Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Elizabeth (Mrs. James Sherman) Beasley, 1881-1961
By Glenda K. Ward, graduate student and Senior Archives/Library Clerk, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.
Chair of Republican Women's Ratification Committee, member of Middle Grand Division, 1924 delegate from Tennessee to the Republican National Convention, and regent of the Anthony Edwards Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Mrs. James S. Beasley was born Elizabeth “Minnie” Edwards in Centerville, Hickman County, Tennessee in April 1881. Minnie was one of five children born to grocer Burrel Wilburn Edwards (1859-1918) and homemaker Viola Priscilla Morrison (1860-1943). A graduate of Dickson Normal School (College) in Dickson County, Tennessee, Minnie married lawyer James Sherman Beasley (1873-1925) in 1908 and the couple had two children, Elizabeth Edwards Beasley (1912) and James Sherman Beasley, Jr. (1918). James served as an in-residence lawyer-on-commission at the Tennessee State Prisons, was Tennessee's first Commissioner of Institutions, and was a member of the Anti-Saloon League. After James's death in 1925, Minnie continued to live in Nashville, dying at home on March 17, 1961 and was laid to rest at Centerville Cemetery in Centerville, Hickman County, Tennessee.
In 1916, the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association worked to secure endorsement of a woman suffrage plank in both the Democratic and Republican national platforms. Representatives from each association spoke before the executive committees of both parties during state conventions and instructed delegates to vote for the suffrage plank in the national platform. James and Minnie, along with Henry Clay Evans and Harry Anderson, assisted in securing the resolution from the Republicans. In the summer of 1920, the League of Women Voters Ratification Committee, formerly the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Association, in conjunction with the Democratic Ratification Committee, Republican Woman's Committee, and a Men's Ratification Committee began working in support of the amendment during the ratification campaign. Tennessee Governor A. H. Roberts appointed Beasley chair of the Republican Woman's Ratification Committee.
A lifelong Republican, Beasley stayed politically and socially active throughout her life. She served as the 1924 delegate from Tennessee to the Republican National Convention, chair of the Republican Women's Workers Association, and in a variety of Republican women's affairs. Beasley was an active member and supporter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), serving as regent of Nashville's Anthony Edwards Chapter, as the national chairman of transportation, and as the Tennessee state DAR librarian. In 1949, Beasley organized a bus trip to Washington, D.C. for the 1949 DAR Continental Congress. Beasley was a member and active supporter of the Vanderbilt Aid Society, the Scarritt Aid Society, the West End Methodist Church, Tennessee Antiquities Association, and the Ladies Hermitage Center.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]
“Mrs. J. S. Beasley Dies of Heart Ailment.” The Tennessean, 18 Mar. 1961, p. 14, https://www.newspapers.com/image/111572036.
Taylor, A. Elizabeth. “A Short History of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 3, Sept. 1943, pp. 195–215, https://www.jstor.org/stable/42620797.
Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill. Votes for Women!: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee, the South, and the Nation. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1995.
Josephine A. Pearson papers. “The Nashville Tennessean-Gravure Section: Suffrage Scenes At The Capitol When The Senate Ratified. Aug. 13th.” TVA | Tennessee Virtual Archives, 29 Aug. 1920, http://cdm15138.contentdm.oclc.org/ui/custom/default/collection/coll_p15138coll27/resources/custompages/landing/index.php.
Josephine A. Pearson papers. “New Online Collection Chronicles Tennessee's Role in Granting Women the Right to Vote.” Library & Archives News, 26 July 2016, http://tslablog.blogspot.com/2016/07/new-online-collection-chronicles.html.