Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lucy Kennedy (Mrs. John O.) Miller, 1880-1962

By Christina Larocco, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Lucy Kennedy was born in 1880 to mining engineer Julian Kennedy and Jennie E. Brenneman in Braddock, Pennsylvania, although she spent most of her life in Pittsburgh, where she married John O. Miller in 1907. The two had three children. A 1902 graduate of Vassar College, Miller was converted to the suffrage cause after hearing a lecture by Earl Barnes at Chautauqua. In 1904, she and friends Jennie Roessing, Mary Bakewell, Hannah Patterson, and Mary Flinn founded the Allegheny County Equal Rights Association, selecting Miller's father to lead. Julian Kennedy was also president of the Equal Franchise Federation of Western Pennsylvania from its founding in 1910 and vice president (later president) of the Pennsylvania Men's League for Woman Suffrage. Miller became chair of the Equal Franchise Federation in 1912. That same year, she held her first leadership position within the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association (PWSA), serving as corresponding secretary. She also gained attention for establishing the School for Suffrage Workers, cofounded with Mark Bakewell in 1914. University of Pittsburgh faculty members taught topics including law, government, and reform to more than 100 women. At the same time, Miller found herself in conflict with Alice Paul and others. A friend and lifelong devotee of Anna Howard Shaw, Miller was reluctant to shift the suffrage movement's focus away from state campaigns and toward more militant activism. By 1916, Miller's prominence within the Pennsylvania suffrage movement was unmatched: she served simultaneously as first vice president of the PWSA, state chair of the Woman Suffrage Party, and chair of the Allegheny County Woman Suffrage Party. With PWSA president Mary (Mrs. George B.) Orlady ill and inexperienced, Miller was the effective leader of the PWSA even before she was formally elected president in 1917. As Carrie Chapman Catt did with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), Miller pledged PWSA's support to the war effort. She was appointed to the Central Woman's Liberty Loan Committee and served as chair of the state Liberty Loan Committee. After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, she worked with the League of Women Voters, NAWSA's successor, serving as first president of the Pennsylvania branch. In 1926 Governor Gifford Pinchot appointed her to serve on the State Commission of 76, established to examine election laws. She was later elected to serve on this body's executive committee. In 1927 LWVPA vice president Martha G. Thomas insisted that Miller resign as state president, charging that the league was being controlled by Republican State Committee chair W. L. Mellon. Miller refused to resign, but she announced later that year that, for unrelated reasons, she would not run for reelection. She subsequently served at least one year as a vice president in the organization.

Lucy Kennedy Miller died in Pennsylvania in 1962 at the age of eighty-one.


Information about Miller can be found in Henrietta Louise Krone, "Dauntless Women: The Story of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Pennsylvania, 1910-20" (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1949); Robert J. Leach, "Jennie Bradley Roessing and the Fight for Woman Suffrage in Pennsylvania," The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 67 (1984): 189-211; and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania records (Collection 2095), Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

back to top