Biographical Sketch of Anne Fitzhugh Miller

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Anne Fitzhugh Miller, 1856-1912

By Emma I. Wiley, student, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Anne Fitzhugh Miller--President and founder, Geneva Political Equality Club; President and founder, Ontario County Political Equality Association

Anne Fitzhugh Miller was born on March 4, 1856 in Peterboro, New York. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Charles Dudley Miller and Elizabeth Smith Miller. The Miller family moved from Peterboro to Geneva, NY when Anne was a teenager in 1869. Anne never married or had any children and lived with her family in Upstate New York for her entire life. She died in Boston, Massachusetts on March 1, 1912 at age 55 and is buried in Peterboro, New York.

Anne was raised in a family that encouraged progressive thinking and action. Her ancestors had a history of abolitionism and the family home, Lochland, was famous for stirring conversations with visitors like Elizabeth Miller's cousin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and friend, Susan B. Anthony. In 1875, Anne and her friend, Jane Ver Planck, started Camp Fossenvue on the east shore of Seneca Lake, continuing the family's liberal practices. Her mother, Elizabeth, was a respected champion for women's rights; she was most well known for designing and wearing what would become the "Bloomer costume" in the early 1850s. Anne and Elizabeth worked as a sort of mother-daughter team, working together to champion for women's suffrage, often co-hosting events and participating in the same organizations. While her mother modeled progressive action, it was not until the 1894 New York State Constitutional Convention that Anne became known as a spokesperson for the suffrage cause when she gave a speech and attended most of the state suffrage conventions from then forward, becoming distinguished as "one of Ontario County's leading suffragists."

On November 30, 1897, Anne founded the Geneva Political Equality Club (GPEC), which would eventually become the largest of its kind in the state of New York. Anne served as President of GPEC from 1899 to 1911, hosting many parties, events, and fundraisers for the suffrage cause at Lochland. Pressing forward with the cause, Anne founded the Ontario County Political Equality Association in 1903, serving as President until 1907. Both groups worked to organize and mobilize suffrage support on a city and county level, which would prove critical for the mass support needed to achieve voting rights for women at a state and national level. In addition to her work in Upstate New York, Anne also represented the state at the U.S. Senate hearing on the Women Suffrage Amendment in February 1906.

In 1910, Anne's political activities took a backseat when her mother, Elizabeth, became ill and eventually died in May, 1911. About half a year before her own death, Anne started to get back into suffrage activities with a speech in honor of her late mother in September, 1911. Although Anne Miller would never see women get the right to vote or cast her own ballot, she helped organize and pave the way for the suffragists who followed her, especially in the state of New York.

Sources:

"Anne Fitzhugh Miller," in Western New York Suffragists: Winning the Vote, website of the Rochester Regional Library Council, December 22, 2014. Accessed online June 25, 2017 at https://rrlc.org/winningthevote/biographies/anne-fitzhugh-miller/.

"Catch the Suffragists' Spirit!" National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division. Accessed online June 25, 2017 at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/millerscrapbooks/essay.html.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Women Suffrage: 1900-1920. Vol. VI. (New York: J.J. Little & Ives, 1922) pp. 443-89. [LINK]

"The Smith/Miller Family--Interactive Family Tree." National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division. Accessed online June 25, 2017.= at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/millerscrapbooks/famtree.html.

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