Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders

Katherine Dexter McCormick (1875-1967)

Katharine Dexter McCormick funded efforts to promote woman suffrage, birth control, and higher education for women. She first became active in woman suffrage in 1909 when she spoke in Massachusetts at an open-air suffrage demonstration. She continued her suffrage work locally, organizing an intensive lobbying campaign in Massachusetts, and nationally, serving as lieutenant, treasurer, and vice president of the NAWSA as well as subsidizing its journal.

McCormick provided both the social justification and the money to develop “the pill,” in her quest to find a more reliable source of birth control than diaphragms offered. She allied with Margaret Sanger and helped support birth control projects intermittently for thirty years before sponsoring Gregory Pincus’ development of “the pill.” McCormick also funded the building of female dormitories at MIT in an effort to boost female enrollment. While she inherited money not only from her father but also from her husband, she was not comfortable with living the life of a socialite. McCormick inherited her mother’s passion for woman’s rights and added her own philosophy and personal concerns in donating her time and money to issues concerning women.

Katerhine Dexter McCormick, Carrie Chapman Catt Collection, Bryn Mawr College Library

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