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1909 - Suffragettes in love?

Lynn, MA

Women's suffrage laid the groundwork for LGBTQ+ rights.
Several prominent suffragettes were queer (1). Was this true of the leaders of the Lynn suffragettes, Susanna Berry and her “companion” Ellen Wetherell? Berry’s obituary (2) says “She had a summer cottage at Nahant, where she delighted to spend the seasons with ... Miss Ellen Witherell, who was her companion all through her later life.” They lived together and are buried together. Neither woman had children. Their denouncement of men’s treatment of women was strenuous. Ms. Wetherell never married and she dedicated her book to her “companion”, to whom the pages are “lovingly inscribed”. (3) Could this be code for a special relationship? Probably not. They were sisters. In any case, they were fierce advocates for equal rights and especially a woman’s right to vote, and that laid the groundwork for LGBTQ+ rights.

Pictured: Susanna W. Berry, Ellen F. Wetherell

Location: Lynn, MA

Source: The Lynn Item, page 1

Date: 1909-10-15

Footnotes:
(1) New York Times August 14, 2020 “How Queer Women Powered the Suffrage Movement”.
(2) The Lynn Item, April 4, 1920 “Susanna Berry Dead at Capital” page 1
(3) In Free America, 1901, the Colored Co-operative Publishing Company
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