Monday, May 11, 2009

Susan W. Fitzgerald

Susan Walker Fitzgerald was born in 1871 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to well to do parents. She attended Bryn Mawr college, graduating in 1893. After time working at Bryn Mawr and Barnard College, she married Richard Y. Fitzgerald, an attorney. His family's business interests took them west, where Susan and daughter Rebecca left San Francisco just four days before the great earthquake. An illness suffered by Richard returned them east, and after a time Susan took a paying job supervising Pauline Agassiz Shaw's social work in Boston. In 1911, they moved to Greenough avenue, Jamaica Plain.

Susan was active in the suffrage movement, serving as an officer in various local and national organizations. From 1911-1915 she wrote a column three times a week in the Boston Evening Traveller. After a failed campaign for the Boston School Board, she won election to State Representative from Jamaica Plain, being the first woman Democrat to serve in the Legislature (Sylvia Donaldson was elected the same year as a Republican). After a single term, she left politics but remained active in public life.

Boston Daily Globe December 3, 1922


Susan W. Fitzgerald Talks on Place in Public Life

Representative-Elect Speaks Before Twentieth Century Club

Susan W. Fitzgerald of Jamaica Plain, one of the first two women to be elected to the State Legislature, representing the 22nd Suffolk District, spoke at the Twentieth Century Club yesterday afternoon on was (sic) "The Function of Women in Public Life."

Mrs Fitzgerald said that women were in political offices really to learn, as well as to serve. She emphasized the point that she wished people to regard her as representing the district as whole, and not as simply a women representing women in a district. On the other hand, she said, her interest should be that of the entire community rather than personal or sectional interests.

she said she believed women in office had really more to learn than to give, and that politics was a great school in which women might learn in a great many ways to be good sports, to take work as it comes, to seek no favors, no deference, no advantages - in short to be treated as man to man.

She spoke of the personal interest people had taken in women's work in politics, and said that in her own case that interest had strengthened a personal bond between her and her neighbors as nothing had done in the past. This bond she said was a basis for the right kind of political activity.

She stated that men voters had shown an interest in the candidacy of women for public office, and that this was a proof of the trust in woman's ability to represent people capably.

A question period followed. Samuel Hubbard presided. Dr. E.A.Winship gave a short talk on his travels in Dakota.

Source: Susan Walker Fitzgerald Papers


  1. Thanks for this bio of her. I often ass her house on Greenough and now I know more about this amazing person.