Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Anna B. Jeffery, 1847-1938
By Kelsey Brow, Curator, King Manor Museum, Jamaica, New York
Treasurer, New Jersey State Woman Suffrage Association
Anna Belinda Jeffery, nee Philbrick, was born in New Hampshire on January 13, 1847. She was a descendant of Timothy Blacke Locke who in 1775 fought in the early days of the American Revolution with Colonel Enoch Poor's regiment in the New Hampshire Militia. Like her ancestor, this Daughter of the American Revolution was an early activist. Her obituary, published in the New York Times, two days after her death on March 1, 1938, was headlined "Early Worker in Cause of Votes for Women was 91." Though the account of her work was brief, (merely mentioning her activism in the Woman's Club of Orange and the Political Study Club), Jeffery's work for suffrage was anything but brief.
Anna Belinda married George Moulton Jeffery, a member of the New York Produce Exchange on November 25, 1873. Her husband was a broker at the New York Produce Exchange, but her name seems to appear in official records more times than his. A mother of three, Anna B. Jeffery was active in the suffrage movement for over a decade. By 1885 she and her husband were recorded as living at 3 St. Felix Street in Brooklyn. By 1907, they had taken up residence at 358 Hartford Road in South Orange, New Jersey. By 1930 she was a widow still living at the same address with one servant, Jennie West. The residence, built in 1895, still stands today.
Anna B. Jeffery was the Treasurer for the New Jersey State Woman Suffrage Association from 1901 to at least 1912. She was part of the New Jersey delegation to the First International Woman Suffrage Conference, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Washington, in 1902. In 1907, she attended the thirty-ninth Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Chicago.
A few years later on August 14, 1909, her presence was recorded at a joint venture of New York and New Jersey suffragists (held at Palisades Park, N.J.), an event that garnered several thousand signatures on a petition for the federal suffrage amendment. As Treasurer, she doubtlessly participated in the arrangements for the event, which also included three representatives from the Iroquois Nation. The event's headline was a speech which compared the reduced tribal status of Iroquois women, with the current plight of white American women. It highlighted that the Iroquois women were once politically powerful and physically robust, but now were petite and disenfranchised with the elimination of their Council of Matrons. To hammer the point home, a follow-up speaker discussed women's current lack of representation in the government as contributing to poor conditions faced by women workers.
Anna Jeffery remained an active participant in the suffrage movement. She was part of the New Jersey delegation which attended the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention on November 1912. Perhaps her longstanding activism influenced other family members; as her daughter-in-law was a donor to the New York Women's League for Animals in 1920.
"Amusement Seekers Hear Suffrage Talk," New York Times, August 15, 1909, p. 7.
"Mrs. George M. Jeffery," New York Times, March 3, 1938, p. 21.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn gage, Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage 1900-1920, vol. 6 (New York, Fowler & Wells, 1922), pp. 412, 420. [LINK to NJ state report.]