Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Antoinette Kinney, 1862-1945
By Caroline Stickel, undergraduate, Brigham Young University
Antoinette Brown was born in June 1862 in New York. Her early years were riddled with hardship; her father left the family when Kinney was a just a little over a year old, and, while she was a teenager, her two older sisters died of yellow fever, leaving only Kinney and her mother, Mary J. Daniels, behind. Prioritizing her daughter's education, Daniels relocated the family to Ann Arbor, Michigan, so that her daughter could attend the University of Michigan. She graduated in 1887. Two years later, she married Clesson S. Kinney, and soon thereafter moved west to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Establishing a new life in Utah, Kinney became involved in local, state, and national women's organizations, eventually earning a reputation as "one of the best-known clubwomen in the state" (The Salt Lake Tribune, 1903). In addition to being a member of the Salt Lake Women's Club, Kinney served in leadership positions in multiple community organizations: she was librarian of the Utah State Historical Society, co-president of the Ladies Literary Club, and president of Salt Lake City's Municipal Reform Club. She was also a member of the national board of directors of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Seeking to unite Utah women from various organizations, Kinney established a state chapter of the Federation in April 1893. At the first meeting of this new network, she persuaded the leaders of six women's clubs to allow their organizations to join, linking together women across the state. The chapter quickly launched its first initiative: a collective effort to "improve the social landscape of Utah" through education and other infrastructure (Madsen, 1995). As president of the Federation, Kinney often spearheaded such efforts through speeches and presentations, such as one given in 1906 to the Juvenile Court Association of Utah. In 1897, she founded another socially conscious organization, the Provo Progressive Club, which sought to assist members of the community in obtaining education and finding better-quality work. Throughout her decades of community service, Antoinette Kinney did not shun responsibility.
Her first taste of politics came with her involvement in the Utah chapter of the League of Women Voters. She served as chairman at the state level before becoming the chapter's first president in 1919. Later that year, as president of the League, Kinney's responsibilities included organizing Salt Lake City's celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Then, in 1921, Kinney was elected to the Utah State Senate as a representative from the sixth congressional district. Another woman from the sixth district, Elizabeth Hayward, was elected alongside her; but, by 1923, Kinney was the only female senator in the legislature. Her early lawmaking efforts resulted in success. Seeking to improve Utah's infrastructure, Kinney wrote bills that established a school, an art institute, and a public health code. Her later endeavors included motions to establish kindergarten in the state school system, lobbying for government pensions for University of Utah retirees, and developing a system of criteria for parents seeking to adopt children. Towards the end of her term, the majority of the bills Kinney wrote did not become law; however, she continued to advocate for educational reform, and even sought to establish a new law that would have allowed private citizens to investigate Utah politicians for financial malpractice - specifically, fraudulent handling of tax dollars. She stepped down as senator in 1925.
Decades after her husband's death, Kinney passed away at the age of 82 in the year 1945. She was buried in Salt Lake City, to be remembered by Utahns as a civically minded, hardworking, and accomplished woman who devoted her life to improving others'.
1. Antoinette Kinney in the 1900 United States Federal Census, United States Census, 1900; Salt Lake City Ward 1, Salt Lake Co., Utah; page 6,, enumeration district 0010, Family History film 1241684
2. "Mrs Kinney's Fortune." The Salt Lake Herald. Dec. 10, 1895.
3. "The Michigan Alumnus, Volume 2." The Michigan Alumnus. 2: 105. 1895.
4. "Clesson S. Kinney Dies While Abroad." Salt Lake Telegram. Feb. 19, 1913.
5. Madsen, Carol Cornwall (1995). "Decade of Detente: The Mormon-Gentile Female Relationship in Nineteenth-century Utah." Utah Historical Quarterly. 63 (4). https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/uhq_volume63_1995_number4/s/165454
6. "New President of Federation." The Salt Lake Tribune. Oct. 4, 1903.
7. "Utah Historical Society." Deseret Weekly. Jan. 8, 1898.
8. MacKay, Kathryn L. (2005). "Women in Politics: Power in the Public Sphere." In Scott, Patricia Lyn; Thatcher, Linda; Whetstone, Susan Allred (eds.). Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? Logan, UT: Utah State University Press. Pp. 360-393. ISBN 978-0-87421-625-7.
9. "Juvenile Court Will Hold Second Annual Session on Saturday Morning." The Morning Examiner. Dec. 6, 1906.
10. Stauffer, Suzanne Marie (2004). Establishing a Recognized Social Order: Social and Cultural Factors in the Development of Utah Public Libraries, 1890 to 1920 (PhD thesis). University of California, Los Angeles.
11. Neilson, Reid L.; Givens, Terryl L., eds. (2014). The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States. United Kingdom: Columbia University Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-23152-060-7.
12. Weatherford, Doris (2012). Women in American Politics: History and Milestones. Sage Publishing. p. 514. ISBN 98-1-60871-007-2.
13. Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Anthony, Susan Brownell; Gage, Matilda Joslyn; Harper, Ida Husted, eds. (1922). History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association. p. 650.
14. Cox, Holly M. (2008). From Suffragettes to Grandmothers: A Qualitative Textual Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Five Female Politicians in Utah's Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune (Thesis). Brigham Young University.
15. Laws of the State of Utah, 1921. Salt Lake City: Arrow Press. 1921. p. 5.
16. "Woman's Work: Utah, The Woman's Column." The American Co-operator. 2 (41): 26. 1903.
17. "Senate Endeavors to Adjust Bill for Workers: Compensation Act Amendments Occupy Time in Committee." Salt Lake Telegram. Mar. 1, 1921.
18. "Ask One Board for U. And A. C." Salt Lake Telegram. Feb. 13, 1923.
19. "Women Sponsor Recreational Measure." Salt Lake Telegram. Jan. 26, 1923.
20. "Senate Hurries through Third Readings." Salt Lake Telegram. Feb. 3, 1923.
21. "The Michigan Alumnus." The Michigan Alumnus. 55: 356. 1949.