Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Clara Lilian Hall Crowley, 1870-1932

By Kaytlin Ahn, student, Iowa State University

Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Chase Crosby
Subject Librarian: Susan A. Vega Garcia

IA Secretary of State Suffrage House

The 1880 United States Federal Census stated that Clara Hall was born in 1870. That same source documented that her father was a farmer named John Hall, and her mother was Mary Hall. It also noted that she had four other siblings. Documented in the 1922 Anthology of Newspaper Verse by Franklin Davis, Lilian Hall was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. According to the same source, Crowley received an education at St. Catherine's Academy in Omaha, Nebraska and later moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Based on these name changes, it can be assumed that Crowley decided to later on in life go by her middle name, “Lilian,” rather than her assigned first name “Clara,” although she is referred to as “Mrs. Fred B. Crowley” as well. Throughout her life, Crowley pursued politics and creative endeavors that impacted the suffrage movement.

Crowley's position within the suffrage movement included suffrage leadership involvement. According to Alice Blackwell in the Woman Citizen, published in 1919, and The Iowa Suffrage Memorial Commission, published in 1924, Crowley was the Secretary of the State Suffrage House and among one of two women to request that Governor William L. Harding arrange a special session, which later resulted in granting women in the state of Iowa the right to vote. Blackwell also gives Crowley credit for a lot of proactive work done at the State house, especially during the ratification session. Based on her position, Crowley worked closely with legislative bodies, which allowed her to have more control in the movement than an average person.

Beyond advocating for women's rights, Crowley had many meaningful hobbies. According to Blackwell, Crowley devoted her free time to the speaking of her art, writing short stories and verses, and spending time with her family. According to the 1922 Newspaper of Anthology Verse, Crowley was the chairman of the arts and crafts department for the Iowa General Federation of Women's Club and was a part of the Des Moines town planning commission. According to Davis in the 1920 The Yearbook of Newspaper Poetry, Crowley's writings that were published in local newspapers earned the highest distinction. In that same publication, there is an example of one her many pieces of work. According to The Des Moines Register, released in 1921, her musical verses received recognition from thirteen different publications, including Women's Weekly, Judge, and The New York Sunday Tribune. Most significantly for the suffrage movement campaign, according to Blackwell, Crowley also wrote a prize suffrage song during the 1916 campaign.

The Des Moines Register newspaper in 1945 stated that, during the suffrage period, Crowley lost her son, who was actively serving in World War I. According to that same article, shortly after her son's death, there was a memorial playground dedicated in his remembrance. According to the 1920-1940 Iowa Death Records, Lilian Hall Crowley died June 16, 1932 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Throughout her life, Lilian Hall Crowley was an involved woman who became a suffrage leader and creative inspiration to the suffrage movement.

Sources: “Lilan H. Crowley.” 1920-1940 Iowa Death Records. Accessed Oct. 20, 2017. “Clara Hall.” 1880 United States Federal Census. Accessed November 3, 2017.

Blackwell Stone, Alice. The Woman Citizen. Vol. 4. New York: Leslie Women's SuffrageCommission, 1919.

Davis, Pierre Franklyn. Anthology of Newspaper Verse. Enid, Oklahoma: Smith-Grieves Co, 1922.

Davis, Pierre Franklyn. Year Book of Newspaper Poetry. Enid, Oklahoma: A.S. Davis, 1920.

“Des Moines Women Collaborate.” The Des Moines Register, January 2, 1921,

"Iowa Suffrage Memorial Commission." The Annals of Iowa, 1924,

“Site Proposed as Playground.” The Des Moines Register, November 2, 1945,

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