Rebellious Daughters of History #10
by Judy Cox
Dora Montefiore (1851-1933): suffragist, pacifist, communist
Dora Fuller was born on 20th December, 1851. She was educated at home, and then at a private school in Brighton. In 1874 she went to Australia, where she met George Barrow Montefiore, a wealthy businessman. They lived in Sydney, where their daughter was born in 1883 and their son in 1887. Her husband died on 17th July 1889. She became an advocate of women’s rights and in March 1891 she established the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales.
On returning to England in 1892 she worked with Millicent Fawcett at the National Union of Suffrage Societies. She also joined the Social Democratic Federation and eventually served on its executive. She also contributed to its journal, Justice.
During the Boer War Montefiore “refused willingly to pay income tax, because payment of such tax went towards financing a war in the making of which I had had no voice.” Bailiffs sold her goods at public auctions.
Montefiore joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1905 and worked closely with Sylvia Pankhurst in London. In 1906 Dora Montefiore refused to pay her taxes until women were granted the vote.
Outside her home she placed a banner that read: “Women should vote for the laws they obey and the taxes they pay.” This resulted in her Hammersmith home being besieged by bailiffs for six weeks.
In October 1906 Dora was arrested during a WSPU demonstration and was sent to Holloway prison. Dora left the WSPU in 1906 but she remained close to Sylvia Pankhurst, who shared a belief in socialism.
In the autumn of 1907, Dora and seventy other members of the WSPU left to form the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). In 1907 Montefiore joined the Adult Suffrage Society and was elected its honorary secretary in 1909. She also remained in the Social Democratic Federation. Montefiore was pre-eminently a journalist and pamphleteer. Most of her pamphlets were on women and socialism.
On 31st July, 1920, Dora was among a group of revolutionary socialists who attended a meeting at the Cannon Street Hotel in London and agreed to form the Communist Party of Great Britain. She became a close friend of Alexandra Kollontai.
After the death of her son from the delayed effects of mustard gas in 1921 he had suffered on the western front.
Dora died on 21st December 1933, at her home in Hastings, and was cremated at Golders Green, Middlesex.
Here is a letter from kollontai to Dora Montefiore.
Rebellious Nurses of History: Mary Mahoney (1845-1926)
Mary Mahoney was first black American woman to complete nurse’s training in 1879.
Mary Mahoney was born on May 7, 1845, in Boston, Massachusetts. She challenged racist discrimination to be admitted to the nursing school of the New England Hospital for Women and Children, and became the first black woman to complete nurse’s training in 1879.
Mahoney campaigned against racism in the nursing profession. In 1896, she joined the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC). The NAAUSC consisted mainly of white members, many holding openly racist views. Mahoney felt that a group was needed which advocated for the equality of African American nurses.
In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). In the following year, at the NACGN’s first national convention, she gave the opening speech. At the convention, the organization’s members elected Mahoney to be the national chaplain and gave her a life membership.
Mary was one of the first women to register to vote in Boston following the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Mahoney was inducted into both the Nursing Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She died in Boston in 1926.