Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Olivia Blackman Pickering, 1860-1940

By Brenda Harper, volunteer researcher for 2020 Vision Committee, Clarksville, TN

Secretary of the Clarksville Equal Suffrage League; Member of the Ratification Committee and charter member of the Clarksville-Montgomery County League of Women Voters

Olivia Blackman was born in Clarksville, TN on November 6, 1860 to Mary Elizabeth Byrne and Oliver M. Blackman. The Blackman household as recorded in the 1870 Federal Census included a young man with no known relationship to the family, but with a unique place in the history of woman suffrage in Tennessee. Guy W. Wines as representative from Montgomery County to the 35th Session of the State General Assembly (1867-69) proposed the first legislation to grant suffrage to women in Tennessee.

By 1880, Olivia had lost her mother and was keeping house for her father and siblings. She married Lee Ely Pickering on October 19, 1882. They had two children, Alice in 1883 and Oliver in 1886. Olivia Pickering lived in Clarksville, TN until her death on October 4, 1940 at age 79.

Olivia Pickering was secretary of the Clarksville Equal Suffrage League in 1917. In May of 1920 she attended the Woman Voters' Convention in Nashville. Billed as the last annual Tennessee suffrage convention, its intent was to continue to advocate for and prepare women to participate as responsible voters.

Olivia Pickering was active in the Clarksville League of Women Voters, a member of the Ratification Committee and helped plan the reception held for Gov. Roberts at the Women's Club to show support and urge him on toward the ratification of the federal amendment.


1870 U.S. Federal Census, Accessed July 30, 2017

U.S. Federal Census Records accessed July 30, 2017

Year: 1880; Census Place: District 15, Montgomery, Tennessee; Roll: 1273; Family History Film: 1255273; Page: 332B; Enumeration District: 139

Year: 1900; Census Place: Clarksville, Montgomery, Tennessee; Roll: 1590; Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1241590

"Women's Suffrage" by Eleanor Williams, Montgomery County (TN) Historian Accessed July 27, 2017

"Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 December 2016)

"Over 500 Women from Over State," Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, May 17, 1920

"Women Form Voters League," Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, July 23, 1920

"Governor Roberts Defends Record in Speech Here: Ladies Give Reception," Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, July 26, 1920

"Mrs. Pickering Dies at Age 79, Rites Set," Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, October 4, 1940

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