Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Jennie Hart Sibley, 1846-1917

By Jodi Oaks, Librarian, Mohawk Valley Community College

Jennie Hart Sibley was born Sarah Virginia Hart on October 22, 1846 to James B. and Maria Collier Hart in Augusta, Georgia. On November 15, 1865 she married Samuel Hale Sibley. Jennie is recorded in sources as both Jennie H. Sibley and Sarah V. Sibley, but it appears she used the name Mrs. Jennie Hart Sibley most often. In the 1870 United States Census, Samuel was recorded as being a cotton merchant. Jennie had six children, including Jennie born 1870, Kate/Katie born 1872, Samuel born 1874, James born 1876, Josiah born 1877, and Grace born 1878. Her husband Samuel died on December 11, 1883 in Atlanta, Georgia, leaving Jennie a widow at 37 years old. She never remarried.

Jennie was a prominent member of the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs and a leader in the Georgia Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), serving as president from 1900-1905, later being made honorary president. As superintendent of legislation and petition, Jennie attempted to have two bills introduced to the Georgia legislature, one to increase the age of consent and the other on child labor reform. Coinciding with the state suffrage convention, Jennie spoke at the Georgia State Capitol on July 9 and 10, 1907. That same year, she became a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In January 1907, a newspaper article ran in several southern newspapers that reported on a meeting of southern women suffragists held in Memphis, Tennessee, with Jennie listed as president of the Georgia Equal Suffrage Association. In this article, the southern suffragists outlined their beliefs, including that political liberty should not be limited by sex, that all women who can read and write should get the vote, that suffrage would provide political power against problems like low wages for women and child labor, and that they "ask for the ballot as a solution to the race problem." They went on to say that "if the women of the South were enfranchised it would insure a permanent and enormous preponderance of the white race in politics, and would preclude the necessity for any doubtful expedients to minimize the negro vote."

Sibley continued to work for woman suffrage as superintendent of the Legislation Department of the WCTU. In a 1915 WCTU report, she mentioned suffrage petitions she had submitted to Congress and the state legislature in recent years.

After the death of her husband, Jennie resided with her daughter Kate/Katie's family in Union Point, Georgia. In the 1910 United State Census, she is recorded as having her own income, although the source of this income was not specified. Jennie died on June 19, 1917 in Union Point, Georgia. She is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, Georgia.


For her suffrage work, see "Woman Suffragists Meet," Simpson County News, January 3, 1907, 8; Fortieth Annual Report of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, ed. Harriet Taylor Upton (1908): 66, 103; Proceedings of the Forty-Second Annual Convention of the National-American Woman Suffrage Association (1909): 110. For her WCTU and club work, see Sibley, Jennie Hart, "Why Temperance Should Be Taught in the Schools of Our Country," Atlanta Constitution, May 19, 1897, 7; "W.C.T.U. Workers Have Adjourned," Atlanta Constitution, June 18, 1898, 7; "W.C.T.U. Elects its Officers. Mrs. Jennie Hart Sibley Chosen as President," Atlanta Constitution, April 28, 1900, 2; "Federation Work Marked by Brilliant Success," Atlanta Constitution, November 3, 1900, 9; "Mrs. Moots Appointed. Becomes Official Representative of W.C.T.U. In the Philippines," Washington Times, December 1, 1900, 3; "Opposed to Dispensary. Woman's Christian Temperance Union Asks Governor Candler to Veto the Wright Bill," Atlanta Constitution, November 27, 1901, 7; Sibley, Jennie Hart, "Temperance Education Law," Atlanta Constitution, February 19, 1902, 6; "By White Ribbon City is Captured. Woman's Christian Temperance Union Meets in Milledgeville," Atlanta Constitution, May 7, 1902, 6; "American Delegates To World's W.C.T.U. Convention Sail for Geneva, Switzerland," Dayton Daily News, May 16, 1903, 1; "First Meeting of Convention," Atlanta Constitution, October 8, 1904, 4; "Women Attack 'Tank' System. Resolutions Adopted by State Convention W.C.T.U," Atlanta Constitution, October 13, 1904, 5; "First Session of Convention," Atlanta Constitution, October 22, 1907, 7; Ansley, Lula Barnes, History of the Georgia Woman's Christian Temperance Union From Its Organization, 1883-1907 (Columbia, GA: Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Georgia, 1914); "In Georgia," The Woman Citizen 3 (September 21, 1918): 336; "Georgia W.C.T.U. State Convention Program," Atlanta Constitution, October 16, 1921, 7. For marriage and census records, see "Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950," Georgia Department of Archives and History, Morrow; United States Census, 1870, Jennie H Sibley in entry for Samuel Sibley; United States Census, 1880, Sarah V Sibley in household of Samuel H Sibley, Augusta, Richmond, Georgia, United States; United States Census, 1900, Jennie H Sibley, Militia Districts 137, 140, Fluker, Union Point, Greene, Georgia, United States; United States Census, 1910, Jennie H Sibley, Georgia, Greene, Union Point.

A secondary source with coverage of Sibley's WCTU and suffrage work, see Stacey Horstmann Gatti, "White Women's Organizations Debate Woman Suffrage, 1910-1920," 42-67, in Jonathan Daniel Wells and Sheila R. Phipps, eds., Entering the Fray: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the New South (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2010).

Image of Jennie Hart Sibley, 1846-1917:


History of the Georgia Woman's Christian Temperance Union From Its Organization, 1883-1907 (Columbia, GA: Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Georgia, 1914): 152.

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