Portia Willis Fitzgerald
(1886–1970) Portia was said to be educated, beautiful, well connected and daring--making her participation in suffrage publicity events fodder for press coverage. Her father was distinguished for his Civil War record and later became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Her mother was a prominent socialite. The press dubbed her "The Prettiest Suffragette in New York State.”
Portia was deeply involved in the New York State suffrage involvement from 1911 to 1917. In 1911, she and five other suffragists (including Harriet May Mills of Syracuse, President of the New York State Women’s Suffrage League) conducted a fourteen county tour of the state to organize local suffrage clubs as branches of the state’s organization. Portia was the youngest of the group. In the following years she extended her lecture tour to New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Massachusetts.
In addition to her lectures, she participated in other highly visible events. She worked with the New York State Suffrage Association to organize an aviation rally and parade in Hempstead, New York. Nearly 200 women and eight men participated. She encouraged the young participants to demonstrate their courage by taking a ride in a bi-plane piloted by a female suffrage aviator, Ruth Law.
In 1914, she drove an elephant carrying a Suffrage Plank at the head of a parade leading up to the Republican Convention in Chicago, IL. That same year, she was the Grand Marshal of the Women’s Peace Parade, which was a World War I anti-war protest.
After the passage of the 19th Amendment, Portia continued to demonstrate her commitment to civic engagement. She was an advocate for the League of Nations as a member of the Women's Pro-League Council. She helped to found and manage the Greater New York branch of the League of Nations Association. She chaired the United Nations Round Table from 1950-53, where she served with Eleanor Roosevelt. Portia's name was entered into New York State's suffrage honor roll in 1931.
Lot W 5162, Section 65 (Poplar)
4199 Webster Avenue, Bronx, NY 10470