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Glen Cove to commemorate city’s role in women’s suffrage

The Pratt sisters-in-law who hosted suffragist meetings are to be honored Monday with historical marker.

Glen Cove officials discuss Helen Sherman Pratt and Florence Cibb Pratt, who lived in the city in the early 1900s. A ceremony Nov. 6 will honor the women's roles in the suffrage movement. (Credit: Newsday / David Olson)

As home of the nation’s first women’s rights convention in 1848, New York State is viewed as the birthplace of the struggle for women’s right to vote.

Far lesser known is the key role of efforts in places like Long Island in gaining the vote, in New York in 1917 and nationwide in 1920.

On Monday, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York, the city of Glen Cove and the Long Island Woman Suffrage Association will dedicate a historical marker honoring two city residents who hosted and attended suffragist meetings and donated to the movement.

The yellow and blue marker will be placed along Dosoris Lane, just south of the summer mansion of one of the two women, Helen Sherman Pratt. The mansion now houses a Russian government mission. The other woman, Florence Gibb Pratt, lived in a nearby mansion that is now part of the Webb Institute.

“The Pratt sisters-in-law were very wealthy women who could have spent their time just doing nothing, being dilettantes, but instead they really felt strongly that women needed to have the right to vote,” said Antonia Petrash, the suffrage association founder and a Glen Cove resident who spearheaded the push for a marker. “They both worked very hard for that.”

The marker is the latest of several across Long Island recognizing local women’s role in the suffrage movement.

A marker Petrash advocated for in downtown Huntington, to commemorate a women’s rights rally in 1913, is to be installed in the coming months, town officials said. Initiatives by others led to several additional markers, including two dedicated Saturday in Amityville and Babylon, and plaques in Shoreham, where leading suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton had a summer home.

The Pratt sisters-in-law were wealthy and well-known, so Petrash found their names in newspaper articles about suffrage efforts.

But lost to history are countless other women who participated in monthly Equal Suffrage Club meetings at The Tiny Tea Room in downtown Glen Cove, helped organize rallies or otherwise contributed to the suffrage movement but did not receive a newspaper mention, Petrash said.

“The movement had lots of just ordinary people. It didn’t have all wealthy people or all well-known people,” she said. “We celebrate these people because we have information on them. But there are thousands of people who worked very hard for the movement, and we don’t even know their names.”

Pamela Panzenbeck, 64, the sole woman on the Glen Cove City Council, said she still finds it hard to believe that less than four decades before she was born, women couldn’t vote.

“In the scheme of history, 100 years is a very short period of time,” she said. “We take so many things for granted.”

With Carl MacGowan

SUFFRAGE CEREMONY

Monday is the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New York State. A ceremony in Glen Cove will dedicate a marker recognizing the role two Glen Cove women — Helen Sherman Pratt and Florence Gibb Pratt — had in the suffrage movement.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. on Dosoris Lane between the entrance to the Glen Cove YMCA and Old Tappan Road. Parking is available at the YMCA.

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