Part of the American
History & Genealogy Project
The biography of every officer, great or
small, in the nation's army would be a prodigious task, but
hardly less is that of giving in detail the work of every
American woman actively interested in reform movements. It would
take volumes to give at length the work of all the women now
interested in the enfranchisement of women and in the temperance
field. There was a time in our history when the question of
women's suffrage, unless it threatened the immediate community
in which we lived, was a matter to which the majority of us in
America, whether men or women, were, if not indifferent, still
somewhat neutral. Now, I think it would be safe to say the
majority have the most ardent convictions pro et contra. It is,
therefore, with such deep regret that I find it possible to
offer at length only the biographies of the pronounced leaders
in suffrage and temperance, that I have appended merely a
roll-call of notable names. Even this, I fear, can only
approximate the number of women dedicating their lives to the
work of their sex.
Among those who have done distinguished work for suffrage we
find such names as these:
Mrs. Eleanore Munroe Babcock is well known
throughout the East for her work in organizing in New York
Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Barbert, who succeeded
in inducing the Republicans of Iowa to put into their state
platform a purely women's plank, thus being the first woman to
design a women's plank and secure its adoption by a great
political party in a great state.
Mrs. Emma Curtis Bascom, descendant of Miles
Standish, is a charter member of the association for the
advancement of women in Massachusetts, and for many years was
one of its board of officers. When her husband, a professor at
Williams College, was deprived of the use of his eyes during a
long period, she shared his studies and rendered him every
assistance in reading and writing. This training she has found
of great 'advantage in her work for women suffrage in her state.
Mrs. Emma Beckwith was a candidate for the
mayoralty of Brooklyn. The campaign, of ten days' duration,
resulted in her receiving fifty votes, regularly counted, and
many more thrown out among the scattering, before the New York
Tribune made a demand for the statement of her vote. Mrs.
Beckwith after-wards compiled many incidents relating to that
novel campaign in a lecture, which she used with telling effect
from the suffrage platform.
Mrs. Marietta Bones, daughter of the noted
Abolitionist, succeeded in making the social question of
temperance a political question in Dakota.
Mrs. Mary Barr Clay is the daughter of Cassius
M. Clay, a noted advocate for freedom and the emancipation of
the slave in a slave state. Through her sympathy with his views,
his daughter gained the independence of thought and action
necessary to espouse the cause of women's political and civic
freedom in that same conservative community.
Miss Mary Crew has preached the rights and
equality of women from her pulpit in the Unitarian Church, since
in that church there is no distinction based on sex.
Mrs. Martha E. Sewell Curtis, descended from
Chief Justice Samuel Sewell, of witchcraft fame and, on the
mother's side, from Henry Dunster, first president of Harvard
College, has delivered brilliant lectures at the meetings of the
Women's National Suffrage Association in Boston, proving her
worthy of her distinguished ancestors. For years she edited a
weekly woman's column in the News, of Woburn, Mass., and was
president of the Woburn Equal Suffrage League.
Mrs. Emma Smith Devoe distinguished herself in
a brave fight for suffrage in South Dakota, making her home in
Huron headquarters of the workers throughout the state.
Mrs. Priscilla Holmes Drake, a lifelong friend
of Lucretia Mott, worked with Robert Dale Owen during the
Indiana Constitutional Convention of 1850-57 to remove the legal
disabilities of women, and before the sections of this
instrument, which worked such benefit to women, were presented
to the Assembly, they were discussed line by line in Mrs.
Mrs. Miriam Howard Du Boise wrote brilliant
arguments arguing for the cause while vice-president for the
Georgia Women's Suffrage Association.
Mrs. Caroline McCullough
Everhard is a public-spirited daughter of Ohio, who
proved herself well equipped for the office of president of the
Ohio Women's Suffrage Association. She had the honor of
organizing the Equal Rights Association of Canton, Ohio, the
home of the martyred President McKinley.
Mrs. Ellen Sulley Fray
is an adopted daughter of the United States who, after marriage
had brought her to America, formed suffrage clubs in several
different states and in Canada, and became one of the district
presidents of the Ohio Women's Suffrage Association.
Mrs. Jean Brooks Greenleaf, successor to Lillie
Devereux Blake as president of the New York State Woman Suffrage
Mrs. Rebecca N. Hazard, who, as early as 1867,
formed the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri.
Mrs. Josephine Kirby Williamson Henry, who has
lectured and labored and stood for office in a state where the
popular prejudice is against "Women's Rights."
Mrs. Eliza Trask Hill, one of the active
leaders in the battle for school suffrage for women in
Massachusetts, and later editor of a paper, which is cared for
by a stock company of women.
Mrs. Mary Emma Holmes, the earnest and
brilliant worker who represented the National American Suffrage
Association in the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893.
Mrs. Mary Seymour Howell, who has lectured in
behalf of women's suffrage in many of the towns and cities of
the North and West, as well as repeatedly pleaded the cause of
woman before committees of state legislatures and of Congress.
Mrs. Sarah Gibson Humphreys, of Louisiana and
Kentucky, who has served on a board of road directors, a unique
position for a woman in the South, and has worked all her public
life to secure the vote for women.
