Augusta Lewis Troup

Augusta Lewis Troup

Induction Category:
Reformers

Born: 1848

Died: 1920

Inducted: 2013

Town: New Haven

Before women even had the right to vote, Augusta Lewis Troup was a pioneering labor leader and education activist. She founded the Women’s Typographical Union of New York and was the first women to hold office in the all-male International Typographical Union. When she moved to New Haven, she helped found a newspaper through which she advocated for women and the minority population and also became a teacher and a member of the Board of Education.

Augusta Lewis was born in 1848 in New York and was orphaned in infancy. Raised in the home of a wealthy Wall Street broker, she was educated by private tutors and in the Brooklyn Heights Seminary. The depression that followed the Civil War severely changed her financial position and, shortly after finishing her education, Lewis entered the newspaper industry, contributing articles to many New York papers including the New York Tribune. She also worked for Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Revolution, a suffragist publication.

While exploring different facets of the industry, Lewis learned typesetting, serving as an apprentice at the New York Era and New York World publications. It was in this role that she began to see the terrible inequality facing women in the newspaper industry where female typesetters were paid much less than their male counterparts. In 1867, when the male typesetters union called a strike, women were brought in to replace them and were paid at a lower rate. When the men returned to work, the women were quickly fired.

The following year, she decided that women typesetters needed to organize their own labor unions in order to advocate for equal pay and better working conditions. In 1868, Augusta Lewis founded the first trade union for women in New York City, the Women’s Typographical Union (WTU) Local No. 1. She advertised for members in The Revolution, and the organization grew quickly. In 1869, she represented the WTU at the International Typographical Union (ITU) conference being held in Albany where she successfully lobbied the all-male ITU to allow her WTU to join. In 1870, she was elected corresponding secretary of the ITU, becoming the first woman to hold office in an international trade union.

In 1872, Augusta Lewis married well-known labor leader Alexander Troup, a member of the Typographical Union No. 6, and the couple moved to New Haven, Conn. Together, the Troups founded the New Haven Union, a paper dedicated to women’s suffrage, union organization and the rights of women and ethnic minority groups. Augusta Lewis Troup also became a teacher in the New Haven schools and an outspoken member of the Board of Education who advocated for teachers’ rights and the importance of education. In 1911, she successfully established the New Haven Teachers’ League and lobbied the state of Connecticut for the provision of pensions for public school teachers.

Troup passed away on September 14, 1920, just over a month after the last state ratified the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. To honor her legacy of local activism and advocacy, in 1926, the City of New Haven dedicated a school in her honor. The Augusta Lewis Troup School was renovated and re-dedicated in 2008.


During This Time
1800 - 1920: Industrialization & Reform