Social Movements


Jacob Riis:¬† A photographer and journalist, Jacob Riis published¬† “How the Other Half Lives” in 1890, documenting the conditions of tenement house living similar to to the way in which Rachel’s family lived. Riis’ book, along with pressure from other reformers, would spur the passage of the New York State Tenement House Act of 1901 which required better ventilation, improved hallway lighting, and indoor toilets.¬† Read and see photographs from “How the Other Half Lives” at

Woman Suffrage: The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote passed in 1920. Many women like Bessie would agree that women should vote but would think it improper to march in parades or participate in public demonstrations.

The opposition to woman suffrage diminished when President Wilson jailed demonstrators who had chained themselves to the white house gates. The outrage from the public and many in Congress over beatings, unsanitary conditions, and forced feeding in jail prompted Wilson to accept woman suffrage. Carrie Chapman Catt, one of the most famous suffragists, lived in New Rochelle in an elegant Colonial Revival style home on Paine Ave. from 1927 until her death in 1947.

Watch a Sewell Belmont Museum documentary of the 1917 woman suffrage protest outside the White House at