Biographical Sketch of Annie Brewer Austin

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Annie Brewer Austin, 1878-1926

By Eleanor Raab, student, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

Annie Huntington Brewer was born on October 10, 1878 in Norwich, Connecticut to Arthur Huntington Brewer, a lumber and coal merchant at the Edward Chappell company, and Mary (Young) Brewer, a housewife. She had two siblings: Martha W. and Mary Goffe. Both of her sisters, later known as Mrs. William A. Norton and Mrs. Lucius Briggs respectively, were also active suffragists. There are no records of Annie Brewer attending college, however she did attend primary school and high school. She married Willis Austin—a cashier at Uncas National Bank, the director of the Norwich Water Power co., and eventual President of the Edward Chappell company—on November 26, 1901. Together they had two sons: Willis Phipps Austin, born October 21st 1903, and Malcolm Huntington Austin, born March 19th 1907. She was a very active clubwoman, and was elected as the Norwich Director of the Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs in 1904. She was also a consistent supporter of the Republican party in Norwich for her entire life. Still, she had a passport and there are records of her making at least two trips to France with her family.

Mrs. Austin and her sister, Mrs. William A. Norton, often worked together to promote women's suffrage. They were both involved in many of the same suffrage organizations, including the Norwich Equal Franchise League. Together they hosted suffrage luncheons starting in 1912, including a "suffrage tea" event, at which the presidents of the New Haven Equal Franchise League (Mrs. Carlos Stoddard and Miss Emily Pierson) addressed Norwich clubwomen on the need for women's suffrage. Their father and their husbands were also supportive of suffrage; they even marched alongside them in the 1913 suffrage parade in New York City.

Annie Brewer Austin began her work as a suffragist by addressing various women's clubs on the need for suffrage; in May of 1912 she gave an address to the Norwich Wednesday club on the benefits of suffrage and in March of 1914 she spoke on equal suffrage at a King's Daughters' meeting. Mrs. Austin joined the Norwich Equal Franchise league (NEFL) in 1912; the Norwich Equal Franchise league was linked to both the New London Equal Franchise league and the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association (CWSA). By 1913, she was becoming increasingly active in the suffrage movement—that year she carried the banner for the NEFL in a women's suffrage parade in New York City, continued to work with the NEFL, and put on a performance of the pro-suffrage play "How the Vote Was Won."

Mrs. Austin was elected treasurer of the NEFL in January 1914. By June 1914, she was elected Recording Secretary of the league; she remained in that position until at least 1917. In December 1914, the CWSA lead a campaign in New London county, which was supported by the NEFL and Mrs. Austin in particular. In 1916, Mrs. Austin as well as twenty five other women from New London suffrage associations called on Edwin Higgins, the Connecticut delegate to the Republican Convention, to declare his support for suffrage. By 1918, Annie Brewer Austin had become the chairman of New London county for the CWSA. In April of that year, a contingent of 50 Connecticut women travelled to Washington, D.C. to secure senator George McLean's support for the suffrage amendment, and Mrs. Austin was chosen as the Norwich delegate. While they were in Washington, they attended a meeting hosted by Carrie Chapman Catt. In November of 1919, she was elected to a political leadership office within the CWSA. The next month, she was elected to the CWSA constitutional ratification committee. In this role, she and her fellow committee members attempted to call an emergency meeting of the Connecticut legislature in April of 1920 in order to force a vote on the ratification of the 19th amendment. In early August, the women of the committee met with the chairman of the Republican National Convention and asked him to do more to support the ratification of the 19th Amendment in both Connecticut and Vermont. After the ratification of the 19th Amendment by Tennessee, the 36th state to ratify, in 1920, Annie Brewer Austin continued to fight for women's rights. She lead a campaign to withhold contributions to the Republican party until the Connecticut General Assembly agreed to ratify the document. In 1934, the Connecticut League of Women Voters recognized her for her role in the fight for suffrage on a plaque that was placed "In honor of the [Connecticut] women who helped win the vote for the women of their country.

After the 19th amendment was ratified, Mrs. Austin turned her focus to the charity work that she had begun before the amendment was ratified. She often donated to various organizations that she supported such as the Republican Party, tuberculosis sanitariums, and children's funds. She was a member of the Red Cross, and often organized pledge drives for the organization. She was also an active member of the war effort, and raised a substantial amount of money for the war fund. By late 1920 she was made the first female president of the Eliza Huntington Memorial Home, a retirement home for women. There are no records of any work done by Mrs. Austin after 1922. Annie Brewer Austin passed away on August 21, 1926 after a long illness. She is buried in the Yantic Cemetery in Norwich.

