Genevieve B. Earle

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Genevieve B. Earle
Photo of Genevieve B. Earle.jpg
Born1883 (1883)
New York, New York
DiedMarch 7, 1956(1956-03-07) (aged 72–73)
Alma materAdelphi University
Known forfirst woman elected to the New York City Council
William P. Earle, Jr.
(m. 1913; died in 1940)

Genevieve Beavers Earle (1883 - March 7, 1956)[1] was a New York City politician. She was the first woman elected to the city council of New York City and the first woman to be involved in a New York City Charter Revision Commission. She was also a feminist.[2]


Earle was born in Blythebourne in 1885 and attended Erasmus Hall High School.[3] Earle graduated from Adelphi University in 1907.[4] She had worked in the field of sociology while in school and showed interest in becoming involved in New York politics immediately after graduation.[3] She married William P. Earle, Jr. on October 22, 1913.[5] They had two children, Mary and William, Jr.[6] Earle's husband died in 1940 of an "abdominal ailment."[5] In 1948, she spent four months in the hospital when she broke her hip by slipping on the ice, and this may have influenced her decision to retire from council later.[2] In 1949, she retired from New York City politics and moved to Bell House in Bellport.[7]

She died in her home in a fire that may have been "caused by a dropped cigarette in her bedroom."[8]


Earle began working in politics in 1907.[3] She started doing municipal research in 1908 and was one of the first women in this field.[7] As a direct result of her early studies, salaries for police patrolmen were increased in New York.[7] She chaired a woman's committee for the election of John Purroy Mitchel in 1917.[3] Also in 1917, she was appointed to the board of Child Welfare.[3] Earle was president of the Brooklyn chapter of the League of Women Voters.[9]

Earle served as the first woman on a New York City Charter Revision Commission during 1935 to 1936.[10][11] The charter created by the commission was adopted in 1936 and initiated the use of proportional representation in the city’s elections.[12] She was awarded a gold medal of service to Brooklyn, partly because of her work on the commission, which was presented by Mayor La Guardia in 1936.[13]

Earle was the first woman elected to the New York City Council in 1937,[14] and she was the only woman to serve as a council member in the city for some time.[15] She was one of a pool of 99 candidates for council, out of which 9 were voted in.[16] Earle ran as a member of the City Fusion Party,[17] and also had the support of many African American voters in Brooklyn.[18] Earle also appointed a black woman, Emily V. Gibbes, to a job in the city as a secretary.[18] She served in council from 1938 to 1949.[10] Between 1940 and 1949, she was the council's Republican Minority Leader.[4] While on the council, she promoted the creation of recreational centers and playgrounds in the city.[19] In 1953, she was appointed to a five-year term on Suffolk County's Planning Board.[2]

Earle was also involved with libraries. In 1934, Mayor La Guardia appointed her to the board of trustees for the Brooklyn Public Library.[3] Earle worked closely with Municipal Reference Librarian, Rebecca Browning Rankin, who helped her with research related to council work.[20] Earle was a vice president of the board of the Bellport Memorial Library.[7] She started an archives collection at Bellport Memorial Library.[21]

Adelphi University honored Earle with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 1942.[4] In 1962, Adelphi named a girls' dormitory "Earle Hall," in her honor.[7] Another honor was her election as an "honorary life member" of the Women's City Club of New York in 1951.[7]



  1. ^ "Brooklyn Heights Promenade". NYC Parks. 4 April 1999. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Genevieve Earle Appointed Member of Planning Council". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 9 June 1953. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Medal is Voted Mrs. Earle for Civic Services (Continued from Page 1)". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 8 January 1937. Retrieved 8 April 2017 – via
  4. ^ a b c "Building Honorees". Adelphi University. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b "William P. Earle, 57, Dies: Council Leader's Husband". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 8 July 1940. Retrieved 6 April 2017 – via
  6. ^ Pilat, Oliver (1943). "The Lady Who Tells Them Off" (PDF). unknown. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via La Guardia and Wagner Archives.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Adelphi to Honor the Late Mrs. Genevieve B. Earle". The Long Island Advance. 8 November 1962. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via NYS Historic Newspapers.
  8. ^ "Victim of Fire". The Post-Standard. 7 March 1956. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via
  9. ^ Prosterman, Daniel O (2013). Defining Democracy: Electoral Reform and the Struggle for Power in New York City. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 51. ISBN 9780195377736.
  10. ^ a b Bruzzese, Christina (March 2011). "Spotlight on: Women's History Month". Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Mrs. Earle Honored for Civic Services". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 8 January 1937. Retrieved 8 April 2017 – via
  12. ^ Perry 1990, p. 425.
  13. ^ "Women Praised in Civic Affairs" (PDF). New York Times. 28 January 1937. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via La Guardia and Wagner Archives.
  14. ^ "The Job of Citizenship". This I Believe. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  15. ^ Evans, Clifford (17 June 1939). "Ears to the Ground". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved 8 April 2017 – via
  16. ^ Ewing, Helen M. (9 February 1950). "Ex-Councilwoman Talks to Fireplace Literary Club". The Patchogue Advance. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via NYS Historic Newspapers.
  17. ^ "City's Leaders Back Mrs. Earle". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017 – via
  18. ^ a b Duckett, Alfred A. (8 June 1940). "Uncensored". The New York Age. Retrieved 6 April 2017 – via
  19. ^ "Playgrounds, Not Uniforms, for Children, The Democratic Way, Mrs. Earle Declares". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved 6 April 2017 – via
  20. ^ Seaver, Barry W. (2004). A True Politician: Rebecca Browning Rankin, Municipal Reference Librarian of the City of New York, 1920-1952. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 166. ISBN 0786416343.
  21. ^ "Display Cases at Library Dedicated to Memory of Late Mrs. Earle". Patchogue Advance. 5 September 1957. Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via NYS Historic Newspapers.


  • Perry, Elisabeth Israels (October 1990). "Women's Political Choices After Suffrage: The Women's City Club of New York, 1915–1990". New York History. 71 (4): 416–434. JSTOR 23175310.

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