Julia Ward Howe

Lived:May 27, 1819—October 10, 1910 (aged 91)

Julia Ward Howe was a poet and activist who supported abolition and women's suffrage. She wrote the Civil War anthem “Battle Hymn of the Republic" and co-founded the American Woman Suffrage Association.

Howe was born on May 27, 1819. From a wealthy family, she was educated by private tutors and at schools for young ladies until age sixteen. In 1843, she married Samuel Gridley Howe, a physician and reformer. She had published essays before the marriage and continued to publish poems and plays after the marriage, some anonymously and without the knowledge of her husband, and many that were critical of the role of women in society. She and her husband separated in 1853. In 1862, her poem “The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was published by Atlantic Monthly.

After the war, Howe focused on pacifism and women's suffrage, becoming a leader in the suffrage movement. She helped found the New England Suffrage Association, serving as president for nine years, as well as the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. When the National Woman Suffrage Association split over whether to support the 15th Amendment, Howe and Lucy Stone co-founded the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869, which supported the 15th Amendment. Howe also co-founded "The Woman’s Journal," the official newsletter of the AWSA, and was its editor for 20 years. In 1889, the NWSA and AWSA reunited to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

In 1877 Howe was a co-founder of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union in Boston. She was the founder and long-time president of the Association of American Women, which advocated for women's education. In 1881, she was elected president of the Association for the Advancement of Women.

In 1908, Howe was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She died on Oct. 17, 1910.