Augusta Troup and a Different Path to Women’s Suffrage

New Haven, Conn. (August 25, 2020) –When one contemplates women’s suffrage, leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton often come to mind. Professor Kelly Marino of Sacred Heart University will share the remarkable story of a lesser-known, revolutionary leader in the fight for women’s suffrage, Augusta Lewis Troup, a journalist who advocated for unions, women’s and minority rights, and co-founded the New Haven Union, a newspaper dedicated to these topics. The free New Haven Museum program, “Augusta Troup and a Different Path to Women’s Suffrage,” will be held via Zoom on Thursday, September 10, at 5:30 p.m. Register here.

Marino notes that Troup’s story is remarkable because her most significant achievements took place in her teen or young-adult years. She also transcended gender and class norms and had a more forward-thinking ideology about sex equality than other people during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Troup was born in New York City in 1848. She was orphaned at a young age and adopted by a wealthy businessman. He sent her to the elite Brooklyn Heights Seminary and later the Catholic Convent School of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville to be educated. But her life of privilege was cut short when her guardian, Isaac Baldwin Gager, lost his fortune. Troup was left provide for herself, however, using her language skills and cultural knowledge to work her way up in the newspaper industry.

Marino notes that although Troup was successful compared to others, she was disgusted overall with the treatment that women received in the profession. As a result, she became active in the local labor movement and helped to get women admitted on more equal terms to the Typographical Union to create change. While Troup thought the vote was important to female advancement, unlike other women’s suffragists she believed that women's economic equality really was the most important factor to achieve in securing their long-term success.

She went on to marry Alexander Troup, a fellow labor activist, and the couple moved to Connecticut. When Alexander died prematurely, she supported herself as a teacher and became involved in many charity and social-reform causes, particularly in advocacy of Italian immigrants in New Haven and other minorities.

Troup also became a teacher in the New Haven, and was an outspoken member of the Board of Education who advocated for teachers’ rights and the importance of education. In 1911, she successfully established the New Haven Teachers’ League and lobbied the state of Connecticut for the provision of pensions for public school teachers.

Ironically, Troup died on September 14, 1920, the date on which Connecticut finally ratified the 19th Amendment. She was memorialized with the naming of the Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven in 1926. The plaque in the school foyer reads:

“We affectionately called her ‘Little Mother of the Italian Colony.’ Her broad sympathies and unfailing kindness helped us greatly when we most needed wise counsel and loyal friendship. Her liberal spirit and noble example lead us far along the road to a better understanding of American ideals and citizenship.”

NHM also welcomes the return of the “Rise Up, Sisters,” banner exhibit, created in conjunction with the Connecticut Historical Society with the support of Connecticut Humanities, that chronicles the diverse group of Connecticut women who were instrumental in the movement for women’s suffrage. The exhibit will remain on view through September 16, 2020. The museum will be open for visitors by advance reservation as of September 8, 2020. To make a reservation, please email info@newhavenmuseum.org.

About Kelly Marino

Marino is an assistant lecturer of history at Sacred Heart University. She received her Ph.D. from Binghamton University (SUNY) and M.A. in history from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A Connecticut native, she is passionate about state and local history, as well as women’s history and the history of sexuality. Her research focuses on social and political movements and Gilded Age/Progressive-Era America. She writes about reform, minority struggles, and activism.

About the New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue, the Museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach. As a designated Blue Star Museum, the New Haven Museum offers the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, free admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.org or Facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.

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