Susan B. Anthony Desk

Date(s): Circa 1875-1900
Material: Walnut

This Victorian cylinder roll top desk was originally owned by Susan B. Anthony.   The desk was donated to the National Woman’s Party by Susan B. Anthony’s former secretary, Rachel Brill Ezekiel in December 1913, just a few years after Anthony’s death.

A Quaker and a teacher, Anthony became active in the temperance and abolitionist movements which led her into the burgeoning suffrage campaign.  In 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the two women began a partnership and friendship that lasted more than 50 years.  Anthony was a great speaker and argued vehemently before Congress for a federal amendment that would grant women the right to vote.  Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1869 and helped found the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890.  Anthony was the president of the NAWSA from 1892 to 1900.  In 1872, she was person arrested, put on trial and fined for voting in Rochester.

After her death in 1906, women’s suffrage organizations including the National Woman’s Party drew inspiration from many pioneering women leaders.  Alice Paul and the NWP used Anthony’s words as well as her legacy to promote women’s equality, including printing “Failure is Impossible” and other powerful quotes on banners and in publications.  A photograph, taken in 1922, shows Alice Paul, Alva Belmont and other NWP members around the desk.

Today the desk is on display in the “Suffrage Origins” gallery.

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