Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Annie (Mrs. Edwin A.) Knapp, 1867-1920
By Gabriela Shipman, undergraduate student, and Dr. Liette Gidlow, associate professor of history, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.
Editor-in-Chief, Clubwoman, Public Speaker
Annie M. Miller was born in Quincy, Illinois on July 31, 1867. Annie, the youngest of nine children, was the daughter of Col. Rufus L. Miller of Maryland and Frances Louisa Pitney Miller of New York. Her father, an attorney, served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1862. Her mother looked after the home and children. Annie Miller was educated at the Beaver Female Seminary in Pennsylvania, currently known as Arcadia University. After wrapping up her studies, Annie met and married Edwin A. Knapp on February 6, 1890, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although Annie came from a sizable family, she and her husband did not go on to have any children of their own.
In 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Knapp relocated to Wayne, Indiana. Mrs. Knapp, already an established member in club circles, held positions with the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and the Indiana Federation of Clubs (I.F.C.), a branch of the General Federation of Women's Club (G.F.W.C.), which was dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. At the I.F.C., Knapp served as recording secretary. She was later asked to take the role of the state presidency but turned it down after her husband accepted a position as a faculty member at Park College in Parkville, Missouri.
The Knapp's relocation to Missouri did not lessen Knapp's involvement in her community, especially on the suffrage issue. By 1912 she had become an officer in the Missouri Federation of Clubs (M.F.C.) and was also the vice-chairman of one of the principal committees in the G.F.W.C., while still maintaining her position as the chair of the Publicity Bureau of the National Old Trails Road of the D.A.R. At the same time, Knapp was a member of the Kansas City Athenaeum and a member of the Kansas City Equal Suffrage Association (K.C.E.A.). On Labor Day in 1912, Knapp traveled to Atchison, Kansas to address the holiday crowds at the Airdrome and at a labor meeting at Forest Park.
That same year, anti-suffragists circulated in Kansas a publication by the name of "Business Versus Woman's Suffrage." The powerful tract was credited with helping to defeat suffrage measures in Ohio and Oregon. As the Kansas suffrage campaign heated up, Knapp together with other suffragists sent out letters to newspapers to refute the antis' claims. Such timely and meticulous work dispelled the accusations and gave the suffragists of Kansas a fighting chance.
Following her speech in Atchison, Knapp made her way to Topeka, Kansas on September 27, 1912, where she acted as an organizer and field worker for the K.C.E.A. During her visit, Knapp was quoted by the Topeka Daily expressing her feelings on suffrage and the importance she felt Kansas played. "The eyes of the nation are on Kansas, not only in the suffrage question but upon every forward movement." Knapp also disclosed that "for Kansas to take a backstep in any line of progress is to back-set the movement in every other state." After her brief visit to Topeka, Knapp continued on to the First District of Kansas. The Topeka Daily Capital applauded her efforts. "Knapp has given unselfishly of her time and the strength in this campaign, which she feels is national instead of state-wide." That same year Kansas made history by granting women full suffrage.
Kansas had secured suffrage, but the fight for suffrage in other states remained. On April 14, 1913, Knapp and three colleagues were appointed by Governor Major to represent Missouri at the fourth American Peace Congress, which was to take place in St. Louis on May 1. Knapp also served at the time as the Vice-Chairman of the press committee of the Missouri Equal Suffrage Association (M.E.S.A.) Following the convention, Knapp became editor of a suffrage edition of the Kansas City Post which was published on October 22, 1914. The next year, Knapp attended the Biennial Council meeting for the G.F.W.C. and Rose Festival in Portland Oregon.
Knapp met an untimely death on May 29, 1920, in Pasadena, California after surgery for breast cancer. Her medical records state that she was also a diabetic. Despite her unfortunate death, Mrs. Knapp left behind a remarkable legacy behind. Her extensive involvement in women's clubs and her fight for suffrage beyond the borders of her own state highlighted the passion she felt for women's suffrage. Three months after her death, the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified.
A photograph of Knapp can be found in the Topeka Daily Capital, September 27, 1912, p. 5. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com.
Certificate of Death: Annie Miller Knapp. Filed 20 May 1920. The state of California, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. No. 3901. Informant: Mr. Edwin A. Knapp, Pasadena, California.
"Kansas Women in Chicago." The Salina Evening Journal, May 30, 1916, p. 3. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com
Marriage Certificate: Edwin A. Knapp. Filed May 5, 1890. State of Minnesota: County of Hennepin. Familysearch.org
"Missouri Suffrage Editor." The Topeka Daily Capital, October 18, 1914, p. 4. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com
"Labor Day Is Being Observed Today." The Atchison Daily Champion, September 2, 1912, p. 1. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com
Leonard, John W. Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. American Commonwealth Company, 1914, p. 463. [LINK]
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Anthony, Susan B.; Gage, Matilda Joslyn; Harper, Ida Husted. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. VI. Fowler & Wells. [LINK]
"Suffrage Editor." The Topeka Daily Capital, October 18, 1914, p. 4. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com
"Suffragist Notes." The Salina Evening Journal, November 4, 1912, p. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com
"To Campaign for Kansas Suffragist." The Topeka Daily Capital, September 27, 1912, p. 5. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com
United States Census, 1880, a database with images, FamilySearch, Rufus L Miller, 1880; citing enumeration district ED 22, sheet 356D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, N.D.), roll 0174; FHL microfilm 1,254,174.
U.S Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census. Thirteen Census of the United States, 1910-Population. Familysearch.org
U.S Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census. Fourteen Census of the United States, 1920-Population. Familysearch.org
"Women at Peace Congress." The Leavenworth Post, April 14, 1913, p. 4. Kansashistoricalopencontent.com