Emily Burford Campton (1864-1927)

By Haley McAlpine, Historical Preservation Specialist

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

Secretary of New Jersey Equal Franchise Society

Mrs. Harry Campton was born as Emily Burford May, 1864 in Wales. She immigrated to the United States in 1883 and settled in Essex County, New Jersey. On June 7, 1886 Emily married Harry Campton in Trinity Church in Newark. Harry, who was born in 1862 in Leicestershire, England, immigrated to the United States in 1885 and worked as a law clerk for several years before becoming a well-known lawyer in the Newark area. Harry and Emily had two sons together, Leycester (known later as Lester) Burford Campton born on November 22, 1889 and Victor Portland Campton on November 10, 1890, both born in Newark, New Jersey. Census records show that the Campton’s lived in Newark until at least 1910. They lived on Wall Street in 1900, at 60 Myrtle Avenue in 1905, and at 2 Lombardy Street in 1910. By 1914, they are listed as living at 434 Central Avenue, Orange, New Jersey.

Emily was an active women’s suffrage advocate and philanthropist in both New Jersey and New York. Some of her most notable work was done as a member of the New Jersey branch of the Equal Franchise Society, an organization that used political activism to fight for women’s suffrage. At its inaugural meeting on February 26, 1910, Emily Campton was named Secretary. In the Summer of 1910, she assisted at an Equal Franchise Society booth at the Olympic Park Fair.

She was also involved with the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs and demonstrated an interest in pursuing other initiatives aimed at furthering women’s equality in New Jersey. On November 4, 1912, Emily was present at a Princeton meeting calling for the creation of a Women’s College in the state. During the meeting members discussed the lack of collegiate opportunity for women. This was especially the case for New Jersey teachers, 80% of which were women. Emily Campton read the resolutions at this meeting as a member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Emily Campton also had a particular interest in civics and housing was chairman of the Committee on Civics for the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1912. She was also named director of the New Jersey House Association at its inaugural meeting in June, 1913. In 1916 Emily was listed as the President of the Newark Civics Club in the Official Register and Directory of Women’s Clubs in America. She is also a noted member of the New Jersey City Federation.

On January 24, 1914, Emily Campton represented the Equal Franchise Society with two other Essex County women at the Committee on Judiciary of the Assembly meeting at the State House in Trenton. A Courier-News article reports that the Committee heard the proposed resolution for women’s suffrage and decided to “report the resolution favorably,” noting that “more than enough votes” were pledged to ensure passage of the resolution. The article explained that the suffragists planned to “make a large presence” at the January 28th vote but that the anti-suffragists would be in attendance too. The Legislature Committee that Emily Campton was representing was made up of members not only from the Equal Franchise Society, but also from the Woman Suffrage Association, the Women’s Political Union, and the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage.

Emily Campton was also an active suffragist and philanthropist in New York State. Here, she was a member of the New York Women’s Democratic Club, for which she was named Chairman of the Events Committee in May, 1914. She was also a member of the New York City Federation and the New York Federation of Women’s Clubs, where she was named Chairman of the Civics Department in May, 1916.

There is little source information about Emily Campton’s life after 1916. She died in May, 1927 and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.


“Closing Weeks of the Season,” The New York Times. May 17, 1914. via newspapers.com

Dau’s New Jersey Blue Book: Containing the Names and Address of Twenty Thousand Prominent Residents, and Much Other Valuable Social Information. New York: Dau Publishing Company, 1910. pg. 156. Via Archive.Org on August 9, 2018.

“Dr. Peters to Lecture Here: Under Auspices of Improvement Association—Topic for Next Meeting,” Keyport Weekly. November 15, 1912. via newspapers.com

“Federation of Women’s Clubs at Ocean Grove.” Brooklyn Life. May 20, 1916. via Newspapers.com

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, Vol. 6. National American

Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. pg. 416.via Google Books, August 9, 2018.

“Housing Association Organized,” The Courier-News. June 9, 1913. via Newspapers.com

New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965—Ancestry.com.

“N.J. Suffragists are Organized: More than 200 Join Branch of Equal Franchise Society—Mrs. Mackay Assists at the Hoboken Meeting.” The Central New Jersey Home News. February 26, 1910. via Newspapers.com

Official Register and Directory of Women’s Clubs in America: Containing also an Inventory of Club Lecturers and Entertainers, 1916 Vol. XVIII. Helen M. Winslow: Shirly, Massachusetts, 1916. pg. 140. Via Google Books August 9, 2018.

Roberts, Ina Brevoort, ed. Club Women of New York, 1913-1914. Endorsed by the New York City Federation of Women’s Clubs as its Official Directory. New York: Club Women of New York Company, 1914. pg. 218.

“Suffragists to Have a Hearing: Judiciary Committee Decides to Report Favorably on Matter,” The Courier-News. January 24, 1914. via Newspapers.com

US Census 1905, Newark, NJ –Ancestry.com.

US Census 1900, Newark, NJ –Ancestry.com.

US Census 1910, Newark, NJ –Ancestry.com.

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current, Newark, NJ—Ancestry.com.

“Want a Dollar for Woman’s College: N.J. Federation Endorses Plan for Establishing College Here –Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Cleveland at the Meeting –Prominent Men Address Women,” The Central New Jersey Home News. November 4, 1912. via Newspapers.com