Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Agnes Leighty, 1872-?

By Celeste Williams, University of Missouri

Agnes McBroom was born on June 26, 1872 in Auburn, Indiana, where she received an education only up until the seventh grade. In 1897 she married John R. Leighty, a civil engineer, in Caroll, Iowa. Agnes had two sons, John R. Leighty Jr. and Carl C Leighty. The Leightys moved around the country frequently, residing in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Washington, D.C. The family kept a very comfortable lifestyle, usually employing a live-in domestic worker. Although Agnes's exact death date is unknown, she survived her husband, who died on October 25, 1946.

In the late 1910's, Agnes became involved in the Missouri suffrage movement. She was involved in the Missouri Women's Suffrage Committee and the Missouri Equal Suffrage Association. She served terms as the Chairman of the City Suffrage Committee in Kansas City, President of the Missouri Women's Suffrage Association, President of the Mississippi Valley Suffrage Conference and Chairman of the Missouri State Board. Her leadership ability was highly regarded throughout the state and a handful of local newspapers reported on this.

Some of Agnes' most influential work in the suffrage movement was through her role as Chairman of the State Board of Missouri. She produced propaganda aimed at the national Democratic and Republican parties to garner support for the movement. Included in her position was the role of Literature Chairman and Chief, making her responsible for a multitude of massive letter writing campaigns. She also assisted in the organization of two of the largest suffrage demonstrations in the Midwest. The first was a march during the 1916 Republican National Convention in Chicago in which ten thousand suffragists participated. The second was a “walkless, talkless parade” held in St. Louis that same year during the Democratic National Convention. Agnes attended while Governor Frederick D. Gardener signed the ratification of the Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment.

After women got the vote, Agnes moved to St. Louis and remained fiercely active in women's groups, particularly the League of Women Voters and the Anti-High Cost of Living Campaign. While working for the Anti-High Cost of Living Campaign, she advocated for women to maintain fiscal responsibility and to abstain from purchasing excess goods until prices stabilized. One significant event she spearheaded was the “Save Money on Meat” campaign from April 5-10, 1920. She testified during a high-profile court case in which administrators of the Anti-High Cost of Living Campaign were accused of using government funds to solicit votes on behalf of Attorney General Mitchell Palmer's presidential campaign.

After leaving St. Louis, Agnes and John moved to D.C. They socialized there with the Washington elite, and gossip columns frequently mentioned their appearances. Eventually, Agnes and John returned to Agnes's birthplace, Auburn, Indiana, where they lived out their later years.



1897 Cuyahoga County, Ohio marriage certificate; digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

1900 U.S. census, Carroll County, Iowa, population schedule, dwelling 116, family 116; digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

1910 U.S. census, Kansas Ward 13, Jackson, Missouri, population schedule, Mantua Road; digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

1920 U.S. census, St. Louis Ward 25, Missouri population schedule, McPherson Avenue; digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

1930 U.S. census, Washington D.C., population schedule, Woodley Road; digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

1936-2007 U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

1940 U.S. census, DeKalb County, Indiana, population schedule, digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

DeKalb County Bureau of Vital Statistics, digital image,, accessed October 13, 2017,

"HIGH COST OF LIVING OFFICE HERE TO CLOSE." St. Louis Post - Dispatch (1879-1922), Sep 27, 1920.

Leighty, Agnes. “Missouri Historical Review.” Suffrage In Missouri For The Years 1916-1917, vol. 24, no. 3-4, 1920,

May 24, 1920, Presidential Campaign Expenses Hearing transcription; digital image,, accessed October 1, 2017.

"Secretary and Mrs. Hyde are Feted by Ellises." The Washington Post (1923-1954), Jan 21, 1930.

The Evening Missourian. (Columbia, Mo.), 27 Jan. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

1917, The Woman Suffrage Year Book, edited by Martha G. Stapler,, accessed October 1, 2017.

“To Reduce the H. C. of L.” The Farmington Times (Farmington, Missouri), 19 March, 1920, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.;

"SAVE-MONEY-ON-MEAT WEEK BEGINS TODAY." St.Louis Post - Dispatch (1879-1922), Apr 04, 1920.

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