Biographical Sketch of Emily Kershaw Perry

Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Emily Kershaw Perry, 1881-1942

Link to NWP Database

By Heather Held, undergraduate, Louisiana State University

Emily Kershaw Perry was born in Washington, D.C. on November 26, 1881 to Reverend Josiah Bedon Perry of South Carolina and Fannie Sprigg Perry of Maryland. Named after her maternal grandmother, Perry was the second of four children.

In 1913, Perry served as the Congressional Union Petition Chairman; she also served as an organizer for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. The records of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) state that Perry was "one of the most active members of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage.” Indeed, she became a key staff person and aide to Alice Paul in late 1913 and 1914. In March 1915, Perry was sent to Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina on behalf of the Congressional Union in order to organize and plan conventions, as well as establish branches of the NWP in these states. In 1916, Perry went to California and Utah to lobby and speak against the Democratic Party and to lobby for support of women's suffrage. Perry was later a member and officer of the National Woman's Party. Perry remained active in the NWP after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She is listed as one of the editors of the group’s Equal Rights journal in the mid-1930s.

There is little information on Perry after 1920. She never married and lived with her parents for most of her life. In the 1930s, Perry and her mother lived in a boarding house in Washington, D.C. She died on July 27, 1942 at the age of 60 and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.


Donald L. Haggerty, National Woman's Party Papers: The Suffrage Years 1913-1920: A Guide to the Microfilm Edition. Sanford, North Carolina: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1981. See Group I, Container I:155, Folder: Perry, Emily K. James Barnwell Heyward, The Genealogy of the Pendarvis-Bedon Families of South Carolina, 1670-1700 (Atlanta: Foote & Davies, 1905). Additional biographical information can be found on and the 1930 and 1940 United States Censuses. A photograph of Perry can be found online in the Library of Congress's collection "Records of the National Woman's Party," available at:

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