Laidlaw, Harriet Burton, 1873-1949

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Harriet (Wright) Burton Laidlaw (December 16, 1873 – January 25, 1949) was an American social reformer and suffragist. She campaigned in support of the Nineteenth Amendment and the United Nations, and was the first female corporate director of Standard & Poor's.

Harriet Wright Burton was born in Albany, New York, on December 16, 1873, to George Davidson Burton, a bank cashier, and Alice Davenport Wright. After her father died when she was aged six, her mother took her and her two younger brothers to live with his parents. She worked as a page at the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1894, held in Albany.

Burton attended Albany High School, then went on to the New York State Normal College (now the University at Albany, SUNY) where she received a bachelor's degree in pedagogy in 1895 and a master's in 1896. Burton went to Illinois and received a Ph.B from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1898 before returning to New York to attend Barnard College, where she received a B.A. in 1902. She took summer courses at Harvard in 1900, the University of Chicago in 1901, and Oxford University in 1903.

While working as an English teacher in the New York public high school system, she pursued a PhD at Columbia University, but stopped both after her marriage in 1905. She was awarded an honorary LLD degree by Rollins College in 1930.

Burton married James Lees Laidlaw, a partner in the brokerage firm Laidlaw & Company and a strong advocate of women's rights himself, on October 25, 1905. They had a daughter, Louise Burton Laidlaw, in 1906. James died of Parkinson's disease in 1932, after which Harriet was named as the only female member the board of directors of Standard & Poors. Harriet died in New York City after a brief illness on January 25, 1949. At the time of her death, she was living in Manhattan at 920 Fifth Avenue and had a vacation home in Sands Point, Long Island.

Laidlaw gave her first speech in support of women's suffrage to an audience of friends and relatives at the age of 20. She became the secretary of the College Equal Suffrage League in 1908 and the acting Manhattan Borough Chairperson of the Woman Suffrage Party in 1911. The party's founder, Carrie Chapman Catt, asked her to fill the latter position more permanently, and she did so from 1912 to 1916.

In addition to her work in support of women's suffrage, Laidlaw was a crusader against white slavery and the forced prostitution of both white and Chinese women in New York, and was a proponent of the Mann Act of 1910. In 1912, following a violent attack on anti-prostitution activist Rose Livingston, Laidlaw and her husband helped mobilize public opinion against the perceived inaction of Mayor William Jay Gaynor in ordering increased police protection for activists in New York's Chinatown. On November 9 of that year, she served as chairman of a torchlight parade down Fifth Avenue that drew an estimated 400,000-500,000 observers, an event that solidified her position as a leader of the suffragist movement. She wrote many articles and columns, spoke at public gatherings, and traveled around the country, including a trip through the western United States in 1913 to help organize activists.

Laidlaw spoke out against the notion of separate spheres for men and women in regards to public life, writing in 1912 that, "insofar as women were like men they ought to have the same rights; insofar as they were different they must represent themselves." In 1914, her most significant writing was published, a booklet entitled Organizing to Win by the Political District Plan, which gave activists step-by-step instructions on how to fundraise and engage with their local political leaders to keep up sustained pressure in support of suffrage.

Laidlaw became a director of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1917, and was among a group of leading suffragettes who met with former President Theodore Roosevelt to persuade him to lend support to their cause. Later that year, an amendment to the New York Constitution granting women the vote was passed.

