Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Elizabeth Herrick Blount Shippen, 1873-1963
By Marcie Flinchum Atkins, author and librarian
Elizabeth Herrick Blount was born in Indiana in 1873. She completed a year of college and also studied in Italy before marrying Eugene Shippen in Washington, DC in 1900. Her husband was a Unitarian minister and his job took them to several states over the course of their lives.
The Shippen family lived in Michigan from about 1909-1918 where Dr. Eugene Shippen, served as pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Detroit.
While in Michigan, Elizabeth Shippen helped organize the Congressional Union (later the National Woman's Party) in Michigan and was on the board for many years. She worked on the Michigan suffrage referendum campaigns in 1912 and 1913 and knew about the suffrage efforts of Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party because her parents lived in Washington, DC. When the Shippens left Michigan, the National Woman's Party of Michigan members threw her a going away party for being "one of the staunchest supporters of the suffrage cause."
Elizabeth wasn't the only suffragist in the family. Her husband was also a believer in equal suffrage. When British suffrage activist Emmeline Pankhurst visited Michigan, he was "the only man brave enough in Detroit to introduce her to an audience." Dr. Shippen also spoke at a Detroit Equal Suffrage Club meeting in 1910.
Elizabeth Shippen co-authored an article in the Detroit Free Press in February 1912, responding to an anti-suffragist: "Who represents the eight million independent working women in the United States?" When anti-suffragists claimed that having the vote didn't help women, Shippen cited ways in which suffrage had helped women in Colorado, New Zealand, and Sweden.
In July 1914, Elizabeth Shippen took part in a delegation of suffragists that marched with suffrage banners at the White House and she was one of several women who gave "stirring speeches."
Shortly after leaving Michigan, Elizabeth Shippen participated in a watchfire in Lafayette Park. On December 16, 1918 National Woman's Party representatives from most of the states burned the speeches of President Wilson at the Lafayette statue. Elizabeth Shippen burned one of President Wilson's messages to Congress that said: "This is a war for self-government among all the peoples of the world as against the arbitrary choices of self-constituted masters."
The Shippens had four children: Zoe, Sylvia, Eugene, and Harold. Together, they also wrote two pageants for their church entitled "The Nativity" and "The Consecration of Sir Galahad" in 1923. The Shippens moved around a good deal, serving in churches in Massachusetts, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. In 1920 they were living in White Plains, NY; in 1930 they were living in Montclair, NJ. Their final move was to Florida in 1932. Elizabeth Blount Shippen died in Winter Park, Florida in 1963.
"The Unitarian Conference Entertained at The Oaks." Washington Times, 18 Oct. 1899.
Certificate of Marriage. City Registrar of Boston, 18 Apr. 1900.
Oster, Adam, Library of Michigan. Michigan Suffragist. Accessed 19 June 2020. E-mail.
"Mrs. Shippen Woman's Party Honor Guest." Detroit Free Press, 7 Apr. 1918, p. 45.
"Mrs. Eugene Shippen to Be Honor Guest at Farewell Tea." Detroit Free Press, 29 Sept. 1918, p. 33.
"Among Club Women." Detroit Free Press, 25 Sept. 1910, p. B4.
Shippen, Elizabeth Blount, et al. "Comment and Opinions on Topics of Today: Detroit Women Make Sharp Replies to Professor Kent's Article on Woman Suffrage." Detroit Free Press, 25 Feb. 1912, p. C7.
Congressional Record: Proceedings of Congress and General Congressional Publications Volume 51, Part 17 (December 1, 1913 to October 24, 1914). Accessed online at https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/GPO-CRECB-1914-pt17-v51/summary. p. 861.
Irwin, Inez Haynes. The Story of the Woman's Party. Harcourt Brace and Company, 1921. p. 389.
"Christmas and Easter Pageants for Churches." The Boston Globe, 1 Dec. 1923.
"Dr Shippen, 93, Retired Pastor, Dies." The Orlando Sentinel, 12 Jan. 1959, p. 22.
"Shippen, Mrs. Elizabeth Blount." Orlando Evening Star, 29 May 1963, p. 40.