Harriet Wright (Burton) Laidlaw, 1873-1949Alternative names
Harriet Burton Laidlaw, suffragist, social and civic reformer, and internationalist, was born on December 16, 1873, in Albany, N.Y., the daughter of Alice Davenport (Wright) and George Davidson Burton. HBL attended public school in Albany, and earned both Bachelor (1895) and Master (1896) of Pedagogy degrees from Albany Normal College. After graduation she moved to New York City, taught in the public schools, and in 1902 earned degrees from Barnard College (A.B.) and Illinois Wesleyan University (Ph.B.). During this time she also took summer courses at Harvard (1900), the University of Chicago (1901), and Oxford University (1903). She continued to teach and started graduate school at Columbia University, but stopped both when she married James Lees Laidlaw in 1905. A concern with women's rights now blossomed into a remarkably active involvement in a variety of causes and organizations. This life of public service is reflected in the following chronology.
HBL was also active in the English Speaking Union, the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, Americans United for World Organization, the Citizens' Union of New York City, the Women's Union League, American Association of University Women, Children's Aid Society, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the New York Philharmonic Society, and other political and cultural organizations.
More biographical information is available in this collection. Also at the Schlesinger Library are a privately published memorial to James Lees Laidlaw (324.3/L18l), and the papers of Louise Laidlaw Backus (LLB), HBL's daughter. Although all papers pertaining to HBL have been removed from the Backus papers, they document LLB's work for international organizations, an interest evidently passed on by her mother.
LLB gave a collection of scrapbooks, clippings, periodicals and pamphlets relating to her parents' interest in suffrage, white slavery, amateur theater, etc. to the New-York Historical Society. These have been microfilmed by the Society. See also the article in Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources.
From the guide to the Papers, 1851-1958, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)
- Amateur theater--New York (N.Y.)