The Louisville Equal Rights Association: Women’s Suffrage in Louisville Kentucky

The Filson Historical Society of Louisville, Kentucky holds the only known organizational record of the Louisville Woman Suffrage Movement - a minute book. This volume details the first sixteen years of the Louisville Equal Rights Association (LERA), from 1889 to 1895. Meeting initially in the home of Susan Look Avery in March 1889, this small group of men and women were willing to publicly embrace the unpopular cause of equal rights for women. The core founding group persisted as members and officers as the name of the organization changed to the Louisville Woman Suffrage Association, and membership exploded from 30 to 400. Who were these founders of the Louisville Suffrage Movement? What motivated them to advocate for what was initially such an unpopular cause for so many years?

A team of researchers led by Dr. LeeAnn Whites has utilized resources at the Filson and elsewhere to delve into these questions and more. They published their findings in April 2019 in The Woman Suffrage Movement and Progressive Reform in Louisville, Kentucky, 1889-1920, available online at: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=63ca790d23e94978b15247b78113e868. Explore this historical resource to learn more about these individuals - their backgrounds, where they lived, and where they are buried - and continue to check back as the team adds more research and dimensions to this important project.

Louisville Equal Rights Association Minute Book [Mss BJ L894] quote - "Politics is a moral science. When it is not that, it is intentional immorality."

Quote from the back cover of the Louisville Equal Rights Association Minute Book [Mss. BJ L894]

Jennie Cole

Jennie Cole is the Manager of Collection Access at The Filson. She has a MLIS with a specialization in Archives from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in History from the University of Louisville. Jennie's research interests in the Filson's collections include women's history, Camp Zachary Taylor, and Speed family of Louisville.

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