Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Josephine McCracken Sims, 1859-1910

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Josephine McCracken was born in September 1859 in Dewitt, Iowa, the oldest child of William and Kittie McCracken. In 1860 her father was recorded as a clerk with personal estate valued at $100. In 1870 the family continued to live in Dewitt, Josephine attended school, and her father worked as a clerk in a dry goods store. By 1880 the family had moved to Mission, Kansas, where her father was employed as a farm laborer. In May 1883 she married John B. Sims, a Kansas farmer. The couple settled in Mission, and in the 1900 census they were recorded living in a rented house with three children and four (likely farm) servants. The family moved to Topeka by 1903 and John took a job as secretary and treasurer of the Topeka Pure Milk Company.

The first reference to Josephine's suffrage activity is her election as secretary of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association in October 1902. A January 1903 newspaper article, "Women are Lobbying," included her among those who were lobbying the state legislature that winter on behalf of a woman suffrage bill. That same month, John Sims offered a woman suffrage resolution at a meeting of the Kansas State Grange. In January 1908 Mrs. John B. Sims was listed as a member of the Good Government League, a suffrage organization.

Josephine was also active in the women's club movement in Kansas. In November 1902 she served on the executive board of the (Topeka) City Federation of Women's Clubs. That same month she read a Thanksgiving story at a meeting of the Sabean Club, a rural women's club to which she had belonged before her move from Mission to Topeka. The account of this event noted that she received "a royal welcome from her old neighbors and friends." These ties remained strong and in May 1908 Mr. and Mrs. Sims hosted the annual banquet of the Chaldean club. She had earlier served as president of the club that brought together neighbors from Mission township.

Josephine passed away in January 1910.


Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922). [LINK]

Federal manuscript census entries for McCracken family, Iowa, 1860-1870; Kansas, 1880-1910; John B. Sims entries, Kansas, 1900, 1910. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition., death record for Josephine L. Sims, 23 January 1910. Accessed via Ancestry Library edition.

"Women Are Lobbying," Leavenworth (KS) Times, 16 January 1903, p. 3.

"The Kansas State Grange," Kansas Patron (Olathe, KS), 1 January 1903, p. 2.

"A Country Club," Topeka Daily Herald, 29 November 1902, p. 9.

"Suffragists Will Call on Gov. Hoch," Topeka Daily Capital, 13 January 1908, p. 6.

"Chaldean Club Banquet," Topeka Daily Herald, 6 May 1908, p. 5.

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