Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Priscilla D. Hackstaff, 1850-1914

By Daniel Sapp (student)
State University of New York at Cortland

Priscilla Dudley was born on September 29, 1850 in St. Louis, Missouri to William Guilford Dudley and Martha (Nicol) Dudley. She attended St. Louis schools and later taught at the Mary Institute at Washington University. In 1876, she married J. Frank Hackstaff, a St. Louis advertising executive, and the couple had three sons: John D., Richard C., and Frederick W. Hackstaff. The family relocated to Brooklyn, New York in 1890 where Priscilla pursued an interest in the law, graduating from New York University Law School in 1898.

After moving to Brooklyn, Hackstaff gained recognition both for her legal mind and suffrage activism. She joined the Brooklyn Woman's Suffrage Association in 1893 and helped organize the Bedford Political Equality League, serving as president of the latter organization in 1903. Hackstaff also played a prominent role in the New York City Federation of Women's Clubs and the New York State Woman Suffrage Association, rising to the position of treasurer in both organizations. Hackstaff spearheaded the formation of the Interurban Suffrage Council in 1903, helping to streamline the cooperative efforts of suffragists across the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Interurban Council launched the Woman Suffrage Party of Greater New York at Carnegie Hall in 1909. At this inaugural meeting, the party brought together 804 state delegates, representing the largest gathering of delegate suffragists ever in New York State.

Among New York suffragists, Hackstaff was esteemed for her knowledge of the law. In 1911, Brooklyn suffragists formed a club in her honor devoted to the study of social and economic issues from a suffrage perspective. Calling themselves the "Priscilla Study Club," members met bimonthly to discuss parliamentary law, sociology, and economics. In addition to her suffrage and legal work, Hackstaff was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Hackstaff passed away at the age of sixty-three on January 15, 1914 at her home on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.


- Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 15, 1914.

- New York Sun, January 16, 1914.

- New York Times, January 16, 1914.

- Daily Standard Union, Brooklyn NY, Tue. 26 Aug 1919.

- The Triangle, April 6, 1898 vol. 4 no. 20, 174.

- John W. Leonard, 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). [LINK]

- Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, vol. 6 (National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), 459-464. [LINK]

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