Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Kate Pearsall, 1863-1951

By Sarah Whitley Carrier, North Carolina Research and Instruction Librarian, Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

Morganton Equal Suffrage Association; Women's Foreign Missionary Society; United Daughters of the Confederacy

Katherine "Kate" Jackson Pearsall was born December 1, 1863, into a well-established family living in the area of North Carolina's Sampson and Duplin Counties; her father was Dr. Joseph Dickson Pearsall and her mother Mary Bailey Pearsall (maiden name Murphy). Pearsall moved to the city of Morganton, North Carolina, and spent her career as a stenographer, primarily working for her uncle Dr. Patrick Livingston Murphy, superintendent of the large psychiatric hospital in town. Pearsall's brother Colonel Patrick Murphy Pearsall was a noted lawyer and politician who was private secretary to Governor Charles Aycock.

In 1901, Pearsall became one of 66 prominent women who served as delegates to the Charleston Exposition. In 1913, she was elected secretary of a Morganton-based women's club advocating for suffrage, which later became the Morganton Equal Suffrage Association. It was one of the first such organized and official clubs in the state. During World War I, Pearsall was publicly commended for her activities in the Red Cross.

Pearsall participated actively in numerous other women's organizations, including the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church. Pearsall was also heavily involved with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and participated in state and regional meetings.

Kate Pearsall died August 7, 1951, and is interred in her hometown of Morganton.


"Col. M. J. Pearsall Killed." The (Morganton) News-Herald, May 14, 1903, p. 3.

"Lady Managers for North Carolina." The (Raleigh, NC) Morning Post, Nov. 3, 1901, p. 5.

"Red Cross Notes." The (Morganton) News-Herald, Feb. 21, 1918, p. 5.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage. New York: Source Book Press, 1970 [LINK].

U.S. Census Bureau (1910). Thirteenth Census of the United States: 1910 - Population. Retrieved from

back to top