Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sarah E. E. Ancona, 1865-1937

By Kimberly Drotar, undergraduate, Rosemont College

Sarah E. E. Bechtel was born on September 11, 1865 to Isaac Palm Bechtel and Elizabeth Weaver Bechtel in Tremont, Pennsylvania. In 1893, Sarah married Daniel F. Ancona, the owner of an insurance company. They resided in Reading, Pennsylvania and had four children. Ancona died on October 22, 1937 and was buried in Charles Evans Cemetery in Berks County.

The Reading Times noted Mrs. Ancona's attendance at a suffrage convention in Philadelphia in November 1919. Ancona also served as a director of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association. In August of 1920, as the 19th Amendment went into effect, Ancona, chairman of the Berks District of the Women's Citizen's League, circulated a letter to the women of her county explaining to them the steps needed in order to be eligible to vote. She encouraged them to consult the guide prepared by the league that explained the relationship between tax assessment in the state of Pennsylvania and the ability of a citizen of the state to register to vote. She explained that while women who owned property already had proof of tax payment, and thus would be allowed to register, women without property needed to be assessed for a "poll tax." Ancona continued to encourage women to exercise their citizenship by giving talks on behalf of the league. She also worked as Reading's chief executive and chairman of the League of Women Voters.

In addition to suffrage, Ancona was active in civic affairs. She founded the Mother's Assistance Fund, sat as a member of the board of directors of the Home for Widows and Single Women, served as a charter member of the Reading Woman's Club, and worked for the Parent-Teachers Association. As president of the Reading Parent-Teachers Association, she chaired their election meeting in March, 1914. In October 1914 she attended the Pennsylvania Congress of Mothers held jointly with the Parent-Teachers Association. During World War I, Ancona was an organizer of the Berks County Chapter of the American Red Cross and was an active participant in the Woman's Council of National Defense.


Fordyce, James. Occupation And Personal Property Assessment of Females in Greene

County, Pennsylvania for the Year 1921. Volume 3. 2008

"Lebanon Women May Be Given A Chance To Vote." Lebanon Daily, 8 July 1920, p. 1.,

"Mr. Jones Talks To The Women." Reading Times, 24 April 1920, p. 1.,

"Quota Club Told About The Art Of Hair-Dressing." Reading Times, 14 December 1920, p. 12.,

"Themes For Quota Club." Reading Times, 13 December 1920, p. 14.,

"Women Urged To Be Assessed." Reading Times, 27 August 1920, p. 7.,

back to top