True Grit of the Suffragists: 100 Years of Women’s Voting Rights in New York

Community leaders celebrated Women’s History Month with a program in the Third County Courthouse that focused on the compelling stories of courage and the work and sacrifices of the suffragists that highlight the centennial of women’s voting rights in New York State.


Organized by Beth Gorrie of Staten Island OutLOUD and the Staten Island Women’s Bar Association (SIWBA), the insightful event featured guest speakers Edwina Martin, Esq.,  Manju Sunny, Esq., and local author-historian Patricia Salmon.


Ms. Martin, a past president of SIWBA whose suffragist-ensemble evoked the era, provided an overview the national movement and the intersection of race and women’s suffrage. She highlighted Victoria Woodhull who, in 1872, was the first female presidential candidate, and the role of the lesser-known women and their vital role in the historic movement.


Ms. Salmon, who has authored five books focused on Staten Island’s history and influence, spoke about the movement on a local level and how New Yorkers felt about the hardships suffragists endured, and shared photos, diary entries, and letter of New York and National suffragettes.


Among those in attendance were Richmond County Public Administrator Anthony Catalano, Esq.; Bonnie Bolstein, a descendant of suffragette Mariah Wilbur; and Andrew Wilson, a member of the Historic Richmond Town Director’s Council.

Ms. Bolstein wore the iconic purple, white, and gold silk sash of the suffrage movement, in honor of her ancestor who was present at the legendary Seneca Falls convention of 1848, and heard the famous speeches delivered by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. She was joined in creating a period-authentic atmosphere by Sarah and Marc Hermann, historical interpreters at HRT and numerous other organizations.

The event was part of Staten Island OutLOUD’s series for the National Endowment for the Arts—The Big Read. Ms. Gorrie provided each guest with a copy of Charles Portis’ novel True Grit. The novel’s heroine, Mattie Ross, was able to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to accomplish her goal—as did the brave women who proudly bore the name “Suffragettes.”

Sarah Hermann