Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission

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The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission was an American woman's suffrage organization formed by Carrie Chapman Catt in March 1917 using funds willed for the purpose by Miriam Leslie. The organization helped promote the cause of suffrage through greater visibility in the public eye and through education. It was estimated that around $933,728.88 of the funds left by Leslie went directly to the cause of women's suffrage.[1]


When Miriam Leslie died in 1914, she put into her will that Carrie Chapman Catt should receive money to promote and continue her work towards woman's suffrage.[2] Leslie wanted the funds to go to Catt and wanted her to decide how to best utilize the money.[3] The will was contested by Leslie's family,[4] and Catt found a lawyer who would be willing to wait for payment until the case was won.[5] Catt was first given $500,000 from Leslie's will by the court in February 1917.[6] Later, jewels belonging to Leslie and appraised at $34,785 were also given to Catt.[6]

The first meeting of the Leslie Commission took place in New York in March 1917.[7][4] The commission was headed by Catt and the secretary and treasurer was Gratia Goller.[7] At the first meeting the women created by-laws for the organization.[6] They also discussed how to use the $500,000 that Catt was given.[8]

The money was used to help promote woman's suffrage by educating the public and was affiliated with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).[6] Rose Young was tasked with creating a bureau for the Leslie Commission which provided press-releases to newspapers about the work of suffragists in the United States.[3] The bureau was staffed with 25 people and was located on the fifteenth floor of a building at 171 Madison Avenue.[1] The bureau also compiled statistics relating to suffrage, answered questions from the public, printed interviews with suffragists and ways to challenge anti-suffragists.[1] The Leslie Commission bureau also supported the publishing of The Woman Citizen journal.[9] The group also created informational pamphlets in political races on candidates who were against women having the vote.[3] According to the Arizona Republic in 1920, the Leslie Commission had the "world's largest propaganda bureau run by women."[10]

When women won the vote in the United States in 1920, funds from the Leslie Commission were used to help women achieve suffrage in other countries.[1] The Commission purchased books about the history of women's suffrage and donated them to libraries.[1]

The Commission was dissolved on October 1, 1929.[6]

Notable members[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Young, Rose (1922). "Hundreds of Thousands of Words Poured out of the Leslie Bureau to Every Newspaper in the Nation". Highlights from The Record of The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission, Inc.1917-1929. The Liz Library. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  2. ^ "The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission". The Miami Herald. 21 February 1917. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c "How the $750,000 Fund Left by Mrs. Frank Leslie Is Spent for Nation-Wide Suffrage Propaganda". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 25 March 1919. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b c King 2010, p. 131.
  5. ^ Young, Rose (1922). "Highlights from The Record of The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission, Inc. 1917-1929". The Liz Library. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Young, Rose (1922). "Leslie Money Fuels New York Approval of Woman Suffrage". Highlights from the Record of the Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission, Inc. 1917-1929. The Liz Library. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt Meets With Suffrage Leaders to Discuss Ways and Means of Using One Million Dollars". Xenia Daily Gazette. 2 April 1917. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "To Spend Leslie Money". The New York Times. 30 January 1917. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  9. ^ "In Editorial Charge of Journal of Democracy, 'The Woman Citizen'". Detroit Free Press. 16 May 1917. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Many Branches". Arizona Republic. 20 February 1920. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ a b c "Women Discussing Disposal of $1,000,000". Evening Public Ledger. 7 April 1917. Retrieved 9 May 2017 – via Newspapers.com.


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