Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Katherine Astler, 1863-1949
By: Evan Britton, Riley Dugan, David Girmann, II, Maria Heisel, Aengus Nelson, Christopher Taylor, Stephanie Athanasoulis, Meaghan McGraw, Juliana Riva, Abigail Wells, undergraduate
Christine Anderson, faculty sponsor, associate professor, Xavier University, Dayton, Ohio
Member, Ohio Woman Suffrage Association's Advisory Campaign Committee
Katherine Anna Eckermeyer Astler was born on August 19, 1863, in Cincinnati, Ohio; her parents, Wilhelm Eckermeyer and Mary Eckermeyer, were German immigrants. Katherine's parents belonged to the Immanuel United Methodist Church, where her father was the pastor. Wilhelm was also a trained doctor who studied at the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati.
Katherine Eckermeyer learned to read and write as a child and graduated from the Women's Medical College of Cincinnati in 1889. The separate medical school for women had been created in 1886 as a department of the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery and emphasized educating women to care for women and children. Two of her brothers were also physicians, and in 1888 she married another physician, George Herman Astler. Both Katherine and George Astler were listed in the United States census as practicing physicians and owning their own practice. One of the couple's two sons, Vernon Wolfert Astler also became a physician.
Katherine Astler was an active suffragist. On September 3, 1912, woman suffrage was the twenty-third of forty-two proposed constitutional amendments put to a vote in Ohio. The measure went down to defeat, but Astler was a member of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association's Advisory Campaign Committee, which met the following month as the organization prepared to raise funds for a second referendum in 1914. Although woman suffrage again failed to pass in 1914, the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association continued to campaign for a state amendment until the First World War. Ohio became the fifth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. Both George and Katherine were apparently active in civic affairs: they were listed individually as representatives of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce when they were part of a group traveling to the 1915 World's Fair in San Francisco, while other women in the group from Ohio were listed as wives of male representatives.
Katherine Astler continued to practice medicine after George Astler died in 1929. When she died on February 22, 1949, she was reputed to be the one of the oldest women physicians in Cincinnati.
Armstrong, Amy, ed. Physicians' and Dentists' Directory of the State of Ohio, 1905. Cincinnati: Galen Gonsier and Co., 1905. Ancestry.com.
Cangi, Ellen Corwin. 1979. "Patron and Protégés: Cincinnati's First Generation of Women Doctors 1875- 1910." Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin; Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin 37, no. 2: 89-114.
Cincinnati, Ohio Directory, 1891-1915. Ancestry.com.
"Dr. Katherine Astler." New York Times. February 24, 1949, p. 23.
"Journey Toward Home Has Begun." Cincinnati Enquirer. July 26, 1915, p. 4. Newspapers.com.
Rose, Mary Lou. Juanita Conklin, and Charles T. Abbott. History of Montgomery, Ohio, 1795-1995. Montgomery, OH: Montgomery Historical Society, 1995.
United States Bureau of the Census, Population of the United States. 1870-1940 Census. Ancestry.com.
Upton, Harriet Taylor. "Ohio Woman Suffrage Association Fundraising Letters." Letter, Warren, Ohio, October 21, 1912. Vadae G. Meekison Collection and the Ohio Memory Collection. Center for Archival Collections--Bowling Green State University. http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p267401coll36/id/16231.