Anna Howard Shaw

Lived:February 14, 1847—July 2, 1919 (aged 72)
Career:Methodist minister, suffragist

Anna Howard Shaw was an American suffragist who became the first woman minister of the Methodist Protestant Church. Shaw was born February 14, 1847, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, England. In 1851, Shaw's family immigrated to the United States. To help support her family, at age 15, Shaw worked as a teacher at a frontier school.

After the Civil War, Shaw was able to attend high school and then college. She entered Albion College in 1873, but left in 1876 to attend Boston Theological Seminary. She graduated in 1878 as the only woman in her class. During this time, Shaw became active in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and she became an important spokesperson for temperance and woman's suffrage. After earning her medical degree from Boston University in 1886, she became active in the National American Woman Suffrage Association, serving as president from 1904 to 1915.

During World War I, Shaw focused on foreign affairs, becoming the chair of the Woman's Committee of the United States Council of National Defense. For this home-front work, Shaw received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919; she was the first woman ever to receive it. On July 2, 1919, Shaw died, shortly before women gained the right to vote.