Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Florence Taussig, 1878-1954
By Athena Ellis and Joanna Shaw, undergraduate students, Northwest Missouri State University. Edited by Dr. Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University.
Florence Gottschalk Taussig was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1878 to Edward and Emelia Gottschalk. In 1907 she married Dr. Frederick J. Taussig, who was born in 1873 in New York. Together, they had two children. Their oldest child Mary was born in 1912, and their second child Frederick was born in 1914. Florence's husband was a well-known gynecologist and professor of clinical obstetrics at Washington University's School of Medicine. He was an advocate for birth control, which was illegal at the time, studied abortion practices, and helped his wife advocate for women's rights.
Florence was involved in various activist groups throughout her lifetime. In addition to her suffrage work, she also was a part of the Women's Peace Party, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, St. Louis Ethical Society, and Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital. She served on the board of directors for the hospital and was president of the Missouri branch of the Women's Peace Party. She was well known for her work in the peace movements and was close friends with Jane Addams.
Florence led the Women's Peace Party in the 1910s in response to the beginning of World War I in Europe. The group called for the limitation of arms, mediation of the European conflict, and the removal of the economic causes of war. They also brought together the peace and suffrage movements when they added a call for women's right to vote to the party platform. In addition to their work within the U.S., they pushed for peace and suffrage internationally and sent representatives to The Hague, where Jane Addams served as the presiding officer at the International Congress of Women in 1915. Following this meeting, the Women's Peace Party became the American branch of the Women's International Committee for Permanent Peace.
Throughout this busy time in the peace movement, Florence remained committed to her suffrage work in St. Louis. She was involved in several seminal suffrage events and organizations in Missouri. In 1916 Florence was part of a six-woman committee tasked with organizing the Congressional Union, soon known as the National Woman's Party, in Missouri, and in 1918 she was elected the treasurer for the Missouri auxiliary of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She even introduced her young daughter to the suffrage cause. At the age of four, Mary handed out suffrage literature in St. Louis, and just two years later in 1916 she participated with her mother in the Golden Lane demonstration where suffragists staged a silent protest of the Democratic National Convention. Mary played an important role in the protest as she, along with suffragist Edna Gellhorn's daughter Martha, depicted little girls as future voters in a theatrical tableau. 1916 was an active year for Florence as she also drove one of eight cars in an automobile parade in St. Louis and was part of the sixteen-member Missouri delegation that marched in a Chicago suffrage parade. One of her biggest achievements was organizing two mass meetings that were part of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association's convention and golden jubilee celebration, held in St. Louis in 1919. Speakers included NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt and honorary president Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, along with the mayor of the city.
Following the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Florence Taussig remained committed to her work with women's rights. She joined the newly formed National League of Women Voters and was active with that group through the 1920s and 30s. Florence died in 1954 at the age of seventy-six. She is remembered for her activism for women's suffrage, her peace work, and her other charitable involvement.
- Image 1: Letter from Florence Taussig to her husband Fred, sent in 1918 from Hull House in Chicago.
- Image 2: Florence's daughter Mary Boland Taussig Hall, pictured in 1937 at the age of twenty-five after she graduated from the Brown School of Social Work. (photo is from https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/mary-hall-her-commitments-peace-and-social-justice-filled-lifetime#stream/0)
The State Historical Society of Missouri holds the papers of Florence Taussig, including her correspondence and speeches, especially those relating to women's suffrage and the peace movements. The Jane Addams Collection at Swarthmore College also holds extensive correspondence between Taussig and Addams from 1918 to 1934. Information about Florence's suffrage work appears in the National American Woman Suffrage Association's The History of Woman Suffrage (New York: J.J. Little & Ives Company, 1922): 351 [LINK] and in St. Louis newspapers, such as the Post-Dispatch, Globe-Democrat, and Star and Times. Frederick Taussig's views on contraception and abortion can be found in Nathan Stormer's Sign of Pathology: U.S. Medical Rhetoric on Abortion, 1800s-1960s (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015) and Taussig's own Abortion, Spontaneous and Induced: Medical and Social Aspects (1936).