Inez Milholland was a lawyer specializing in criminal and divorce practice; she zealously advocated a variety of reform causes, including women’s suffrage, abolition of the death penalty, and the rights of working people. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she graduated from Vassar College in 1909, and received an LL.B. degree from New York University in 1912. In July 1913, she married Eugen Jan Boissevain, a New York importer, of Dutch citizenship. The resulting change in her citizenship status threatened to exclude Milholland from law practice, and she quickly became involved in attempts to repeal the offending legislation.Proclaiming herself a Socialist, Milholland joined the Women’s Trade Union League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Fabian Society of England. In 1915, as a war correspondent in Italy, she wrote a series of pacifist articles and as a result was expelled by the Italian government late that summer.In 1916, Milholland took part in a garment workers’ strike and was instrumental in securing a last-minute reprieve for Charles Stielow, a West Shelby, New York farmer accused of murder and sentenced to be executed in the electric chair.Concurrently, Milholland was becoming increasingly active in the women’s suffrage movement. She joined the Congressional Union, and, though suffering from pernicious anemia, undertook a speaking tour of the West in support of suffrage. In September she collapsed during a speech in Los Angeles and died ten weeks later, on November 25, 1916. A memorial service was held by her suffrage associates in Statuary Hall, Washington D.C., on Christmas Day, 1916. She was buried at her parents’ estate in Essex County, New York.Some years after Milholland’s death, Eugen Jan Boissevain married Edna St. Vincent Millay. This collection was subsequently passed on to Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Norma Millay, from whom it was purchased by the Schlesinger Library.
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