Anna Shaw

Women's Right Reformer

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Anna was born on February 14th, 1847 and she died on July 2nd 1919. She was born in New-castle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom. When she was younger her dad sent her, her mom and her siblings to live by themselves in a cabin in Northern Michigan while he focused on the abolition cause. Anna's mother was stressed from taking care of the kids, and household chores, and making sure the kids stayed safe, because there were dangers where they lived. Anna had to take on many physical tasks to help her family. She became a teacher at age 15.

What did she do?

Anna Shaw was one of the Women's Rights Reformers. After she quit her teaching job she moved to Big Rapids, MI. There she attended Big Rapids high school. Lucy Foot, one of the people who worked at the high school, recognized Anna's talent and drive to become a preacher. At 24, Anna was invited by Dr. Peck, a man looking to ordain a women in the Methodist industry, to give her first sermon, she accepted and gave her first sermon in Ashton, Michigan. Even though she had success, her family and friends did not like her new passion. They only would pay for her college education if she abandoned preaching. Anna kept on preaching. In 1873 she entered Albion College with no support from her friends and family. She was treated unfairly compared to the men and she had a hard time finding employment. She was at first refused ordination by Methodist Episcopal Church then she achieved ordination by the Methodist Protestant Church. Then she received an M.D. from Boston University. During her time in Medical School she became an outspoken advocate for women's rights. Beginning in 1886, Shaw served as the chair of the Franchise Department of Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Susan B. Anthony encouraged her to join the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). She played a huge role in the movements when she convinced Susan Anthony's and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's NWSA's to join together. Anna was the president of their group. They continued to work for a national constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. In 2000, she was put into into the national womens hall of fame. She died of pneumonia at her home in Moylan, Pennsylvania at the age of seventy-two. only a few months before Congress ratified the 19th amendment to the United States, which said that a citizen can't be denied the right to vote based on gender.


One of Anna's biggest inspirations was Reverend Marianna Thompson. She was the first person that supported her pursuit of an education. Anna also got support from Dr. Peck and Lucy Foot during her preaching career. Anna was deeply moved by Mary A. Livermore, who said "if you want to preach, go on and preach... No matter what people say, don't let them stop you!" Anna wanted to work for women suffrage and then use the ballot to gain 'home protection' and temperance legislation. She put temperance aside and started to work more towards the Women's Suffrage Movement.