Biographical Sketch of Julia Ashley Pierce

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Julia Ashley Pierce, 1843-1926

By Rebekah Silver, student, and Melanie Gustafson, professor, University of Vermont

Vice President and President, Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association/Vermont Equal Suffrage Association

Julia Ashley was born on July 31, 1843 in Barnard, Vermont, to James Madison Ashley (1810-1870) and Hannah Jewett Ashley (1820-1901). On October 24, 1871, she married Edward L. Pierce, a farmer who was the son of a prosperous merchant from Barnard, Vermont. They had two sons, Leslie D. Pierce and Chester E. Pierce. She died on December 20, 1926 and is buried in Rochester, Vermont.

Pierce was a member of the Universalist Church. She also ran a millinery shop and become one of the incorporators of the Rochester Electric Light and Power Department. In 1916, Pierce and her sister Ellen Ashley Pierce built the Pierce Memorial Hall as a community center for the residents of Rochester, Vermont.

In 1892, Julia Pierce became the head of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association's (VWSA) Local Committee for Rochester and in 1902 was named President of the "Officers of the Locals" of the VWSA. At the state convention of 1897, Pierce was elected VWSA Vice President, a position she held until 1904, when she became VWSA President. She was again Vice President in 1906. In 1907, the VWSA changed its name to the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association and Pierce served as its President from 1907 to 1910 and from 1913 to 1915. She was then elected Permanent Honorary President of the VESA.

Pierce's sister Ellen L. Ashley Pierce was also involved in the VWSA/VESA, holding positions as Superintendent of The Woman's Journal (1905-1908) and Treasurer (1908-1913). Julia and Ellen Pierce attended the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1902.

Sources:

Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, 1883-1927, MSC 144-146, Leahy Library, Vermont History Center, Barre, Vermont

"State Suffragists Plan Big Meeting," Brattleboro Daily Reformer, November 3, 1914, p. 3

"Equal Rights with Men," and "The Convention Speeches," Barre Daily Times, June 5, 1909, p. 1.

"Windsor Woman Heads Suffragists," Burlington Weekly Free Press, March 13, 1919, p. 11.

Sources in Chronological Order:

Minutes of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association Held in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hardwick, Vt., Tuesday Evening and Wednesday, June 27 and 28, 1893 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1893).

Minutes of the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association Held at Peacham, Vermont, June 27 and 28, 1895 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1895).

Minutes of the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association, Held at Montpelier, Vermont, June 10 and 11, 1896 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1896).

Minutes of the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association, Held at Burlington, Vermont, June 14 and 15, 1897 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1897).

Minutes of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association, Held at South Royalton, Vermont, June 28 and 29, 1898 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1898).

Minutes of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association held at Bellows Falls, Vermont, June 1 and 2, 1899 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1899).

Minutes of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association held at Waterbury Center, Vermont, June 12 and 13, 1900 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1900).

Minutes of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association held at Rochester, Vermont, June 25 and 26, 1901 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1901).

Minutes of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association held at West Concord, Vermont, June 18, 19, 1902 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1902).

Minutes of the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association held at Barton, Vermont, June 9 and 10, 1903 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1903).

Minutes of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association held at Woodstock, Vermont, June 22 and 23, 1904 (Jericho, Vt.: Roscoe Printing House, 1904).

Minutes of the Twenty-First Annual Convention of Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association at Springfield, Vermont, June 7 and 8, 1905 (Lyndonville, Vt.: H. B. Davis & Co., 1905).

Minutes of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting of Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association at Brattleboro, Vermont, June 6 and 7, 1906 (Lyndonville, Vt.: H. B. Davis & Co., 1906).

The Report of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association and Minutes of the 23rd Annual Convention at Burlington, 1907 (Bethel, Vt.: Bethel Publishing Co., 1907).

The Report of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association and Minutes of the 24th Annual Convention at Rutland, VT., 1908 (Bethel, Vt.: Bethel Publishing Co., 1908).

The Report of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association and Minutes of the 25th Annual Convention Held at Barre, Vt., June 4th and 5th, 1909 (Bethel, Vt.: Bethel Printing Company, 1909)

Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Year Book, 1912-1913 (Woodstock, Vt.: Elm Tree Press, 1913)

Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Twenty-Sixth Annual Convention, Rochester, June 11-12, 1913 (n.d., n.p.).

Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Year Book 1915 (Burlington, Free Press Printing Co., 1915).

Proceedings of the Thirty-seventh Annual Convention of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association, also Proceedings of the First Meeting of the Vermont League of Women Voters, Following the Dissolution of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association, St. Albans, Vermont, July 1-2, 1920, typescript, Wilber Collection, University of Vermont.

back to top