MARCH 19, 1875–JUNE 14, 1957
Margaret Foley was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1875. She was a labor organizer and suffragist. She began her activist career in the early 1900s when she worked in a hat factory and helped unionize the workers there, becoming a member of both the Hat Trimmers’ Union and the Women’s Trade Union League.
Foley is remembered for her bold tactics as a suffrage activist. Known as “the Grand Heckler,” she was a powerful speaker unafraid of publicly interrupting and challenging male politicians at their own rallies. In 1911, she followed the anti women’s suffrage Republican candidate for governor on his speaking tour around the state, calling out and asking about his stances on women voting every time he gave a speech.
She also tossed suffragist leaflets down from a hot air balloon, ran onto the floor of the Boston Stock Exchange to hand out information about an upcoming visit from British activist Ethel Snowden, and traveled to Nevada to lecture all over the state in favor of women’s suffrage, including once from inside a mine.
After the passage of the 19th Amendment, Foley became commissioner of Boston’s Child Welfare Division, a post she held from 1920–1926. She lived most of her life with fellow suffragist Helen Elizabeth Goodnow. She died in 1957 at age 82.
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