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Louisa County and Women Voters

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Louisa County and Women Voters


The effects of the 19th Amendment in Louisa County.


Women fought for their right to vote for much of the early 20th century. Platforms and vocal petitions attempted to persuade the American population, as well as Congress, to extend Constitutional rights to include females. The Women's Suffrage Movement influenced Congress to pass the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919, which guaranteed women's right to the polls. On August 18, 1920, the amendment was ratified and introduced to American society. In the state of Virginia, there were many attempts to influence these decisions; much of the documented information illustrated that Louisa County joined the fight. 

The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia was founded in November of 1909 by several influential Virginian women, including Kate Waller Barrett, Kate Langley Bosher, Adéle Clark, Ellen Glasgow, Nora Houston, Mary Johnston, and Lila Meade Valentine. With the intention of securing women's right to vote, these women continued to push for equal rights. In 1912, Lila Valentine convinced a group of men to form an equivalent Men's Equal Suffrage League, with the hopes of having greater influence. As this association grew to be one of the largest Southern organizations, individuals would sign membership cards to join the cause. A few of the cards, signed in 1915, illustrated a Louisa County origin. The organization disbanded soon after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, as their fight had been won. 

Polls opened to women in the early 1920s, and many Louisa women registered to vote. Perhaps, because of slackened regulations or documentation, the earliest registry illustrates that Maude G. Maddox was the first to register in Louisa County, with a date of June 28, 1920. Closely behind her, Mrs. Edwin Mitcheltree (Myrtle Mitcheltree) registered July 29, 1920, and both Edna Moss and Elsie H. Williams registered on September 3, 1920. Of the 82 Louisa women who registered before the 1920 election, most labeled themselves as housekeepers, housewives, or teachers. Of the precincts, the most frequented were Louisa, Mineral, or Yanceyville. Voters typically fell between the ages of 30 to 50. 

When the Louisa members of the Equal Suffrage League were crossed with the Louisa County poll books, only a few men and women were found: (Name, registration year, age at registration, occupation, precinct) 

L. L. Loyall, 1902, 26, Teacher, Shelton's Mill
W. T. Davis, 1902, 50, Merchant, Thompson's X Roads
David R. Shelton, n/a, 41, Merchant, Bumpass
James S. Guild, 1923, 62, Farmer, Shelton's Mill
John F. T. Anderson, 1907, 49, Farmer, Zion

Nannie M. Smith, 10/02/1920, 29, Teacher, Yanceyville
Ida Maucher, 1927, 61, Housekeeper, Bumpass


McDaid, Jennifer Davis. "Equal Suffrage League of Virginia (1909 - 1920)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 7 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 May. 2014.


Louisa County Historical Society


Louisa County Historical Society




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