Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Lulu Smart Schweizer (or Schweitzer), 1872-1945

By Erin Hvizdak, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Washington State University

President, Chicago Political Equality League, 1918-1920

Lulu (also spelled Lula) Smart was born on September 9th, 1872, in Port Jefferson, New York. She is the daughter of Alfred Smart (listed as an M.E. Minister) and Rubey (Ruba) Jordan Smart, and had three siblings: Ruba, Kara, and Bertha. The 1880 census lists the family living in LaSalle/Earlville, IL. She married Albert Herman Schweizer (also spelled Schweitzer) (1870-1930) in approximately 1894 (the 1900 census lists the couple as being married for six years). The 1900 census lists her name as "Abbie L," and their address as 6852 Purnell Avenue. Albert was a produce wholesaler, according to the 1920 census and his 1921 passport application. The 1910 census lists the couple at 6121 Vernon Avenue, but during Schweizer's suffrage activity, the couple resided at 6152 St. Lawrence Avenue. No children are listed in any census. Albert's death certificate in 1930 lists them at 6527 Stewart Avenue. She died on March 1, 1945, and her death certificate lists her residence as 6130 S Greenwood Avenue, Chicago.

Schweizer was heavily involved in suffrage activism in Illinois and more specifically in the Chicago area. She served as President of the Chicago Political Equality League (CPEL) from 1918-1920, which was located at 17 North State Street, Room 1102, Chicago. Previous to serving as their president, she served as First Vice President from 1917-1918, served as Corresponding Secretary from 1912-1915, and served on the Board as a "Director for Three Years." She also served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association from 1919-1920. During her time at CPEL, she also served on the Program and Yearbook Committees and as a delegate to the League of Cook County Clubs. She also at one time served as the Chair of the Seventh Ward Equal Suffrage Association.

Schweizer served in other various roles of note during these years. On June 13, 1913, the General Federation adopted a suffrage resolution, and on the same day, the Supreme Court of Illinois pronounced suffrage law constitutional. A banquet already planned for the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association was to be held that day in the Gold Room of the Congress Hotel. This banquet turned into celebration with over 1000 women in attendance. Schweizer was listed amongst those who managed it. In 1917, she served as Field Adjutant, Second Corps, of the Women's Emergency League of the IL Equal Suffrage Association, which worked to secure passage of Constitutional Convention of 1918.

In 1918, while Schweizer was president of CPEL, the group raised $581,900.00 worth of bonds in the Third Liberty Loan drive, with their efforts recognized by Alice Stone Blackwell in The Woman Citizen. Also in 1918, the Illinois Equal Suffrage Convention was held in Chicago in October to cap a campaign for the state's Constitutional Convention Resolution. A Tag Day was featured, whereby men that pledged to vote for the Resolution would get a tag, free of charge. Schweizer was in charge of Chicago's Tag Day and also the entirety of the city's campaign. During the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, held in Chicago from February 12-18, 1920, Schweitzer was in charge of reservations for the Ratification Banquet and served as Chairman of Local Arrangements for the convention's Victory Dinner. In May of 1920, the Chicago Political Equality League, the Chicago Equal Suffrage Association, and the Woman's City Club called on women's organizations to form a committee to perform outreach to encourage women to register to vote for President in November of 1920 (in the midst of states ratifying the 19th amendment, one by one). Thirty organizations responded to the first meeting and created a committee with the slogan, "Every Woman at the Polls." Forty organizations joined the second call. Schweitzer was appointed Chicago Chairman of this committee, which was headquartered at the Woman's City Club.

Schweizer participated in other types of activism during this time as well. In 1914, she served as Chair of the Civic Efficiency Committee of the Woman's City Club, which fought against building a yacht club on the South Side of Chicago. She stated, "Among the working people today there is a crying need for cheaper fruit. In many thousands of homes mothers are compelled to tell their children that apples are to look at and not to eat. Establish practical harbors for bringing fruit and vegetables to the people of the south side instead of spending $500,000 on a yacht harbor for gentleman of leisure." Also in 1914, she was appointed to represent women's organizations in demanding outside council on a case involving telephone subscriber counts. In 1915, she was part of a movement of Club Women to potentially line up with striking women from the clothing industry that were being brutalized by police, and to monitor the situation in general. In 1918, she served on the Advisory Committee of the Good Roads Bond Legislation.

Schweizer remained active in governmental affairs after the passage of national suffrage, serving on the board of the Illinois League of Women Voters for several years. At their first Annual Convention on November 28th and 29th, 1921, Schweizer gave a talk on Partial Disarmament. In September 1923, she was appointed Member-at-Large of the Department of Efficiency in Government of the Illinois League of Women Voters.


Collections consulted from Family Search (
United States Census, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920
United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925.
Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947

Other Sources:
Official Register and Directory of Women's Clubs in America, Edited and Published by Helen Winslow. Volume XXII, 1920.
Chicago Daily News Almanac and Yearbook for 1919, Edited by James Langland, M.A. and Issued by the Chicago Daily News Company. 1920.
41st Annual Announcement of the Chicago Woman's Club. Volume 43, 1917-18.
Directory and Register of Women's Clubs: City of Chicago and Vicinity. 1914; 1915.
The Woman Citizen, Alice Stone Blackwell. September 28, 1918; December 20, 1919; February 7, 1920; March 6, 1920.
Mary McDowell and Municipal Housekeeping: A Symposium, by Caroline Miles Hill. Chicago : Lithographed by Millar Pub. Co. 1938.
Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1920. Twenty-first Annual Meeting of the Society, Springfield, Illinois, May 14, 1920.
Correspondence from Grace Wilbur Trout to Harry Pratt Judson, President of the University of Chicago, asking for endorsement of the Women's Emergency League. Retrieved June 6, 2018 from
The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI, by Ida Husted Harper. National American Woman Suffrage Association. 1920 [LINK].
Woman's City Club Bulletin, Woman's City Club of Chicago. Volume VIII, May, 1920.
The Day Book. Chicago, IL. Dec 8, 1914; Dec 15 1914; July 23, 1915; December 13, 1915 Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
The Road-maker: A Monthly Journal Devoted to the Practical Problems of Rural Transportation, Editor Joe L. Long. Volume 12, 1918.
Bulletin, Illinois League of Women Voters. Volumes 1-4, 1921-1924.
Chicago Eagle. Chicago, IL. February 1, 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Side Lights on Illinois Suffrage History, Grace Wilbur Trout. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 13(2), July 1920. pp. 145-179.

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