Biographical Sketch of Anna Ross Weeks

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Anna Ross Weeks, 1849-1929

By Emily Kuehnle, student, the State University of New York at Binghamton

National and international suffrage lecturer

Anna R. Weeks was born on September 4, 1849 in Indiana to John Griffiths Weeks and Rachael O. Bennett. She married Joseph H. Aldrich on July 16, 1874 in Iowa. She had one daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Weeks Aldrich on May 17, 1875. Weeks and Aldrich were not married very long, when Aldrich died on December 29, 1876 after a terrible railroad accident in Ashtabula, Ohio. Weeks remarried in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 27, 1882 to Charles L. Weeks. It remains unclear as to whether Charles Weeks had any familial relation to Anna R. Weeks. They were reported to be residing in New Trier, Illinois. They remained married until he died by the year of 1910. Weeks then moved to New York City, where she remained until her death, on March 20, 1929.

According to the Poughkeepsie Eagle Newspaper, Weeks was not always a women's suffrage advocate. She was a converted anti-suffragist who became an ardent supporter of this cause, however it is unknown as to when this conversion occurred. Among her contributions, Weeks was a delegate of the Woman Suffrage Party, a leader of the Twenty-Seventh Assembly District Party in Manhattan, and chairman on the Committee of the Woman Suffrage Party in New York. Not only was Weeks extremely active in New York, she also traveled to many conferences around the world. She was chosen as a delegate to the International Council of Women in Budapest where she spoke at mass meetings in both Paris and Rome. One of her first series of suffrage lectures took place in April of 1912, with suffragist Mrs. Henry G. Villard at the Equal Suffrage Library in Manhattan. In 1913, Weeks organized a Suffrage Day of Prayer at the Church of Messiah in Manhattan, to pray for their campaign for the referendum in 1915.

On January 11, 1914, Weeks spoke on behalf of the Twenty-seventh Assembly District, Woman Suffrage Party at the Pratt Business School in New York City. The main goal of the Woman Suffrage Party was to create a political union of previously existing suffrage organizations with the aim of securing a woman suffrage amendment to the State Constitution. The Woman Suffrage Party also supported the war effort. On April 15, 1917, Weeks directed the organization in putting up 19,000 posters urging men to enlist in the Navy. Not only did Weeks support the enlistment of men, she also advocated for the enlistment of women. Weeks took a radical stance when she claimed that she wanted a position on the firing line in the Navy. She wanted to take the position of a man who would have to leave his family, as she was already a widow. Weeks stated “'I am coolheaded and capable of giving real service'” (Weeks, 1917).

Weeks also played a crucial role in the aftermath of the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920. At a school for voters on September 21, 1920, she lectured on the logistics of voting such as the technique of registration, enrollment and voting, and the principles underlying party government. Weeks recommended that every woman become affiliated with a party. “'If you want to reform politics, begin with yourself and work from within the party, not from without. The independent vote is powerful, but it is uncertain and usually works only at election time,'” declared Weeks (Weeks, 1920).

A defining moment in her career as a suffragist was her study of Algerian mothers. It remains unclear when this study took place. However, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Weeks traveled to Algeria and observed the condition of these women as mothers. Weeks used her observations to combat the claim made by anti-suffragists that women, in order to be effective mothers, did not have the time to involve themselves in the political sphere. She discovered that the Algerian desert women, from the age of eight, were kept as prisoners without virtually any interaction in social and political events. Weeks believed that in effect, these women would be outstanding mothers to their offspring. However, the exact opposite was observed. These women showed no sense of responsibility nor care for their children. She attributed this to the fact that these women were simply uneducated and not active members in their communities, both politically and socially. Weeks used these conclusions to urge women all over to take on their newly achieved political roles. She warned that if women did not participate, much like the Algerian women, the society will degenerate and continue to do so as long as women remain underdeveloped and uneducated.

Weeks was one of the staunchest supporters of the women's suffrage movement. Her outreach spread far and wide, as she demanded equal rights and informed women of their value in society.

The last source documenting Anna R. Weeks's work as a suffragist is October 1920. She died March 20, 1929.

Sources:

1900 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com, 2004.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 20, 1912. https://www.newspapers.com/image/57535711.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 29, 1913a. https://www.newspapers.com/image/54229125.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 22, 1920. https://www.newspapers.com/image/60011873.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 26, 1915. https://www.newspapers.com/image/57393366.

The New York Times. February 9, 1913b. https://www.newspapers.com/image/20460220.

Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. January 10, 1917a. https://www.newspapers.com/image/114129003.

The Sun. April 15, 1917b. https://www.newspapers.com/image/88272075.

The Sun. Mar 24, 1917c. https://www.newspapers.com/image/88271766.

The Sun. Jan 11, 1914, 1st. https://www.newspapers.com/image/78957543.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

———. 1910 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.

———. New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

———. "North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000." Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Accessed October 1, 2017. https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/11778673?h=c6fc26&utm_campaign=bandido-webparts&utm_source=post-share-modal&utm_medium=copy-url.

Coster, Esther A. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle" October 10, 1920. https://www.newspapers.com/image/57087538.

Miller, NAWSA. Woman Suffrage Party Mission Statement. New York City, New York: Woman Suffrage Party, 1909.

 

Pictured above is Mrs. Anna R. Weeks. This image appeared in the Poughkeepsie Eagle, January 10, 1917. The newspaper article informed the public of her upcoming address under the auspices of the Poughkeepsie Equal Suffrage Party, “The Effect of Legislation on the High Cost of Living.”

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