Inez Milholland chair in Lewis, NY government is filled

After five years of the Inez Milholland chair standing empty in Essex County, upstate New York, it is now filled with a woman elected to office.

Sampling of Inez Milholland papers at Harvard University Library…

HonorINEZHighlights of the finding aid for Inez Milholland’s papers at Harvard University Library.

PLUS MUCH MORE…This is just a representative sampling of the available material.



MORE about Inez Milholland and her life!

cropped-inezslider1.jpgINEZ MILHOLLAND BOISSEVAIN

Between 1910 and 1916, she became a central figure involved in planning, speaking, and raising funds for the drive for Votes for Women in New York State.  She chaired meetings, answered opponents’ arguments, lobbied state legislators, and led suffrage parades up Fifth Avenue.  Robed as the “free woman of the future,” she became nationally known for her role as a mounted herald leading the great March 3, 1913 suffrage procession in Washington, D.C. that involved thousands of supporters and political figures.  Four months later, she married Dutch businessman Eugen Boissevain.

Attracted to law school by a desire to protect women and children, Inez faced rejection by Oxford, Columbia, and Harvard because she was a woman.  New York University finally accepted her.  Even before earning a law degree in 1912, she advised and supported working women and shirtwaist strikers who had no direct political representation or money for lawyers.  She believed that “the way to right the wrongs of civilization and to strike a blow at poverty was by means of concerted and intelligent political action and the making of sound laws.”


One of few women attorneys in New York, Inez specialized in criminal and divorce cases but faced prejudice and other obstacles to securing paying clients.  She vigorously participated in a grand jury investigation into conditions at Sing Sing Prison and once raced to win a last minute reprieve for a laborer sentenced to die.  Having seen the brutal conditions in prison, she spoke out for reform, opposed capital punishment, and assisted individual inmates with filing appeals and finding jobs.

Like her father, John Milholland, the first treasurer of the interracial NAACP, Inez opposed racial discrimination, supported the rights of workers, and advocated a wide range of reforms including international peace.  At the beginning of World War I, she joined Henry Ford’s “Peace Ship,” which unsuccessfully tried to steer the European warring parties into mediation.


Woman suffrage, however, is the cause to which she is most closely linked, and the cause to which she gave her final effort.  Expanding on her years of experience as a leader in New York City, Inez became a “Flying Envoy” for the National Woman’s Party on an October 1916 election year speaking tour of the west.  In city after city in seven western states, she spoke with passion and conviction to women who were new voters: “Now, for the first time in our history, women have the power to enforce their demands and the weapon with which to fight for woman’s liberation.”  Barnstorming for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, she declared, “Liberty must be fought for.  And, women of the nation, this is the time to fight.”

When her health failed during the strenuous tour, Inez put off medical treatment rather than quit.  In late October, exhausted and overcome by pain, the young suffragist collapsed while demanding liberty on a stage in Los Angeles.  A month later, despite repeated blood transfusions, she died of pernicious anemia, having just turned 30.  Fellow suffragists recognized that her leadership, love of democracy, and devotion to women made her a martyr to the cause.


Inez was buried in Essex County, New York, and on Christmas Day 1916 the Woman’s Party held an unprecedented memorial for her under the rotunda in Statuary Hall in the national Capitol.  She became the first woman to be so honored.  A week later, aroused by her sacrifice, suffragists began to picket the White House demanding that President Woodrow Wilson support for the suffrage amendment.  Throughout the year, their banners carried her final plea: “Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”  Inez inspired thousands of suffragists through the final, climactic years of the movement and her memory lived on in the ensuing years.

Inez Milholland Boissevain spent her life seeking justice, equality, and civil rights for American women.  Because of her work, and the persistence of tens of thousands of American suffragists from 1848 to 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures women’s voting rights now and for future generations.






Inez Milholland biography for her finding aid for personal papers at Harvard University!



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.

Follow the centennial blog launched during the 100th observance of Inez Milholland’s death in 2016. Follow

Inez Milholland’s birthday—How will you celebrate?


We’re giving you plenty of heads up. Months to plan for something special in August of 2019. There’s the birthday of Inez on August 6th, and then on August 26th, Women’s Equality Day. More people than ever are aware of the US suffrage martyr, Inez Milholland. And we want to make sure the awareness extends into 2020.  What are you planning? There are plenty of resources to make your event special. Start with the film, “Forward into Light.” Find out more at

And the blog, has plenty of background and inspiring material. Also, the centennial web site: is a public service for interested people and the media about the suffrage centennial celebration in 2020 when US women will have been voting for 100 years.

Check on early voting status in your state!


Find out when early voting starts in your state. This way you can put the dates on your calendar and then when Election Day rolls around, you will be ready.

In 2020, U.S. women will have been voting for 100 years.

Support and honor Inez Milholland!

When women voters have a reason to vote, such as their knowledge and affection for Inez Milholland, it’s much easier to plan.

Remember Inez Milholland, our U.S. suffrage martyr. Follow 

Inez Milholland included in national votes for women trail!

NEWS: There was an Inez Milholland march in January this year. Smaller than last year, but respectable nonetheless. Congrats.

