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“Fine Dignity, Picturesque Beauty, and Serious Purpose”:

The Reorientation of Suffrage Media in the Twentieth Century

Emily Scarbrough, Author

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Lucy Burns Biography

Lucy Burns was born in 1879 in New York. She was educated at a number of universities including: Vassar, Yale, and Oxford. Like Alice Paul, Burns moved to England after college and became involved in the aggressive suffragette movement. She worked as an organizer for Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) from 1910-1912. Once when Burns had been arrested for her suffrage activities in England, she met Alice Paul inside a London police station. A shared interest in women’s rights and a contempt for the slow, passive methods of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association led the two women to bond. When Paul and Burns returned to the United States, they formed the Congressional Union (CU) in 1913 and later merged with the Women’s Political Union (WPU) in 1916 to create the National Women’s Party (NWP). The CU and NWP borrowed methods from their British friends to organize parades and make large public demonstrations. Women of the NWP went so far as to picket the White House during World War I. Public opinion was divided over the actions of Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, but one thing was certain -- people were paying attention. After the 19th amendment was ratified Burns retired from public life.
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