Lucy Burns

Do you know all the women who fought for the women's suffrage? Well you may not know about Lucy Burns, but she played a big role in helping women get the right to vote. Lucy Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 28, 1879. She had beautiful red hair and was raised a Catholic. She had 7 brothers and sisters. Her father was in favor of  educating both boys and girls equally.

Lucy graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1902. She also went to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Lucy taught English at Erasmus Hall, a public high school in Brooklyn. She moved to Germany to study languages from 1906-1908. There she went to the University of Berlin and the University of Bonn. When she got back to America, she taught at a public high school in Brooklyn.

A few years later Burns went to England where she attended Oxford University. While she was there she got interested in women's right to vote. Lucy earned a special award from the Pankhursts' Women's Social and Political Union for the bravery she showed in the path of several arrests and prison hunger strikes. Soon she left England because she wanted to help out with this cause in America.

In 1912, Lucy and Alice Paul began a battle for passage of a constitutional amendment to guarantee women the right to vote in the United States. In 1913, they created the Congressional Union for Women's Suffrage, three years later  it became the National Women's Party. Lucy helped organize political campaigns, was the editor of the Suffragist, and spent time in jail for her work in Washington D.C. She used chalk to write messages supporting voting rights for women and during World War I she demonstrated against President Wilson in front of the White House. Lucy was arrested six times and spent more time in jail than any other American suffragist. Lucy Burns was a powerful speaker. In Jailed for Freedom, author Doris Stevens wrote, "Her talent as an orator is of the kind that makes for instant intimacy with her audience."

On August 26, 1920 Burns retreated from political activism. She went back to Brooklyn to live with two unmarried sisters. Lucy Burns put her heart in making it possible for women to vote. She died in Brooklyn on December 22, 1966. Without her, women probably wouldn't be voting today.

Image courtesy of Bryn Mawr College Library
Lucy Burns, from the Official Program of the Woman's Suffrage Procession. Washington, D.C., 1913.

By Angela & Rebecca, fourth grade, 2004

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