With this first scholarly biography of Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), Trisha Franzen sheds new light on an important woman suffrage leader who has too often been overlooked and misunderstood.
An immigrant from a poor family, Shaw grew up in an economic reality that encouraged the adoption of non-traditional gender roles. Challenging traditional gender boundaries throughout her life, she put herself through college, worked as an ordained minister and a doctor, and built a tightly-knit family with her secretary and longtime companion Lucy E. Anthony.
Drawing on unprecedented research, Franzen shows how these circumstances and choices both impacted Shaw’s role in the woman suffrage movement and set her apart from her native-born, middle- and upper-class colleagues. Franzen also rehabilitates Shaw’s years as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, arguing that Shaw’s much-belittled tenure actually marked a renaissance of both NAWSA and the suffrage movement as a whole.
“Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Woman Suffrage” presents a clear and compelling portrait of a woman whose significance has too long been misinterpreted and misunderstood.