Narcissa Cox Vanderlip (1879-1966)

Narcissa Cox Vanderlip was born in Quincy, Illinois, on February 9, 1879. Vanderlip went to the University of Chicago, where she excelled academically and managed the girls' basketball team. She left school her senior year to marry Frank Vanderlip. Together they raised six children, worked for woman suffrage, progressive education, founded the Scarborough School (1912), and, throughout World War I, traveled the country selling bonds to help the war effort.

Vanderlip, who chaired the New York State League of Women Voters from 1919 to 1923, recruited ER to join the League of Women Voter's board of directors. ER, who had worked with Vanderlip on various wartime relief projects, accepted. Vanderlip's pragmatic politics, administrative ability, interest in learning, and passion impressed ER, and ER learned a great deal from her friend's leadership of the league. With fellow LWV members, they worked for unemployment insurance, health insurance, federal and state pensions for the elderly, an end to child labor, minimum-wage and maximum-hour legislation, federal aid to education, civil service reform, full citizenship for women, women's full political participation, United States membership in the League of Nations, pure-milk-and-food legislation, and international peace. Vanderlip, soon impressed with ER's organizational skills, urged ER to chair the league's national legislation committee. Together they lobbied for the Child Labor Amendment and raised funds for the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infant Protection Act.

Although the two women remained friends, as ER focused more on the Democratic Party, her friendship with Vanderlip became more distant. Vanderlip continued her work and served as the president of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children for thirty-seven years. She died in Scarborough, New York, in March 1966.


Beasley, Maurine H., Holly Schulman, and Henry R. Beasley, eds. The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001, 546-7.

Cook, Blanche Wiesen. Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume One, 1884-1933. New York: Penguin Books, 1992, 289-92, 296, 339, 362.

Lash, Joseph P. Love, Eleanor: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1982, 79.