Jessie Ashley

(1861–1919) A devoted Socialist, suffragist, and feminist, Jessie was the daughter of a railroad magnate and descended from the Mayflower. She sought to use her resources to make the country more just. Jessie bridged worlds: she was national treasurer of the very mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association while also an active member of the International Workers of the World (the Wobblies) - not a common combination.

Jessie was a 1902 graduate of NYU Law School, and she encouraged the handful of elite women who were gaining traction in the clubby world of New York lawyers. At the same time she was devoted to labor: she was a mainstay of support for striking workers in New York and beyond, notably women striking in Lawrence & Lowell, Massachusetts to Patterson, New Jersey.

Her suffrage and feminist activities began with leadership of the College Equal Suffrage League and continued with co-founding, with Margaret Sanger and Ida Rauh, the National Birth Control League in 1915. She was arrested for violating the Comstock Law distributing literature about birth control at a rally in Union Square. In her memoirs, Anarchist Emma Goldman called Jessie Ashley a “valiant rebel.”

Jessie died of pneumonia in 1919 at age 57 or 58.

Woodlawn Cemetery

Section 70, Lawn Plot, Lot 1059

4199 Webster Avenue, Bronx, NY 10470

Bronx County

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