Biographical Database of Militant Suffragists, 1913-1920

Biography of Miss Mollie Best (birth and death dates unknown)


by Marcie Flinchum Atkins, author and librarian

Mollie Best was a writer, a well-known magazine editor, and a monologist, a solo performer and storyteller. She told stories in England and Ireland. She also told stories to audiences that included famous people, such as First Lady Mrs. Grover Cleveland and investigative journalist Ida M. Tarbell. In her performances Best used dialects and told anecdotes that made audiences laugh. [1] [2]

In 1913, Best took time off from her speaking schedule to join the garment strikers in New York City. Suffragists brought sandwiches to the garment strikers. Mollie Best came by and gave a speech, asking them not to use the word "scab" as a term to describe the women taking the strikers' jobs. After much discussion, the strikers agreed that "fools" might be a better term. [3]

Best lived in Ireland at the time World War I started in 1914, and she saw men getting shipped off to war. She wrote about how it paralyzed the industries in Belfast with men leaving. She also noted how the women mourned the departure of their husbands and being left to raise multiple children without a paycheck. [4]

Mollie Best was also in New York City on March 4, 1919 when President Wilson was speaking at the Metropolitan Opera House. Several groups were there protesting Wilson's desire to preserve democracy in Europe, while ignoring the women wanting suffrage at home. The National Woman's Party had several women planted in the audience who were to write down Wilson's words about democracy so they could be burned outside on the streets. [5]

Outside of the Opera House, the soldiers and sailors were becoming incensed at the women protesting with yellow and purple banners and the American flag. Before long spectators tore the banners. Some tore the clothing of the suffragist protestors. One suffragist even fell and received a black eye. Mollie Best attended this protest along with several other suffragists. Six of the women were arrested at this event including Alice Paul, Doris Stevens, Elsie Hill, Lucy Maverick, Mrs. Beatrice Castleton, and Mrs. Max Bodenheim. [5].

Little is known about the extent of Mollie Best's suffrage efforts, but it is clear that she did care about the suffrage and labor movements from newspaper documentation from the early 20th century.


[1] "Writers of the Day." The Writer, vol. 27, 1915.

[2] "Chiropean Dinner to Its Men Friends." Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1 Dec. 1908, p. 5.

[3] "Suffrage Sandwiches for Garment Strikers." New York Tribune, 19 Jan. 1913.

[4] "Pity the Women of Europe." Williston Graphic, 24 Sept. 1914, p. 11.

[5] "6 Anti-Wilson Suffragists Are Arrested Here." New York Tribune, 5 Mar. 1919, pp. 1, 4.

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