Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lily Lola Walker, 1880-1945

By Mitchell Russo, LSU Libraries, Outreach and Instruction Librarian

Lily Lola Walker's birthdate is something of a mystery. Her official death certificate provides the birthdate of August 9, 1878. Other records, however, provide a variety of dates, including 1879, 1880, 1882, and 1885. Thankfully, her birthplace and parents are unambiguous: she was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, to James Bigham Walker and Emily Barbara Scheckler Walker, both Pennsylvania natives. But Walker's birthdate is not the only elusive thing about her. There is also her name, which more often than not is documented as Lola Walker, but is also recorded variously as Lily Lola Walker, Lily L. Walker, L. Lola Walker, and Lola L. Walker.

There is no marriage certificate for Lola Walker, and newspaper reports uniformly prefix her name with "Miss." And since records do not indicate that her surname changed at any time, it seems Lola Walker was never married.

According to the 1910 census, Lola was 31 years old and single and living on Millvale Avenue South in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Ward 8. She shared this residence with Kate A. Walker (41), Maud I. Walker (34), and Grace E. Walker (25) (siblings); and Joseph Ni (34), John Gordan (31), and Lulu Bergant (19). Her relationships to the last three named are unknown.

In just a few more years, Lola became active in the women suffrage movement, embarking on a peripatetic odyssey on behalf of women's right to vote. In October of 1914, she participated in the "Flying Squadrons" campaign in Pennsylvania. This was a six-day blitz through the state to drum up support for the "Votes for Women" drive. During this drive, Lola gave speeches in Philadelphia from the backs of trucks and other vehicles, drawing crowds at the south side entrance to the City Hall courtyard and at the Midvale Steel Works.

In May 1916, Lola was sent by Carrie Chapman Catt to New Mexico to represent the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her mission was "to advance the cause" of the Susan B. Anthony amendment as well as state legislation giving women the right to vote. She spent 10 days visiting Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Portales, and Las Vegas. Walker's talk in Portales "aroused much interest." In Las Vegas, she spoke to the Women's Club, whose 80 members voted unanimously in favor of suffrage. Later, the National Association was asked to send Walker back to New Mexico for the fall campaign, but she was sent to Maine instead. She was replaced in New Mexico by Gertrude Watkins of Little Rock. That state ratified the Federal Amendment on February 18, 1920.

In December of 1916, Walker worked with Christine Duncan Bradley South in Kentucky to organize the Pulaski County Equal Rights Association. They spoke at the High School Auditorium. Later, at the home of Mrs. Edwin P. Morrow, they founded the chapter with 31 members.

She spent the better part of 1917 - from April to November - campaigning in Maine. In July, Lola and Mrs. Vero Small spoke to members of several women's organizations at an afternoon tea held in the home of Mrs. Alton C. Wheeler. Later that evening, following a Chautauqua play festival, Lola spoke to an audience of several hundreds, despite there being no tent or lights to illuminate the scene. Walker also spoke on Field Day at Idyl Wilde on the shores of Lake Auburn. There, she spoke of the suffrage campaign in Lewiston and Auburn. Her talks were described by the Oxford Democrat of Paris, Maine, as "effective," "logical and direct," "interesting, convincing, safe, and sane."

In the afternoon of August 7, Lola spoke to a group of ladies in the Red Cross' rooms. Later that evening she spoke outside on Dr. Tibbets' front lawn to an audience of men and women. Her talks, according to the Oxford Democrat "held the closest attention of the audience." Days later, she kicked off the Maine campaign in earnest with an open-air and well-attended meeting on the Paris Common, where she was assessed "a very pleasing and entertaining speaker." On August 25, Lola addressed a "good sized audience" at the West Paris Grange.

In November, after waging a successful campaign in New York, Lola returned to Paris, Maine, and addressed an enthusiastic crowd in Paris's grand jury room. The Oxford Democrat's reporter felt that Walker "spoke in a most interesting manner."

Four months later, in March of 1918, Walker found herself in Oklahoma City, speaking before 120 men and women at an event honoring the work of New York's Nettie Schuler. In her talk, Walker reported being told in Pennsylvania "women are too dumb to vote." She drew particular applause from women in the audience for her pronouncement that women would have an important part to play both during and after the Great War. In May, Walker was in Oklahoma again, along with collaborators Mrs. Mary Maull, Miss Marjorie Schuler, and Miss Margaret Thompson, this time to organize the state ahead of the November 1920 election. During this organizing campaign, Walker spoke in Blaine, Ellis, and Woods counties, as well as in Edmonds to the students of Crystal State Normal School. Unfortunately, the organizing effort failed, inasmuch as the state organization was not founded until after the election by St. Louis activist Marie B. Ames. Nevertheless, Oklahoma ratified the Nineteenth Amendment February 28, 1920.

