Amendment XIX: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Kate Waller Barrett, was born Katherine Harwood Waller in Stafford County, VA, in 1857. After marrying Rev. Robert Barrett in 1876 they moved to Richmond, VA. When an unwed mother came to the rectory one evening with her child Kate Waller Barrett took them in and vowed to work "in behalf of this outcast class." Upon the Barrett's moving to Georgia next, Kate Waller Barrett received her MD from the Women's Medical College of Georgia in 1892. She then procured land to open a shelter for unwed mothers. She met Charles Crittenton who financed the shelter which opened in 1893. After Rev. Barrett died in 1896, Dr. Barrett, a widow with six children, became Superintendent of the Mission in 1897 and succeeded Mr. Crittenton as President of the Mission in 1909. There were 90 homes with a national headquarters in Washington, DC. Two of Barrett's children led the National Florence Crittenton Mission after her. Her eldest son Robert South Barrett, Jr. served as her successor as NFCM president, and her daughter Reba Barrett Smith served as vice president and general superintendent.
Dr. Barrett was also active in war work, veteran's relief, and women's suffrage. She was a charter member and vice president of the League of Women Voters, and a motivating force behind the creation of the American Legion Auxiliary. Barrett also held offices in a number of political organizations including: Vice President of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia (1909–1920,) President of the National Council of Women (1911–1916,) the first Virginia State President, American Legion Auxiliary, President, American Legion Auxiliary (1922–1923) and Vice President of the Conference of Charities and Corrections of Virginia
Dr. Barrett died at her home on Duke Street in 1925. The Alexandria Library at 717 Queen Street was named after her when it opened in 1937.
For additional information on Kate Waller Barrett you can visit the VCU Library's Social History Project.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.