Biographical Sketch of Anna Ellsworth Blount

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Anna Ellsworth Blount, 1872-194?

By Anna Harvey, student, Brown University

Physician; President, National Medical Women's Association; Member, Chicago Woman's Club

Anna Ellsworth was born in Oregon, Wisconsin, on January 18, 1872, to H.G. and Amelia Ellsworth. She attended the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1892, and married Ralph Earle Blount in Chicago the following year. She continued her education at Northwestern University and graduated with a medical degree in 1897. She and her husband had one child, Ruth Earle Blount, and spent most of their life together in Oak Park, Illinois.

Dr. Blount was the president of the National Medical Women's Association and a driving force in the emergent birth control movement, serving on the committee of the First American Birth Control Conference in 1921. She frequently lectured on contraception and "sex hygiene" in Chicago schools and gave out information about birth control when it was still illegal to do so. Like her contemporary, Margaret Sanger, Blount was an advocate for eugenics, calling it "the most important movement of modern times." She believed cruelty and alcoholism to be hereditary, and thus, eliminating such traits would free society of many of the social ills of the early twentieth century in addition to preventing worldwide war and hunger through lowering the global population. She was also an early proponent of divorce and supported revisions to the legal process to make it easier for women to obtain divorces, as well as to have female juries decide all divorce cases, saying "women are entitled to first consideration in the divorce question."

Blount was a member of the Chicago Woman's Club, serving on the reform department of the legislative committee for two years, as well as on a standing social hygiene committee. She also chaired the literature department of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association. She was active in various local and national suffrage movements, and she spoke out against those clubs that restricted African-American women from joining. On April 19, 1910, she spoke at the National American Convention "on behalf of the 500 women doctors in Chicago and the 7,800 women doctors in the United States," saying "I have yet to find one who does not believe in woman suffrage." In this speech, she addressed this group's personal reasons for supporting the suffragists (women doctors were notoriously underpaid compared to their male counterparts) but she broadened her scope to argue that greater female involvement in society would have wide-reaching benefits for public safety and health.

Anna E. Blount died in the 1940s.

Sources:

"Two Suffragists Resign Offices," Chicago Daily Tribune, 20 April 1910, p. 3. Accessed online at
- http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1910/04/20/page/3/article/two-suffragists-resign-offices

"Anna Blount," sketch at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Blount

Speech by Anna Blount, in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 5, 1900-1920, pp. 294-95.

Woman's Who's Who of America (1914-1915), p. 109. [LINK]

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