HETERODOXY / by Caitlin Murray

Heterodoxy, a feminisit debating society for "unorthodox women" flourished in Greenwich Village from 1912 to the early years of World War II, meeting every other week except during the summer. Th club's membership was draw from women living primarily in Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Harlem. 

Marie Jenney Howe (1870-1934)

Marie Jenney Howe (1870-1934)

Marie Jenney Howe founded Heterodoxy in 1912. She had studied at the Union Theological Seminary in Meadville, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1897. She took a position as an assistant to Reverend Mary A. Safford in Sioux City, Iowa. Mary Safford was a popular woman's suffrage speaker and president of the Iowa Suffrage Association, as well as a strong advocate for women ministers in the Unitarian Church. 

Safford believed that "true religion must first of all be 'free' religion, free from irrational dogma that discouraged personal growth." She held that the human soul would evolve, not in solitude but, through community. People would make their common tasks divine "by doing them in the spirit of love and helpfulness." Throughout her many years of ministry, she worked to help her congregations be the kind of religious communities in which individuals could evolve together "in the spirit of love and helpfulness."

Howe moved to NYC in 1910 and lived in the Hotel Chelsea for a short time while working in the New York Suffrage movement. Howe moved into an apartment on West Twelfth Street on the edge of Greenwich Village.

Original group of 25 members, probably meeting at Polly Halliday's MacDougal Street restaurant.

Membership dues were $2 a year ($47 now) and members paid for their own lunches. By 1920 there were sixty members. In the early 1940s there were 110 identifiable members with about 35 to 60 attending meetings. 

Inez Haynes Irwin:

Heterodoxy members came from many states of the Union. Most of them had traveled with amazing extensiveness. Among them were Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, anarchists, liberals and radicals of all opinions. They possessed minds startlingly free of prejudice. They were at home with ideas. All could talk; all could argue; all could listen...Our occupations and preoccupations ranged the world. Many of our members were working for various reforms. A sizable portion were always somewhere else. During the First World War, when no Americans were supposed to enter Russia,...at least two members of Heterdoxy were there writing articles. 

{Fola La Follette listed here address as 20 Rue Jacob, Paris, the home of Natalie Clifford Barney - La Follette had also lived with Howe as a budding actress}

Howe asked members to prepare a "background talk" on their lives:

A member told whatever she chose to reveal about her childhood, girlhood and womanhood. They ranged in atmosphere from the middle-western farm on which Leta Hollingworth's childhood was spent, where all her dresses were made from flour bags which had the manufacturer's name printed on them, through a life of inherited rebelliousness, like that of Charlotte Perkins Gilman; from the cold, faded elegance of the great house on the Hudson, in which Alice Duer Miller was raised, to the fiery shadow of Emma Goldman, in which Stella Comen Ballantine (who was her niece and adoring partisan) lived...from the gorgeous gusto of Lou Rogers' childhood, deep in Maine country, to the quiet of Helen Hull's early life in the Middle West which was so like one of her own rich novels. 

Leta Hollingworth (1886-1939) an American psychologist who conducted pioneering work in the early 20th century. It is generally agreed upon that Hollingworth made significant contributions in three areas: psychology of women; clinical psychology; and educational psychology. She is best known for her work with exceptional children.

Leta Hollingworth (1886-1939) an American psychologist who conducted pioneering work in the early 20th century. It is generally agreed upon that Hollingworth made significant contributions in three areas: psychology of women; clinical psychology; and educational psychology. She is best known for her work with exceptional children.