Harriet Wright (Burton) Laidlaw, 1873-1949

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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.

  • 1893:: First suffrage speech, Albany
  • 1906:: Daughter, Louise Burton, born
  • 1908 - 1909: : Secretary, College Equal Suffrage League
  • c.1909 - 1916: : Chairman, Borough of Manhattan, Woman Suffrage Party
  • 1911, 1914:: Speaks on suffrage in western states
  • 1911 - 1920: : Officer of National American Woman Suffrage Association
  • 1912 - 1923: : Writes articles about white slave trade
  • 1914:: Helps establish League for Civil Service
  • c.1915 - 1918: : Officer of New York State Woman Suffrage Association/Party
  • 1918:: Chairman, Volunteer College Workers, New York State and City, U.S. Food Administration
  • 1918 - 1919: : Chairman, New York State League of Women Voters
  • 1919 - 1919 : : Member, Women's Non-Partisan Committee for the League of Nations
  • 1919 - 1920: : Lobbies with Republican women in Albany for welfare legislation
  • 1920 - 1920 : : Boards of directors, American Social Hygiene Association, Florence Crittenton League
  • 1921 - 1922: : Officer, Women's Pro-League Council
  • 1923:: A founder of League of Nations Non-Partisan Association
  • 1925, 1927:: Trips to Europe with JLL and Louise
  • 1929:: Louise graduates from Barnard College
  • 1930:: Honorary LL.D., Rollins College, Florida
  • 1930s:: Supports New Deal, Spanish Loyalists
  • 1932:: JLL dies Elected to board of directors, Standard and Poor's Corporation
  • 1933:: Louise marries Dana Converse Backus
  • 1934:: Joins Carrie Chapman Catt and other women in appeal to allow victims of Nazi persecution into U.S.
  • 1937:: Member of executive committee, New York City Fusion Party Attends coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
  • 1939:: Chairman, American Committee, League of Nations Pavilion, New York World's Fair
  • 1946 - 1949: : Board of directors and executive committee, American Association for the United Nations
  • 1949:: Dies January 25, New York City

