Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Dr. Irene Bullard, 1876-1947

By Elizabeth Wemlinger, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy (Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Dr. Irene Ballou Bullard was born on June 26, 1876, in Snowville, Virginia, to Daniel O. Bullard and Metta Gernon Bullard. She died on March 21, 1947, in Charlottesville, Virginia. In her life Dr. Bullard broke many of the professional barriers that women faced at this time. She was the youngest of four, with two older sisters and an older brother. Dr. Bullard attended the University of Michigan and received her M.D. in 1903.

After completing her M.D. she lived in Birmingham, Alabama, and practiced medicine in an office where she partnered with Dr. Laura Burton. Dr. Burton and Dr. Bullard were two of the earliest female doctors to practice medicine in Alabama. In 1906 Dr. Burton's ex-husband killed her, reportedly due to her unwillingness to reconcile after their divorce. Dr. Bullard moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where she practiced medicine for many decades to follow and was active in the medical community, the women's suffrage movement and the Democratic Party.

She was selected as one of three physicians on the Board for the Eastern Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she was an assistant physician. She was the first woman in the state to hold a hospital board position, and this appointment was reported in newspapers around the US. In her work as a doctor she was active with the State Charities and Correction Association. She chaired and worked on committees focused on children with disabilities. Additionally, she served as secretary for the Anti-Tuberculosis Society and publicly spoke on the issue of tuberculosis and poverty.

In West Virginia Dr. Bullard served in many different roles for her county level West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association including the chief of the literary bureau, secretary, and treasurer. She also hosted suffrage meetings at her office. While an illness forced her to live in Minnesota for a short time in 1916 with her sister, she continued her work for women's suffrage upon her return to Charleston in August. A few months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment she expressed in an interview her hope that once women secured the vote they would start electing women to positions including judicial positions. She thought women in these governmental roles would effectively serve women and children and would be better positioned to end corruption in government. In 1920 she was serving as secretary and treasurer of the Kanawha County Woman Suffrage Association. In an interview by the Charleston Daily Mail on August 22, 1920, four days after Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment, Dr. Bullard stated "First it will mean a stronger healthier people and a more intelligent citizenry. Women are the natural conservers of the race and that legislation which tends toward the protection of the women and children."

In addition to her work for women's suffrage she was active in the Democratic Party. She ran as a delegate for the Democratic Convention in 1920. She also hosted Izetta Jewel Brown in a visit to Charleston where Ms. Brown traveled with vice presidential candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Izetta Jewel Brown was the first woman to run for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia and lost in the primary by a very small margin of votes. Dr. Bullard served on the Democratic Women's Executive Committee and was appointed by Governor Cornwell as the Board Examiner for nurses in March of 1920. She served in this role along with Dr. Harriet B. Jones until 1922.

Sources:

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Ancestry.com. Virginia, U.S., Death Records, 1912-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

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"Christmas Seals Sold." Pioneer Press. [Martinsburg, West Virginia], February, 21, 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025146/1914-02-21/ed-1/seq-4/

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"Dr. Irene B. Bullard, 70 Retired Physician, Dies." Richmond Times-Dispatch [Richmond, Virginia], March, 23, 1947, p. 33. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/616321019

"Dr. Irene B. Bullard (Southern Girl who has an Unusual Career)." Waterbury Evening Democrat. [Waterbury, Connecticut], January, 8, 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn93053726/1907-01-08/ed-1/seq-10/

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"Four Laborers Killed." The Hinton Daily News and Leader [Hinton, West Virginia], July, 31, 1914, p. 1. Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/image/667477551

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"Officers." The Clarksburg Telegram. [Clarksburg, West Virginia], February, 16, 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84037844/1911-02-16/ed-1/seq-1/

"Organizing Uplift Work in This State." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia], February, 7, 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1916-02-07/ed-1/seq-8/

"P.A. Contributes $400 to West Virginia Suffragists." The Hinton Daily News and Leader [Hinton, West Virginia], November, 18, 1915, p.1. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/667474414

"Physician Kills His Wife and Then Commits Suicide." The Birmingham News [Birmingham, Alabama], April, 10, 1906, p. 15. Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/image/606020596

"Politics; Here and There." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia], June, 17, 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1922-06-17/ed-1/seq-6/

"Program for Conference Prepared." The Sunday telegram. [Clarksburg, West Virginia], November, 12, 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85059732/1916-11-12/ed-1/seq-3/

"Radford Social." The Times Dispatch. [Richmond, Virginia], December, 27, 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1903-12-27/ed-1/seq-7/

"Radford Social." The Times Dispatch. [Richmond, Virginia], July, 1, 1906. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1906-07-01/ed-1/seq-21/

"Radford Social News." The Times Dispatch. [Richmond, Virginia], October, 10, 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1909-10-10/ed-1/seq-19/

"Radford, VA." The Times Dispatch. [Richmond, Virginia], May, 8, 1904. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1904-05-08/ed-1/seq-9/

"Radford, VA." The Times Dispatch. [Richmond, Virginia.], July, 3, 1904. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1904-07-03/ed-1/seq-8/

"Radford, VA." The Times Dispatch. [Richmond, Virginia], September 25. 1904. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1904-09-25/ed-1/seq-8/

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"Roosevelt to Explain Issues Here Tonight." The Charleston Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia], September, 20, 1920 , p. 16. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/8281508

"Saint Albans." The Charleston Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia], July 19, 1922, p. 16. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/16463603

"Social and Personal." The Charleston Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia], March, 13, 1920, p.8. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/38764998

"Social and Personal." The Charleston Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia], March, 15, 1920, p.4. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/38765006

"Social and Personal." The Daily Telegram. [Clarksburg, West Virginia], July, 31, 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85059715/1914-07-31/ed-1/seq-5/

"Sopher Chosen." The Daily Telegram [Clarksburg, West Virginia], November, 26, 1915, p. 3 Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/389206071

"Suffragist Hold Conference; Campaign Outlined at Banquet." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia], April, 9, 1915. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1915-04-09/ed-1/seq-1/

"Suffrage Workers are Hard at Work." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia], February, 3, 1916, p. 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1916-02-03/ed-1/seq-4/

"To Address League of Women Here Saturday." The Charleston Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia], September, 10, 1920, p. 5. Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/8266637

"War on Tuberculosis." Evening Star. [Washington, D.C.], November, 24, 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1909-11-24/ed-1/seq-5/

"West Virginia News." The Calhoun Chronicle. [Grantsville, West Virginia], October, 23, 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85059591/1919-10-23/ed-1/seq-1/

"What Women are Doing in the Industrial and Household World." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia], June, 17, 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1922-06-17/ed-1/seq-6/

"Woman on Hospital Board." The Marion Daily Mirror. [Marion, Ohio], January, 8, 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88077573/1907-01-08/ed-1/seq-7/

"Woman on Hospital Board." The Chickasha Daily Express. [Chickasha, Indian Territory, Oklahoma], January, 9, 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86090528/1907-01-09/ed-1/seq-2/

"Woman on Hospital Board." The Washington Bee. [Washington, D.C.], January, 12, 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84025891/1907-01-12/ed-1/seq-3/

"Woman on Hospital Board." The Idaho Republican. [Blackfoot, Idaho], January, 18, 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091197/1907-01-18/ed-1/seq-6/

"Workers Enthusiastic." The Fairmont West Virginian [Fairmont, West Virginia], February, 21, 1916, p.1. Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/image/378795232

Wright, A.J., "Hidden Legacies: II. Early Female Physicians in Alabama" https://sites.google.com/site/earlyfemaledocsalabama/

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