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Alice Hubbard, Suffragette

Hubbard Museum will Receive Historical Marker

by Shelly Ferullo

East Aurora Advertiser, November 8, 2018

It’s been months in the making, and on Oct. 25 the Aurora Historical Society will unveil a historical marker that will be placed in front of the Elbert Hubbard Museum on Oakwood Avenue during their annual meeting.

The sign was issued through the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and it will commemorate women having the right to vote for the last century, and how Alice Hubbard marched for women’s suffrage. Installation is expected to happen next spring.

“I’m always amazed at what the Aurora Historical Society accomplishes as a volunteer organization under the guidance of [President] Susan McBurney,” Linda Ulrich-Hagner said, who is Vice-President of the organization. “It was truly a team effort to get this done.”

In a slide presentation compiled by Hagner, it notes that Elbert Hubbard was always supportive of his wife Alice’s involvement of the suffrage movement. Alice was the assistant editor and a writer for The FRA, which was a periodical published by the Roycrofters beginning in 1909, and she also taught Sunday School at the Roycroft Chapel. All of these accomplishments are noted on the historical marker, along with noting that she passed away during the sinking of the Lusitania.

Hagner said that she needed to provide the Pomeroy Foundation with a primary resource about where she was obtaining information about Alice’s life. Aurora Town Historian Robert Goller provided assistance going through old copies of the East Aurora Advertiser, which documented in print when Alice was in Washington D.C. marching for women’s suffrage in 1913.

“The Lusitania went down in 1915, so she wasn’t around to enjoy the fruits of her labor,” Hagner said.    

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation, based in Syracuse, believes that historic markers play an important role in local historic preservation by serving a dual purpose. They educate the public and foster historic tourism, which in turn can provide much needed economic benefits to the towns and villages where the markers are placed. The program will commemorate historic people, places or things within the time frame of 1740-1918, and earlier this year, the Aurora Historical Society applied for a grant with the foundation for a marker.

“It was an involved process and the Pomeroy Foundation staff and family were great with help,” Hagner said.


Marker Honors Efforts by Alice Hubbard in Suffrage Movement
by Adam Zaremski
East Aurora Advertiser, Monday, June 17, 2019

Linda Ulrich-Hagner, left, stands with Dorothy Furtney after the installation of the sign to honor Alice Hubbard. Many people wore yellow and purple that day, which were colors of the women’s suffrage movement.
Photo by Adam Zaremski

Outside the Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum on Oakwood Avenue, a new historical sign honors the legacy of Alice Hubbard and her support of the women’s suffrage movement.

The sign was obtained through the work of the Aurora Historical Society and spearheaded by Linda Ulrich-Hagner. They applied for the sign from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which provides historical signs across the country to organizations seeking to highlight important past event.

The foundation has a National Women’s Suffrage Marker Program and is funding up to 250 markers across the United States. Through Ulrich-Hagner and the society’s efforts, they were able to get a commemorative marker for the museum.

Town and Village Historian Robert Goller noted Hubbard led a strong women’s suffrage movement at the Roycroft Campus around the early 1900s. She supported efforts to bring speakers and conventions to the region, including East Aurora, and pushed people to vote and give women the right to vote. Goller noted that the people deciding the measure were men, and the first effort in the state, in 1915, failed. It was approved two years later.

During the presentation, he said there were news reports at the time that stated even if women could vote, they would not likely do so as they did not care that much. But in the first Village of East Aurora election when women could vote – in 1918 – the polls had to stay open longer for a larger than expected turnout.

“This was probably due to the large number of women who took an enthusiastic interest in their first opportunity to use the ballot,” the East Aurora Advertiser noted in 1918.

The Hubbards died before any votes took place in the state. They died while aboard the Lusitania, which was sunk by a torpedo in 1915.

The marker notes that Alice Hubbard was an author who “championed women’s suffrage” and that she “marched in the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C.”

That last part needed some extra work to prove. The Pomeroy Foundation requires primary documents to validate the research given. Ulrich-Hagner and Goller said they had heard Alice Hubbard was at the famous march through the late Kitty Turgeon, but they did not have actual proof of the matter. Goller said he was able to then search through the Advertiser archives and found a notice talking about Hubbard’s visit to Washington, D.C. She went to the parade with Beulah Hood.

Ulrich-Hagner was able to use that information and complete the application for the sign. It was unveiled last Friday.

Several other people spoke during the day’s event. Aurora Supervisor James Bach thanked the many volunteers with the society who help maintain the historical elements around the community. State Assemblyman David DiPietro also presented the group with a state proclamation noting June 7, 2019 was Alice Hubbard day. That was also her birthdate.

The Pomeroy Foundation also provided a statement on the matter.

“We are proud to support you and your commitment to pay tribute to Alice Hubbard. It is our hope that the women’s suffrage historic marker that stands here now will serve as an enduring reminder for future generations,” the foundation stated.

Marker Honors Efforts by Alice Hubbard in Suffrage Movement
by Robert Lowell Goller, Aurora Town and Village Historian
East Aurora Advertiser, October 29, 2015

An announcement in Elbert Hubbard’s Philistine magazine advertises a Woman Suffrage Convention at the Roycroft in August 1909. Despite strong support for women’s suffrage at the Roycroft, the men of East Aurora voted against granting women the right to vote in November 1915. Two years later, the vote went the other way.

