Sunday, May 15, 2011

Caroline Katzenstein and Woman's Suffrage

     The General Assembly of Pennsylvania, House Resolution 81, Session of 2011: Recognizing the month of March 2011 as "National Women's History Month" in Pennsylvania reads, in part:
“WHEREAS, It was the lesser-known suffragists, such as Pennsylvanians Dora Kelly Lewis and Caroline Katzenstein, who inherited the struggle from Anthony, Stanton and Mott and oversaw the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which gave women the right to vote on August 18, 1920;…”

     Caroline Katzenstein lived in an apartment at 3411 Powelton Ave. from the 1920s until the 1950s. Her papers on women’s suffrage are available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  Their website offers a very good biosketch of her.  The Abstract reads in part:

Photo: HSP.ORG
“Caroline Katzenstein (1888-1968) was a leader in the Pennsylvania suffrage movement. She served in official positions for the Equal Franchise Society of Philadelphia, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the National Woman’s Party. After women won the vote in 1920, Katzenstein continued to fight for women’s rights and lobbied tirelessly for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment for over twenty years. In 1919, Katzenstein used her expertise in publicity to aid the Women Teachers Organization of Philadelphia in their efforts to increase salary for women teachers. Additionally, Katzenstein was a successful insurance agent for the Equitable Life Insurance Society of New York, the Massachusetts Bonding and Insurance Company (Philadelphia Branch), and the Philadelphia Life Insurance Company.”
     In 1955, she published a book entitled: Lifting the Curtain; the State and National Woman Suffrage Campaigns in Pennsylvania as I Saw Them.
     Katenstein was also concerned about world peace.  Melissa Klapper wrote in the Journal of American History in 2010: “In addition to working for peace in ways that emphasized Jewish identities and values, American Jewish women also drew liberally on maternalist ideals…. As the former suffragist Caroline Katzenstein wrote, ‘we women, because we are the mothers of the race, know perhaps better than men the true value of life, and it is up to us to show that war and the causes that lead to it can be abolished.’ Framing the issue as an appeal to mothers made it a message to which all women could presumably subscribe.”

Erratum: Caroline Katzenstein was born  Dec. 21, 1876 in Warrenton, N.C. (not 1888).  She and her sisters understated their ages in later censuses.  2/1/2013

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