Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920

Biography of Elizabeth Smith, 1895-?

By J.D. Zahniser, Independent Scholar

We know little about Elizabeth Smith, a young woman on the staff of the National Woman's Party (NWP) and participant in several protests. Her very common name makes tracing her difficult. She was possibly the daughter of New York state NWP chairman Jane Norman Smith, but available census records fail to show whether the Smiths had children. Elizabeth Smith may have been one of the many women who ventured to Washington, DC looking for interesting work during World War I.

The portrait of Smith featured in The Suffragist of March 3, 1917 shows her to be a young, dark-haired white woman. She is listed as office manager of The Suffragist in an August 1916 photograph in the NWP collection. In Inez Irwin's book about the NWP, Smith is noted as participating in the August 1917 protests. Smith and Ruth Crocker carried flags to the White House and were accosted by angry spectators and knocked down. A few months later, on November 12, Smith joined a large group of NWP pickets who, after being tried for picketing the White House (that is, “obstructing traffic”), took up the picket line once again. These protesters were arrested and later tried and found guilty. Almost all refused to pay fines and chose a jail term instead. However, Smith does not appear on Doris Stevens's list of suffrage prisoners in Jailed for Freedom; thus, it is unclear whether Smith served a jail term. She may have been judged too valuable in the NWP office to sit in jail.

No other information on Elizabeth Smith's suffrage activities is available. Her name does not appear in other histories of the NWP.

Sources:

Inez Haynes Irwin, The Story of Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party (Dellinger's, 1977), 240, 259.

No author. “Growth of the Congressional Union.” The Suffragist 5(March 3, 1917): 10-11.

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