Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Corinne Emma Robbins Barnes, 1855-1945
By Victoria Emberton, student, Indiana State University
President of the Local Council of Women, cofounder of the Women's School League (which evolved into the Woman's Franchise League of Indiana), President of the Indianapolis Council of Women's Club, Director of Women's Franchise League of Indiana, member of the Full Weight and Measure Association
Corinne Emma Robbins, the eldest of four children, was born in December 1855 in Indiana to Daniel and Martha Robbins. Daniel was a merchant by trade and Martha was a housewife. Corinne became a teacher of primarily younger children, focusing on kindergarten and early primary grades. She held a position in the primary department of the Roberts and Shortridge Academy of Indianapolis in 1883. She appeared in the Indianapolis Star many times in the social columns and married William Theodore Barnes on November 2, 1899. William was a preacher at the time. At the time of their marriage, Corinne was 44 years of age and William was 34 years of age.
Mrs. W.T. Barnes, as she was addressed during her work in the suffrage movement, held several positions in public welfare and social reform. She was a believer that the future was in the hands of the children and the way they were trained. In 1900, Corinne was a junior delegate of the German Literary Club. In 1907, she held the office of President of the Local Council of Women and as such, she spoke on many occasions about civic duty and the need for social reform. She also championed women's desires to help shape the country by voting. In 1909, she assisted Dr. Amelia R. Keller along with several others to form the Women's School League. Their goal was "to elect a woman to the school board and improve the schools of Indianapolis." Later the Women's School League evolved into the Woman's Franchise League of Indiana and their efforts moved beyond the schools to support the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1911, Mr. & Mrs. W. T. Barnes appeared in the Dau Blue Book of Indianapolis. This book was a collection of selected names of persons of social standing at that time in Indianapolis. The couple appeared in subsequent editions of the book for several years as prominent members of Indianapolis high society. In 1911, Mrs. W. T. Barnes was also published as a member of the Indianapolis Deutsch Literarischer Klub - a women's club studying German Literature. She also served as a chapter trustee for the Full Weight and Measure Association and a member of the Public Welfare of Indiana Council. In 1913 she appeared as a delegate in the Bulletin of Charities and Corrections and served as recording secretary for the Indianapolis Local Council of Women. In 1915 she was named President of the Indianapolis Council of Women's Club, Director of Women's Franchise League of Indiana, and served as a member of the Full Weight and Measure Association. Corinne Robbins Barnes addressed many women's clubs as speaker on social issues including her work as suffragist for women's rights. In 1917, an article appeared in the Indianapolis Star titled "Suffrage Workers of Same Name are Confused by Public" and Mrs. W. T. Barnes was rather indignant that she should be confused for someone else or more to the point that this other woman was being confused as her - someone who should have been well known at that point in history. Mrs. Barnes appeared repeatedly in the Indianapolis Star newspaper as she endeavored to continue the fight for women's right to vote. In a 1926 advertisement, she appealed to women to vote by publishing a coupon that women could fill out and return to her at that time. In 1929 she was named chairman of the committee to plan a memorial anniversary event to honor suffragists in Indiana. In 1930 she chaired a meeting of the Indianapolis League of Women Voters. In 1937, at the age of 82, she lost her husband. Eight years later in 1945 on December 11, Corinne Emma Robbins Barnes passed away. She is buried in the Earlham Cemetery in Richmond, Indiana. This was not the last time we hear of her and her many years of dedication to the social welfare of Indianapolis though; in 1949 and again in 1969, memorial articles appear in the Indianapolis Star reminding readers of the struggles and victories of this wonderful suffragist who helped to pave the way for women to be active members of their world.
Cottman, G. S. (2017). Indiana, Past And Present: April-September, 1914 (Classic Reprint). S.L.: Forgotten Books.
Haagland, M. (1914). Indiana Women's Franchise 1816-1916 (Vol. 1).
The Indianapolis Blue Book of Selected Names of Indianapolis and Suburban Towns 1911. (1911). New York, NY: Dau Publishing Company.
Indianapolis Star. "Suffrage Workers of Same Name Confused by Public." 18 Nov. 1917, p.3.
Indianapolis Star "Mrs. Barnes Named Chairman by Women Voters' League for Anniversary, Memorial Plans." 5 Dec. 1929, p.5.
Indianapolis Star. "Women Civic Leaders To Be Honored." 4 Feb. 1949, p.7.
Indianapolis Star. "Suffrage Society Founded in 1872." 6 Decd. 1969. p. 43.
Anthony, Susan B.; Stanton, Elizabeth C.; Gage, Matilda; Blatch, Harriot S.; Harper, Ida H. (2017). History of Women's Marches - The Political Battle of Suffragettes (Complete 6 Volume Edition). Madison & Adams Press.
Anthony, Susan B.; Harper, Ida H. (2017). History of Women's Suffrage Trilogy - Part 2. Artnow.
Birth/Death information Retrieved from http://www.digikron.com/thom/ps75/ps75_287.htm