Catt, Carrie Clinton Chapman

Catt, Carrie Clinton (b. Lane) Chapman

(1859–1947) woman suffrage leader; born near Ripon, Wis. Raised on a farm in the frontier tradition of independence, she taught school for a year before attending Iowa State College (B.A. 1880). She became a principal of an Iowa high school in 1881 and by 1883 was superintendent of schools in Mason City, Iowa. She married a newspaper editor, Les Chapman, and after he died (1886), she worked for a year on a San Francisco newspaper, then returned to Iowa and became involved in the Woman Suffrage Association. By 1890 she was a delegate to the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) convention. That same year she married George Catt, a civil engineer and constructor; they lived in Seattle until 1892, then moved to New York City. He supported her goals and activities, and when he died in 1905, the money he left her allowed her to devote herself to promoting women's right to vote. She had emerged in the 1890s as one of the most capable and convincing of the woman suffragists, and with the retirement of Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Catt became president of NAWSA (1900–04); she returned to the presidency (1915–47) and by promoting the so-called "Mrs. Catt's Winning Plan "—which combined efforts at both the state level and the federal amendment—she is credited with a major role in getting the 19th Amendment adopted in 1920. She was also active in promoting woman suffrage on the international level, serving as president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1902–23). She was one of the founders of the League of Women Voters (1919) and she campaigned to promote peace and disarmament.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.