Thursday, March 20, 2014

Carrie Chapman Catt, Pi Beta Phi

Photo Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
In this portrait taken in 1883,
Carrie Chapman Catt 
is proudly wearing her arrow badge in the style of the day.
To help celebrate Women’s History Month, the NPC blog will spotlight Panhellenic women who have been influential historical figures. The first featured Panhellenic woman is Carrie Chapman Catt, a member of Pi Beta Phi at Iowa State University. Catt was a notable women’s suffragist and founded the League of Women Voters. She was born in Wisconsin but moved to Iowa as a child, where she lived for much of her life.

Catt worked as a teacher to pay for her education and was the only woman in her graduating class in 1880. After college, she continued to work as a teacher and was later appointed superintendent of schools, becoming one of the first women in the country to be named to such a position. 

She became involved in the suffrage movement in 1887, when she joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association. In her involvement with the organization, she served as a professional writer and lecturer, recording secretary and state organizer. She later became involved with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and spoke at the group’s convention in 1890 in Washington, D.C. 

Catt became NAWSA president in 1900, following Susan B. Anthony’s term as president. Catt resigned her presidency in 1904 but resumed that role in 1915. During her second term as president, the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was finally passed, after which Catt officially left her role as NAWSA president.

Catt continued to be involved with advocacy work for the rest of her life, founding the League of Women Voters and supporting the formation of the United Nations.