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)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Laidlaw, Harriet Burton, 1873-1949. Papers, 1851-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Addams, Jane, 1860-1935 person
associatedWith Allen, Florence Ellinwood, 1884-1966 person
associatedWith American Foundation corporateBody
associatedWith American Social Hygiene Association corporateBody
associatedWith Anthony, Lucy Elmina, 1861-1944 person
associatedWith Backus, Dana Converse, 1907-1989 person
associatedWith Backus, Louise (Laidlaw), 1906-1973 person
associatedWith Beard, Mary (Ritter), 1876-1958 person
associatedWith Belmont, Alva Erskine (Smith) Vanderbilt, 1853-1933 person
associatedWith Blackwell, Alice Stone, 1857-1950 person
associatedWith Blake, Katherine Devereux, 1858-1950 person
associatedWith Blatch, Harriot (Stanton), 1856-1940 person
associatedWith Boeckel, Florence (Brewer), 1885- person
associatedWith Brown, Gertrude (Foster), 1867-1956 person
associatedWith Burnett, Frances (Hodgson), 1849-1924 person
associatedWith Burns, Lucy, 1879-1966 person
associatedWith Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947 person
associatedWith Catt, Carrie (Lane) Chapman, 1859-1947 person
associatedWith Citizens Union of the City of New York corporateBody
associatedWith College Equal Suffrage League corporateBody
associatedWith Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies corporateBody
associatedWith Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933 person
associatedWith Crowdy, Rachel E. person
associatedWith Damrosch, Walter Johannes, 1862-1950 person
associatedWith Dennett, Mary (Ware), 1872-1947 person
associatedWith De Reszke, Edouard, 1853-1917 person
associatedWith Dickerman, Marion, 1890- person
associatedWith Dreier, Ethel Eyre (Valentine), 1872-1958 person
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt, 1868-1963 person
associatedWith Dyer, Rowland S. H. person
associatedWith Empire State Campaign Committee, New York corporateBody
associatedWith English Speaking Union corporateBody
associatedWith Gardener, Helen Hamilton, 1853-1925 person
associatedWith Gaynor, William Jay, 1851-1913 person
associatedWith Gildersleeve, Virginia Crocheron, 1877-1965 person
associatedWith Glasgow, Ellen Anderson Gholson, 1873-1945 person
associatedWith Hale, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson, 1883- person
associatedWith Hall, Florence Marion (Howe), 1845-1922 person
associatedWith Hay, Mary Garrett, 1857-1928 person
associatedWith Hepburn, Katharine (Houghton), 1878-1951 person
associatedWith Holt, Hamilton, 1872-1951 person
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert Clark, 1874-1964 person
associatedWith Howe, Julia (Ward), 1819-1910 person
associatedWith Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886-1960 person
associatedWith Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968 person
associatedWith International Language Association corporateBody
associatedWith Jacobs, Pattie (Ruffner), 1875-1935 person
associatedWith Kelley, Florence, 1859-1932 person
associatedWith La Follette, Belle (Case), 1859-1931 person
associatedWith Laidlaw, James Lees, 1874-1932 person
associatedWith Lamont, Margaret, 1905? -1977 person
associatedWith League of Nations Association (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith League of Women Voters corporateBody
associatedWith Livingston, Rose person
associatedWith Lowell, Abbott Lawrence, 1856-1943 person
associatedWith Martin, Anne Henrietta, 1875-1951 person
associatedWith McCormick, Katharine (Dexter), 1875-1967 person
associatedWith Men's League for Woman Suffrage corporateBody
associatedWith Mills, Harriet May, 1857- person
associatedWith National American Woman Suffrage Association corporateBody
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People corporateBody
associatedWith New York State Woman Suffrage Association corporateBody
associatedWith New York State Woman Suffrage Party corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio Equal Franchise Association corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio Woman Suffrage Association corporateBody
associatedWith Owens, Helen (Brewster), 1881-1968 person
associatedWith Park, Maud (Wood), 1871-1955 person
associatedWith Paul, Alice, 1885-1977 person
associatedWith Peabody, George Foster, 1852-1938 person
associatedWith Peck, Mary Gray, 1867- person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1882-1965 person
associatedWith Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973 person
associatedWith Reid, Helen (Rogers), 1882-1970 person
associatedWith Reilly, Caroline I. person
associatedWith Reinhardt, Aurelia (Henry), 1877-1948 person
associatedWith Rockefeller, John Davison, 1874-1960 person
associatedWith Rohde, Ruth (Bryan) Owen, 1885-1954 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor (Roosevelt), 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 1882-1945 person
associatedWith Ryan, Agnes E., 1878-1954 person
associatedWith Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972 person
associatedWith Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919 person
associatedWith Simkhovitch, Mary Melinda (Kingsbury), 1867-1951 person
associatedWith Smith, Alfred Emanuel, 1873-1944 person
associatedWith Sporborg, Constance (Amberg), 1880-1961 person
associatedWith Stowe, Lyman Beecher, 1880-1963 person
associatedWith Thomas, Martha Carey, 1857-1935 person
associatedWith Thompson, Dorothy, 1893-1961 person
associatedWith Trask, Katrina, 1853-1922 person
associatedWith Tuttle, Florence (Guertin), 1869-1951 person
associatedWith Underwood, John Curtis person
associatedWith United Nations Association corporateBody
associatedWith United States Food Administration corporateBody
associatedWith Upton, Harriet (Taylor), 1853-1945 person
associatedWith von Staden, Margaret person
associatedWith Vorce, Ethel R. person
associatedWith Wald, Lillian D., 1867-1940 person
associatedWith Wambaugh, Sarah, 1882-1955 person
associatedWith Wells, Marguerite Milton, 1872-1959 person
associatedWith Whitehouse, Vira (Boarman), 1875-1957 person
associatedWith Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 person
associatedWith Wise, Stephen Samuel, 1874-1949 person
associatedWith Woman Suffrage Party corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Non-Partisan Committee for the League of Nations corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Political Union corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Pro-League Council corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Amateur theater--New York (N.Y.)


Birth 1873

Death 1949

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SNAC ID: 12059325