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Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley, 1890-1964



  • Existence: 1890 - 1964

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was born on August 7, 1890 in Concord, New Hampshire. The family moved to New York in 1900, where she was educated at the local public schools. Her parents introduced her to socialism. When she was only fifteen she gave her first public speech, "What Socialism Will Do for Women," at the Harlem Socialist Club. In 1907, Flynn became a full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, and attended her first IWW convention in September of that year. In 1909, Flynn participated in a free speech fight in Spokane, in which she chained herself to a lamp-post in order to delay her arrest. Flynn was arrested ten times during this period, but was never convicted of any criminal activity. It was a plea bargain, on the other hand, that resulted in Flynn's expulsion from the IWW in 1916, along with fellow organizer Joe Ettor. She was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and betwee 1926 and 1936 lived in southwest Portland, Oregon with birth control activist, suffragette, and Wobbly Marie Equi. Though Flynn was in poor health most of her time in Portland, she was an active and vocal supporter of the 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike. In 1936, Flynn joined the Communist Party and wrote a feminist column for its journal, the Daily Worker. Two years later, she was elected to the national committee. Her membership in the Party led to her ouster from the board of the ACLU in 1940.During World War II, she played an important role in the campaign for equal economic opportunity and pay for women and the establishment of day care centers for working mothers. Flynn became national chairwoman of the Communist Party of the United States in 1961. She made several visits to the Soviet Union and died while there on September 5, 1964.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Elizabeth Flynn papers

Identifier: MS-9
Overview Elizabeth G. Flynn (1890-1964), labor leader, activist and feminist. The collection contains photocopies of clippings, essays, correspondence concerning her activities as a communist.