National Votes for Women Trail – GoFundMe from NCWHS on Vimeo.

When you visit Lewis, New York you’ll see road markers pointing you to Milholland’s former home and grave. It’s the destination for many travelers and a spot on the growing national Votes for Women Trail that’s raising funds to build a web site directing travelers to important women’s history sites across the nation. This is an important part of the upcoming 2020 votes for women centennial observance in the United States. Give the US suffrage martyr the attention she deserves.

Have you seen the film about Inez? Visit

You’ll find the resources valuable on

Spread the word about this blog, that has been publishing since 2016 when the Women’s History Alliance (formerly the Women’s History Project) devoted a year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Milholland’s death.

Inez Milholland will receive the recognition she deserves in 2020, the US celebration of US women voting for 100 years. Stop by to find out some of the preparation (and anticipation) for 2020.

For media inquiries: is a public service to highlight the US preparation for 2020 when US women will have been voting for 100 years.

Suffrage Wagon News Channel features an important symbol of the first wave of the women’s rights movement in the US. The “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon will be on exhibit at the New York State Museum in Albany, New York. Visit the site to find out exhibition information for 2020. Activist Edna Kearns who used the wagon for grassroots organizing in 1913 in NYC and on Long Island knew and worked with Inez Milholland. Marguerite Kearns is the granddaughter of Edna Kearns.

Inez Milholland’s personal papers are at Harvard University

The finding aid from the Harvard University library: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

[link]Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 308; M-80
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Inez Milholland
Title: Papers of Inez Milholland, 1906-1916
Date(s): 1906-1916
Quantity: 1.04 linear feet (2+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 oversize folder, 3 reels microfilm (M-80)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, etc., of Inez Milholland, suffragist, reformer, and lawyer.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 79-M92
The papers of Inez Milholland were purchased by the Schlesinger Library from Norma Millay in April 1979.

Processing Information:

Processed: November 1980
By: Sharon M. Vardamis


Access. Originals are closed; use digital images or microfilm M-80.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Inez Milholland as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors’ heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.



  • 1. In organizing the material the processor added page numbers and dates, where necessary, to the correspondence, articles, and newsclippings. Page numbers and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.
  • 2. Fragments of Milholland essays, articles, and speeches in folders #30, 32, and 36, were numbered and filmed consecutively. The reader should be aware, however, that the text is not always consecutive.
  • 3. The collection included envelopes for some of the correspondence between Milholland and Eugen Jan Boissevain, and some of these have been filmed. The reader should note the following: a) envelopes filmed were left where they were originally found and do not necessarily accompany the letters they precede or succeed; and b) those included were filmed to indicate where the recipient was residing, so that only the first envelope after each change of address was filmed.


  • Folders 1-11: M-80, Reel 1
  • Folders 12-28: M-80, Reel 2
  • Folders 29-50: M-80, Reel 3


Preferred Citation:

Inez Milholland Papers, 1906-1916; item description, dates. MC 308, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Thank you, Inez Milholland!

Inez Milholland as featured in the film, "Ahoy!"Dutch women filmmakers have produced a film, “Ahoy!” that features American suffragist Inez Milholland as an example (among others) of women who continue to inspire us today. Statement from the Dutch women who produced “Ahoy!” –a work shown at two film festivals.

With pride we present our film Ahoy! unsurpassed women of the world.The film is about a young woman who gets inspired by the lives of heroines. When  the leadroll dreams, some heroines come to live. Eventually she makes a decision. In this film we want to honor female leadership and courage of women all over the world and show their relevance for women in our time.

The idea of the film  came  as a result of a year project ‘Heroines Woldwide’ from our Dutch women’s organization Zeeuwse Wereldvrouwen. Our women’s group is located in the south of the Netherlands, the province Zeeland (Sealand). We live on a peninsula. We meet every week and the participants are Dutch women and women from all over the world, young and old etc. The goal of our organization is to empower women and to increase awareness in society about the role of women. We work through education, art, film, poetry, and with projects. At the moment we are working on the project Silent Voices, about violence against women.

During the year-long project, “Heroines Worldwide,” all women chose a heroine from their own original country and shared it with the group. In this way we got to know many unknown heroines. We made a Wall of Fame in our room where we have our weekly meetings. For most of us, Inez Milholland was totally unknown. We were excited when we heard about her. Her story is so inspiring and visual. We definitely wanted her in our film. We found out a lot of heroines who died young and dedicated their life to womens’ rights.

Making the film was a real adventure. We did everything ourselves. The film is entirely shot on iPhone. And women of our group played the heroines. We asked the community to help us with locations and horses.This project has really changed us. Actually, playing the heroines, literally crawling into their skin, changed the spirit of our group. On the 14th of February 2014, we joined the One Billion Rising movement and we went on the streets to demonstrate against violence against women and we also danced Break the Chain. With us was a Dutch heroine Aletta Jacobs  (also in our film) she came to life, to demonstrate with us and hold a speech for the public. We are not to be stopped now.

Thank you Inez Milholland, and all the other heroines.

The film has shown at Film By the Sea in Vlissingen and Cineffable, Filmfestival International Lesbien et Feministe du Paris.