Following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, Laidlaw's attention turned to international relations, and she promoted the United States' entry into the League of Nations as well as the formation of the United Nations. She was a strong supporter of Prohibition and was a member of the New York State Prohibition Society.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Kirchwey, Freda, 1893-1976. Papers, 1871-1972 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Brown, Gertrude Foster, b. 1867. Papers, 1732-1956 (inclusive), 1815-1956 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964. Papers, 1918-1960 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers of Helen Brewster Owens, 1867-1948 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963. Papers, 1797-1963 (inclusive), 1897-1963 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945. Papers in the Mary Earhart Dillon collection, 1869-1945 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Papers: Series V-VII, 1906-1947 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886-1960. Papers, 1894-1960 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
creatorOf Laidlaw, Harriet Burton, 1873-1949. Papers, 1851-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, 1889-1957, n.d. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1965. Papers, 1797-1968 (bulk 1897-1968) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf New York State Woman Suffrage Party. New York State Woman Suffrage Party records, 1915-1919, bulk (1917). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. Papers: Series III, 1909-1942 (inclusive) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn New York State Woman Suffrage Party records, 1915-1919, 1917 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Papers of Anna Howard Shaw in the Mary Earhart Dillon Collection, 1863-1961 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957. Papers, 1889-1957 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919. Papers in the Mary Earhart Dillon Collection, 1863-1961 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Papers, 1910-1911 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, 1867, 1895, 1902-1948 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Papers: Series I-IV, 1851-1958 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945. Papers in the Mary Earhart Dillon Collection, 1869-1945 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Papers, 1851-1958 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Brown, Gertrude Foster, 1867-1956. Papers, 1822-1978, bulk: 1910-1949 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Scrapbooks, 1909-1918 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Kirchwey, Freda. Papers, 1871-1972 (inclusive), 1937-1971 (bulk) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn McCormick, Katharine Dexter, 1875-1967. Papers, 1912-1958 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Benedict, William Leonard, 1860-1935. Papers, 1914-1915 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. Papers, 1874-1945 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hand, Learned, 1872-1961. Papers, 1840-1961 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Simkhovitch, Mary K. (Mary Kingsbury), 1867-1951. Papers, 1852-1960 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Simkhovitch, Mary K. (Mary Kingsbury), 1867-1951. Papers, 1852-1960 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
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associatedWith Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968 person
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associatedWith Kirchwey, Freda. person
associatedWith Kirchwey, Freda, 1893-1976 person
associatedWith La Follette, Belle (Case), 1859-1931 person
associatedWith La Follette, Belle Case, 1859-1931. person
associatedWith Laidlaw, James Lees, 1874-1932 person
associatedWith Laidlaw, James Lees, 1874-1932. person
associatedWith Lamont, Margaret, 1905? -1977 person
associatedWith Lamont, Margaret, 1905?-1977. person
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associatedWith Livingston, Rose person
associatedWith Livingston, Rose. person
associatedWith Lowell, Abbott Lawrence, 1856-1943 person
associatedWith Lowell, A. Lawrence (Abbott Lawrence), 1856-1943. person
associatedWith Martin, Anne, 1875-1951. person
associatedWith Martin, Anne Henrietta, 1875-1951 person
associatedWith Mary Melinda (Kingsbury) Simkhovitch, 1867-1951 person
associatedWith MARY (WARE) DENNETT person
associatedWith McCormick, Katharine (Dexter), 1875-1967 person
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associatedWith McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, 1862-1945 person
associatedWith McCulloch, Catharine Waugh, b. 1862. person
associatedWith Men's League for Woman Suffrage corporateBody
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associatedWith Mills, Harriet May, 1857- person
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associatedWith New York State Woman Suffrage Association. corporateBody
associatedWith New York State Woman Suffrage Party corporateBody
associatedWith New York State Woman Suffrage Party. corporateBody
associatedWith New York World's Fair (1939-1940) corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio Equal Franchise Association corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio Equal Franchise Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio Woman Suffrage Association corporateBody
