Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Edna Giles Fuller, 1874-1952
By Josie Epps, student, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina.
Representative in the House, FL; Assistant Food Administrator, FL; President, Country Federation of Women's Clubs; President, FL, Suffrage Association.
Edna Giles was born on a Hillsborough County farm in Lake City, Florida on July 5, 1874 to Enoch and Melville Giles. At age 14, she moved to Orlando to live with her Uncle James Giles, who was the Mayor. She attended Rollins College for one year, before a friend convinced her to go to Centenary College in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, she moved back home and became the principal of a local high school for a year in Starke, Florida, before moving back to Orlando, where she continued to teach. In 1903, she met and married John Thomas Fuller, who was twenty-six years her senior. He was a very wealthy man from years of work in the lumber industry and had done business with James Giles. Together, Edna and John had several children and grandchildren: Dorothy (daughter), Lois Ines (daughter), Sidney Ines (son in law), Sidney Ines (grandson), and Aldema Ines (granddaughter). John Thomas Fuller died in 1912, shortly after their daughter Dorothy was born. In 1920, his brother also died, and Mrs. Fuller traveled to his home in San Diego, California to care for his children for a year before bringing them back to Florida, where she raised Margaret, Temple, and Mellice Carter. Edna Giles Fuller died on December 28, 1952. She and her husband are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Orange County, Florida.
Mrs. Fuller served as president of the Floorida state woman suffrage organization between 1919 and 1921. After World War I, Edna Giles Fuller was appointed to the position of Assistant Food Administrator for the state of Florida, and according to several sources, her ideas regarding food distribution were later used at a global level. In 1928, she ran for a seat in the State House of Representatives and won, making her the first woman, at the local (Orange County) and state level (Florida), to become a Representative and to serve as a member of Florida's Legislature. She gave her first formal speech to the State Legislature on April 3, 1929. She was reelected in 1930. During World War II, she encouraged women's participation in the war effort. She also supported women's suffrage, the right for women to serve on juries, and openly supported inter-racial unions. She served as President for several clubs including the Country Federation of Women's Clubs in Florida and the Florida Suffrage Association, and as a member of the Interracial Committee of the Chamber of Commerce for Orange County.
"Edna Giles Fuller first female member of the Florida Legislature, Date in History: 03 April 1929," The Florida Historical Society: myfloridahistory.org/date-in-history/april-03-1929/edna-giles-fuller-first-female-member-florida-legislature
"Pioneering Public Women Also Excelled in Other Fields," Mark Andrews articles.orlandosentinel.com/1999-10-17/news/9910150449_1_war-i-fuller-orlando
Xavier Cortada, www.xaviercortada.com/?page=FLOR500garden283
"Find A Grave: Edna Giles Fuller,": www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19684540