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The hottest NYC musical focuses on an unlikely hero from South Jersey

Rita Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

Not that she would have sought the recognition.

Even the Alice Paul Institute, located in the suffragist’s Mount Laurel historic homestead in New Jersey, is not dedicated as an homage to its namesake.

“We don’t see our work as being a shrine to Alice Paul,” said Rachael Glashan Rupisan, assistant executive director. “We don’t think that’s what she would want.”

Instead the institute has long been dedicated to help carry out Paul’s legacy, including nurturing girls and young women to become leaders in their own right and in their own way.

Born Jan. 11, 1885, she was the first of four children born to William Paul, a president of the Burlington County Trust Company, and Tacie Paul, who had to drop out of college after she wed, because . married women at the time couldn’t attend college. As a parent, she made sure her children completed their education.

The Paul children were raised with strong Quaker values, including equality between men and women. Alice, a strong student, attended Swarthmore College. After graduation, she pursued social work, which took her to New York City and then England.

 

In England , she made the life-altering acquaintance of the Pankhursts, mother-and-daughter radical suffragists. With them and their comrades, Paul became an activist for the cause, too, getting imprisoned, going on hunger strikes, being force-fed.

When she returned to the United States, there would be no stopping her.

“She was truly committed to the cause of women’s equality,” said Mary Walton, author of the biography "A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot." “Voting was a step along the way.”

Paul wasn’t an obvious leader. She was reserved and didn’t have much of a sense of humor, said Walton, a former Inquirer staff writer. Nor did she have patience with people less committed to the cause.

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