Nineteen Twenty found Walker still residing in Pittsburgh, still with sisters Kate, Maud, and Grace, this time in Ward 7, on Center Avenue. At the time the decennial census was taken, her profession was recorded as "suffrage," her age as 40.

Though some organizing for suffrage had taken place in Maine as far back as the 1870s, this work began in earnest in August of 1900 with a "suffrage day" organized by the state association and held at Ocean Park, Old Orchard Beach. Following many false starts and disappointments, in October 1918, the state association voted to introduce a bill for Presidential suffrage in the 1919 legislature. A committee was appointed for this purpose, with Lola Walker selected as executive secretary to the chairman. The bill passed in the Senate on February 26, 1920, and in the House on March 19. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified by Maine in November 2020. The same legislative committee that promoted the state's Presidential Suffrage act, including Lola Walker, also oversaw promotion of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Once the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified nationally, Lola Walker shifted her focus to getting women registered to vote. In February of 1922, Walker, then representing the League of Women Voters, gave a talk on "The Qualities of Leadership" on Pittsburgh radio station KDKA. Interestingly, the only point of this talk that was reported by the New York Herald was what Walker had to say about dress.

By the time of the 1930 census, Lola was still living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this time at 3600 Forbes St., Iroquois Apts., #59. Her sisters Maud and Grace were still housemates. This census reports--surprisingly--that Lola did not attend school; but the 1940 census reports that she had a high school education. Her age, like her birthdate, continues an enigma: this census gives her age as 48, whereas ten years earlier it was reported as 40. To add to this confusion, the 1940 census gives her age as 55, while her death certificate records her age at death five years later as 66. These discrepancies in age may reflect the confusion over her birth year, or they may reflect errors in comprehension on the part of the census takers.

Lily Lola Walker died August 8, 1945 (one day before her birthday) in Pittsburgh at the age of 66. She is buried in Homewood Cemetery, West Unit Mausoleum, Pittsburgh.


"Crowds at Big Industrial Establishments on Next to Last Day of Campaign." Evening Public Ledger. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October 23, 1914.

"Emily Barbara Walker." Find A Grave via

"Flying Squadron of Suffragists in Swift Tour of City." Evening Public Ledger. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October 19, 1914.

"Home Radio to Offer Interesting Program To-day and All Week." The New York Herald. New York, New York. February 26, 1922.

"James Bigham Walker." Find A Grave via

"Lily Lola Walker." Find a Grave.

"Lily Lola Walker." Pennsylvania, U.S., Death Certificates 1906-1967.

"Lola L. Walker." 1910 United States Federal Census.

"Lola L. Walker." 1930 United States Federal Census.

"Lola Walker." 1920 United States Federal Census.

"Lola Walker." 1940 United States Federal Census.

"Looking Back on June 3." Sun Journal. June 2, 2017.

"South Paris." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. July 24, 1917.

"South Paris." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. July 31, 1917.

"South Paris." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. November 20, 1917.

"Suffrage Campaign Opens." Tulsa Daily World. Tulsa, Indian Territory, Oklahoma. May 15, 1918.

"Suffrage Leader is Honored at Luncheon Here." The Oklahoma City Times. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. March 4, 1918.

"Suffrage Leader is in State to Advance Cause." Albuquerque Morning Journal. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 20, 1916.

"Suffragists Talk to Edmond Pupils." The Oklahoma City Times. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. July 9, 1918.

"The Oxford Bears: The Doings of the Week in all Sections of the County." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. August 7, 1917.

"The Oxford Bears: The Doings of the Week in all Sections of the County." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. August 14, 1917.

"The Oxford Bears: The Doings of the Week in all Sections of the County." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. August 14, 1917.

"The Oxford Bears: The Doings of the Week in all Sections of the County." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. August 21, 1917.

"The Oxford Bears: The Doings of the Week in all Sections of the County." Oxford Democrat. Paris, Maine. September 4, 1917.

"Woman Suffrage 'Whirlwind' Hits Northern Sections." Evening Public Ledger. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October 22, 1914.

"Women Win the Vote: 90th Anniversary of Ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." La Palabra. League of Women Voters of New Mexico. Vol. 58, no. 1. Summer 2010.

Hollingsworth, Randolph. "Christine Duncan Bradley South (1878-1957) of Frankfort." Quoting KERA, Reports, 26.

Oklahoma Historical Society. "League of Women Voters." The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, et al. The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. VI, Chapter XVIII, pp. 236, 434 and 520 [LINK to ME state report]

The Lewiston Daily Sun. Lewiston, Maine. April 21, 1917.

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