Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sarah Knox Goodrich, 1825-1903

Written by Jovana Mendoza, Undergraduate, San Jose State University

Sarah Winston was born in Virginia on February 14, 1825, the second daughter of William Winston and Sarah Smith Farrow Browning. At the age of 19, Sarah married William J. Knox in Missouri and had one daughter named Virginia Knox. They moved to California by wagon train in 1850. By 1863, the Knox family had moved to San Jose, California, where William Knox established the first bank of San Jose. He served in the California State Assembly in 1854 and was elected as a California State Senator in 1865. Two years later, Knox became a widow. She married Levi Goodrich, a pioneer and well-known local architect, on January 15, 1879. Knox Goodrich became a widow again in 1887. Sarah passed away on October 30, 1903 in San Jose, California. She died at her home on North First Street. She was buried between her husbands, Mr. Knox and Mr. Goodrich, in Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose.

Knox Goodrich was one of the largest female property owners in the country and an early activist in the suffrage movement. In addition to her work on behalf of the Woman's Congress, the American Woman's Suffrage Association, the National Women's Suffrage Association and the California Woman's Suffrage Association, Knox Goodrich also organized the Woman Suffrage Association in San Jose, California in 1869. She fought for the vote through her leadership in these multiple women's suffrage organizations.

Knox Goodrich also led the fight for the passage of the Women's Educational Office Bill in California. In 1874, Knox Goodrich, Laura J. Watkins and Sallie R. Hart testified before the California Legislature on the advantages of giving women the right to hold educational office. This bill allowed women to hold public office, such as seats on the school boards. Sarah Knox Goodrich and the other women involved were able to persuade the State Legislature to pass the bill. Knox Goodrich had the full support from California suffragists. As a leader of the San Jose community, she believed "their struggle for women's citizenship was also a fight to increase women's opportunity to engage in public work, from civic activism to paid labor." Knox Goodrich believed that the vote would demonstrate that women were acknowledged and respected as citizens.


1.)Arbuckle, Helen. San Jose's Women: Colonial Days to the 1970's, ed. Jim Arbuckle. San Jose, CA: Jim Arbuckle, 2002.

2.)Gullett, Gayle. Women in America History: Become Citizens; The Emergence and Development of the California Women's Movement, 1880-1911. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

3.)Lyon, Mary. Some Pioneer Women: In Santa Clara County. Cupertino, CA: Grandma Lyon Enterprise, 1996.

4.)Munro Fraser, J.P. History of Santa Clara, California. San Francisco: Alley, Bowen and Co. 1881.

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