Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Ladson Hall, 1870-1945
By Elizabeth Cunningham, undergraduate, Rosemont College
Ladson Hall was born on September 2, 1870 in New Jersey to Laura J. Polk, a relative of the president, and James Ladson Hall, a merchant. Hall was named after her father, who died within days of her birth. Hall grew up in New Jersey and Philadelphia. In 1880 she was living with her mother in Salem, NJ. By 1900 her mother had remarried and Ladson lived with mother and step-family in Camden, NJ. In 1908 Hall received a diploma in library training, although she listed her occupation in the 1930 census as teacher.
By 1910, her mother was widowed again and Ladson lived in Philadelphia with her mother and step siblings. She had no occupation listed in the census. She next appears in the Federal Manuscript Census in Philadelphia in 1930 as a lodger and teacher in the Wellington Hotel. She continued to live in Philadelphia until her death in 1945.
Hall began her involvement in the suffrage movement in October 1913, attending a suffrage school taught by Carrie Chapman Catt in New York City. She is mentioned frequently in the next two years in multiple newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Bedford Gazette. Hall participated in the daring open-air events staged at Philadelphia by Alice Paul in 1914. The Evening Ledger breathlessly reported plans for a "yellow flying squadron" which would deliver "speakers in four automobiles flying suffrage banner... to one of the entrances to City Hall courtyard... the moment they stop speaking will begin." She also addressed workers from the Fels soap plant, speaking from a motorcar.
She became a paid organizer during the Pennsylvania suffrage referendum touring the countryside in an automobile on which she perched to better addressed crowds. At a 1914 meeting of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association (PWSA), she defended the use of the automobiles as an invaluable aid to the suffrage organizer. "The farmer of Pennsylvania is a conservative and will not stand for the spectacular or picturesque," she explained," referencing the disdain in the western part of the state for the Philadelphia suffrage spectacles she herself participated in. "The inevitable criticism which greets the suffrage organizer in small communities of the state is that suffragists arc unladylike and too spectacular. It is very difficult to convince the Pennsylvania Dutch element, the Scotch-Irish and the Quakers that is essential for women to get out into the crowded streets in order to bring the suffrage cause before the voters and gain converts among the women." Hall argued that automobile imparted a certain "dignity" to outdoor suffrage address. Hall often spoke to local organizers about the benefits of open-air proceedings in an effort to overcome their reticence. She was also frequently the first woman to give an open-air address in rural towns in Pennsylvania.
Hall was reportedly a provocative speaker, quipping "Here is thirty cents for each of the five husbands I have refused. It's all their worth", as reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hall was close to Hannah Patterson during her presidency of the PWSA; Patterson asked Hall to remain in the Lehigh Valley to develop suffrage support during September of 1915, as it was evident that scandal was overtaking the suffrage movement.
In September 1920, Ladson Hall attended a "conference of women political leaders" called by the Women's League for Good Government, a non-partisan group committed to help independent voters "realize their political opportunities and know their political duties." This meeting came just two months before Pennsylvania women voted in their first presidential election.
Ladson Hall never married and passed away on 2 September 1945 in Philadelphia. A brief obituary in The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that she was a "former worker in women's suffrage movements here and in New York," and that she resided at 1622 Locust St.
A biographical sketch of Hall is held by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in the Lilliane Stevens Howard Collection.
"School for Suffrage Workers," Mercersburg (PA) Journal, 3 Oct. 1913, p. 4.
"Women to Have Own Assessors," Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia), 8 Sept. 1920, p. 3.
Federal Manuscript Censuses, Pennsylvania, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1930, entries for Ladson Hall. Accessed online via Ancestry Library Edition.
"12 May 1945, Page 16 - The Philadelphia Inquirer at Newspapers.com." Newspapers.com. Accessed May 2, 2017. http://www.newspapers.com/image/171788985/?terms=%22ladson%2Bhall%22.
"20 Nov 1914, Page 6 - The Scranton Republican at Newspapers.com." Newspapers.com. Accessed April 25, 2017. http://www.newspapers.com/image/48312809/.
"21 Nov 1914, Page 12 - The Wilkes-Barre Record at Newspapers.com." Newspapers.com. Accessed April 25, 2017. http://www.newspapers.com/image/95069181/.
"22 Nov 1914, Page 23 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at Newspapers.com." Newspapers.com. Accessed February 6, 2017. http://www.newspapers.com/image/85905730/.
"9 Jul 1893, Page 13 - The Times at Newspapers.com." Newspapers.com. Accessed February 6, 2017. http://www.newspapers.com/image/53338345/.
"Altamont Enterprise Aug. 25, 1916 | The Altamont Enterprise." Accessed April 25, 2017. https://altamontenterprise.com/08252016/altamont-enterprise-aug-25-1916.
"Autos Help Woman Suffrage, She Says." Inquirer. November 22, 1914. http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201914/Philadelphia%20PA%20Inquirer%201914%20-%204067.pdf.
"Bedford Gazette, October 15, 1915 : Front Page." Accessed April 25, 2017. https://newspaperarchive.com/bedford-gazette-oct-15-1915/?tag=ladson+hall&rtserp=tags/?pep=ladson-hall&psi=77&pci=7&ndt=by&py=1910&pey=1919/.
"Echoes Of Equality Struggle For Suffrage Was Bellwether For Women's Rights." Tribunedigital-Mcall. Accessed April 25, 2017. http://articles.mcall.com/1995-03-23/features/3014881_1_suffrage-lucretia-mott-women-voters.
"Echoes Of Equality Struggle For Suffrage Was Bellwether For Women's Rights." Tribunedigital-Mcall. Accessed February 5, 2017. http://articles.mcall.com/1995-03-23/features/3014881_1_suffrage-lucretia-mott-women-voters.
"Evening Public Ledger. (Philadelphia [Pa.]) 1914-1942, October 11, 1915, Final, Image 4," October 11, 1915. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045211/1915-10-11/ed-1/seq-4/.
Interior, United States Department of the. Decisions of the Department of the Interior in Appealed Pension and Retirement Claims: Also a Table of Cases Reported, Cited, Distinguished, Modified, and Overruled and of Statutes, Cited and Construed. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1898.
———. Decisions of the Department of the Interior in Appealed Pension and Retirement Claims: Also a Table of Cases Reported, Cited, Distinguished, Modified, and Overruled and of Statutes, Cited and Construed. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1898.
Life and Labor Bulletin. National Women's Trade Union League, 1922.
Teachers, American Federation of. Conference of Teachers in Workers' Education at Brookwood, 1924.
Williams, William Bradford. Munitions Manufacture in the Philadelphia Ordnance District. A. Pomerantz & Company, Printers, 1921.
Accessed April 25, 2017. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045211/1914-10-23/ed-1/seq-14.pdf.
Evening Ledger. Accessed April 25, 2017. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045211/1914-10-16/ed-1/seq-11.pdf.
"PA State Archives - MG-73 - Scope and Content Note - Liliane Stevens Howard Collection." Accessed April 25, 2017. http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/mg/mg73.htm.
Polk, W. H. Polk Family and Kinsmen.[Louisville, KY: Bradley & Gilbert,] 1912.
"The Scranton Republican from Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1914 · Page 11." Newspapers.com. Accessed April 25, 2017. http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/48312788/.