Women's suffrage activist Alice Paul organized the National Woman's Party in 1916 in Washington, D.C. The group utilized dramatic strategies to gain attention in a state-by-state campaign for suffrage and equal rights for women. Despite diligent efforts the National Woman's Party in Oklahoma had only a brief existence, due to numerous difficulties.
Begun in 1920, Oklahoma's organization appointed Ida F. Halsey as local chairperson. In November 1920 five women were nominated to represent Oklahoma at the 1921 national convention. In 1922 Florence Etheridge Cobb replaced Halsey as chair. Cobb campaigned for the legal rights of women in the home and work place and enlisted the help of State Representative Anna Laskey to initiate equal rights legislation. Laskey originally agreed but later withdrew her offer. The party then turned to State Representative J. W. Callahan to back the organization. Callahan introduced four bills to the legislature in 1923, but all were defeated.
The National Woman's Party had its critics. Many Oklahoma women believed that equal rights for women in the work place would jeopardize the established laws protecting women against harsh working conditions and long hours. More importantly, the organization was unsuccessful in Oklahoma due to the opposing views of conservative Oklahoma women against the liberal opinions of the national organization.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Harlow's Weekly (Oklahoma City), 1920-1923. Durward Howes, ed., American Women: The Official Who's Who Among the Women of the Nation, Vol. 2 (Los Angeles: American Publications, Inc., 1937). Suzanne H. Schrems, Across the Political Spectrum: Oklahoma Women in Politics in the Early Twentieth Century, 1900-1930 (Lincoln, Nebr.: Writers Club Press, 2001).
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