Laura Clay papers
- Laura Clay papers
- 1819-1959 (inclusive)
- 1906-1920 (bulk)
- 13.63 Cubic Feet
- Women -- Political activity -- Kentucky.
- Women's rights -- Kentucky.
- Women's rights -- United States -- History.
- Women -- Suffrage -- Kentucky.
- Women -- Suffrage -- United States.
- Collection is arranged by format.
- Preferred Citation
- 46m4: [identification of item], Laura Clay papers, 1819-1959, bulk 1906-1920, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
- University of Kentucky
- Biography / History
- Laura Clay, daughter of emancipationist Cassius M. Clay and his first wife, Mary Jane Warfield Clay, was born at the family estate, White Hall, in 1849. As a result of her parents' divorce and the inequitable property settlement which followed, Clay devoted herself to improving "the unworthy position of women" as a suffragist and social reformer. She was a founder of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association and the organization's first president. She was recognized as a national leader in the women's suffrage movement and served as an officer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. However, because she wished suffrage to be granted at the state level, she left the ranks of the national movement as the nineteenth amendment was about to be ratified. She continued to be active in the cause of women's rights after 1920, and ran unsuccessfully for the Kentucky Senate in 1923. Clay also worked for the temperance movement, the Democratic Party, and her Episcopal church. She died at age 92 in 1941.
- Scope and Content
- The Laura Clay papers (dated 1819-1959, bulk 1906-1920; 13.63 cubic feet; 34 boxes, 2 folders, 3 items) consists of correspondence, pamphlets, periodicals, organizational records, petitions, scrapbooks, broadsides, programs, legal documents, and suffrage pins and ribbons, which document the career of Kentucky suffragist Laura Clay. The bulk of the collection consists of Clay's correspondence with other suffragists, family members, legislators, and businesspeople. Notable correspondents include Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Anna Howard Shaw, Harriet Taylor Upton, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, Ida Husted Harper, Kate M. Gordon, Alice Stone Blackwell, Ida Porter Boyer, and her father Cassius M. Clay. . The collection includes programs, petitions, expenditures, and minutes of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference. Additionally, the collection includes membership card rolls for the Fayette County Equal Rights Association and the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. There are a number of pamphlets dealing with topics such as woman suffrage, child welfare, civil service reform, the peace movement during World War I, and temperance as well as speeches given by Laura Clay and others on these topics. The collection contains periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings related to women's issues. It also holds many of Laura Clay's personal materials, including a diary, badges, banners, and compositions. Additionally, the collection contains six of her scrapbooks, containing newspaper clippings, programs, and handwritten notes.
Restrictions on Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access
- Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
- Use Restrictions
- The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Contents of the Collection
Correspondence, 1849-1959, undated
Scope and Contents
The Correspondence series contains correspondence to and from Laura Clay. The majority of these letters are professional and deal with some question of women's suffrage, women's rights, the Democratic Party, the Episcopal Church, temperance, or organizations and conferences pertaining to these issues. There are some personal letters, including wedding invitations and holiday postcards. Additionally, the series contains a small amount of correspondence between other Clay family members.
Family correspondence, 1849-1940, undated
Scope and Contents
The family correspondence subseries includes letters from various members of Laura Clay's family. The most prominent family members are her sisters Sarah Lewis "Sallie" Clay Bennett, Anne Clay Crenshaw, and Mary Barr Clay Herrick; each also worked in the suffrage movement. Laura Clay's mother, Mary Jane Warfield Clay, also figures prominently in this correspondence subseries. This subseries includes extended family members, including a number of cousins, nieces, and nephews. In the event that the correspondence is between two family members other than Laura Clay, it is filed with the sender.
(Mrs. Green) Cornelia Clay (sister-in-law) correspondence, 1863-1865
Mary Jane Warfield Clay (mother) correspondence, 1869-1899, undated
Helen Bennett, Laura Bennett Garland, Elise Bennett Smith (nieces) correspondence, 1900-1940, undated
Mary Clay Johnston, Charlotte Clay Vernon (nieces) correspondence, 1932-1940
Fanny Crenshaw, Mary Warfield Crenshaw (nieces) correspondence, 1912-1940
W.C. Benton, C.M. Clay Jr., Josephine C. Gorde, R.B. Lawrence, Katherine Reid, A.C. Shackelford (cousins) correspondence, 1900-1938, undated
Suffrage correspondence, 1892-1937, undated
Scope and Contents
The suffragists correspondence subseries includes letters to and from Susan B. Anthony, Alice Stone Blackwell, Ida Porter Boyer, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge (Mrs. Desha Breckinridge), Carrie Chapman Catt, Kate M. Gordon, Ida Husted Harper, Anna Howard Shaw, and Harriet Taylor Upton. In the event that the correspondence is between two important suffragists other than Laura Clay, it is filed with the sender.