Explore KY's Women's Reform Movements

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

This tour honors the Kentucky women and men who conquered political, legal, and social obstacles in order to improve the lives and opportunities available to Kentucky's women. They were notable reformers of health standards, education, worker's rights, child labor, and even prisons.

Many of these reforms succeeded during a time in which efforts were aggressively being made for women's suffrage nationwide. Kentucky suffragists, including Laura Clay and Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, were from some of the Bluegrass State’s most prestigious families. They used their family and political connections to help advance their causes. Others, like Thelma Stovall, who became Kentucky's first lieutenant governor, originated from more humble beginnings. Regardless of background, the people included on this tour made courageous contributions to their communities, state, and country.

Locations for Tour

Historical marker #1650 in Hardin County recognizes the political contributions of John Y. Brown, a former U.S. congressman and governor of Kentucky. Brown was born on June 28, 1835, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He graduated from Centre College in…

Historical Marker #1800 in Madison County recognizes the contributions of Laura Clay as a leader of women's suffrage in Kentucky. Clay was born near Richmond, Kentucky, on February 9, 1849, at White Hall, the estate of her father, Cassius…

Historical Marker #1872 in Richmond recognizes the work of Frances E. Beauchamp, an advocate for prohibition. Beauchamp was born in Madison County, Kentucky, and attended the Science Hill Academy for girls in Shelbyville. She married attorney James…

Historical Marker #1876 in Lexington recognizes the contributions of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge to the women's suffrage movement. The marker is located on the grounds of Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay. Madeline Breckinridge was the…

Historical Marker #2136 in Catlettsburg (Boyd County) recognizes the historic achievement of Mary Elliott Flanery being the first woman elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1921. Flanery was active in the Kentucky Equal Rights…

Historical Marker #2170 in Shelby County recognizes the political achievements of Thelma Stovall, who became the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky in 1975. Stovall was a female pioneer in southern politics. She began her…

Historical marker #2171 in Munfordville (Hart County) commemorates the life and service of Thelma Loyace (Hawkins) Stovall, Kentucky's first female lieutenant governor. Stovall was born on April 1, 1919, in Munfordville. Later moving to…

Historical marker #2173 in Louisville acknowledges the contributions of the First Unitarian Church toward the civil rights and women's suffrage movements. The First Unitarian Church hosted Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt in January of…

Historical Marker #2196 in Louisville recognizes the achievements of pioneer educator Rosa Anna (Phillips) Stonestreet. Stonestreet was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, on February 18, 1859. She died in Louisville on April 7, 1936, and is…

Historical Marker #2197 in Lexington commemorates the Sayre Female Institute which is now the Sayre School. The school was founded in 1854 by David Austin Sayre for the education of young women. Sayre believed that women deserved an "education…

Historical marker #2221 in Louisville recognizes the contributions of Rebecca Rosenthal Judah, who was a leader of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), and vice president and treasurer of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA). Judah…

Historical marker #2397 in Glasgow (Barren County) acknowledges the significant achievements of education reformer Nettie B. C. Depp. Like Rosa Stonestreet before her, Depp was elected superintendent of Barren County schools prior to the passage…

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…

Historical Marker #2167 in Frankfort notes the trailblazing political career of Emma Guy Cromwell, Kentucky's first female secretary of state. In an era when politics was viewed as a forum unfit for women, a few brave souls paved the way for…