January 9, 1859 – Birthdate of Carrie Chapman Catt

On this day in history, Carrie Chapman Catt was born in Ripon, Wisconsin. (Today Ripon is primarily known as the site of the first meeting, in February 1854, of the group that would become the Republican Party.) She was born Carrie Clinton Lane. She graduated from Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in three years, not as just the only woman in her class, but as the class valedictorian.

In 1885 Carrie married newspaper editor Leo Chapman, but he died in California soon after. In 1890, she married George Catt, a wealthy engineer. Catt supported his wife’s work strongly, and spoke occasionally at suffrage conventions himself. “We made a team to work for the cause,” she often said. She became a dynamic speaker, exhibited a great talent for administration and organization, and by 1915 was picked by Susan B. Anthony as her successor to head the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

Carrie Chapman Catt in 1914

Carrie Chapman Catt in 1914

In 1893 a Congress of Representative Women of All Lands opened the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Catt, deeply impressed, began thinking about an international organization of women that would strengthen them all by enabling them to share their experiences and expertise. In 1902 she founded the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) at a meeting in Washington, D.C., in spite of opposition from her friend and mentor Susan B. Anthony. By 1904, when the IWSA met in Berlin, it had become an important and influential source of support for women throughout the Western world. Catt served as its president from 1904 until 1923. The IWSA remains in existence, but changed its name in 1946 to the International Alliance of Women (IAW) with the subtitle: Equal Rights – Equal Responsibilities. Since 1947, the IAW has had general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. You can learn more about it here.

In 1920 Catt helped found the League of Women Voters (a successor to the NAWSA) and in the same year, she ran as the Presidential candidate for the Commonwealth Land Party.

She was active in anti-war protests both prior to and during both world wars. She died in 1947 and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY.

Carrie Chapman Catt, 1920s

Carrie Chapman Catt, 1920s


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: