Biographical Sketch of Harriet Clinton Perkins

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Harriet Clinton Perkins, 1870-1941

By Elena Rippel, Public Historian, Brookline, MA

Suffragist and Club Woman

Harriet ("Hattie") Clinton Perkins née DeMiller was born in Millersburg, Ohio, on April 26, 1870. There are few early records of her life, but a later newspaper article mentions that she worked as a compositor in Cleveland before she married in 1891. The man she married, Edgar A. Perkins, was a compositor and typesetter himself and had a lifelong career in newspapers. The couple settled down in Edgar's hometown of Indianapolis and raised seven children together.

Hattie Perkins was engaged with several causes outside of the home as well. She later expressed amusement at the critique that suffragists would be neglectful of their domestic duties, as she and her family participated in many activities and organizations. She supported her husband's causes, and he in turn supported the women's rights movement along with their children.

Perkins began taking part in the Labor Movement in the 1890s or early 1900s, joining in the 1906 State Federation of Labor convention as one of a few female delegates. Edgar Perkins was President of this organization for over a decade as well as a member of the International Typographical Union. Correspondingly, Perkins also joined the women's auxiliary to Typographical Union No. 1.

In 1909, Indianapolis suffragist Dr. Amelia Keller founded the Women's School League to help elect a woman to the school board and call for women's suffrage for municipal elections. Perkins served as one of the first directors to the School League, hosting benefit events and calling a state representative in support of suffrage. Soon, the organization evolved to advocate for full women's suffrage as the Women's Franchise League of Indiana. In 1913 she helped to organize a demonstration at the Indiana State House in favor of amending the state constitution to give women the right to vote. Her work continued through the 1910s, as she focused on legislative issues with the Franchise League and lobbied for the nineteenth amendment. Her dedication caused a 1913 newspaper article to refer to her as "one of the most ardent suffrage workers in the city." After the passage of the 19th amendment, the Women's Franchise League became the Indiana League of Women Voters and Perkins stayed involved with this organization.

Hattie Perkins was a member of many other clubs in Indianapolis and Irvington, a suburb where she resided. These included involvement with the Irvington Presbyterian church, King's Daughters (a Christian service organization), the Irvington Chautauqua Club, Indiana Assembly Women's Club, and Daughters of the Union. She also stayed politically active and supported Democratic candidates.

She passed away on July 21, 1941 following a brief illness.

Sources

"Funeral Services Held for E.A. Perkins, Veteran Printer." The Palladium-Item and Sun Telegram, January 29, 1956

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage, vol 6. New York: J. J. Little & Ives Company, 1922.

"Head of Voters' League to Give Afternoon Tea." Indianapolis Star, May 18, 1924

"Mrs. Perkins Dies Following Long Illness." Indianapolis News, July 22, 1941

"Mrs. Perkins Sr., Dies in her Home." Indianapolis Star, July 22, 1941

"Put Amendment to Test May 28." Indianapolis Star, May 21, 1918

"Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XDCT-YPR : 10 February 2018), Edgar A. Perkins and Hattie Miller, 03 Jan 1891; citing , Cuyahoga, Ohio, reference 2:3ZPJ4KN; FHL microfilm 877,926.

"Stormy Session Held by Women." Indianapolis Star, March 11, 1915

"The Star Congratulates." Indianapolis Star, January 5, 1941

"Women Take a Leading Part in the Labor Movement." Indianapolis Morning Star, September 28, 1906

"Women Open Campaign." Indianapolis Star, October 1, 1910

"Women Lobby for Ballot." Indianapolis Star, January 21, 1911

"Woman's Franchise League will go to Statehouse Monday and ask Suffrage Amendment to Constitution." Indianapolis News, March 1, 1913

Photos available in following newspaper articles:

"Funeral Notice." Indianapolis Star, July 23, 1941.

"Women Take a Leading Part in the Labor Movement." Indianapolis Morning Star, September 28, 1906

In this photo, Harriet Perkins poses with her son, Rodney. Rodney joined her and her husband at the 1906 Indiana State Labor convention.

"Woman's Franchise League will go to Statehouse Monday and ask Suffrage Amendment to Constitution." Indianapolis News, March 1, 1913

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