Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mrs. Lillian Crowley, 1873-1932

By Susan R. Cloud, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University, and Danielle Giles, undergraduate student, Iowa State University

Mrs. Fred (Lillian Hall) Crowley (February 1873 - June 1932) of Des Moines, Iowa, was most active in the women's suffrage movement in Iowa in the years immediately preceding the passage of the 19th Amendment, and with the Iowa Suffrage Memorial Commission from 1922-1936.

Crowley was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and moved to Omaha, Nebraska, with her parents in 1884. She married in 1891 and had a son in 1892. The family lived in Omaha for several years, then moved to Des Moines in 1906. In addition to serving in leadership roles in the Des Moines Women's Club, Crowley was a member of and served in leadership roles in a number of arts organizations. She gave lectures on art, wrote short stories and verses, and wrote the prize suffrage song during the 1916 campaigns in Iowa.

Crowley was a member of the Votes for Women League, working in their headquarters and serving on the Legislative Committee in 1916. She worked closely with the legislative chairman and was responsible for a large share of the detail work of the committee throughout the year. An important contribution of hers was the poll of the legislature for the ratification session. It was during this period that her son, Rodney, died in France in the American Expeditionary Forces. Crowley also served as corresponding secretary for the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association and was press chairman for The Woman Citizen.

When the federal amendment passed Congress on June 4, 1919, Mrs. James E. Devitt of Oskaloosa, acting president of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, and Crowley, corresponding secretary, asked Governor William Harding to call a special session of the legislature to ratify it, and on July 2, 1919, Iowa became the tenth state to ratify the federal amendment. In a luncheon following the session, Crowley was one of several former and current officers of the IESA who spoke, with a speech titled "Lobbying." In 1920, Crowley was a delegate for the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's convention in Chicago, Illinois.

Crowley passed away in Des Moines, Iowa, in June 1932.


Iowa Women's Suffrage Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, IA.

National American Woman Suffrage Association. The History of Women's Suffrage, volume 6. LINK

The Woman Citizen, Vol. 4 (1919), edited by Alice Stone Blackwell. See "Iowa Ratifies," p. 148; "Iowa's Legislative Committee," p, 194; and "Delegates to Chicago," p. 823.

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