Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Elizabeth Gerberding 1857 ~ 1902


Mrs. Elizabeth Gerberding is the leader of the fight for municipal reform in the city of San Francisco. To the women who took a part in this great revolt against graft the men owe much. Mrs. Gerberding was born in a little mining town in California in 1857. Her parents moved to San Francisco when she was but eight years of age. Soon after an early marriage she was thrown on her own resources, and for some years made her living and educated her children by teaching. This struggle brought out and developed in her the courage she has shown throughout the Great War for civic righteousness in San Francisco.

In 1894 she married Albert Gerberding, coming in close connection with those who were afterwards in the forefront for public weal. Mr. Gerberding's father was the owner and publisher of The Bulletin, the paper which in the early days helped to put down the lawlessness of organized theft and which today represents the public feeling which has brought to San Francisco a decent government Mrs. Gerberding succeeded in getting representative women to show by their presence at the trials of these officials the stand of the best element of society. A League of Justice was formed. Mrs. Gerberding became the only woman member of the executive committee. On her own initiative she formed the Woman's League of Justice which soon had a membership of five hundred. This became a strong auxiliary in the graft prosecution; the value of their moral support to those engaged in the prosecution was incalculable.

Of Mrs. Gerberding's active work for the betterment of San Francisco, this is but a part. She formed the California women's Heney Club of San Francisco, and as president made it a real power for good. This organization became the Woman's Civic Club of San Francisco.

Immediately there was new work for this club to do. On a trip east, Mrs. Gerberding discovered that an active propaganda was afoot to defeat the Hetch Hetchy water project on the ground of the preservation of natural resources. Persons had even succeeded in getting the Federation of Woman's Clubs to pass resolutions against the grant.

Mrs. Gerberding went back to San Francisco and persuaded the Century Club, the oldest woman's club on the Pacific coast, to withdraw in protest from the federation. The women of San Francisco are in a great fight for pure water.

Since her husband died in 1902, leaving her comfortably provided for, Mrs. Gerberding has been militant for her city. She loves San Francisco as only the native Californian can. The men who have fought the good fight for San Francisco know how often she has poured the balm of her sympathy upon their wounds and filled them with renewed energy and courage.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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