Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Anne M. Manley Southern, 1857-1907

Keywords: Political Equality Club, Fairmont

By: Daphne Lavonia Stanley, Freelance Historical Researcher

Anne M. Manley Southern was born 19 May 1857 in Fairmont, West Virginia one of the nine children of Sarah Anley Manley and Harrison Manley. On 9 March 1883, she married James Rymer Southern, a bookkeeper, and the two lived on Walnut Avenue in Fairmont. Records indicate they had one child, a girl, born on 4 October 1894.

In the early 1900s, Mrs. Southern was active in the Fairmont Political Equality Club, as well as the Fairmont branch of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association, an affiliate of the NAWSA. The WVESA was founded in 1895 when nine clubs formed across the state with sites in Charleston, Fairmont, Morgantown, and Wheeling. The Fairmont and Wheeling associations were quite active, and in fact, were the only two WVEAs in existence post-1900.

In 1905, she was elected president of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association. The following year, in her report before the NAWSA's 38th Annual conference held in Baltimore, Mrs. Southern noted that although they had held the most successful convention and put the organization on "a much better basis than it had ever been before," she also outlined the trials of the Association's successes and the limited breadth of the movement in the State. She commented, "We are rich in sentiment, but poor in funds, while laborers are not easily procured. Those who have the means are handicapped in some way, and those of us who have the zeal have neither time nor money at our disposal." (p. 118) The biggest problem, according to Southern, was the lack of funds to support campaigning on behalf of suffrage.

Mrs. Southern did not live much longer than her presidency, passing away on the 5th of April 1907. She is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Fairmont, where she lived and worked to strengthen the fight for the women's suffrage.

(It is important to note that in researching the role of the Southerns in the Suffrage Movement, Mr. Southern's name has been observed having been spelled Sothern, as Anne's first name has been spelled without the "E".)


The Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association

Harper, Ida Husted; History of Women's Suffrage: 1900-1920 vol. 6; Chapter:" West Virginia", 687 [LINK]

West Virginia. Marion County. Certificate of Marriage, accessed 8 Oct. 2017

West Virginia. Marion County 1900 Census. Vital Statistics, accessed 11 Oct. 2017

1907 Burial Certificate. Anne M. Southern. Woodlawn Cemetery, Marion County, West Virginia , accessed 17 Feb 2018

The National American Association,"National American Women's Suffrage Association meeting in 1906. The hand book of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and proceedings of the annual convention, Copyright 2012

The Fairmont West Virginian, 10 March 1924, p. 1 & p. 2.

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