist activities.
Theresa never married, and died in New York in May 1981.
Theresa's participation in the March 1919 demonstration in New York City is detailed in "6 Anti-Wilson Suffragists Are Arrested Here," New York Tribune, 5 March 1919, p. 4. Biographical information relating to Theresa and her family is available in national census data from 1910, 1920, and 1930, as well as New York State census data from 1905, 1915, and 1925.