Gertrude Barish '19

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Title

Gertrude Barish '19

Description

Gertrude Barish, a Russian immigrant who allegedly came to the United States to escape political persecution, studied Social Service at Simmons, graduating in 1919. Barish was a vocal proponent of women’s suffrage, speaking at a meeting of the Suffrage Committee of the Constitutional Convention in Boston in 1917. At Simmons, she served as Chairman of the Consumers’ League and of the Civic League in her senior year. Her classmates recognized her activist spirit in her yearbook entry, noting that, “when we see Gertrude coming down the corridor, we feel instinctively that she is going to ask us to join something.”

In 1919, several newspapers reported that an American soldier named Leonard Swarthe was suing Barish for ten thousand dollars for “alleged breach of promise” after she refused to marry him. Swarthe, who had been stationed in Russia during World War I, claimed to have rescued Barish from death by a Russian firing squad after she “got into trouble with the authorities because of her political views.” He allegedly loaned her $1,700 to pay for her passage to the United States and for her Simmons tuition. Apparently, Swarthe assumed that Barish would repay the loan in more than money, and was outraged when she informed him that she loved another man.

The outcome of the court case remains unknown, and little information survives about Barish’s later life, though a lecture she gave at a Washington, D.C. march for world peace led by Jane Addams in 1921 suggests that she continued to advocate for political causes even after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Creator

Simmons University Archives

Date

1919

Rights

Images from the Simmons College Archives collections are made available for study purposes only. For more information, or to request rights to reproduce or reuse any images, contact the College Images from the Simmons College Archives collections are made available for study purposes only. For more information, or to request rights to reproduce or reuse any images, contact the College Archives at [email protected]

Citation

Simmons University Archives, “Gertrude Barish '19,” Suffrage at Simmons, accessed May 21, 2022, https://beatleyweb.simmons.edu/suffrage/items/show/16.

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