Biographical Sketch of Edith Hastings

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Edith Hastings, 1858-1934

By Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D.

Edith Hastings was born August 21, 1858 in Brooklyn, New York. Hastings was a descendant of the Curtis family, one of the founding families of Stratford, Connecticut, the granddaughter of James Langdon Curtis (1808-1903), who likely helped inspire Hastings' interest in politics. An 1890 biography describes how he took “an active part in practical politics and at one time controlled the New Jersey Legislature, while his influence has made senators and governors.” Curtis amassed a fortune from business ventures in New York, New Jersey, and Texas, a portion of which was conveyed to Hastings. Hastings's parents, Colonel George G. Hastings and Laura Helen Curtis, were married in 1856. The family moved to Orange, New Jersey shortly after Hastings's birth. Following her mother's death in 1859, Hastings then moved to Sing Sing, New York to live with her Aunt Adelaide and Uncle Eastburn Hastings. During the Civil War, Hastings's father served on General George G. Meade's staff as Judge Advocate General of the Army of the Potomac. He died in 1873 in Sing Sing, leaving Hastings an orphan at the age of fifteen. Hastings next lived in New York City, first with her aunt and uncle until their deaths in 1882 and 1884 respectively, and then boarding on her own. She then moved to Asbury Park, New Jersey around 1888. The exact date Hastings moved to Stratford, Connecticut is unknown; however, she is listed by local newspapers as being part of the Stratford suffrage movement starting in 1911 and was definitely living in Stratford by 1913. Her address at 1721 Elm Street is listed in the 1922 city directory.

Edith Hastings was an active member of the Stratford Woman Suffrage Association (SWSA). Fellow suffrage activist, Maude Hull, described Hastings as “perhaps the most prominent” champion of women's suffrage in Stratford. According to another fellow activist, Laura Lay, Edith Hastings and the other members of the SWSA spent long hours going house to house with petitions. They also argued their cause to attendees at county fairs and before the state legislature. Lay described Hastings as one “never to be forgotten for her devotion, seldom holding office but always a power and drive behind those who had to do the difficult jobs.” Several articles in The Stratford Times demonstrate that Hastings helped the SWSA in diverse roles, ranging from manning a chocolate pot at a suffrage tea to giving a report about a suffrage convention in Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1915, Edith Hastings was appointed to the credentials committee of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association (CWSA). Hastings assisted the CWSA with their two main objectives: completion of a petition campaign and deputations to candidates for political office. In 1918, she participated in a signature campaign the CWSA hoped would furnish “uncontestable statistics to meet and offset the familiar and oft repeated refrain, ‘the women of Connecticut do not want to vote.'” The same year, Hastings was part of a deputation of women who questioned candidates running for state and county offices. The Bridgeport Sunday Herald took a picture of members of this group, with Edith Hastings on the far right (Picture A), as they pushed Republican candidate for Lieutenant-Governor Clifford B. Wilson on his party's stance regarding the federal amendment for women's suffrage. On April 26, 1918, while the United States was in the midst of World War I, The Bridgeport Times placed Edith Hastings at the center of their front page. The Times informed its readers that Hastings, along with fifty Connecticut suffragists, were pressing their case for women's suffrage before Senator George P. McLean. Hastings also attended the National American Woman Suffrage Association's Jubilee Convention in St. Louis Missouri on March 24-29, 1919 on behalf of the CWSA. The Woman Citizen described the list of the Convention's attendees, including Edith Hastings, as the “Woman's Who's Who” of those “convinced that the home should have further representation in government.”

With the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, the women's suffrage mission was accomplished. On November 5, 1920, The Bridgeport Telegram noted that the SWSA was to be dissolved and Hastings would assist at its final meeting (Picture B). Even after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Hastings's political work continued. In 1924, Hastings was elected Director-at-Large for Connecticut's League of Women Voters (CLWV), which educated women about pertinent political issues and encouraged them to use their newly acquired right to vote.

In November 1925, The Stratford League of Women Voters (SLWV) planted an oak tree and placed a plaque on Academy Hill in honor and memory of Edith Hastings (Pictures C and D). That same year, the SLWV raised $150 through personal solicitations in her memory. In 1930, the CLWV included Hastings and seventeen others on a “State Roll of Honor” to recognize “the women listed who so nobly worked to secure the suffrage for us.” They presented a $250,000 memorial fund in honor of these women to the National League of Women Voters at the Tenth Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment in Louisville, Kentucky April 28 to May 3, 1930. In 1934, the CLWV included Edith Hastings on a plaque honoring the “Connecticut women who helped win the vote for the women of their country 1848-1920.” The plaque is located on the ground floor of the Capitol building in Hartford (Picture F). Edith Hastings died on November 28, 1934 and is buried in the Hastings family plot at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Photographs:

