Biographical Sketch of Anna Klafke Laskey

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Anna Klafke Laskey, 1871-1953

By Michelle M. Martin
Doctoral Candidate - Department of History, University of New Mexico

"I wonder if there will be as vigorous a protest against me when I go to pay my taxes as when I asked for representation as a taxpayer," wrote Anna Klafke Laskey to the editor of the Daily Oklahoman after her attempt to vote in the election for delegates from Oklahoma Territory to the Constitutional Convention in November 1906. As a pioneer, wife, mother, and taxpayer Laskey's determination to exercise the right to vote sprang from childhood experiences in Iowa and life as an 89'er in Oklahoma Territory.

Born in Watertown, Wisconsin on April 8, 1871, Laskey's childhood was marked by turmoil. The family suffered tremendously when her father died in 1873. In 1879 Laskey's mother moved the family to Iowa where they lived on a farm. By the age of eleven, Laskey learned to manage the affairs of her family's rural Iowa household with the skill of an adult. Assisting her widowed mother, young Laskey learned first-hand the needs of women and families left without male financial support and protection. At the age of seventeen, Laskey taught school to support herself and her family. Watching her mother struggle to feed, clothe, and shelter the family shaped Laskey's views regarding women's suffrage, women's financial independence, and the role women should play in public and political life. After her marriage to Eugene Laskey in 1889 the couple participated in the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run. Settling outside Oklahoma City, Laskey found an outlet for her political interests: the Oklahoma Territory Women's Suffrage Association, the precursor to the Oklahoma Suffrage Association, a NAWSA chapter.

In addition to her work with the Association, Laskey used her own money to help support and fund suffrage efforts in the territory. At the Convention of Oklahoma and Indian Territory Suffrage delegates, Laskey served as the recording secretary to the convention in 1905 and 1906. In 1905 she attempted to cast a ballot in the territorial election to select delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Shocked and dumbfounded, the men running the polling location where she voted did little to stop her and puzzled over the fate of her ballot. She recalled that "my husband believes as I do, that wives and mothers in Oklahoma, who have faithfully shared the hardships of the territorial days, are entitled to all rights and privileges of men."

After Oklahoma's statehood in 1907, Laskey led a tax protest in 1910 in which women paid their taxes under protest to highlight the inequality at work in the American political system. As a taxpayer she believed that she deserved the right to vote given the fact she was a financial contributor to society. In 1914 she unsuccessfully ran to unseat popular Democratic candidate Kate Barnard in an effort to become the second woman to hold the office of Commissioner of Charities and Corrections. On July 20, 1914, Laskey arrived at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Oklahoma capitol building and demanded to take part in the festivities, which included shooting film footage of the event. When denied access to the event, Laskey--who brought her own shovel--pushed her way through the crowd. Told that she would be cut from the official footage she declared that she would shovel on behalf of woman suffrage. After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Laskey continued to advocate for women's equality and ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives serving from 1924-1928 as a Democrat for Oklahoma County. An advocate for world peace, suffrage, equal rights, and education, Anna Klafke Laskey died in 1953 and is buried in Del City, Oklahoma.


The Daily Ardmorite (Ardmore, Oklahoma), 25 October 1910; The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), 21 July 2014; The Muskogee-Times Democrat (Muskogee, Oklahoma), 21 May 1914; Suzanne H. Schrems, Who's Rocking the Cradle: Women Pioneers of Oklahoma Politics from Socialism to the KKK, 1900-1930 (Norman: Horse Creek Publications, Inc., 2004), 81-85; Joseph Bradfield Thoburn, "Mrs. Anna Laskey," from A Standard History of Oklahoma: An Authentic Narrative of its Development from the Date of the First European Exploration Down to the Present Time, Including Accounts of the Indian Tribes, Both Civilized and Wild, of the Cattle Range, and of the Land Openings and Achievements of the Most Recent Period. Volume 4 (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1916), 1683-84.

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