|Lived:||February 6, 1881—May 2, 1991 (aged 110)|
For information on her colleague, Catherine Talty Kenny, visit her profile at https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate.edu/directory/catherine-talty-kenny/.
Abby Crawford Milton was the youngest of the Southern suffrage leaders who made Tennessee the prized 36th vote to ratify the 19th Amendment.
Born on February 6, 1881, in Milledgeville, Georgia, Milton was the daughter of a prominent Georgia family. In 1904, she married George Fort Milton, editor of the pro-suffrage Chattanooga News and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Milton would go on to have three daughters between 1913 and 1917, some of the most consequential years in suffrage history. George Fort Milton became interested in suffrage activism before his wife, organizing a men’s suffrage club in 1914 and supporting suffrage through his involvement in the Tennessee Democratic Party.
In 1915, Abby Crawford Milton joined the Chattanooga Equal Suffrage League and then co-chaired the Joint Campaign Committee with Catherine Talty Kenny. Milton often brought her small children with her to suffrage events throughout the state, thus raising them to be politically conscious individuals. In 1919, Milton became the president of the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Association and helped lead the charge for Tennessee to ratify the 19th Amendment. In 1920, Milton became the first president of the newly-formed League of Women Voters of Tennessee.
After their victory in 1920, the League of Women Voters stagnated due to factional differences and a severe drop in membership. While Milton worked tirelessly to reinvigorate the organization in Tennessee, she became exhausted and was replaced as president by Catherine Talty Kenny. Milton continued to work for women’s rights on a local level, attended law school, wrote poetry, and operated the Chattanooga News after her husband’s death in 1924. In the late 1930s, Milton ran unsuccessfully for the Tennessee Senate. Abby Crawford Milton died on May 2, 1991, at the age of 110.
Before her death, Milton participated in an oral history interview which is available through the Tennessee Virtual Archive. Below is the link to a collection of excerpts from the interview: https://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15138coll27/search/searchterm/Abby%20Crawford%20Milton%20Interview%2C%201983/field/source/mode/exact/conn/and
Bucy, Carole Stanford. “‘The Thrill of History Making’: Suffrage Memories of Abby Crawford Milton.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Fall, 1996), 224-239.
Weiss, Elaine. The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. London: Penguin Books, 2018.