Inez Milholland

Inez Milholland c. 1911, George Grantham Bain collection, Library of Congress

Inez Milholland c. 1911, George Grantham Bain collection, Library of Congress (source)

Inez Miholland died November 25, 1916, a little over three years after she lead the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913, in Washington, DC. But, she was much more than a pretty woman on a white horse. Milholland was a labor lawyer, WWI correspondent, a suffragist and a lecturer. She was only 30 years old when she died of pernicious anemia, but she definitely made an impact in her short life.

Inez was the oldest of three children born to John and Jean Milholland, a progressive couple who supported civil rights, women’s suffrage and educating girls as well as boys. The family was well off and after being educated in New York, London, and Berlin, Inez chose to go to Vassar College. She was a very active student getting involved in academic pursuits such as the German Club and the debating team as well as the track and hockey teams, but Inez didn’t restrict herself to “approved” activities. In spite of the fact that suffrage meetings were banned, she and her friends held suffrage “classes”, staged protests and circulated petitions.

After graduating at Vassar, Inez received her law degree in 1912 from New York University Law School, passed the New York bar exam and joined a law firm handling criminal and divorce cases. She took up a number of causes at this point as well, including prison reform and equality for African Americans. Among other organizations, she was a member of the NAACP, the Women’s Trade Union League, the Nation Child Labor committee and the National Woman’s Party. Through the National Woman’s Party, she met Alice Paul and became a popular speaker on the issue of women’s suffrage and helped to organize the suffrage parade in 1913.

Inez Milholland preparing to lead the Suffrage Parade in 1913, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress (source)

Inez Milholland preparing to lead the Suffrage Parade in 1913, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress (source)

In spite of deteriorating health, she continued her work over the next three years, traveling as a war correspondent, writing pacifist articles, protesting the United States involvement in the war and speaking for women’s rights. It was during a speech for the National Woman’s Party that she finally collapsed in Los Angeles, California. She was rushed to the hospital, but in spite of numerous blood transfusions, they were unable to save her life. Her last recorded public words were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

Find out what else happened on November 25 in Women’s History.

Leave a Reply