Sources:

1. "Annie Brewer Austin Birthdate and Marriage Information," North America, Family Histories 1500-2000. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/61157/46155_b289999-00058?pid=1588576

2. Connecticut State Register and Manual. Hartford: State of Connecticut, 1920. p. 347, https://books.google.com/books?id=31xIAAAAYAAJ

3. Ward, May Alden and Helen A. Whittier. The Federation Bulletin. Lowell, Mass: Massachusetts State Federation of Women's Clubs. p. 129, https://books.google.com/books?id=BTMTAAAAYAAJ

4. Blackwell, Alice Stone. "The Woman Citizen." Volume 4, 1919. p. 581. https://books.google.com/books?id=qtYRAQAAMAAJ

5. "Genealogical and Biographical Record of New London County, Connecticut." New London: J.H. Beers & Company, 1905. p. 40-42, 134. https://books.google.com/books?id=wPsnAQAAMAAJ

6. "Norwich Businessman Dead After Stroke," Bridgeport Telegram, June 15, 1927, p. 4 https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/7338770/

7. "Equal Franchise League Annual," Norwich Bulletin, June 21, 1917, p. 7. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1917-06-21/ed-1/seq-7.pdf

8. "Put Local Candidates Through Suffrage Quiz," Norwich Bulletin, October 21, 1918, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1918-10-24/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

9. "Echoes from Suffrage Parade," Norwich Bulletin, May 6, 1914, p. 11. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1914-05-06/ed-1/seq-11.pdf

10. "Gave Play for Suffragist Cause," Norwich Bulletin, August 30, 1913, p. 8. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1913-08-30/ed-1/seq-8.pdf

11. "Eliza Huntington Home Holds Annual Meeting" Norwich Bulletin, June 26, 1920, p. 12. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1920-06-26/ed-1/seq-12.pdf

12. Porritt, A. G., "Connecticut Suffrage News," Norwich Bulletin, December 12, 1914, p. 3. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84022472/1914-12-12/ed-1/seq-3.pdf

13. "With Suffragists in Washington Delegation," Norwich Bulletin, May 1, 1918, p. 7. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1918-05-01/ed-1/seq-7.pdf

14. "Connecticut Senators Firm Against Suffrage," Norwich Bulletin, May 3, 1918, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1918-05-03/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

15. "50 Suffragists from this State Gong to Call on Senator McLean," The Bridgeport Times, April 22, 1918, p. 1. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92051227/1918-04-22/ed-1/seq-1.pdf

16. "Those Who Helped Make Comfort Bags," Norwich Buletin, October 3, 1917, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1917-10-03/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

17. "Sanitarium Holiday Fund Continues to Grow," Norwich Bulletin, December 9, 1918, p. 7. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1918-12-09/ed-1/seq-7.pdf

18. "Equal Franchise League Officers," Norwich Bulletin, June 12, 1914, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1914-06-12/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

19. "Suffragists to See Hayes," New York Tribune, August 6, 1920, p. 4. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1920-08-06/ed-1/seq-4.pdf

20. "Want Plank in Rep Platform," Norwich Bulletin, May 27, 1916, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1916-05-27/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

21. "Incidents in Society," Norwich Bulletin, May 25, 1912, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1912-05-25/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

22. "Addresses Home Chapter Upon Equal Suffrage," Norwich Bulletin, March 10, 1912, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1914-03-10/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

23. "County Suffragists Organize," Norwich Bulletin, December 6, 1919, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1919-12-05/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

24. "To Prove Special ‘Emergency' to Gov. Holcomb," Veterans Journal and State Guard News 2, no. 14. April 1920, p. 8. https://cslib.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15019coll9/id/47696/rec/2

25. "At Mrs. Norton's Home," Norwich Bulletin, July 23, 1912, p. 7. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1912-07-23/ed-1/seq-7.pdf

26. "Connecticut Suffragist Commemoration Plaque that shows Annie Brewer Austin's Name" http://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=c325fb6b-9373-4840-80c0-f47be62f1e71

27. "Norwich Delegation in Suffrage Parade," Norwich Bulletin, May 3, 1913, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1913-05-03/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

28. "Red Cross Roll Call was Continued Monday," Norwich Bulletin, November 14, 1922, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1922-11-14/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

29. "Miss Katharine Ludington Again Suffrage President," Norwich Bulletin, November 15, 1919, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1919-11-15/ed-1/seq-5.pdf

30. "State Women to Tackle Hayes Again," Bridgeport Times, August 6, 1920, p. 1. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92051227/1920-08-06/ed-1/seq-1.pdf

31. "Annie Brewer Austin Gravesite Location," http://ct-norwich.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/250/Cemetery-Plot-Listing?bidId=

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