Alice Paul was born in 1885 into a Quaker family and attended Swarthmore College, founded by her relative William Penn. She went on to do graduate work in New York City and London. While she was in England, Paul joined the British women's suffrage movement and became politically active. After returning to the United States in 1910, Paul became a leader in the American women’s suffrage movement, eventually forming the National Woman's Party with Lucy Burns in order to agitate for the vote on a federal level.
The party was known for using bold visual media to gain support, and in 1917 became the first group to picket the White House. Paul was jailed in October and November of that year as a result of the protests. After passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Paul became an ardent supporter of additional measures to advance women’s rights.
About the narrator:
Executive Director, Alice Paul Institute
Lucy Beard has been involved with the Alice Paul Institute -- as a volunteer, a board member, and then the first paid staff member -- since 1994. With a master's degree in American history, she was fascinated by the historic site of Alice Paul's childhood home, which now houses the Institute, after moving to the town of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, where it is located. “She really represented the new century, the new woman of the 20th century,” Beard says about Paul. “They were college educated. They were independent. And they expected to get suffrage for themselves for their own lifetimes.”
Paul was also unique among the 20th century suffragists in that she continued to devote herself to the cause of women’s rights after passage of the 19th Amendment. “She said ‘This is just the first step,’” explains Beard. “She had already identified that the way to true equality was not just through the vote. That was the way to a voice.” In 1923, Paul authored the Equal Rights Amendment, known as the E.R.A.