Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Miss Laura Berrien, 1877-1962
By Daphne Lavonia Stanley, Intern at the local Historical Society, Roanoke, VA
Laura Maria Berrien (sometimes Barrien or Berrin), born in Waynesboro, Georgia on 1 November 1877, worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C.
She was the daughter Moore and Elizabeth (Palmer) Berrien. She had one brother, John Berrien. Laura’s grandfather, John Berrien, fought in the Battle of the Jerseys during the American Revolution, becoming an original member of the Cincinnati of Georgia. Now known as the Society of the Cincinnati, this organization is the nation’s oldest voluntary society, founded by officers of the Continental Army and French soldiers "to promote knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American Independence." Due to her lineage from her grandfather, Ms. Berrien was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and is found in the Daughters of the American Revolution lineage books (vol. 152).
Miss Berrien was active in both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman's Party. When there was a dispute among party members about the use of its resources, Miss Berrien took an active role in the debate. The debate was about whether to use its resources to further the campaign internationally, or to press exclusively for the Equal Rights Amendment. Berrien stood firm that it needed to be put toward the passage of the Amendment.
When the Georgia League of Women Voters formed by NASWSA-affiliated suffragists in 1919, Laura went from serving as Corresponding Secretary to Second Vice President.
Laura Berrien appears not to have married, passed away 14 August 1962, and was buried in Burke County, Ga., where she had been born.
Photograph courtesy of: National Woman's Party Photograph Collection,
National Woman's Party at Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument.
“The Society of the Cincinnati”, online at www.societyofthecincinatti.org/about/organization/constituent_societies_georgia
Harper, Ida Husted; History of Women's Suffrage: 1900-1920 vol. 6. Chapter, “Georgia”.[LINK]
US Cities Directories, 1822-1995, “Laura Berrien”. www.ancestry.com
OCLC WorldCat Papers, 1944-1948 (inclusive).
“Laura M. Berrien”. 1940 United States Federal Census. www.ancestry.com
“Moore Berrien”. 1910 United States Federal Census. www.ancestry.com