It’s a gorgeous autumn day in New York City, and if you have time after casting your ballot, Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is inviting voters to visit some of their monuments to suffragists.
Susan B. Anthony’s grave at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York, may be the most popular — and is staying open today until the end of voting — but there are numerous memorials to people who advocated for voting rights interred in New York City. Woodlawn is offering “I Voted” stickers at both their entrances to place at the grave sites of women’s suffrage leaders. The cemetery does ask that they are stuck on the signs by the monuments, not on the granite. (The cemetery’s historian Susan Olsen told the New York Times that it’s “love and it’s honoring, but it just causes problems.”) The signs will stay up through the weekend.
They include major suffrage figure Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association as well as the founder of the League of Women Voters and the International Alliance of Women; Catt’s adviser and assistant Mary Garrett Hay; and Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, an important financial backer for the suffrage movement. You can still find her suffragette banner inside her grand mausoleum, with the faded words: “failure is impossible.”
Elsewhere in New York City, you can find Lucy Burns, who helped found the National Woman’s Party, in Brooklyn’s Holy Cross Cemetery, and Louisine Havemeyer, who also made significant financial contributions to the movement, at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Yet women’s suffrage is only part of the 20th-century voting rights story, even as Americans vote for a candidate who may be the country’s first woman present. And in equal voting rights across races, Stanton and Anthony fell short. Nate DiMeo of the Memory Palace pointed out on Twitter that Ella Baker is interred at Flushing Cemetery in Queens. Baker was a civil rights activist, deeply involved in voter registration through organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. And in Green-Wood Cemetery is Sarah J. Garnet, who was both a suffragist and the first black woman to be a principal in New York City, while in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery is 19th-century equal rights in voting champion Thomas Downing. Throughout the city are many more monuments to these departed figures who made wider equality in voting possible.
UPDATED, Tuesday, November 8, 3:30pm ET:
Anastasija Ocheretina of the Woodlawn Conservancy shared some photographs of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s grave today, which is accumulating flowers, stickers, and other tributes. She added that every 4 train to the Bronx cemetery is bringing a handful of people coming to pay their respects to the suffragist.
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