Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Henrietta M. Romine Fulks, 1890-1985
By Caitlin Hucik, Archives Technician, National Archives and Records Administration
Charter member and President, West Virginia League of Women Voters; Congressional Chairman, West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association; Finance Chairman, West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association; Ratification Committee Member, West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association
Henrietta M. Romine Fulks was born July 4, 1890 in Wheeling, West Virginia to Henry J. Arbenz and Lilly Karen-Arbenz. Her parents were accomplished musicians and owned the Wheeling Conservatory of Music. Henrietta, also an accomplished musician, was a member of the Wheeling Woman's Club and served as the chairman for their music department program. In August of 1910, with the consent of her father, Henrietta married Edward Romine, a real estate investor and investment broker. In 1937, after the death of her first husband, Henrietta married George Fulks, a bank manager from New York. Henrietta died in 1985 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Wheeling, West Virginia.
An active participant in the West Virginia suffrage movement, Fulks began her career in 1915 by selling suffragist newspapers in Wheeling and distributing informational pamphlets at local steel mills. She also acted as a host and escort to suffrage speakers visiting Wheeling. Fulks served as the Congressional Chairman for the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association. It was under this title that she attended the 65th and 66th United States Congressional sessions. She served as Finance Chairman for the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association's Ratification Committee during the state's ratification process of the 19th Amendment. Fulks and other members of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association Congressional Committee worked directly with members of the West Virginia state legislature to ensure ratification. In an interview conducted for the Upper Ohio Valley Historical Review, Fulks describes her strategy for soliciting support from members of the legislature:
"I had a list of men [legislators] I was supposed to take care of. ... I had to know where they were at all times and make sure they were in their seats when the vote was called. I remember one Legislator was walking to meet his train with his suitcase in his hand. When I told him how important his vote was to us, he turned and walked back to the hotel. I took a long taxi ride to the home of another Legislator, a carpenter, by trade. He was working at the top of some scaffolding. I had to climb a ladder to talk with him. I begged him to return to his seat. You know, he did, and that's some of the things we had to do to get the Amendment ratified."
For her work as Finance Chairman, Fulks was presented with a Distinguished Service Certificate by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920.
After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Fulks remained politically active. She was a charter member of the West Virginia League of Women Voters, organized in Huntington, WV in October of 1920. At the organization's first convention, Fulks was elected as the Legislative Chairman. In 1922, she was unanimously elected as the league's second President. At the time of her election, she was the youngest state president in the country. During her presidential term, Fulks formed the Joint Legislative Council which worked to ensure legislative programs within state organizations. Fulks was elected to a second term as president but had to relinquish her role due to poor health.
"A Great Convention." The Shepherdstown Register, September 14, 1922.
Blackwell, Alice Stone, "Within the Organization: West Virginia Convention." The Woman Citizen, April, 1919.
Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com (retrieved 10/2017).
Frame, Nat T., The Farm Bureau, A Suggested Constitution for West Virginia Counties, June, 1919. p. 5.
Ida Husted Harper, ed. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). New York: J. J. Little and Ives Company, 1922. [LINK]
Leibold, Mary L. "Henrietta Fulks and the Suffragette Movement in Wheeling." Upper Ohio Historical Review 5 (1981-82): 22.
West Virginians. The West Virginia Biographical Association, 1928.
Wolf, Dr. Edward C., ed. "Music in Wheeling." Upper Ohio Historical Review 22 (1998-99): 13.
"Worthy Recital of Yesterday." The Wheeling Intelligencer, March 30, 1917.