Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Minnie Keith Bailey, 1869-1953

By Heyley Bowman,
Undergraduate Student, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma

The eldest of four children, Minnie Keith Bailey was born in White Cloud, Kansas in 1869 to Uriah S. and Mary F. Keith. She attended the Atchinson Institute, a private school located in Atchinson, Kansas in 1883. Bailey graduated from Western Normal College in Shenandoah, Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in 1888 with high scholastic standing. She married John Roberts Bailey in 1889 and had one child, a daughter, Mildred Keith Bailey, in 1891. The Baileys moved to Garber, Oklahoma in 1901 and then relocated to Enid in 1902. By 1930 they lived in Perry, Oklahoma. Bailey was also an accomplished poet, she is often considered to be "one of the literary women of Oklahoma" and her most well-known book is entitled "Life's Undertow." She died in 1953 and is buried in Perry, Oklahoma.

Minnie Bailey was an extremely active member of her community. She was a charter member of the Philanthropic Education Organization or P.E.O., which was founded by several young women in 1869 on the Iowa Wesleyan College Campus. The organization focuses on the empowerment of women through education and financial assistance such as awarding grants and scholarships. She was the president of the Ladies' Tuesday Afternoon Club in Perry, a charitable club comprised of women who gave back to the community by organizing book and toy drives for children. Along with her work in the community, Bailey was also the president of the Perry Library Board. It is clear that her mission was to educate and assist the members of her community.

In addition to the various charitable and community organizations, Minnie Bailey was also a suffragist who served her state and her community. She helped to organize the Betsy Ross Organization of Oklahoma. These women were invited to sew the stars on the first official flag of Oklahoma. She was also a member of the committee that drafted the constitution of the organization. The only other state to found a Betsy Ross Association is Pennsylvania. She served as the president of the Enid Suffrage Association and one of the vice-presidents of the Oklahoma Woman's Suffrage Association, a NAWSA chapter, in 1905. Often she gave addresses, hosted meetings in her home, and contributed to various newspapers' women's columns. She served as vice-president through the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1906, during which she asked representatives to "stand in the first rank of progress and development and to its women equal rights with its men in the exercise of personal liberty and the divine right of personal expression." She also served as an Oklahoma delegate to the fiftieth anniversary of the National Women's Suffrage Association in St. Louis, in 1918. Minnie Bailey wanted to educate women, provide community resources, and fight for the fundamental right to the vote.


The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), 29 May 2000. Grave of Minnie Keith Bailey Oklahoma Chapter of P.E.O Joseph B. Thoburn and Muriel H. Wright, Oklahoma: A History of the State and its People vol. 4. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1929), 737-738. Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), 10 June 1998. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Doniphan County, Kansas. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Noble County, Oklahoma. Ida Husted Harper, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage, 1900-1920 vol. 6 (New York: J. J. Little & Ives Company, 1922), 521. The Enid Events (Enid, OK), 26 July 1906.

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