NVWT marker for Mary Barr Clay

Randolph Hollingsworth's picture

Image for National Votes for Women Trail marker for Mary Barr Clay - located at White Hall State Historic Site, 500 White Hall Shrine Road, Richmond KY @37.8331337,-84.3548585

The marker content states: "Mary Barr Clay childhood home. Pres., Amer. Woman Suffrage Assoc. 1883. Addressed U.S. House of Reps. in support of women's suffrage 1884. (William C. Pomeroy Foundation 2018, [marker no.] 3)"

Mary Barr Clay (October 13, 1839-October 12, 1924), the eldest daughter of Mary Jane Warfield and Cassius M. Clay, was married to Major Frank Herrick of Ohio and had three sons. They divorced in 1872 and she resumed her original name (following in the footsteps of suffragist Lucy Stone), changing the last names of her two youngest children to Clay also. Clay served as a leader in both national suffrage societies – the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association – and started the state’s first permanent women’s rights association in Madison County in 1879. There in Richmond, on October 25, 1879, Susan B. Anthony first spoke in Kentucky. Clay and AWSA President Lucy Stone worked together to create the Fayette County Equal Rights Association in 1880. She and her sister Sallie Clay Bennett represented Richmond in 1882 when lobbying the Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee for presidential suffrage, property rights for married women and guardianship of their own children. When living in Michigan she organized suffrage clubs there also. She was the first Kentuckian to hold the office of president in a national woman’s organization (the American Woman Suffrage Association from 1883). She submitted the Kentucky state report for the History of Woman Suffrage (Volume 3) in 1886. When the Kentucky Equal Rights Association was formed in 1888, Mary Barr Clay served as first Vice-President every year until it transformed into the Kentucky League of Women Voters in 1920.


Clay, Mary Barr. “Kentucky” in History of Woman Suffrage… Vol. 3, 1876-1885. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds. Rochester: Charles Mann Printing Co., 1886.

Cole, Jennie. “‘Her’Story: Women in the Special Collections: Mary Barr Clay, the Louisville Equal Rights Association, and Women's Rights.” John Filson Blog, (August 30, 2011). Filson Historical Society. http://filsonhistorical.org/herstory_womens-rights/

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

A Woman of the Century: Fourteen hundred-seventy biographical sketches accompanied by portraits of leading American women in all walks of life (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1893): 179–180.