Eva Austin Judkins and the School Board Election of 1914
Four years before Eva Viola Austin Judkins began her illustrious, thirty year career on the Glens Falls Board of Education, she attempted gain a seat through a caucus on April 28, 1914. Nominated by Katharine Bowden, President of the Glens Falls Political Equality Club, of which Mrs. Judkins was a member, she came up five votes short. Interestingly, her husband, Rev. Dr. Charles O. Judkins, pastor of the Methodist Church, nominated J. Ward Russell, who was seeking reelection.
Could the husband & wife have had different views on women running for school board? In a 1983 letter to Lacinda N. Hess, the Judkins' youngest daughter, Barbara Judkins Gow, wrote "Mother was a liberal, politically, and eagerly read conflicting views on issues so as to arrive at an objective opinion. Dad was conservative; and we used to have long arguments at the dinner table." However, Rev. Dr. Judkins had come out as being pro-suffrage a few months prior when he addressed the audience before the lecture “Feminism: Its Moral Results in New Zealand” by Miss Jane Mander, graduate of Columbia University, & native of New Zealand.
“The whole human mind is developed by various experiences. For years the male mind has forced along, developed reasoning, thinking power. The female mind has developed along other lines. It stands to reason that both halves of this thoroughly worked out mentality should be pressed into service. It shows a lack of common sense not to enfranchise all.” Rev. Dr. Charles O. Judkins as reported in Post-Star on March 2, 1914.
Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY Warren County). April 29, 1914. P.7.
MRS. C. O. JUDKINS LOSES BY FIVE VOTES AT CAUCUS
Woman Candidate for Member of Board of Education Makes Excellent Showing--Receives Seventy-Eight Votes
The campaign to nominate a woman candidate for the Board of Education failed by a small margin of only five votes last evening during the annual caucus of Union Free School District No. 1.
Mrs. Charles O. Judkins, the candidate of the women of the district, received seventy-eight votes, Dennis McLaughlin received eighty-three, L. F. Stickney, eighty-six and J. Ward Russell 108. The three men are members of the board who seek re-elections. The annual school meeting will be held next Tuesday afternoon. The polls will be open at 4 o’clock and will remain open as long as those present desire.
None of the feature of the old times political caucus, in the days before direct primaries spoiled a lot of fun for the politicians, were missing at the caucus. The candidates and their enthusiastic supporters buttonholed the members of both sexes as they appeared in the high school and small ballots were passed out to the voters before they entered the auditorium. Before the meeting was called, some of the less enthusiastic of the male organization’s forces predicted the defeat of their candidates, although these predictions were somewhat confidential.
When the meeting was called, the men and women were about equally divided, with the latter probably having a small majority. Charles E. Bullard, secretary of the Board of Education presided, and without any unnecessary delay, called for nominations. The first man to take the floor was Charles H. Hitchcock and with a regular convention hall address he nominated Dennis McLaughlin. Miss Katherine Bowden, president of the Political Equality Club, which backed the candidacy of Mrs. Judkins, then placed the name of Mrs. Judkins before the meeting. The nomination was seconded by W. Harold Adamson. Rev. Dr. Judkins nominated J. Ward Russell and C. H. Stupplebeen presented the name of L. F. Stickney. Mr. Russell explained the qualifications of voters.
William E. Burdett, J. M. Seay and Lewis A. Jones were appointed tellers. They passed the hat through the room and collected ballots from everybody who wanted to vote. While the tellers were counting the vote, William A. Bannon appeared and requested the privilege of voting. Mr. Bullard had previously declared the polls closed.
“Has anybody any objections to Mr. Bannon voting?” asked the chairman.
“No,” came a few faint male voices from the rear.
While Mr. Bannon was endeavoring the secure a hearing, four women entered the hall.
“There are several women here, too,” remarked the man in the front of the hall.
“Will you object to re-opening the polls?” asked Mr. Bullard.
“Yes, yes,” came the male voices, strong and loud, from the rear of the halls. “No, no,” was the faint reply of the feminine voices from the seats well toward the front. The women lost their point and neither Mr. Bannon nor the four women were allowed to vote. Had they been allowed the privilege of voting, Mrs. Judkins would have received at least eighty-two votes and if she had received the vote of Mr. Bannon would have had the same number as Mr. McLaughlin.
Whether the women will continue their campaign to elect Mrs. Judkins at the annual school meeting next Tuesday, is not known.
Eva had plenty of other things to occupy her time between her school board loss in 1914 and her win in 1918. She was active in the study clubs Friends in Council, and the Glens Falls Club of College Women. And, as mentioned above, she was active in the local suffrage movement. These four years were important in NY, with two suffrage referenda put to the male voters within those years. With the 1917 referendum passing and women in NY gaining the right to vote in all elections, not just school board elections (1880), Eva ran again and would serve until 1948.
Tisha Dolton is Librarian/Historian at The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Her areas of interest are suffrage music, suffragists of Warren and Washington Counties, local women and minority populations, and embroidery.