Saturday, December 25, 2010

Anna Howard Shaw "Day"

Anna Howard Shaw (February 14, 1847 – July 2, 1919) was a leader of the women's suffrage movement in the United States. She was also a physician and the first ordained female Methodist minister in the United States.
Shaw was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, but was brought to the United States as a small child. Her family initially lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, but soon moved to the Michigan frontier where they lived in a floorless log cabin in the wilderness. After the Civil War, Shaw, now a teenager, moved in with her sister in Big Rapids, Michigan. Inspired by the sermons of a Unitarian minister, Marianna Thompson, Shaw decided to pursue a religious life. Shaw delivered her first sermon in 1870. Soon she was preaching in towns throughout the area.
Shaw entered Albion College, a Methodist school in Albion, Michigan, in 1873. From there she went on to Boston University School of Theology where she graduated in 1876. She was the only woman in her graduating class. She paid her own expenses through college and university by preaching and lecturing. After serving as a minister at Methodist churches in Hingham and East Dennis, Massachusetts, Shaw was ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church in 1880—the first ordination of a woman by that church. She received an M.D. from Boston University in 1886. During her time in medical school, Shaw became an outspoken advocate of political rights for women. She was also active in the temperance movement and served as national superintendent of franchise for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union from 1886 to 1892.
Shaw became a confidant of Susan B. Anthony in the woman's suffrage movement, leading the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1904 to 1915. During her tenure as president, the organization renewed efforts to lobby for a national constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. Due to growing factionalism within the organization, Shaw decided not to run for reelection in 1915. She was succeeded by Carrie Chapman Catt.
During World War I, Shaw was head of the Women's Committee of the United States Council of National Defense, for which she became the first woman to earn the Distinguished Service Medal.
Shaw died of pneumonia at her home in Moylan, Pennsylvania at the age of seventy-two, only a few months before Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
In 2000, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Anna Howard Shaw Day is celebrated on her birthday, February 14th, (or the nearest Sunday by an act of the United Methodist Church or by some feminists as an alternative to Valentine's Day. The NBC show 30 Rock referenced the holiday as an alternative to Valentine's Day in the episode "Anna Howard Shaw Day".

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