Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Evelyn Peverley Coe, 1881-1966
By Anna Hagg, Simmons University B.A.
and Gabrielle Womack, Simmons University M.S./M.A.
Isabella Evelyn Peverley was born to Ralph Peverley and Caroline Lodge Peverley on October 14, 1881 in Delaware. Her parents had social connections to Philadelphia and Quebec. In 1900, she married West Point graduate Arthur Penhram Stanly Hyde, whom she divorced shortly after meeting Richard Davenport Coe in 1906. She married Coe, a Massachusetts native, in 1906 and the couple moved to Massachusetts, though Coe worked for a Boston-based company in Puerto Rico.
Evelyn Coe was involved in several women's suffrage organizations. These included the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government, founded in 1901 to breathe new life into a stagnant movement by introducing more aggressive tactics. She held numerous positions such as chairman of the Legislative Committee and the War Services Committee of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government. In addition, she served as secretary of the Executive Committee for the Suffrage of Woman Coffee House in Groton, Massachusetts. Coe also became the director and executive secretary of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Club in Boston. In the period 1913-1915 Mrs. Coe served on the Legislative Committee and worked to defeat anti-suffrage candidates. She helped to arrange various high-profile suffrage events, including the suffrage parade in Boston in 1915 and the public celebration of Susan B. Anthony's birthday the following year. Evelyn also worked long days to keep the headquarters of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association functioning at its greatest capacity. This included providing information to the many visitors that passed through the headquarters daily as well as keeping the headquarters stocked with informational pamphlets and buttons. Foster M. Palmer, a friend of Evelyn's, recalled that when Calvin Coolidge was Governor of Massachusetts in 1919-1920, Evelyn led a delegation of women to demand that the governor expedite the process of ratifying the 19th amendment. Evelyn also opposed Boston Mayor James Michael Curley because of his overzealous spending and fears of corruption. In one speech, Curley challenged her legitimacy to criticize him because she was not a Boston resident: "'And who is Evelyn Peverley God Almighty Coe?" he exclaimed. "She lives in Brookline.'"
During World War I, Coe embraced war relief work as well. A Boston Daily Globe article from November 1918 described her as "the real best pal the boys have" because of her work in establishing and maintaining an army supply canteen. She also received numerous awards and certificates honoring her service including one from the city of Boston in honor of her work on the US Army and Navy Canteen and one from the American National Red Cross honoring her volunteer service.
Coe's war relief work often coincided with her suffrage activism. For example, in 1918, Evelyn served as the chairman of the board of control that opened the estate of Alice Stone Blackwell in Dorchester as a war hospital. Her work on the War Services Committee of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association continued her dual support for both causes. As the Boston Globe reported, Coe continued to defend the cause of women suffrage at the War Services Committee despite the anti-suffrage sentiments of some of the committee members.
Coe filled a series of positions in public service, including in city government. In 1918, Evelyn received an appointment to the Woman's Committee on Public Safety. The following year, Boston Major Andrew Peters invited her to join the newly formed Boston Women's Committee for Public Service.
Coe's work supporting the Army and Navy continued throughout the 1920s. In 1923, she wrote a tribute to Eunice J. Fitzgerald, commending her service to the Army and Navy club. She dissociated herself from the club in 1928, concluding her nearly two decades of service both to the suffrage movement and to the US military. Coe spent her remaining years living in Cambridge and Lexington. Her husband died in 1936. Palmer writes in his biography of her that when he knew her in the 1950s, she enjoyed hosting extravagant gatherings.
Evelyn Peverley Coe died on December 12, 1966.
Papers of Evelyn Peverley Coe in the Woman's Rights Collection, M-133, reel D4. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library in the History of Women in America, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Biography by Foster M. Palmer, M-133, reel D4, Papers of Evelyn Peverley Coe in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1918, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library in the History of Women in America, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"25,000 Canteen Patrons." Boston Daily Globe. 24 November 1918.
"Boston Suffragists to Open War Hospital." Boston Daily Globe. 14 March 1918.
"Feel Anti-Suffragists Unfair in Criticism." Boston Daily Globe. 18 May 1918.
"Honor Susan B. Anthony." The Boston Daily Globe. 16 February 1916.
"Mrs. Coe's Tribute to Eunice J. Fitzgerald." Boston Daily Globe. 7 October 1923.
"Suffrage Victory Parade." Boston Daily Globe. 29 September 1915.