Biographical Sketch of Elizabeth Harvey (Mrs. Linton) Cox

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Elizabeth Harvey (Mrs. Linton) Cox, 1862-1938

By Matt Metcalf, MA student, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois

Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harvey was born to Thomas B. and Delitha Butler Harvey on March 28, 1862, in Plainfield, Hendricks County, Indiana. Elizabeth Harvey was the third of three siblings: her brother, Frank H., would die early, barely into his 20s; her oldest brother Lawson M. Harvey went on to be a justice on the Indiana Supreme Court.

The Harveys were Quakers and activists going back several generations. Thomas Harvey was a well-known doctor and founder of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Lizzie Harvey's grandparents, Elizabeth Burgess and Jesse Harvey, were ardent abolitionists, operating an Underground Railroad stop in Ohio during the 1930s. Elizabeth Burgess Harvey established the first school for children of color in Ohio, the Harvey Free Negro School, and Jesse Harvey opened the Harveysburg Academy before moving the family to the Kansas territory, where they ran a Quaker school for the Shawnee Indians. The Harvey family was enormously influential in Ohio and Indiana in the nineteenth century, adopting an active, public, and persistent egalitarian agenda in medicine and education.

Lizzie Harvey attended Earlham College, an institution founded by the Society of Friends in Richmond, Indiana. She received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree (a Ph.B., later listed as a B.S.) in 1886. Her future husband, Linton Alden Cox, also attended Earlham, graduating in 1888 prior to his attending law school at the University of Michigan. The couple married in 1890 and had seven children: Thomas, Eleanor, Addison, Linton, Frank, William, and Katherine. They settled in Indianapolis and were active on numerous fronts in the community. Linton Cox served as a Republican state senator from Marion County from 1907-1909.

Lizzie Harvey Cox actively sought to give Indiana women greater voice in their communities. She served as a director of the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society's Women's School League, a group that sought to seat a woman to the school board in municipalities where board positions were elected. Because women could vote in Indiana in local elections, much of their work necessarily focused on registering women.

Lizzie Cox was also a member of the Parent-Teacher Association, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the Indianapolis Woman's Club. She served as the chair of the executive committee of the Indianapolis Earlham Club. For Earlham College, she organized numerous alumni fundraisers from formal dinners to social teas, and she sought to build the Quaker community in and around greater Indianapolis.

Along with her husband, Lizzie Cox advocated for housing reform throughout the state, one of the major Progressive efforts of the pre-Great War era. Housing advocate Albion Fellows Bacon described her as "having a broad and active mind" that took in a wide-range of affairs and activities, including politics. Bacon credited her with being a continual supporter who brought influential women to bear on the issue in a decade-long struggle for reform.

Lizzie Cox's work associated with the War Mothers of America (later the Service Star Legion) was also well recognized. She served as the Official War Mother for Marion County, organizing efforts to conserve food, sew clothing on behalf of the Red Cross, and boycott goods made in Germany. After the war, her leadership led to a resolution sent to the national WMA calling for the return of America's fallen soldiers from battlefields of France.

Mary Elizabeth Harvey Cox died in Indianapolis in 1938 at the age of 76.


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