Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Frances Baker Anderson Ewell, 1887-1977
By Nancy Alexander Simmons, Fairfax Station, Virginia
Frances Baker Anderson was born on October 22, 1887, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Herbert Lee Anderson and Elizabeth Baker Anderson. By 1900, the family had moved to Florida, where her father was a lawyer. Frances graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1908.
Frances and her mother were early suffrage activists in Jacksonville, Florida. In June 1912, her mother hosted a meeting in her home where the Jacksonville Equal Franchise League was organized and Frances Anderson was appointed secretary pro tem. In January 1913, Frances delivered an address on equal suffrage in Ocala, Florida, before the Woman's Club. She said:
"So when we see 25,000 women marching under the banner of Equal Suffrage and thousands of others seeking the franchise everywhere, we realize, as the whole world will soon, that they are not unnatural monsters seeking to undermine society but very normal and very clear sighted women trying to adjust old fashioned laws to new conditions of life."
Then in February 1913, she was corresponding secretary of the Florida Equal Franchise League, which proposed a state constitutional amendment favoring woman suffrage. In part, the proposal read:
"Male and female persons shall in all respects be alike eligible to vote and hold office in the state of Florida."
In 1914, Frances continued as corresponding secretary for the Florida Equal Franchise League. In May, she, her mother, and eight other women were on the editorial and executive staff that produced the first equal suffrage edition of The State, a Jacksonville weekly publication. These women were officers of the Florida Equal Franchise League and intended to recruit at least one woman from each Florida County to assist with the publication. In December 1914, Frances was the recording secretary for the Florida Equal Suffrage Association at its first annual state convention in Pensacola. Just a month later, in January 1915, the Florida Equal Franchise League met in Jacksonville and elected officers, including Frances as corresponding secretary. She also was one of six women who signed the charter of incorporation for the organization.
On June 12, 1917, Frances met her fiancé, Andrew Travers Ewell, in Manhattan, New York, as he returned from Brazil where he was exploring the Amazon River; they married the same day. On the marriage license, she gave her occupation as journalist, and he gave his occupation as explorer. The couple returned to Brazil until May 1918, when they returned to the U.S. By 1920, the couple lived in Brooklyn with their son. However, the couple divorced a few years later and Frances Ewell returned to Florida with her son.
Frances continued to serve in civic positions in Florida. In the 1920s, she was appointed by the Governor to the Duval County Welfare Board. During the 1930s, she was the assistant state director of the Works Progress Administration's women's work and professional projects. In that role, she organized home demonstration projects for black women and Braille classes for the blind. And in the 1940s, she served on the state defense council.
Frances Anderson Ewell died on January 17, 1977, and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Jacksonville.
This photo of Frances is from the 1908 Vassar College yearbook.
This photo of is from her 1917 passport application.
And this photo of Frances appeared in TheTampa Tribune in 1944.
1900 U. S. Census, Florida. Ocala, Marion County, p. 5, Enumeration District: 0087 Digital images. Ancestry.com.
1920 U. S. Census, New York. Brooklyn Assembly District 1, Kings County, p. 5A, Enumeration District: 3 Digital images. Ancestry.com.
"Annual Meeting," The Tampa Times (Tampa, Florida), January 13, 1915, p. 7.
"Defense Office Here is Praised." Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), November 17, 1944, p. 2.
"Explorer Ventures on Matrimony Sea." The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 13, 1917, p. 14.
Find A Grave, database and images for Frances Anderson Ewell, Find A Grave Memorial no. 114669420, citing Oaklawn Cemetery, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.
Florida Death Index, 1877-1998. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 113, 115. [LINK]
"Jacksonville Suffrage Club Springs into Existence." The Miami News (Miami, Florida), June 24, 1912, p. 5.
"Named on Duval Board." The Miami Herald (Miami, Florida), October 17, 1924, p. 20.
New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 9. Ancestry.com.
"Pensacola Woman to Contribute to first Equal Suffrage Publication in Florida." Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida), May 24, 1914, p. 10.
"Suffrage Mass Meeting in Jacksonville Today." The Miami News (Miami, Florida), March 3, 1914, p. 5.
"Suffragists of Florida Gather This Morning." Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida), December 8, 1914, p. 1.
The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), May 12, 1918, p. 30.
U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012, Vassar College, 1908. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
"Votes for Women Earnestly Asked." The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), January 19, 1913, p. 17.
"Women Asking for Suffrage." The Tampa Times (Tampa, Florida), February 12, 1913, p. 14.
"W.P.A. Braille Classes Here Proving Successful Projects." Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida), September 22, 1938, p. 6.
"WPA Will Open Negro Demonstration Class." The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida), November 10, 1937, p. 5.