When women a century ago asked for the right to vote, men in East Aurora and surrounding towns said “no.”

When women a century ago asked for the right to vote, men in East Aurora and surrounding towns said “no.”

Nov. 2 marks the 100th anniversary of a statewide referendum that resulted in defeat for women’s suffrage.

Before women gained the right to vote nationwide in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, individual states were allowed to decide whether or not women could cast ballots. In 1869, Wyoming (then a territory) became the first in the U.S. to grant women’s suffrage, followed by Utah in 1870.

A few states allowed women to vote only in some elections. Beginning in 1880, women in New York were allowed to cast ballots in school elections, but only men were allowed to go to the polls to select village, town, county, state and federal representatives.

Suffragists, who had been gaining momentum in the early 1910s, were able to get a referendum on the 1915 ballot in New York.

The issue had been of particular interest to Elbert and Alice Hubbard, who led a strong women’s suffrage movement from their Roycroft Campus in East Aurora. In fact, the Roycrofters hosted a number of suffrage meetings and conventions. In an advertisement for a “Woman Suffrage Convention” Aug. 12 to 22, 1909, which attracted speakers from across the country, the Roycrofters proclaimed: “Women will vote. They are proving their capability by triumphant progress in every walk of life. Their suffrage cannot much longer be denied them….At Roycroft, women are emancipated and undemonetized. They live, speak, work and think as free and independent folks.”

Although the 1915 election came a few months after Elbert and Alice Hubbard died in the sinking of the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland, the Roycrofters, now under the leadership of Elbert Hubbard II, continued to promote the cause. On Oct. 15, just a few weeks before the 1915 vote, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson, considered among the most sought-after suffrage speakers, led a “mass meeting” at the Roycroft Chapel.

The referendum was soundly defeated statewide, and the Roycrofters’ support in East Aurora failed to translate into local support at the ballot box. The measure was rejected in every local town, according to the results published in the East Aurora Advertiser. It was relatively close in the towns of Marilla and Aurora. In Aurora, the measure was defeated 311-281. It went down 129-111 in Marilla.

In Elma, however, it wasn’t even close: 278-150. The measure was also defeated in the Town of Wales, but the vote totals for that town were not reported in the newspaper.

The Advertiser observed that the measure likely failed not due to outright opposition to women’s suffrage. Most local men—and most across the state—simply didn’t care enough about the issue to even vote on the proposition when they went to the polls in 1915.

In Aurora, many men simply left the question blank on their ballots. “Only about half of those who voted expressed their view on this question,” the Advertiser noted.

The suffrage question seemed to be overshadowed by other issues on the ballot in 1915, including a long list of proposed changes to the state Constitution and the question over whether local towns should be “wet” or “dry” in regard to the sale of alcohol.

The defeat disappointed—but didn’t deter—suffragists. The issue was brought back to the New York State ballot in 1917.

A lot had changed in two years:

—Between 1915 and 1917, the U.S. became involved in World War I, which meant women were stepping into jobs traditionally held by men. Women were also volunteering in record numbers for organizations such as the American Red Cross. Political leaders—and many voters—had come to realize the important role women played in the war effort.

“Since 1915, the war has shown what woman’s service to the state can mean,” the New York State Woman Suffrage Party noted in an advertisement.

—Hoping to avoid the apathy that plagued the election two years earlier, suffragists launched a massive campaign to encourage men to vote in favor of the amendment. “Your vote is just as vital to the women of your state—to your wife or mother, or daughter or sister—as it is to you,” proclaimed an advertisement by the New York State Woman Suffrage Party in newspapers across the state, including the East Aurora Advertiser. “This is the year of all years!”

—President Wilson issued a statement directly to the voters of New York, asking the male voters to “set a great example in this matter.” Former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke in favor of the amendment, noting, according to one news report, that World War I “has brought, more inevitably than ever before, a realization to thinking men and women that universal suffrage is a part of world democracy.”

The issue attracted much more attention in East Aurora and surrounding towns in 1917 than it had two years earlier.

In 1915, notices of suffrage rallies at the Roycroft appeared among the Personals columns inside the paper. However, when nationally renowned suffragists Alice Duer Miller and Frederick William Roman spoke at the Roycroft in the weeks leading up to Election Day in 1917, it was front page news for several weeks.

This time on Election Night, suffragists celebrated a victory in East Aurora and across the state.

Although some towns across the state still voted against the measure, the statewide decision was decisive. “Women will soon have the opportunity to register their wishes at the polls,” the East Aurora Advertiser declared in its Nov. 8, 1917 issue.

In Aurora, the women’s suffrage amendment passed 529-336. According to results published in the Advertiser, in Marilla “the suffrage amendment was approved by a majority of 25 votes.”

The men in Wales, however, still voted against it. “Woman suffrage was defeated by 12 votes,” the Advertiser reported. Results of the vote on the suffrage amendment were not reported in the Advertiser for the Town of Elma.

Even though many anti-suffragists had claimed that most women wouldn’t want to vote even if they had the opportunity, East Aurora women quickly took advantage of their new right. The village election in March 1918 saw an unusually large turnout, even though the candidates were unopposed.

“This was probably due to the large number of women who took an enthusiastic interest in their first opportunity to use the ballot,” the Advertiser reported.

According to the newspaper, of the 253 votes recorded in the village election, 97 were cast by women.

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