Submitted by Jaime Chapman, student, and Dr. Jennifer Hanley, faculty, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Josephine Post (née Fowler) from Paducah, Kentucky was recognized in the 1920 Who’s Who of America as a “speaker on patriotic and woman’s suffrage topics.” Post was one of six children born to parents Captain Joe Fowler and Martha Leech in 1871 and arguably one of their most successful. Following her 1887 graduation from Florence Hines’ Private School, Josephine met and married Edmund M. Post of New York City. Together the couple settled in New York and had one child, Joseph Fowler Post, who died in a steamboat accident when he was only sixteen. Following her husband’s death in 1900, Post returned to Paducah to live with her widowed mother.
After returning to Kentucky, Post immersed herself in a variety of women’s rights campaigns and philanthropic endeavors including suffrage. Between 1908 and 1916, Josephine Fowler Post was appointed third Vice President of the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Club, served on the executive board of the Kentucky Child Labor Association (KCLA), was President of the McCracken County Equal Rights Association, and was appointed Congressional Chairman of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA).
Post, as a member of the Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), lobbied the 64th and 66th U.S. Congresses, of which the latter saw the successful passage of the "Susan B. Anthony" Amendment on June 4, 1919. Post was one of several Kentucky women praised in the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage for their “conspicuous services .... under the auspices of the National Suffrage Association.” In addition to her work as a lobbyist, Post was also served as a member of the National Executive Committee.
Post was adamant that women across the nation both needed and deserved the right to vote; but she was equally adamant that all women needed to do their part to ensure that the vote was forthcoming. “Every path which now lies wide open before women has been worn smooth by the bleeding feet of those who broke the road,” she recorded in the meeting minutes of KERA’s 1919 Convention. She continued: “The slackers include every woman who says she wants the vote but wants some other woman to pay for it and do the work.” Should women assume this responsibility, she predicted, “nation-wide Suffrage [would] soon be an accomplished fact.”
When the Nineteenth Amendment passed in Congress on June 4, 1919, Post and her compatriots recognized that they still had a lot of work ahead of them to guarantee their ultimate success—the amendment still needed ratification by thirty-six states. Post served as one of the women who lobbied the Kentucky legislature and was gratified when, on the first day the legislature met in January 1920, they voted in favor of ratification, an undoubtedly speedy and satisfying turn of events. At the last meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association hosted in Chicago in February 1920, Post was awarded the honor roll badge—a yellow ribbon—as a marker of her devotion to women’s right to vote. In March 1920 she was appointed to the Democratic State Administrative Committee, a position she held for a number of years. Later, she was appointed by the League of Women Voters (LWV) to appear before the Resolution Committee at the Democratic National Convention to ensure that the LWV’s platform garnered necessary support. By the summer of 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was officially adopted but Post was far from ready to sit back and enjoy the spoils of her success.
In 1920, the KERA redesigned itself into the Kentucky League of Women Voters (KLWV) and, unsurprisingly, Post was selected as one of six women assigned to the task of organizing and establishing local chapters. Post also served as state chairman for Kentucky’s chapter of the NAWSA's Anna Shaw Memorial Committee.
Post had a positive and lasting effect on Kentucky’s history. When the First World War broke out in Europe, she quickly organized a McCracken County chapter of the Red Cross, was chairman of the Local Defense Society, and spearheaded Liberty Loan drives. Her activism was both appreciated and rewarded when she received both a Certificate of Merit from President Woodrow Wilson and a medal from the United States governments thanking her for her efforts. Mrs. Post died in 1946 and is buried in Paducah’s Oak Grove Cemetery.
“Josephine Fowler Post,” Who’s Who in America, 1920-1921: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of the United States vol. 11, John William Leonard and Albert Nelson Marquis, eds. (Chicago: A. N. Marquis and Company, 1921), 2281.
“Josephine Fowler Post,” FindAGrave.com.
William Elsey Connelly and E. M. Coulter, History of Kentucky, vol. V (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1922), 342.
“Membership of the Women’s Club,” The Paducah Evening Sun, November 24, 1906.
Ida Husted Harper, et al. eds., History of Women Suffrage: 1900-1920, vol. VI (New York: J. J. and Ives Company, 1922), 215.
Josephine Post, “Report of the State Member of the Executive Committee,” Reports of the Twenty-Eighth and Twenty-Ninth Annual Conventions of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held in Lexington, Kentucky March 11 and 12th 1919 (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1919), 65-69.
“The Anna Howard Shaw Memorial Committee,” The Woman Citizen: A Weekly Chronicle of Progress 5 (June 26, 1920), 110-111.