Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders

Olympia Brown (1835-1926)

Olympia Brown, universalist minister and prominent suffrage speaker, she entered theological school in 1863, and became the first woman minister ordained by full denominational authority. In 1878 she became a pastor in Racine, Wisconsin, where her suffrage work was most active and influential.

She married Henry Willis, retained her own name, and had two children. She spoke in state campaigns at the request of Anthony and Lucy Stone. She brought a suit against Wisconsin election officials after attempting to vote, but was unsuccessful. Brown formed the Federal Suffrage Association in 1892, to obtain the vote through Congressional resolution.

She spent the later part of her life with her daughter in Baltimore. In later years she served on the board of the Woman’s Party and, in her 80s, joined their “watchfires” at the White House, publicly burning President Wilson’s speeches. Her life spanned the era from the first suffrage organizing to passage of the 19th Amendment. A campaigner with a powerful voice, she was one of suffrage’s most vigorous spokespersons and lived to cast a ballot!


Olympia Brown
Olympia Brown, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZ62-53513)

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