An elegant Victorian “Pink Tea” celebrating “100 Years of Votes for Women” will feature a suffragette-themed presentation by Joanne Hamilton Rajoppi, nationally acclaimed historian and author. The Sat., Nov. 14 event (previously planned for May 2 but postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions) will be hosted by the Kenilworth Historical Society at the Kenilworth Veterans Center (33 South 21 Street) starting at 12:30 p.m.
An array of assorted teas, tea sandwiches, scones and desserts will be served. The event also will feature a gift auction and door prizes.
In commemorating the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which in 1920 gave women the right to vote, Rajoppi will spotlight many who valiantly led the decades-long Women’s Suffrage movement, particularly Kenilworth and Union County pathfinders who helped further the cause and who overcame daunting challenges in paving the way for other women to run for public office.
“Pink Teas” were held by Victorian women to secretly discuss such then-controversial issues as women’s voting rights. It was believed that referring to the gatherings as “Pink Teas” would mask their political purpose and deter men from attending.
Admission to the Nov. 14 “Pink Tea” is $30. Advance reservations are requested, as seating is limited. For reservations/tickets, please call 908-709-0434 or visit Especially Yours Florist at 13 North 20 Street, Kenilworth.
Proceeds from the Tea and Gift Auction will benefit the Kenilworth Historical Society’s Oswald J. Nitschke House (c. 1880) “living history” museum and cultural arts center by helping defray operating expenses, including the cost of an elevator that makes all levels of the site (“living history” museum, exhibition center and cultural arts center) fully accessible to everyone.
Rajoppi is a notable pathfinder in her own right, having been the first woman in Union County’s history to be elected Union County Clerk, a role that she has fulfilled since 1995; the first woman to serve as Union County Register of Deeds and Mortgages, a position that she held for 12 years prior to her election as Union County Clerk; the first woman to chair the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1980, after being elected to the board in 1978; and the first woman to be named mayor of Springfield in 1977. Rajoppi also served on the Springfield board of education and township committee. In 1981, she was appointed New Jersey’s Assistant Secretary of State by the late former Gov. Brendan Byrne.
In 2018, Rajoppi received the prestigious National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) “Women in American History Award” from the Crane’s Ford Chapter of the DAR in recognition of her many significant contributions to history, culture and society.
Rajoppi additionally has attained recognition in the field of literature, having authored three books — The Civil War in New Brunswick: The Brunswick Boys and the Great Rebellion; Northern Women in the Aftermath of the Civil War — The Wives and Daughters of the Brunswick Boys; and the nationally acclaimed Women in Office: Getting There and Staying There. Rajoppi’s publications have received National Women’s Press Association, New Jersey Women’s Press Association and North Jersey Civil War Roundtable Book honors.
Rajoppi earned her B.A. degree, cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and her master’s degree in public administration from the Center for Public Service at Seton Hall University. She has received multiple National Association of Counties Achievement Awards for innovative and creative management.
Rajoppi is president and a trustee of the Union County Historical Society and a member of the Union Township Historical Society. She chaired the Union County Courthouse Centennial Celebration Committee in 2005 and Union County’s Civil War Sesquicecentennial Committee in 2012.
The Kenilworth Historical Society is an independent, volunteer-based, non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to the research, preservation and interpretation of the Oswald J. Nitschke House (c. 1880), local history and culture.
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