Eliza Calvert Hall, 1856-1935

Historical Marker #2240 in Bowling Green honors Kentucky author and women's suffragist, Eliza (Lida) Calvert (Obenchain) Hall. As an author, Hall wrote primarily short stories, the most well known collection being "Aunt Jane of Kentucky." Published in 1907, that work was publically praised by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Lida Hall was recruited to the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA) by Laura Clay. In 1900, Hall accepted the position of press superintendent for KERA. In this role, she was responsible for keeping Kentucky newspapers supplied with ready-to-print material on the women's suffrage movement. Much of the material submitted to the newspapers was Hall’s own commentary. In her role as press superintendent Hall was remarkably successful, publishing more than 500 articles in Kentucky newspapers in one year. The one newspaper in which she failed to obtain space for her articles was the "Louisville Courier-Journal," whose editor, Henry Watterson, was unrelenting in his opposition to women's suffrage.

In addition to her commentaries on women's suffrage written for local newspapers, Hall used many of her short stories to encode suffrage arguments. Most who read "Aunt Jane of Kentucky" enjoyed the seemingly simple mountain wisdom of Aunt Jane without being fully aware of the political subtext contained within the stories.

Hall grew up in Bowling Green, where her father, Thomas Calvert, was a prominent businessman who held a position with the Bank of Kentucky. Thomas Calvert's success allowed him to build a mansion on Vinegar Hill in Bowling Green. When Lida was still a teenager, Thomas was accused of embezzling money and disappeared. He would not see his family again for thirteen years. The mansion and property on Vinegar Hill were liquidated and Lida, her mother, and siblings experienced sudden poverty. The mansion eventually became Warren College and then Ogden College. The man whom Lida Hall eventually married, William Alexander Obenchain, became Ogden College’s President in 1883.

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Eliza Calvert Hall

Eliza Calvert Hall

Eliza Calvert Hall was an author and advocate for woman's suffrage. Image in the public domain. View File Details Page

Ogden College

Ogden College

Ogden College, pictured here, was originally the home of Eliza Calvert Hall's father before it became Warren and later Ogden College. Hall's husband, William Alexander Obenchain became Ogden College's President in 1883. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Laura Clay

Laura Clay

Laura Clay, pictured here, recruited Eliza Calvert Hall to work for the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Henry Watterson

Henry Watterson

Henry Watterson, publisher of the "Louisville Courier Journal" opposed women's suffrage and refused to print articles from Eliza Calvert Hall. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Socitey. View File Details Page

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, pictured here, recommended Eliza Calvert Hall's book "Aunt Jane of Kentucky" to men who disregarded the rights of women. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Amy Roe, “Eliza Calvert Hall, 1856-1935,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 26, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/381.

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