Contemporary photo of the home of Desha and Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, 337 Linden Walk, Lexington, Kentucky. The house is no longer standing - the site is now occupied by a 1950s apartment building. Photo found in the following: Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge: A Leader in the New South (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1921), 73.
Laura Clay (February 9, 1849 — June 29, 1941) grew up in a large family of activists at a farm in Madison County. Her father, Cassius Clay, was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and ambassador to Russia. Her mother, Mary Jane Warfield Clay, and her sisters all supported the woman suffrage movement, and farming kept them economically independent as they went on in life, whether divorced or married.
The Kentucky legislature's reform of public education in 1908 with the Sullivan Law establishing high schools and truant officers in every county did not include returning school board franchise to women. By 1900 sixteen other states had already passed school suffrage for women and women in Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming exercised their rights to full suffrage.
In addition to her many other social reform campaigns, including the building of a state tuberculosis sanitorium, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge lobbied in the early years of the 20th century for the restoration of Kentucky women's right to vote in school board elections.
Author: M. [Madeline] McD. [McDowell] Breckinridge
Title: “Some Reasons for Granting School Suffrage to Kentucky Women,” Part I, May 1910
Publisher: Madeline McDowell Breckinridge Papers, box 6, folder 48, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, Lexington, Ky.
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In 1894 the Kentucky General Assembly passed the partial suffrage statute granting "second class cities" the right to set up booths for women to vote for school boards. Since then, black and white women had been voting in good numbers, however a series of activities in 1901 led to an unusual turnout of African-American women in Lexington to register to vote - with a large winning margin of Republican over Democrats. The Herald separated out the tallies of the women’s registrations by race - showing a total of 1,883 "colored" vs. 775 "white" women voters' registration.
Title: Woman Suffrage by Federal Constitutional Amendment. Compiled by Carrie Chapman Catt.
Publisher: National Woman Suffrage Publishing Co.
Date of Publication: 1917
This post was co-written by Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth (coordinator for the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project) and Dr. Margaret Spratt (coordinator for the Tennessee entries for the Women and Social Movements in the U.S. project on woman suffrage) as they consider a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a community outreach project to include both Kentucky and Tennessee: