Anna B. Jeffery (1847-1938)
By Kelsey Brow, Curator, King Manor Museum, Jamaica, New York
This biographical sketch was first published on the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States and appears here by permission. That database is accessible at https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/VOTESforWOMEN
Treasurer, State Woman Suffrage Association, NJ
Anna Belinda Jeffery, née Philbrick, was born in New Hampshire on January 13, 1847. She was a descendant of Timothy Blacke Locke who in 1775 fought in the early days of the American Revolution with Colonel Enoch Poor’s Regiment in the New Hampshire Militia. Like her ancestor, this Daughter of the American Revolution was an early activist. Her obituary in the New York Times, published two days after her death on March 1, 1938, was headlined “Early Worker in Cause of Votes for Women was 91.” Though the account of her work was brief, (merely mentioning her activism in the Woman’s Club of Orange and the Political Study Club), Jeffrey’s work for suffrage was anything but.
Anna Belinda married George Moulton Jeffery, a member of the New York Produce Exchange on November 25 1873. Her husband was a broker at the New York Produce Exchange, but her name seems to appear in official records more times than his. A mother of three, Anna B. Jeffrey was active in the suffrage movement for over a decade. By 1885 she and her husband were recorded as living at 3 St. Felix Street in Brooklyn. In 1907, they had taken up residence at 358 Hartford Road in South Orange, New Jersey. By 1930 she was a widow still living at the same address with one servant, Jennie West. The residence, built in 1895, still stands today.
Anna B. Jeffrey was the Treasurer for the New Jersey State Woman Suffrage Association from 1901 to at least 1912. She was part of the New Jersey delegation to the First International Woman Suffrage Conference, held at the First Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.in 1902. In 1907, she attended the thirty-ninth Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Chicago.
A few years later on August 14, 1909, her presence was recorded at a joint venture between the Suffragettes of New York and the Suffragists of New Jersey (held at Palisades Park in NJ), an event that garnered several thousand signatures on a petition for the constitutional amendment. As Treasurer, she doubtlessly participated in the arrangements for the event, which also included three representatives from the Iroquois Nation. The event’s headline was a speech which compared the reduced tribal status of Iroquois women, with the current plight of white American women. It highlighted that the Iroquois women were once politically powerful and physically robust, but now were petite and disenfranchised with the elimination of their Council of Matrons. To hammer the point home, a follow-up speaker discussed women’s current lack of representation in the government as contributing to poor conditions faced by women workers.
Anna Jeffrey remained an active participant in the suffrage movement. She was part of the New Jersey delegation which attended the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention on November 1912. Perhaps her longstanding activism influenced other family members; as her daughter-in-law was a donor to the New York Women’s League for Animals in 1920.
“Amusement Seekers Hear Suffrage Talk” New York Times, August 15, 1909, page 7. https://nyti.ms/2BG3BeO
“Mrs. George M. Jeffery” New York Times, March 3, 1938, page 21 https://nyti.ms/2BF4VP1
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn gage, Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage 1900-1920. “New York, Fowler & Wells, 1922”, pages 412, 420.