Mrs. Theresa A. Jenkins, daughter of one of the
pioneers of Wisconsin, herself became a pioneer as a champion of
suffrage in the literary field over that portion of the country,
and even farther West. In April, 1889, she contributed to the
"Popular Science Monthly" a striking paper, entitled "The Mental
Force of Women." She became Wyoming correspondent of the Women's
Tribune, the Union Signal and the Omaha Central West. She was a
recognized power in Wyoming in bringing about the absolute
recognition of the equality of the sexes before the law.
Mrs. Laura M. Johns, of Kansas, was six times
president of the State Suffrage Association in that state, and
her great work was the arrangement of thirty conventions
beginning in Kansas City in February, 1892, and held in various
other important cities of the state, and for these meetings she
secured such speakers as Rev. Anna H. Shaw, Mrs. Clara H.
Mrs. Marrilla M. Kicker's success at the bar
and as a political writer has demonstrated so conclusively the
intellectual quality of women that her advocacy of female
suffrage has influenced as only a concrete object lesson can.
Mrs. Jane Amy McKinney, who, as president of
the Cook County Equal Suffrage Association, effectively
furthered the cause in Illinois.
Mrs. Cora Scott Pond Pope was invited by Mrs.
Lucy Stone to help organize the state of Massachusetts for women
suffrage, and continued the work, organizing eighty-seven women
suffrage leagues, arranging lectures, speaking in the meeting,
and raising the money to carry on the state work for six years.
In 1887 she organized a Woman Suffrage Bazaar, which was held in
the Music Hall in Boston for one week, and which cleared over
six thousand dollars. In 1889 she originated the National
Pageant, a dramatic arrangement of historic events, to raise
more money for state work for suffrage. This pageant, given in
Hollis Street Theatre, May 9, 1889, played to a crowded house,
at two dollars a ticket, and over one thousand dollars was
cleared at a single matinee performance. Afterwards it was
produced in other large cities of the country with equal
success. In the Chicago Auditorium, at the time of the
Exposition, in one night six thousand, two hundred and fifty
dollars was cleared.
Mrs. Lizzie B. Read dedicated her marked
ability as a journalist to the suffrage cause, becoming
publisher of a semi-monthly journal called the "Mayflower," and
devoted to temperance and equal rights. She worked up for this
paper a subscription list reaching into all the states and
territories. Later, when her marriage to Dr. Read had taken her
to Algeria, Iowa, she published the paper Upper Des Moines, into
which she infused much of women's rights. She also published a
series of articles on the status of women in the Methodist
Church, and later became associate editor of the Women's
Standard, of Des Moines. While residing in Indiana she was
vice-president of the State Women's Suffrage Society and
president of the Iowa State Society.
Mrs. Martha Parmelee Rose's writings on the
sewing women and on other laboring questions brought to light
the frauds and extortions practiced upon her sex without the
Mrs. Elizabeth Lyle Saxon, of New Orleans, has
literally spent her lifetime carrying out a promise made to her
father on his deathbed, "Never to cease working for unfortunate
women so long as her life should last." For years she has been
in demand as a lecturer on universal suffrage, temperance,
social purity and kindred subjects. Her keen, logical and yet
impassioned style of oratory fairly takes her audiences by
storm, and has won for her a national reputation as a public
speaker. Her great work, however, has always been for the most
degraded and downtrodden of her sex.
Mrs. Rosa L. Segur, though born in Hesse,
Germany, came to the United States when a child, and when quite
young began contributing stories and sketches to the Toledo
Blade, always expressing herself a staunch supporter of
movements in favor of women's suffrage. To her belongs much of
the credit for obtaining the repeal of obnoxious laws in regard
to the status of women in the state of Ohio.
Mrs. Cornelia Dean Shaw is a woman alert in all
the movements of the enfranchisement of women, and a tower of
strength to the Woman Suffrage Association in Ohio and Illinois.
Mrs. Estelle Terrell Smith's famous "Mothers'
Mass Meetings," held in the large city hall in Des Moines, have
accomplished much good, especially in banishing from her city
disreputable posters, cigarettes, cards and other evils. Through
those meetings a bill regulating the property rights of women
was drafted and presented to the state legislature.
Mrs. Adeline Morrison Swain, of Iowa, was, for
her prominence in the women's suffrage cause in 1883,
unanimously nominated by the Iowa State Convention of the
Greenback party for the office of superintendent of public
instruction. Being one of the first women so named on an Iowa
state ticket, she received the full vote of the party. In 1884
she was appointed a delegate, and attended the national
convention of the same party, held in Indianapolis, Ind., to
nominate candidates for president and vice-president. Mrs. Swain
was, more-over, for many years editor of the Woman's Tribune.
Mrs. Minnie Terrell Todd is one of Nebraska's
staunchest woman suffragists, is also a member of the State
Board of Charities, and prominent in every reformative and
Mrs. Anna C. Wait is editor of the Beacon, a
reform paper started by her in Lincoln, Kan., in 1880, and every
page is devoted to prohibition, woman's suffrage and
anti-monopoly. To her more than to any other person does the
cause of woman's enfranchisement owe its planting and growth in
Source: The Part Taken by Women in
American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle
Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.