Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Katherine B Claypole, 1847-1901

By Caryn E. Neumann, Associate Teaching Professor, Miami University of Ohio and Sherri Goudy, Historian, Librarian, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio

English-American Suffragist, Akron, Ohio

Katherine Benedicta Trotter, born in Wales in 1847, came to the United States about 1878 to help her cousin Jane Trotter's widower raise his twin daughters, Agnes Mary and Edith Jane. In 1879, she married the widower, Edward Waller Claypole, the chair of the Department of Natural Sciences at Antioch College. In 1883, the family moved to Akron when Edward, a renowned scholar of armored fish, became chair of Natural Sciences at Buchtel College (now the University of Akron). Edward's twin daughters grew up to be scientists and Katherine was often credited as her husband's collaborator throughout his career as a science professor and geologist.

A Universalist, Claypole matched the white, Protestant, and middle-class or higher description of most activist Akron women.

In 1889, Claypole helped found the Akron Woman's Suffrage Association, which sought to win the vote by national amendment. Claypole boasted that more than a thousand people in Akron supported suffrage, but the membership records of the association have been lost and scholars doubt that it counted as many members. The Akron suffragists used two arguments to garner support. To appeal to people who venerated a domestic sphere for women, they argued that women would bring morality and order to politics. For more liberal, generally college-educated women, suffragists used a justice argument, akin to the argument about "no taxation without representation." The latter group, although small, held considerable power. Claypole's connection with the Buchtel College community put her at the heart of Akron women's activism.

While living in England, Claypole observed the effectiveness of women's organizations that united to achieve a common goal. She thought that the same strategy would work in the U.S. and aimed to unite several women's clubs in Summit County. Claypole joined with Henrietta Chase, Isabella Berry, and Abby Soule Schumacher to establish the Akron Women's Council in November 1893. The four women had worked together in 1892 when the Woman's Suffrage Association and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union held a joint meeting on suffrage. The Council engaged in municipal housekeeping by establishing a separate juvenile justice system, creating a detention home for wayward youth, improving the educational system, and resolving health and sanitation problems in Akron. In essence, they demonstrated what women could do in politics.

In 1894, when Claypole served as recording secretary of the Ohio State Suffrage Association (OSSA), she helped to successfully lobby state legislators to pass a law allowing women to vote for and serve as members of school boards. With Caroline McCulloch Everhard, president of the OSSA, she co-authored a four-page pamphlet that same year, "Information for the Use of the Newly Made Voters in Ohio." Claypole also belonged to the National American Woman Suffrage Association and helped found other women's groups in Akron including the New Century Club in 1893 and the Columbian Club, where women created art pieces to exhibit.

In 1898, the Claypoles moved to Pasadena, California because of Katherine's worsening health. She died there in August 1901. Her daughter, Agnes Claypole Moody became the first woman appointed to a medical position at Cornell University before serving on the Berkeley, California city council for many years. In 1930, the League of Women Voters of Ohio included Katherine Claypole on its Ohio State Honor Roll.


Susan B. Anthony and Ida B. Husted, eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 4. Indianapolis: Hollenbeck Press, 1902 [LINK]

Katherine L. Endres, Akron's "Better Half": Women's Clubs and the Humanization of the City, 1825-1925. University of Akron Press, 2006.

Catherine Benedicta Trotter (1846 - 1901),

Edward Waller Claypole,

Katharine Benedicta Trotter Claypole, 1847 - 1901, Akron Women's History A resource of the Summit County Historical Society, Blog:

Katherine Claypole portrait, Ohio Memory, A Collaborative Program of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio:

Project Muse The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony: Their Place Inside the Body-Politic, 1887 to 1895


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