Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947

Alternative names
Birth 1859-01-09
Death 1947-03-09
Birth 1859
Death 1947

Biographical notes:

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, suffragist, early feminist, political activist, and Iowa State alumna (1880), was born on January 9, 1859 in Ripon, Wisconsin to Maria Clinton and Lucius Lane. At the close of the Civil War, the Lanes moved to a farm near Charles City, Iowa where they remained throughout their lives. Carrie entered Iowa State College in 1877 completing her work in three years. She graduated at the top of her class and while in Ames established military drills for women, became the first woman student to give an oration before a debating society, earned extra money as assistant to the librarian, and was a member of Pi Beta Phi. After graduation she became the high school principal in Mason City and then in 1883 the superintendent of Mason City Schools. In this capacity she met Leo Chapman, editor of the Mason City Republican, and they married in February 1885. After her husband's death in 1886, she spent some time in California as a newspaper reporter and then returned to Iowa to begin her crusade for women's suffrage. She was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900-1904 and from 1915 until its goal was reached. She also formed and was president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance for many years. When the women's vote was attained in 1920 Mrs. Catt looked ahead and encouraged the formation of a non-partisan group, the League of Women Voters, a group still viable today. Early in her suffrage work she ran into a classmate from Ames, George W. Catt. They were married in 1890 and until his death in October 1905, he supported his wife's work through his engineering company financially and through his personal support of suffrage. Carrie attained much recognition for her work throughout her life and received many awards such as the Chi Omega in 1941, the Pictorial Review Award for her international disarmament work in 1931, and induction into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. She donated her entire estate to her alma mater, where she was the first woman to deliver the commencement address. She died in March 1947 at her home in New Rochelle, New York.

Carrie Chapman Catt, an active suffragist and peace leader, was born in Iowa, joined the Iowa Suffrage Association in 1887, and attended the first convention of the newly organized National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890 as an Iowa delegate. She became chairman of NAWSA's Organization Committee in 1895 and thereafter worked for suffrage both nationally and internationally. CCC served two terms as NAWSA president (1900-1904, 1915-1947), and was president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1902-1923), and honorary president of the League of Women Voters from its founding in 1919 until her death. She joined Jane Addams in founding the Woman's Peace Party in 1915 and organized the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War (which met annually from 1925 to 1939), serving as its chairman until 1932. For additional biographical information, see Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources.

From the guide to the Woman's Rights Collection (WRC), (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Carrie Chapman Catt, leader in the woman suffrage and international peace movements, succeeded Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1900-1904) and was again president when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted. She was also president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, helped found the League of Women Voters of the U.S., and helped organize and chaired the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War.

For additional biographical information, see Notable American Women (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources.

From the guide to the Papers, n.d., 1904-1946, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)


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  • Peace movements
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  • New Rochelle, NY, US
  • Ripon, WI, US
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