Crystal Eastman

Crystal Eastman bigraphy, stories - American lawyer and feminist

Crystal Eastman : biography

June 25, 1881 – July 8, 1928

Crystal Catherine Eastman (June 25, 1881 – July 8, 1928)

 was a lawyer, antimilitarist, feminist, socialist, and journalist. She is best remembered as a leader in the fight for women's right to vote, as a co-editor of the radical arts and politics magazine The Liberator, and as a co-founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. 



Eastman has been called one of the United States’ most neglected leaders, because, although she wrote pioneering legislation and created long-lasting political organizations, she disappeared from history for fifty years. Freda Kirchwey, then editor of The Nation, wrote at the time of her death: "When she spoke to people—whether it was to a small committee or a swarming crowd—hearts beat faster. She was for thousands a symbol of what the free woman might be." In 2000 Eastman was inducted in the (American) National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.



Eastman’s papers are housed at Harvard University.


The Library of Congress has the following publications by Eastman in its collection, much of it published posthumously:

  • ‘Employers’ Liability,’ a Criticism Based on Facts (1909)
  • Work-accidents and the Law (1910)
  • Mexican-American Peace Committee (Mexican-American league) (1916)
  • Work accidents and the Law (1969)
  • Toward the Great Change: Crystal and Max Eastman on Feminism, Antimilitarism, and Revolution, edited by Blanche Wiesen Cook (1976)
  • Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution, edited by Blanche Wiesen Cook (1978)

Additional reading

  • Blanche Wiesen Cook, ed., Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution. (1978).

Marriage and family

In 1916 Eastman married the British editor and antiwar activist Walter Fuller. They had two children, Jeffrey and Annis. They worked together until the end of the war, when he returned to England to find work.


In 1917, Eastman co-founded a radical journal of politics, art, and literature, The Liberator, with her brother Max. She served as managing editor from 1917 to 1921.

After the war, Eastman organized the First Feminist Congress in 1919.

She commuted between London to be with her husband, and New York, where she was blacklisted and thus rendered unemployable during the Red Scare of 1919-1920.

During the 1920s her only paid work was as a columnist for feminist journals, notably Equal Rights and Time and Tide. Eastman claimed that "life was a big battle for the complete feminist," but she was convinced that the complete feminist would someday achieve total victory.


Crystal Eastman died on July 8, 1928, of nephritis.

Life and work

Early years

Crystal Eastman was born in Marlborough, Massachusetts on June 25, 1881. Her parents, Samuel Elijah Eastman and Annis Bertha Ford, were both Congregational Church clergy, and together served as pastors at the church of Thomas K. Beecher near Elmira, New York. In 1889, her mother had become one of the first women ordained as a Protestant minister in America when she was ordained by the Congregationalist Church in the late 1880s.Ida Harper Husted, “A Woman Minister Who Presides Over a Large Eastern Church.” The San Francisco Chronicle, 27 January 1901. This part of New York was in the so-called "Burnt Over District," which earlier in the 19th century had generated much religious excitement, including the beginnings of Mormonism, and social causes, such as abolitionism and support for the Underground Railroad. Her parents were friendly with the writer Mark Twain, and from this association young Crystal herself became acquainted with Twain.

She was the sister of the socialist activist Max Eastman, with whom she was quite close throughout her life.

The two lived together for several years on 11th Street in Greenwich Village among other radical activists.Robert E. Humphrey, Children of Fantasy: The First Rebels of Greenwich Village (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1978) The group, including Ida Rauh, Inez Milholland, Floyd Dell, and Doris Stevens, also spent summers and weekends in Croton on the Hudson.Max Eastman, Love and Revolution: My Journey Through an Epoch, (New York: Random House, 1964): 79-81.