ANNA HOWARD SHAW was a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States born on this date. She was also a physician and one of the first ordained female Methodist ministers in the United States.

Beginning in 1886, Shaw served as the chair of the Franchise Department of Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Her task was “to work for woman suffrage and then to use the ballot to gain ‘home protection’ and temperance legislation.” However her focus on temperance subsided as she became more heavily involved in the suffrage movement by lecturing for the Massachusetts Suffrage Association and later the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA).

Shaw first met Susan B. Anthony in 1887. In 1888, Shaw attended the first meeting of the International Council of Woman. Susan B. Anthony encouraged her to join the National Woman Suffrage Association. Having agreed, Shaw played a key role when the two suffrage associations merged when she “helped to persuade the AWSA to merge with Anthony’s and Elizabeth Cady Stantion’s NWSA, creating for the first time in two decades a semblance of organizational unity within the [suffrage] movement.” Beginning in 1904 and for the next eleven years, Shaw was the president of NAWSA. Under her leadership, NAWSA continued to “lobby for a national constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.

Shaw built a home during her tenure as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Assn. (1904–1915) and lived there with her companion Lucy Elmina Anthony (1859–1944), niece of Susan B. Anthony, until her death. Lucy and Anna were together for thirty years, and she was by her bedside when she died.

Her 1915 speech “The Fundamental Principle of a Republic” was listed as number 27 in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century (listed by rank).

In 2000, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Twenty years later, in 2020, she was named an honoree of the National Women’s History Alliance.

The Anna Howard Shaw Women’s Center at Albion College “coordinates educational programming that promotes inclusiveness and pluralism and raises awareness of women’s and gender-related issues. Examples include programming on sexual harassment and sexual assault. The most visible event sponsored by the Center is the Anna Howard Shaw Women’s History Month Program, designated each year to honor Dr. Shaw’s memory and highlight an important aspect of women’s lives. Other educational programs are co-sponsored with student organizations that share mutual interests.

“The Anna Howard Shaw Center at Boston University School of Theology promotes structures and practices that empower women and honor diversity. Ten years after its founding in 1978, the Shaw Center was designated as the women’s center for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.”