Leaders in U.S. Women's Suffrage Movement

View the portraits and read the biographical details of the leaders of the women's suffrage movement in the United States.
Photographs from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs

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Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony


  • American reformer and leader of the women's suffrage movement
  • Born in Adams, MA
  • Daughter of Daniel Anthony, Quaker abolitionist
  • Teacher in rural New York state at 17 years old
  • Fought for equal pay for women teachers, for coeducation, and for college training for girls
  • Organized the first woman's temperance association, the Daughters of Temperance
  • Met Elizabeth Cady Stanton at a temperance meeting in 1851 and became a close personal friend
  • Until Stanton's death in 1902, Anthony and Stanton were leaders of the women's suffrage movement in the U.S.
  • Lectured on women's rights and abolition from 1851 to 1860
  • Helped to pass the first laws (with Stanton) in the New York state legislature to guarantee women rights over their children and control of property and wages
  • In 1863 Anthony co-organized the Women's Loyal League to support Lincoln's government, especially his emancipation policy
  • After the Civil War, she opposed granting suffrage to freedmen without also giving it to women (division existed among women's suffrage sympathizers on this issue)
  • Anthony and Stanton organized the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869
  • National Woman Suffrage Association united with the American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890
  • Anthony was President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1892 to 1900
  • She led a group of women in 1872 to vote in Rochester, NY, to test their rights under the terms of the 14th Amendment
  • Anthony was arrested, tried, and sentenced to a fine (which she refused to pay)
  • Other women followed her example until the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case against them
  • Beginning in 1869, she traveled and lectured throughout the U.S. and Europe
  • Anthony possessed superior intellect, a strong personality, and unswerving commitment to the suffrage movement
  • With Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, she compiled Volumes I, II, and III of the History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1886)
  • She used her own financial resources to buy most of the first edition
  • She presented the History of Woman Suffrage to colleges and universities in the U.S. and Europe
  • The History of Woman Suffrage was completed by Ida Husted Harper (Vol. IV, V, and VI, 1900-1922; Anthony contributed to Vol. IV)

Alice Stone Blackwell
Alice Stone Blackwell


  • American feminist
  • Born in Orange, NJ
  • Graduated from Boston University in 1881
  • Daughter of Henry Brown Blackwell and Lucy Stone (American leader in the women's rights movement)
  • Blackwell was an editor of the Woman's Journal from 1881 to 1917
  • She began work on the Woman's Journal as assistant to her parents and became editor in chief after their deaths
  • She wrote a biography of her mother in 1930
  • She wrote anthologies of poetry translated from several languages

Carrie Chapman Catt
Carrie Chapman Catt


  • American suffragist and peace advocate
  • Born Carrie Lane in Ripon, WI
  • Graduated from Iowa State College in 1880
  • Superintendent of schools in Mason City, IA, from 1883 to 1884
  • In 1885 she married Lee Chapman, a journalist (d. 1886)
  • In 1890 she married George Catt, an engineer (d. 1905)
  • Catt was an organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 to 1900
  • She became president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1900
  • She led the fight to win suffrage through a federal amendment to the Constitution
  • Catt organized the League of Women Voters (dedicated to the education of women in politics) after the ratification of the 19th Amendment (1920)
  • Catt was president of International Woman Suffrage Alliance from 1904 to 1923
  • Beginning in 1923, she devoted her efforts to the peace movement
  • She wrote Woman Suffrage and Politics (1923) with Nettie R. Shuler

Paulina Wright Davis
Paulina Wright Davis


  • American lecturer and suffragist
  • Born Paulina Kellogg in Bloomfield, NY
  • In 1833 she married merchant Francis Wright (d. 1835)
  • In 1849 she married Thomas Davis (who later became a congressman for Rhode Island)
  • Davis was active in the early antislavery and women's rights movements
  • In 1844 she lectured to women on anatomy and physiology
  • Davis helped to open the medical profession to women
  • In 1853 she founded Una, the first women's rights paper in the U.S.
  • In 1871 she published A History of the National Women's Rights Movement

Julia Ward Howe
Julia Ward Howe


  • American author and social reformer
  • Born in New York, NY
  • Married Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who edited the Boston Commonwealth, an abolitionist paper
  • Worked on her husband’s philanthropic projects
  • She wrote and lectured on behalf of woman suffrage, black emancipation, and other causes, and helped found a world peace organization
  • She wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in November 1861 after watching Union troops march into battle; this was her most famous work
  • "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862
  • The American Academy of Arts and Letters elected her as its first woman member
  • Howe was the author of Modern Society (1881), and a biography of Margaret Fuller (1883); she also wrote several volumes of poetry

