WHEN A WOMAN-LED CAMPAIGN Made It Illegal to Spit in Public in New York City
While the efficacy of the spitting policy in preventing disease transmission was questionable, it helped usher in an era of modern public health laws.
Courtrooms were considered no place for proper women in the late 1800s. Crowded with men who smoked and spat, they were places where women usually appeared as victims or witnesses, during their divorces, or when accused of committing a crime themselves.
“The female spectacle would be the prostitute, the dancer, the actress, all that was tinged with not being reputable,” says Felice Batlan, a law professor and legal historian at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. “A fine woman did not appear in court.”
But in late 1884, newspapers reported that a group of middle-class woman from Manhattan delivered written documentation, wrapped in a “lovely bow,” to a grand jury, according to a paper by Batlan in the Akron Law Review. The members of the Ladies’ Health Protective Association (LHPA), a group from Beekman Place in the borough’s East Side, brought a suit against a man named Michael Kane, the owner of a giant manure dump in their neighborhood. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE