Biographical Sketch of Georgia Taylor Kotsch

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Georgia Taylor Kotsch, 1863-1953

By Sherry J. Katz, Department of History, San Francisco State University

Corresponding Secretary, Los Angeles Woman's Socialist Union, 1907-1908 and Woman's Socialist Union of California, 1909-1910 (important socialist–feminist organizations that supported suffrage)
Woman's Correspondent, State Woman's Committee of the Socialist Party of California, 1911 (this committee pushed suffrage work in 1911)
Founder and Member, Socialist Suffrage Club, Los Angeles, 1911
Founder and Corresponding Secretary, Wage Earners' Suffrage League, Los Angeles, 1911

Georgia (Georgiana) Taylor was born on May 15, 1863 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She was the daughter of Lucinda Taylor, who appears to have come from a large rural, farming family. There is no mention in the extant record of Taylor's birth father. In 1874, her mother married William Shirley, a local dry goods merchant, who likely provided the economic security necessary for Taylor to complete two years of high school. In 1886, she married August Kotsch, a skilled newspaper printer and the son of German immigrants. Their son Kenneth, born in 1895, died as an infant, but daughter, Hildreth, born in 1897, grew into adulthood. The family migrated to Los Angeles in 1906, where Kotsch established herself as a writer and propagandist for the socialist movement, serving as a (likely unpaid) correspondent and editor for various socialist newspapers. Hildreth, also a socialist, graduated from college and had a long, self-supporting career as a high school teacher. Kotsch died on September 27, 1953 in Santa Clara, California.

As a child, Kotsch was involved in the temperance movement in rural Indiana and embraced socialism through temperance. In 1906, Kotsch immersed herself in the socialist movement in Los Angeles, becoming active in the local chapter of the Socialist Party and the independent Women's Socialist Union. By 1908, she was an ardent suffragist and a key member of an influential network of left-feminists in California that sought to bring activist women together across lines of difference and facilitate feminist coalition building. Kotsch, and her socialist-feminist colleagues, formulated a multilateral program for women's emancipation that included women's suffrage, female unionization, protective labor legislation, mothers' pensions, legal contraception, and the gender integration of political parties and the state. They also championed women's economic independence as central to the feminist project.

Because Kotsch possessed journalistic talents, she served as corresponding secretary for many socialist-feminist groups, highlighting their suffrage arguments and strategies in numerous socialist publications (local, state, and national) from 1907-1911. Kotsch, never one to "fall in unreservedly and contentedly" into either the socialist or women's movements, saw her mission as working within both to further women's emancipation and democratic socialism. She could be a caustic and witty critic of both the sexism of socialist men and the middle-class assumptions of mainstream suffragists. In 1908, for example, she critiqued her male comrades for their "unsocialistic and illogical assertion" that "it matters little whether women have the ballot" because they are "less developed" and will use it "unwisely." In 1911, at the outset of the constitutional amendment campaign, Kotsch (along with Mary Alderman Garbutt) took the helm of the California Socialist Party's State Woman's Committee, urging all socialists to hold suffrage meetings, distribute suffrage literature, wear suffrage buttons, and "talk suffrage morning, noon and night." On the local level, Kotsch helped to found two socialist-feminist suffrage organizations that were part of the broad coalition in Southern California that helped win suffrage for women in the state. Through the Socialist Suffrage Club, Kotsch participated in an extensive house-to-house canvass for the vote in working-class precincts of greater Los Angeles. Although she was viewed as an "amusing creature" in engaging in this unconventional form of suffrage organizing, she endorsed canvassing as highly effective. Kotsch also served as secretary for the Wage Earners' Suffrage League, meeting suffrage supporters at the Labor Temple to train them in reaching out to union members. On election day, she participated in a suffrage coalition effort to greet male voters outside the polls to urge them to enfranchise women.

Sources:

"Enthusiastic Suffragists Make Ready for Final Struggle on Election Day." Los Angeles Herald, October 4, 1911, 4.

Indiana, Marriages, 1801-2001. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 2, 2019.

Katz, Sherry J. "A Politics of Coalition: Socialist Women and the California Suffrage Movement, 1900-1911." In One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement, edited by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, 245-262. Troutdale, OR: NewSage Press, 1995.

Katz, Sherry Jeanne. "Dual Commitments: Feminism, Socialism, and Women's Political Activism in California, 1890-1920." PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1991.

Katz, Sherry J. "Excavating Radical Women in Progressive Era California." In Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, edited by Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry, 89-106. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

K., G. Common Sense, March 21, 1908.

Kotsch, Georgia. "Socialists Must be Suffragists." People's Paper, May 20, 1911, 2.

Kotsch, Georgia. "The Mission of the Socialist Woman." Progressive Woman 5 (August 1911), 13-14.

Kotsch, Georgia. "Through Battle's Smoke." Citizen, October 20, 1911, 11.

State of California Department of Health Services. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 2, 2019.

"Suffrage League Ready for Work." People's Paper, July 8, 1911.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. Liberty, Hendricks, Indiana, roll M432_150, p. 91B, image: 190. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 2, 2019.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, roll m-t0627-00396, p. 2A, enumeration district 60-1055. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 2, 2019.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1880. Clay, Hendricks, Indiana, roll 283, p. 624C, enumeration district 144. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 2, 2019.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1910. Los Angeles Assembly District 75, Los Angeles, California, roll T624_84, p. 14B, enumeration district 0082, FHL microfilm: 1374097. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 2, 2019.

For more information and primary sources on/by Kotsch consult my dissertation and articles.

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