Anna Howard Shaw
American Suffragist Leader, Minister and Physician
1847 – 1919 A.D.
Anna Howard Shaw, an American suffragist leader, minister and physician, born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and came to America with her parents in 1853. When she was nine years old her parents went from Massachusetts to Michigan, settling in what was then a wilderness. In her story The Story of a Pioneer, published in 1915, she told the interesting story of her life.
When she was fifteen she began teaching school, receiving four dollars a week and walking eight miles a day. Later she paid her own expenses through college and university by preaching and lecturing, and for several years was a pastor of Methodist Episcopal churches in Massachusetts. She received an M.D. from Boston University in 1885, and for many years was a national lecturer of the American Woman’s Suffrage Association, of which she was president from 1904 till 1915. Though an ardent suffragist, Dr. Shaw did not approve of the methods of the militant suffrage workers. For her endeavors in the interest of women at home as well as soldiers in France during the war, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and received letters from Queen Mary of England, Mme. Poincaré, wife of the President of France, President Wilson, General Pershing, and other celebrities.
In an editorial review of her career, the New York Times, July 4, 1919, said:
“Anna Howard Shaw was a genuine American, with all the qualities which in fiction collect about that name, but which are not so often seen in real life; an American with the measureless patience, the deep and gentle humor, the whimsical and tolerant philosophy, and the dauntless courage satisfying displayed in Lincoln, of all our heroes. She was a statesman whose wise guidance of the woman suffrage cause probably had as much to do with its triumph as anything that contributed to bring it about. Her spell was not to be evaded. Even in conversation her voice had the indefinable quality which makes the orator; and no one could look into those speaking eyes, or see that majestic head, without being aware that he was in the presence of an unusual human being.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.