Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lucy Kangley, 1894-

By Tausif Khan, undergraduate, University of California, Berkeley

At the start of the 20th century, there was an emergence of suffrage movements mobilizing together for a national effort to pass women's suffrage. Among these suffragists, the Kangleys of Washington were important members of society. Lucy Kangley, in particular, was a very young suffragist in the 1910s active in the Washington Equal Suffrage Association along with her sisters Helen, Louise, Gertrude, and Mary. Raised in a traditional Catholic setting, born to an Irish immigrant and an Irish American mother from Illinois, Lucy and her sisters had become invested in the suffrage movement of Washington in its struggling, but crucial times.

Lucy Kangley had become an accomplished young suffragist, by 15 years old, when she went to an international suffrage conference in London in the spring of 1909. In the fall of 1909, Kangley and the other suffragists in Washington were holding the highly anticipated Spokane Suffrage Convention, the first state suffrage convention in Washington, where the famous social activist Florence Kelley was set to speak. The new Washington Equal Suffrage League was set to battle opposition from members of the suffrage rights establishment and get recognized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Kangley sisters, as radical suffragists, were qualified mavericks willing to fight against the suffrage establishment in battles such as in Spokane. In the prior year, Lucy Kangley was the president of the college/youth wing of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association. During her tenure as president, Lucy was attending Western Washington College of Education in Bellingham, as an English major. Under Kangley's leadership, the college wing was put in charge of documenting the Washington suffrage movement by publishing a weekly for ordinary women to read and stay informed about current events surrounding the movement.

Furthermore, Lucy and her sisters worked with Emma Smith Devoe, the president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association during a time where the movement was struggling to gain traction after failed efforts in 1898. Devoe wanted the churches and clergy to play a huge part in the movement as it is recounted in The History of Woman Suffrage: "The Catholic priests said nothing against it [the special woman suffrage sermon] and left their members free to work for it if they so desired. Among Catholic workers were the Misses Lucy and Helen Kangley, who formed a Junior Suffrage League."The Kangley sisters' Catholic background proved to be a strength for the suffrage movement. As the Kangleys helped organize these sermons, the suffrage movement suddenly had a platform into many private lives of Washingtonians and helped to mobilize support to pass the state suffrage amendment and they did by 1910. A decade later, the nineteenth amendment became part of the US constitution. After 1910, the Kangleys would carry on with their private lives with their legacies set in stone in American suffragist history.


"Lucy Kangley in 1910 United States Federal Census." Accessed April 19, 2017.

Bailey, C.H., "How Washington Women Regained the Ballot." Pacific Monthly, July 1911.

"Washington Equal Suffrage League at Spokane," The Kennewick Courier, September 24, 1909

"Equal Suffrage League Convention," The Daily Times, September 24, 1909

"Trouble for Suffragists," The Wenatchee Daily World, September 27, 1909

Proceedings of the Fortieth Annual Convention of the National–American Woman Suffrage Association Held at Buffalo, Buffalo: NAWSA, 1908, 143.

"National College Innovation at W.S.C.," Washington State Alumni Powwow, Nov. 1944, 4.

Ida Husted Harper et al., The History of Woman Suffrage -Vol.6, New York: J.J. Little and Ives Company, 1922, 679.

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