Belva Ann Lockwood
Belva Ann Lockwood


  • Washington, DC, lawyer and women's rights activist
  • Born Belva Bennett in Royalton, NY
  • Taught at a number of schools in upstate New York
  • Her first husband died in 1853
  • She resumed teaching and chose to continue her education
  • Graduated from Genesee College (later Syracuse University) in 1857
  • Relocated to Washington, DC
  • Attended the new National University Law School from 1871 to 1873 and was admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1873
  • In 1872 she secured the passage of a law granting equal pay for equal work to women employees in the federal government
  • Became the first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1879)
  • Lockwood ran twice for U.S. president as the National Equal Rights Party's candidate (1884 and 1888)
  • In 1903 she wrote the congressional amendments granting suffrage to women in the new states of Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico
  • Lockwood was a delegate to various peace congresses in Europe

Anna Howard Shaw
Anna Howard Shaw


  • American woman suffrage leader
  • Born in England
  • Emigrated to the United States in 1851
  • Grew up on a farm in Michigan
  • Received a degree in theology (1878) and one in medicine (1885) from Boston University
  • The Methodist Episcopal Church refused to allow her to preach
  • In 1880 she was ordained by the Methodist Protestant denomination
  • Shaw filled several pastorates in Massachusetts
  • In 1888 she met Susan B. Anthony, and worked for woman suffrage for the rest of her life
  • Shaw was vice president at large (1892-1904) and president (1904-1915) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association
  • Dr. Shaw campaigned in every state where a suffrage measure was under consideration and was an effective speaker for the suffrage movement

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton


  • American reformer and leader of the woman suffrage movement
  • Born in Johnstown, NY
  • Educated at the Troy Female Seminary (now Emma Willard School) in Troy, NY
  • In 1840 she married Henry Brewster Stanton, a journalist and abolitionist
  • Attended the international slavery convention in London where the woman delegates were excluded from the floor of the convention
  • The exclusion of women candidates led Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott to organize women to win greater equality
  • The first women's rights convention in the U.S. was held in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY (Stanton was instrumental in organizing this event)
  • Stanton pushed for a suffrage clause to be included in the bill of rights for women
  • She was president of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1869 to 1890, and of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 to 1892
  • Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Parker Pillsbury edited the Revolution, a militant feminist magazine from 1868 to 1870
  • Stanton was a brilliant orator and an able journalist

Lucy Stone
Lucy Stone


  • Reformer and leader in the women's rights movement
  • Born near West Brookfield, MA
  • Graduated from Oberlin College in 1847
  • Regular lecturer for the Anti-Slavery Society
  • In 1855 she married Henry Brown Blackwell, but was always known as Mrs. Stone
  • In 1870 she founded the Woman's Journal, the official publication of the American Woman Suffrage Association and the National American Woman Suffrage Association
  • After her death in 1893, the Woman's Journal was edited by her daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell

Mary Church Terrell
Mary Church Terrell


  • Civil rights and women's rights activist
  • Born in Memphis, TN
  • Terrell's parents were ex-slaves who later became wealthy
  • Attended Oberlin College in Ohio, earning a bachelor's degree in 1884 and a master's degree in 1888
  • Became active in the suffragist movement, founding the Colored Women's League in 1892
  • In 1896 the Colored Women's League merged with the National Federation of Afro-American Women to become the National Federation of Colored Women
  • Church Terrell was the first president of the National Federation of Colored Women
  • In 1895 she became the first African-American woman appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education
  • A charter member of the NAACP, she was a popular lecturer on equal rights for women and blacks
  • She served as a delegate at various international women's rights congresses and a prolific writer on social issues
  • She received honorary doctorates from Howard University, Wilberforce College, and Oberlin College

Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth


  • American abolitionist, a freed slave
  • Born in Ulster County, NY
  • Originally called Isabella, but adopted the name Sojourner Truth
  • Convinced that she heard heavenly voices
  • Traveled throughout the North preaching emancipation and women's rights
  • A remarkable personality and great lecturer even though she remained illiterate

Frances Elizabeth Willard
Frances Elizabeth Willard
  • American temperance leader and reformer
  • Born in Churchville, NY
  • Graduated from Northwestern Female College in 1859
  • President of Evanston College for Ladies
  • Dean of women at Northwestern University
  • In 1874 she helped organize the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and in 1879 became its president

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