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Maud Younger

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Basic Facts:

Dates: January 10, 1870 - June 25, 1936

Occupation: suffragist, reformer, labor union activist

Known for: key role in last stages of winning the vote for women; famous automobile tour promoting women's suffrage

Background, Family:

  • Father: William John Younger, dental surgeon
  • Mother: Annie Maria Lane Younger
  • Maud Younger had three sisters and a brother

About Maud Younger:

Born in San Francisco, California, Maud Younger's family's wealth made possible private school, trips abroad, and, in 1901, a trip to New York.

Maud Younger went to stay at the New York Settlement, planning to observe poverty and slums for a week. She stayed five years, and became an advocate of trade unions, woman suffrage and protective legislation for working women.

She took a job as a waitress, first in New York and then in San Francisco. She joined the Waitresses' Union while working in New York, but found that in San Francisco she'd have to organize one -- which she did. Known as the "millionaire waitress" she became president of the union local.

She fought for the California eight-hour-day law, and helped push it through by organizing testimony from affected workers and by lobbying.

Maud Younger joined the fight for women's vote as well, working on the California campaign in 1911 and concentrating on organizing working women and representing their interests in the suffrage movement. She became infamous for her suffrage float, pulled by a team of six horses which she herself drove.

She returned to New York, working with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union against subcontracting.

In 1913, when the militant wing of the suffrage movement led by Alice Paul began its active campaign for a federal suffrage amendment, Paul tapped Maud Younger as her "lieutenant." In 1915, Maud Younger became the first lobby chairman of the Congressional Union.

The keynote speech at the National Woman's Party founding convention was Maud Younger's. She delivered the memorial oration for Inez Milholland Boissevain. Maud Younger lobbied Congress, organized protests and demonstrations, and wrote for McCall's Magazine.

In 1920, in the last months of the long struggle for suffrage, Maud Younger traveled to Paris where her father was dying. She returned to San Francisco to settle his business affairs, and then returned to the East Coast in a well-publicized (and, given the state of the roads at that time, dangerous) cross-country automobile trip, alone.

Maud Younger threw herself into working for women in new ways, once the Suffrage Amendment was law: with the Women's Trade Union League, the Women's Bureau and the National Consumers' League.

Maud Younger was instrumental in 1923 in seeing that an Equal Rights Amendment was presented to Congress, beginning a long (and, to this day, unsuccessful) legal struggle for women's equality. She died in 1936 in California, still active in that work.

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