Mary Jane Warfield Clay starts regular meetings of a suffrage club in Lexington

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Discussion

Soon after Susan B. Anthony toured Kentucky in October 1879 and only a year after her divorce from Cassius M. Clay, Mary Jane Warfield Clay with her elder daughters -- Mary Barr Clay (also divorced) and Sallie Clay Bennett -- gathered signatures in Lexington and Richmond for a suffrage petition to be sent to Washington D.C. This petition was likely in support of the work being done by the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) since in a later letter Clay describes her admiration of the work led by Matilda Joslyn Gage, editor of the suffrage journal The National Citizen and Ballot Box and former president of the NWSA. By March 1880 Mary Jane Warfield Clay and her youngest daughter Annie had begun regular suffrage club meetings in the parlor of their home on North Broadway in Lexington. In a letter to Mary Barr and Laura in Ann Arbor, Michigan, (see a transcript of the letter here) she lists the names of those who came to her first organizing meeting on March 7th -- many of whom go on to create the Fayette County Equal Rights Association on January 6, 1888.


Claudia Knott, “The Woman Suffrage Movement in Kentucky, 1879-1920,” (PhD diss., University of Kentucky, 1989), 22-28.

Minutes of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, November 19th, 20th, and 21st, 1889, Court House, Lexington, Kentucky, with Reports and Constitution (Lexington, KY: Will S. Marshall, Jr., Printer, 1890), 6.

Mary Jane Warfield Clay to "Dearest Children," March 15, 1880,  Box 1, folder 10, 46m4: Laura Clay Papers, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, Lexington, Kentucky.

N.B. This entry supports the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project's digital timeline. To see this entry within the context of the history of the Kentucky women's suffrage movement, see the timeline at