Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biographical Sketch of Katherine T. Patterson, 1839-1901

By Meghan Lipsky, student, Colorado State University

Katherine T. Patterson, born in West Virginia, in 1839, was the third president of the Equal Suffrage Association of Colorado and worked tirelessly for the social and political rights of women, until her passing in Denver in 1900. She worked alongside her own sister, Mary G. Campbell, as they both shared a passion for women's rights. The two not only led campaigns but were active writers in the state and were responsible for writing Colorado's report for the History of Woman Suffrage. They tackled oppression head-on by publishing their opinions regarding wrong doings by men as well as the church. During their 1877 campaign, Patterson wrote about the Denver bishop by stating that he, "preached a series of sermons . . . in which he fulminated all the thunders of apostolic and papal revelation against women who wanted to vote." The sisters were very strategic in their activism as the two agreed on, "women's best opportunity to obtain legal rights was in the territorial state, for life during such a regency-type government gave men some experience with living in a women's world."

Katherine T. Patterson was a mother of five. She was married to the Colorado Senator Thomas M. Patterson for thirty-six years. Mr. Patterson was born in Ireland in 1839, before moving to New York City where he decided he would run for a political position. The two married in 1864, after which his political career landed them in Colorado. Patterson's position gave women a space to have their voices heard by politicians. Katherine T. Patterson helped to give Colorado women the right to vote in 1893. Both Mr. and Mrs. Patterson lived to be sixty-one-years old were there to not only witness, but contribute to, the ratification of the Nineteenth amendment.

Denver, Colorado, was central to the women's suffrage movement of the nineteenth century. Women, primarily white, from across the nation gathered in 1881, to form the Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association of Colorado. The group worked to organize and gain the right to vote nationally, as well as to keep an eye on the civic affairs at home. Since Denver was a central meeting point for all parts of the state, regular monthly meetings took place for years at the Adams Hotel in Denver. Many nationally known names within the women's suffrage movement, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Clady Stanton, were in constant attendance, but so was prominent state activist, Katherine T. Patterson.


Harper, Ida H., ed. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 5, 1900-1920. National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK] and vol. 6 [LINK to Colo. Report]

"Katherine A.C. Grafton Patterson." Find A Grave Memorial.

"United States Suffrage Movement in the 19th Century: Suffrage: Issues and Individuals." Feminism in Literature: A Gale Critical Companion.

"Women's Suffrage Movement." Colorado Encyclopedia.

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