Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Anna L. Osborne (Mrs. Richard) Williams, 1833-1926
By Jodi Oaks, Librarian, Mohawk Valley Community College
Anna L. Osborne (Mrs. Richard) Williams was born in N.Y.C. on March 12, 1833 to Eben Francis, of N.Y.C., and Rachel (Grant) Osborne. Her parents married in Kennebunk, Maine on April 29, 1832. She married Richard Williams on June 12, 1856. Her husband died in 1881 and she never remarried. She was a longtime resident of Buffalo, N.Y.
On October 1, 1900, a group of women interested in suffrage met at the home of Osborne Williams on Franklin Street in Buffalo. It was at this meeting that the Buffalo Political Equality Club was organized, and Osborne Williams served as its president for the next 10 years. Earlier that year, in May 1900, Osborne Williams hosted Carrie Chapman Catt and Mary Garrett Hay while they were in Buffalo for the first in a series of educational conferences on women's suffrage being held in N.Y. state. In April 1904, Osborne Williams again hosted Carrie Chapman Catt and also Harriet May Mills, while the women were in the Buffalo area speaking for women's suffrage. From October 13-14, 1908, the 40th Annual Convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association was held in Buffalo, with Osborne Williams serving as general chairman. The Buffalo Political Equality Club invited the National American Woman Suffrage Association to hold its annual convention in Buffalo that same week. The N.A.W.S.A. 1908 Annual Convention was held in Buffalo from October 15-21, with Osborne Williams serving as general chairman for the local committees. She was to preside over the evening sessions on the first day of the convention, which included welcome addresses from the mayor of Buffalo, J.N. Adam, and N.Y. Senator Henry W. Hill, and the president's annual address given by Anna Howard Shaw. However, according to the minutes of the suffrage convention, Osborne Williams suffered a "serious accident" during the opening of the convention that prevented her from attending the rest of the convention.
For many years, Osborne Williams ran a boarding and day school in her home on Franklin Street in Buffalo. She died in 1926 and is buried alongside her husband in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.
For a contemporary biographical sketch, see Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women in the United States and Canada, ed. John William Leonard (N.Y.: American Commonwealth Company, 1914), 886-887. [LINK] On her suffrage and club work, see "Suffragists. First of a Series of Conferences in the Empire State was Opened in Buffalo," Buffalo Commercial, May 21, 1900, 11; "Suffrage Club Formed," Buffalo Commercial, Oct 2, 1900, 9; National American Woman Suffrage Association, Proceedings of the Thirty-sixth Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, February 11-17, 1904, 41; "Mrs. Catt in Buffalo," Buffalo Morning Express, April 29, 1904, 5; "Prominent Suffragists are in Buffalo," The Buffalo Times, April 29, 1904, 9; "Erie County Suffragists," Buffalo Morning Express, May 21, 1904, 5; "Women Suffragists," The Buffalo Enquirer, April 5, 1905, 5; " Buffalo Political Equality Club," The Buffalo Commercial, November 8, 1905, 12; New York State Woman Suffrage Association, The 40th Annual Convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association, October 13-14, 1908, https://www.loc.gov/item/rbcmiller001 196/; National American Woman Suffrage Association, Enclosure: 40th Annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, October 15-21, 1908, https://www.loc.gov/ item/rbcmiller003989/; "News of Women's Clubs," The Evening Post, July 28, 1909, 5; "Mrs. Richard Williams, President, Buffalo Political Equality Club," Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911; Scrapbook 8 (1909-1910); https://www.loc.gov/item/rbcmiller003889/; The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI, ed. Ida Husted Harper (National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), 444. [LINK] Ads for her boarding and day school can be found in Buffalo Commercial and Buffalo Express newspapers; for an example, see Buffalo Express, Sep 11, 1885, Page 5. Her marriage record can be found in Erie Marriage Records 1849-1858 vol. 2, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, accessed via FamilySearch. On the marriage of her parents, see Maine Marriages, 1771-1907 Database, accessed via FamilySearch, "Eben F. Osborne and Rachel F. Grant, 29 Apr 1832." New York State Census, 1865, "Annie O Williams in household of Richard Williams, Buffalo, New York, United States;" New York State Census, 1875, "Anna O Williams in household of Richard Williams, Buffalo, New York, United States."