1912's New York State woman suffrage convention in Utica is no longer "the convention about which almost nothing is known."
Thanks to new research by the Oneida County History Center and independent researcher Christopher Philippo, the Freethought Trail can at last present a complete story of the Forty-Fourth Annual Convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA).
It is now known that the convention unfolded over four days, from October 15–18, 1912. (Originally only a single day was accounted for.) In addition to Thorn Memorial Chapel, where the plenary sessions were held, the convention's venues included its headquarters, the Hotel Utica, and the New Century Auditorium, where an evening session aimed at the general public took place.
Of perhaps the greatest interest, the mystery of Jane Addams is largely solved. The pioneer social worker and suffragist was announced as the convention's keynote speaker. When detailed information on the convention's program became available, it was clear that Addams had been a no-show. It might have been because Addams endorsed the third-party "Bull Moose" presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt, controversial among more conservative suffragists; it might have been because Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt just the day before the convention began. In any case, the media frenzy over the Roosevelt shooting probably contributed to the Utica convention's near-absence from the historical record.
"With this new information, the Freethought Trail is able to chronicle each of the sixteen state-level suffrage conventions that took place between Rochester and Utica at a similar level of detail," said Trail director Tom Flynn.