We could not talk about Inez Milholland without also talking about her sister, career singer Vida Milholland. If you missed yesterday’s post about suffragist Inez Milholland, you are going to want to check it out as it provides some nice context to Vida’s childhood and motivations in joining the suffrage movement. To sum it up, both girls grew up in an activist household with parents who were involved in a variety of political and social movements. Even though both girls were involved in the suffrage movement, workers’ rights movement, and pacifist movements, Vida became more involved in the suffrage movement after the death of Inez. Inez faced pernicious anemia that was exacerbated by her extensive activism and died shortly after collapsing while giving an impassioned speech for women’s suffrage.
Despite Inez’s almost other worldly reputation, her work was often done with her sister Vida at her side. Both girls attended Vassar College where they were outspoken in defiance of the anti-suffrage policies on campus. Vida helped fund the National Women’s Party cross country tour to speak out against President Wilson’s reelection by selling valuable jewelry that she had been gifted. She often worked hard behind the scenes to support the tour, even reporting on the events for the NWP’s publication The Suffragist. When her sister collapsed during a speech in Los Angelos and fell increasingly ill, Vida stood watch at her bedside until their father made it out west to be with his daughters.
After the death of her sister, Vida left her singing career and completely dedicated her time and efforts to the movement. This did not mean giving up singing altogether, however, and Vida often had opportunities to lend her voice in support of the movement. She toured across the US with the National Women’s Party, often speaking and singing at presentations and meetings. Vida participated in picketing the White House with Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and other members of the National Women’s Party, facing arrest for this campaign. While imprisoned, Vida would sing to keep up the women’s spirits. On another occasion, Vida climbed the prison walls to sing outside the window of National Women’s Party leader Alice Paul. Vida’s songs included anthems to women’s suffrage.
After the passing of the 19th amendment, Vida remained incredibly involved in activism, working for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Vida and her partner, Peg Hamilton, were also outspoken activists for same-sex partnerships.