A. The Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. “Deputation Waits Upon Lieut.-Gov. Wilson.” The Suffrage News Bulletin, August 1918. (Edith Hastings Far Right)

The photograph can be found:
The Stratford Historical Society (Women's Suffrage Folder) or online at https://shsnewsletters.updog.co/Newsletters/2006-11.pdf

 

B. “Stratford Suffragists to Dissolve Next Month.” The Bridgeport Telegram. November 5, 1920.

The photograph can be found:
https://newspaperarchive.com/bridgeport-telegram-nov-05-1920-p-30/

 

C. Tree honoring Edith Hastings in Stratford, Connecticut. November 1925.

Photograph by Siobhan M. M. Barco
July 12, 2018
Academy Hill, Stratford, Connecticut 06615

 

D. Plaque honoring Edith Hastings in Stratford, Connecticut. November 1925.

Photograph by Siobhan M. M. Barco
July 12, 2018
Academy Hill, Stratford, Connecticut 06615

 

E. Plaque honoring Edith Hastings in the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut. 1934.

The photograph can be found:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/gs-waymarking-images/1f0866c8-1431-4df0-910f-60c2ef16c14c.jpg

 

Special thanks to Gloria Duggan and Carol Lovell of the Stratford Historical Society for their research assistance.

Sources:

“50 Suffragists from This State Going to Call on Sen. McLean: Miss Hastings of Stratford and Mrs. S.C. Shaw among Number Who Will Inform Senator of Suffrage Sentiment.” The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer. April 22, 1918, Vol. 54-No. 96. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015536/1918-04-26/ed-1/seq-6.pdf

"A Memorial." Women Voters Bulletin, vol. X, no. 5, 1930, p. 3. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6g5Eb4

"An Opportunity." Women Voters Bulletin, vol. X, no. 4, 1930, p. 4. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6g5C49

Blackwell, Alice Stone. The Woman Citizen. Vol. 3. 44. New York, New York: The Woman Citizen Corporation, 1919.

Bridgeport City Directory Including Stratford Fairfield and Southport: Containing a General Directory of the Citizens, Classified Business Directories, Street Directories; Bridgeport Street Guide, Map, Record of City Government, Its Institutions, Etc. New Haven, Connecticut: The Price & Lee Co., 1922. p. 1027. Retrieved from Stratford Historical Society.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County Connecticut, Containing: Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families. Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1899. p. 1073-1074.

Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. “Deputation Waits Upon Lieut.-Gov. Wilson.” The Suffrage News Bulletin, August 1918. Retrieved from Stratford Historical Society - Women's Suffrage Folder.

“Edith Hastings (Unknown-1934.)” Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/164130704/edith-hastings.

Gleaton, Sally Fanny. "Organization." Women Voters Bulletin, vol. V, no. 22, 1925, p. 9. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6g5KK1

Grant, Ulysses Simpson. The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1870-May 31, 1871. SIU Press, 1998. p. 13.

"In Honor of Great Women." Women Voters Bulletin, vol. X, no. 2, 1930, p. 4. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6g5Fx6

John Townshend v. Edward V. Loew and Salome Loew. C.G. Burgoyne's Printing Business (New York Superior Court 1890).

Knapp, Lewis. In Pursuit of Paradise: History of the Town of Stratford, Connecticut. West Kennebunk, Maine: Phoenix Publishing, 1989. p. 42.

“Mrs. Lay Entertains.” The Stratford Times. October 24, 1913, Vol. II, No. 17 edition. Retrieved from Stratford Historical Society – Women's Suffrage Folder.

“Mrs. Lewis Reads Fine Paper at Suffrage Meeting Wednesday Afternoon.” The Stratford Times. November 7, 1913. Retrieved from Stratford Historical Society – Women's Suffrage Folder.

National American Woman Suffrage Association. Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceedings of the ... Annual Convention. Edited by Justina Leavitt Wilson. National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1919.

Neoc1. (2016). Connecticut Suffragettes - Hartford, CT - Civil Rights Memorials. Retrieved from http://www.waymarking.com

“Stratford Suffragists to Dissolve Next Month.” The Bridgeport Telegram. November 5, 1920. Retrieved from https://newspaperarchive.com/bridgeport-telegram-nov-05-1920-p-30/

“Votes for Women Enthusiasts Here.” The Hartford Daily Courant, October 20, 1915. Retrieved from Stratford Historical Society - Women's Suffrage Folder.

"What Is Happening in Local Leagues." Women Voters Bulletin, vol. V, no. 14, 1925, p. 1. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6g5RT0

"Windham County." Women Voters Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 7, July-August 1924, p. 4. Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Retrieved from, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/6g5HL6

“Woman Suffrage Association Formed in Stratford in 1910,” n.d. Retrieved from Stratford Historical Society – Woman's Suffrage Folder.

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