By Joseph Hargesheimer
GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (March 2020)--Hard to believe, but less than 100 years ago, if you were a married teacher, Gloucester City did not want you. In 1929, 10 married woman, who were teachers in town, filed a suit against the board of education because they were being passed over for raises. They claimed it was because they were married, but the B.O.E. said it was because of a lack of funds. (but they did find the money to give others a raise). And so a hearing was scheduled before the New Jersey State Commissioner of Education.
At the hearing, the lawyer for the board of education told the commissioner, "we would love to give these ladies a raise, we just do not have the money". Several of the board members testified the same way. But then, Oliver J. Stetser, also a board member, got his chance to speak. He started by saying, " I am going to tell the truth at this hearing". The teachers are correct that they did not receive a raise because they are married. In board meetings, time after time, the members said that the best way to rid ourselves of married teachers, is to pass them over for raises until they leave. They deserve a raise, but this is the policy of the Gloucester City Board of Education.
The commissioner then closed the meeting and said he would have a decision soon.
In January of 1930, the State commissioner told members of the Gloucester City Board of Education that they were guilty of discrimination and found in favor of the married teachers.
Those 10 teachers were: Mrs. Alice Donaldson Gilliland, Marion Ivory, Dorothy Morenzana , Elizabeth Reddy, Irene Hutchinson, Anna Andrews, Edith Cubley, Lena Morgenweck, Josephine Keller and Susan Norcross.
Stetser was a hero who would not violate his oath to tell the truth, even though his fellow board members had no trouble doing so. Stetser was also a Justice of the Peace in Gloucester City and also a well respected News Paper Man. He passed away on October 30 1950.