Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Fanny Bence Fletcher, 1878-1966
By Ally Scannell, student, and Melanie Gustafson, professor, University of Vermont
Legislative Committee, Vermont Equal Suffrage Association
Fanny Bence Fletcher was born on November 13, 1878 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Mary E. Bence Fletcher and Allen Miller Fletcher, a private banker and member of the New York Stock Exchange. Allen Fletcher's grandfather was an early settler of Ludlow, Vermont, and in 1881 Allen Fletcher bought the Ludlow family homestead and built a summer house in nearby Proctorsville. In 1905, the Fletcher family moved to Proctorsville and Allen Fletcher became involved in farming and politics. He served in the legislature from 1902 to 1911 and as Vermont's governor from 1912 to 1915. He made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1916 and died in 1922 as one of the richest men in Vermont.
Fanny Fletcher attended Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Radcliffe College, and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. She never married and lived with her parents and then her widowed mother. In 1908, Governor Fletcher D. Proctor appointed Fanny Fletcher to the Vermont Library Board of Commissioners. She served until 1917. Fletcher was elected Vice President of the Vermont Library Association in 1914 and became President in 1916. Fletcher was active in the Vermont Council of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and in 1919 helped run an "Older Girls' Conference" that brought together different girls' organizations from across the state. In 1929, Miss Fletcher turned over the Jesse Fletcher Farm to the YWCA to be used for education and recreational purposes and in her will she left the Fletcher Farm and a $20,000 endowment to the YWCA. Her father had donated the Fletcher Library to the town of Ludlow and, in 1964, she donated money to construct a new children's wing. She served as a trustee of the library for 52 years.
Fannie Fletcher's involvement with the Vermont suffrage movement was consistent although not very noteworthy. In 1912, she served on the legislative committee of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA). In 1913, she gave a speech at the 26th annual convention, in Rochester, Vermont, titled "Some Results of Equal Suffrage." At the same convention, the VESA passed a resolution giving "hearty appreciation" to "our honored Governor, Allen M. Fletcher" and others who spoke "for us from the floor, and who, by their sympathy and words, strengthened our hands."
Fanny Bence Fletcher died in 1966 in Kershaw, South Carolina and was buried in Indianapolis.
Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Year Book 1913 (Woodstock, Vt: Elm Tree Press, 1913).
Bennington Evening Banner (Bennington, VT). "Vermont News." August 28, 1908, 3. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn95066012/1908-08-28/ed-1/seq-3/.
Brattleboro Daily Reformer (Brattleboro, VT). "Mrs. E. H. Crane Appointed." September 27, 1917, 1. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86071593/1917-09-27/ed-1/seq-1/.
Brattleboro Daily Reformer (Brattleboro, VT). "Y.W.C.A. Council to Organize Tomorrow." March 18, 1919, 8. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86071593/1919-03-18/ed-1/seq-1/.
"Calvin Fletcher, Jr. Family Collection, Ca. 1850-1977." Accessed October 24, 2016. http://www.indianahistory.org/our-collections/collection-guides/calvin-fletcher-jr-family-collection.pdf.
Linda Margaret Farr Welch, comp. Families of Cavendish: The Early Settlers of the Black River Valley in Windsor Vermont: A Social and Genealogical History, Volume 1 (Cavendish: Cavendish Historical Society, 1995), p. 170.
Manchester Journal (Manchester, VT). "Older Girls' Conference." May 8, 1919, 8. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025668/1919-05-08/ed-1/seq-1/.
St. Johnsbury Caledonian (St Johnsbury, VT). "Vermont News." October 28, 1914, 8. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84023253/1914-10-28/ed-1/seq-8/.
Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, 1883-1927, MSC 144-146, Leahy Library, Vermont History Center, Barre, Vermont.