associatedWith Ohio Woman Suffrage Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Owen, Ruth Bryan, 1885-1954. person
associatedWith Owens, Helen Brewster, 1881-1968. person
associatedWith Owens, Helen Brewster, 1881-1968. person
associatedWith Park, Maud (Wood), 1871-1955 person
associatedWith Park, Maud Wood, 1871-1955. person
associatedWith Paul, Alice, 1885-1977 person
associatedWith Paul, Alice, 1885-1977. person
associatedWith Peabody, George Foster, 1852-1938 person
associatedWith Peabody, George Foster, 1852-1938. person
associatedWith Peck, Mary Gray, 1867- person
associatedWith Peck, Mary Gray, 1867- person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1882-1965 person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1882-1965. person
associatedWith Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973 person
associatedWith Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973. person
associatedWith Reid, Helen (Rogers), 1882-1970 person
associatedWith Reid, Helen Rogers, 1882-1970. person
associatedWith Reilly, Caroline I. person
associatedWith Reilly, Caroline I. person
associatedWith Reinhardt, Aurelia (Henry), 1877-1948 person
associatedWith Reinhardt, Aurelia Henry, 1877-1948. person
associatedWith Rockefeller, John Davison, 1874-1960 person
associatedWith Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960. person
associatedWith Rohde, Ruth (Bryan) Owen, 1885-1954 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor (Roosevelt), 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 1882-1945 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. person
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associatedWith Ryan, Agnes E., 1878-1954. person
associatedWith Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972 person
associatedWith Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972. person
associatedWith Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919 person
associatedWith Shaw, Anna Howard, 1847-1919. person
associatedWith Simkhovitch, Mary K. (Mary Kingsbury), 1867-1951. person
associatedWith Simkhovitch, Mary K. (Mary Kingsbury), 1867-1951. person
associatedWith Simkhovitch, Mary Melinda (Kingsbury), 1867-1951 person
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associatedWith Smith, Alfred Emanuel, 1873-1944. person
associatedWith Sporborg, Constance (Amberg), 1880-1961 person
associatedWith Sporborg, Constance Amberg, 1880-1961. person
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associatedWith Stowe, Lyman Beecher, 1880-1963. person
associatedWith Thomas, Martha Carey, 1857-1935 person
associatedWith Thomas, M. Carey (Martha Carey), 1857-1935. person
associatedWith Thompson, Dorothy, 1893-1961 person
associatedWith Thompson, Dorothy, 1893-1961. person
associatedWith Trask, Katrina, 1853-1922 person
associatedWith Trask, Katrina, 1853-1922. person
associatedWith Tuttle, Florence (Guertin), 1869-1951 person
associatedWith Tuttle, Florence Guertin, 1869-1951. person
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associatedWith Underwood, John Curtis. person
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associatedWith United States Food Administration corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Food Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Upton, Harriet Taylor. person
associatedWith Upton, Harriet (Taylor), 1853-1945 person
associatedWith von Staden, Margaret person
associatedWith von Staden, Margaret. person
associatedWith Vorce, Ethel R. person
associatedWith Vorce, Ethel R. person
associatedWith Wald, Lillian D., 1867-1940 person
associatedWith Wald, Lillian D., 1867-1940. person
associatedWith Wambaugh, Sarah, 1882-1955 person
associatedWith Wambaugh, Sarah, 1882-1955. person
associatedWith Wells, Marguerite Milton, 1872-1959 person
associatedWith Wells, Marguerite Milton, 1872-1959. person
associatedWith Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957 person
associatedWith Whitehouse, Vira Boarman, 1875-1957. person
associatedWith Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 person
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associatedWith Wise, Stephen Samuel, 1874-1949 person
associatedWith Wise, Stephen S. (Stephen Samuel), 1874-1949. person
associatedWith Woman Suffrage Party corporateBody
associatedWith Woman Suffrage Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Non-Partisan Committee for the League of Nations corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Non-Partisan Committee for the League of Nations. corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Political Union corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Political Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Pro-League Council corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Pro-League Council. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
Albany NY US
Subject
Women's rights--20th century
Women and peace
Prohibition
Civic improvement
Amateur theater--New York (N.Y.)
Suffragists
World War, 1914-1918--War work
Courtship
Non-governmental organizations
Peace
Amateur theater
Women--Suffrage
Social work with prostitutes
Women--Societies and clubs
International cooperation
Prostitution
Women
Occupation
Social reformers
Authors
Suffragists
Activity

Person

Birth 1873-12-16

Death 1949-01-25

Female

Americans

English

Information

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