Augusta Street (November 7, 1889 - September, 1976), a League officer, fell in love with Anna Lord Strauss. She found Strauss "the finest human being I had ever known," and knowing her "the most beautiful and profound experience I have ever had." Loving Strauss—she asked permission to say it—made the earth move and "the whole landscape of human affairs and nature" take on a new appearance. Being with Strauss made "the tone and fiber" of her day different; although she could live without her, she could see no reason for having to prove it all the time. She tried to "ration and control" her thoughts of Strauss, but it was small satisfaction. When Strauss was recovering from an operation, this woman wrote: "I love you! I can't imagine the world without you.... I love you. I need you."
Although our picture of this relationship is completely one-sided-for Strauss did not keep copies of most of her letters-it is clear that Strauss did not respond to such declarations of love. This woman urged Strauss to accept her and what she had to say without "the slightest sense of needing to be considerate of me because I feel as I do." She understood the "unilateral character" of her feelings, and insisted that she had more than she deserved by simply knowing Strauss at all. But her hurt, and her growing suspicion that Strauss shunned intimacy, escaped on occasion. She asked: "And how would it hurt you to let someone tell you sometime how beautiful-how wonderful you are? Did you ever let anyone have a decent chance to try?". She realized that loving someone did not always make things easier-that sometimes, in fact, it made life more of a struggle-but she believed that to withdraw from love was to withdraw from life. In what appears to have been a hastily written note, she expressed her understanding-an understanding that obviously gave her both pain and comfort-that Strauss was not perfect after all: "Way back there in the crow's nest (or at some such time) you decided not to become embroiled in any intimate human relationship, except those you were, by birth, committed to. I wonder.... There is something you haven't mastered. Something you've been afraid of after all."
This woman's perception that Strauss avoided intimacy is confirmed elsewhere in Strauss' papers. One old friend was struck, in 1968, by Strauss' ability to "get your feelings out & down on paper!" She continued: "I know you so well that I consider this great progress in your own inner state of mental health. It is far from easy for you to express your feelings...... This aspect of Strauss' personality fits with the ideal type of the charismatic leader.
Augusta Street, thrilled at the news of the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 finally giving women the right to vote, showed up to vote on election day. She was very pregnant with twins (Sibyl Vanneman, later member of the League of Women Voters, and her sister) who would be born two weeks later. She was refused at the polls. "This was at a time when a respectable lady in an advanced stage of pregnancy did not appear in public," said Sibyl Vanneman.
It was the refusal of Augusta Street's father to support her wish to become a doctor that led to Augusta's interest in the women's suffrage movement. Additionally, the family's move from Louisville to St. Louis led to Augusta's meeting of Edna Fischel Gellhorn, a well-known leader in the suffragist movement, one of the founders of the national League of Women Voters, and its first Vice President.
One time Augusta Street, was selected for jury duty. At that time it was extremely uncommon for women to serve on a jury. In fact, states strongly discouraged women from such service long after women won the right to vote. When the court heard that Augusta had four children, it was suggested that she not serve. "But I want to serve," she said. She was eventually selected to serve on a District of Columbia jury. Her aunt moved in to take care of her children. The jury was sequestered for ten days. And during that time Augusta endeared herself to other jury members, all men, by offering assistance with mending, providing advice on healthy menus, and not complaining about their cigar smoking.
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