Anne Dallas Dudley

Lived:November 13, 1876—September 13, 1955 (aged 78)

Anne Dallas Dudley was a Tennessee suffragist and one of the most prominent leaders in the Southern suffrage movement.

Born on November 13, 1876, into a prominent Nashville family, Dudley attended Ward Seminary High School and Price’s College. In 1902, she married banker and insurance broker Guilford Dudley, and went on to have three children.

Ignoring the inherent constraints that came with being a wealthy woman of high social standing, Dudley co-founded the Nashville Equal Suffrage League and led several “May Day” suffrage parades. She included her children in these parades and circulated a photo of her with her children in order to show that suffrage was a respectable cause. In her role as president, Dudley was the first woman in Tennessee to make an open-air speech when she led a march of 2,000 women in Nashville in May 1914. The next year, she was elected president of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association.

In 1917, Dudley was appointed vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). She worked closely with President Carrie Chapman Catt in planning national suffrage strategy and worked to promote suffrage across the South. She famously refuted an anti-suffragist who argued that women shouldn’t vote because they couldn’t bear arms by responding, “Yes, but women bear armies.”

When the Tennessee legislature made its deciding vote on suffrage in the United States in August of 1920, Dudley and her NAWSA colleagues set up camp in a Nashville hotel and lobbied tirelessly for suffrage.

After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Dudley became the first woman delegate-at-large at the Democratic National Convention and remained active in Tennessee politics. She worked to reelect the pro-suffrage governor and helped organize the Maternal Welfare Organization of Tennessee, which brought Margaret Sanger to speak in Nashville in 1938. Dudley died on September 13, 1955, as a giant in Tennessee politics.

Casey, Paula F. “Biographical Sketch of Anne Dallas Dudley.” Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920. Alexander Street: Women and Social Movements Database.

Bennett, Candice. “Anne Dallas Dudley.” Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association. Accessed January 14, 2020.

“Dudley, Anne Dallas.” National Women's Hall of Fame. National Women's Hall of Fame. Accessed January 14, 2020.