Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Elizabeth S. McCarty
By Kellie Keesee, Atlanta-based Global Journalist
Elizabeth S. McCarty of Atlanta, Georgia was an active member of 'Georgia Woman Suffrage Association' -- the first women's suffrage organization in the state of Georgia. McCarty lived in the Virginia Highland neighborhood near downtown Atlanta; it is unknown if she ever married or had children.
During the late 1890's urban, middle-class women organized and became politically active, rejecting old ideas and launching a progressive movement. It was noted that women from the first Georgia suffrage movement reached out to African-American women through black universities in Atlanta who worked in the shadows to push a pro-women's agenda expanding rights and political power.
McCarty was regularly listed in the weekly "Society" section of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, attending parties, fundraisers and suffrage meetings with friends and local business people throughout the early 1900's.
In 1914 pro-suffrage women held their first rally in Atlanta and in 1915 a May Day celebration brought Atlanta suffragists out gathering on the steps of the state capitol with lead suffragettes speaking to the crowd. Over the next five years, new suffrage organizations began to form, local media began to cover women's issues on a more active basis and parades took place in downtown Atlanta displaying progressive political signs and messages.
In January 1915, Mrs. McCarty was noted as a co-chair of the Press section of the Georgia Woman's Suffrage League.
In May 1919, women were finally allowed to vote in Atlanta municipal elections. Then on July 24, 1919 Georgia was the first state to reject the 19th Amendment but by August 1920, thirty-six states ratified the amendment and women gained the right to vote. Once the amendment was passed, the smaller suffrage groups around Georgia joined together to form the League of Women Voters of Georgia to carry on working to advance women's issues.
Very little is known about Elizabeth McCarty but her unending support of the women's suffrage movement in one of the most conservative states was a powerful statement on her character and dedication to helping women gain equality in the south.
"Suffrage League to Entertain," Atlanta Constitution, 26 January 1915, p. 4
"Woman Suffrage" by E. Lee Eltzroth, Georgia State University, 5, September 2002 New Georgia Encyclopedia (georgiaencyclopedia.org)
A. Elizabeth Taylor, "Revival and Development of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Georgia" The Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol. 42, No. 4 (December, 1958), pp. 339-54.
Ida Husted harper, ed., History of Woman Suffrage Volume 6 (1922), p. 134 [LINK]
Photo Source: The Georgia Young People's Suffrage Association shot before Aug. 26, 1920 via Georgia State Archives Virtual Vault Georgia.