Mary Eleanor Tarrant was born in 1872 in Macon, Mississippi. Her father, Samuel Tarrant, was a civil war veteran and worked as a merchant (in what business is not recorded). Her mother, Eliza Watkins Selleck Tarrant, seems to have had no paying job when Eleanor was born. When the family moved to Louisville sometime in the 1880s, however, Eliza Tarrant kept a boarding house, and when she and her husband moved to Chicago around 1900, she pursued this occupation there.
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.
Article Title: Women's Suffrage
Editors: Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool
Book Title: The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, in partnership with NKY.com
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky. Republished for the World Wide Web by NKU.com and Enquirer Media. A Project of the Thomas D. Clark Foundation, Inc.
Date of Publication: 2009
Author(s)/Editor(s): Ida Husted Harper
Title: The History of Woman Suffrage Volume 6
Publisher: J.J. Little and Ives Co.
Date of Publication: 1922
In 1908, 1910, and 1912, the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs (whites only) lobbied and proposed school suffrage in Kentucky, finally winning it back in 1912 with an added proviso (just for women) of a “literacy” test.
See more at Lowell H. Harrison and James C. Klotter, A New History of Kentucky (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997), 288.
Author(s)/Editor(s): Claudia Knott
Title: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Kentucky, 1879-1920
Publisher: University of Kentucky, Ph.D. Diss.
Date of Publication: 1989
Kentucky passed the first statewide woman suffrage law (since New Jersey revoked theirs with their new constitution in 1807) – allowing female heads of household to vote in elections deciding on taxes and local boards for the new county “common school” system. The law exempted the cities of Louisville, Lexington and Maysville since they had already adopted a system of public schools.
School suffrage is granted to women in second-class cities in Kentucky. This means that women in Lexington, Covington, and Newport are “eligible as members of the Board of Education and qualified to vote for the same.”
Kentucky Equal Rights Association. Minutes of the Seventh Annual Convention, Held at Merrick Lodge, Lexington, KY, 1894 (Covington: Ledger Printing Co.), 12.