Suffragists You Need to Meet: Elizabeth Thacher Kent

Suffragists You Need to Meet: Elizabeth Thacher Kent

Elizabeth Thacher Kent in 1916, full length photo

If you have visited Muir Woods or the community of Kentfield in Marin County, you may not have associated them with a Congressional wife who was jailed for picketing the White House in support of women's suffrage!

Elizabeth Thacher Kent was the wife of William Kent, a noteworthy politician and contributor to the development of Marin County.  Elizabeth was a close friend of John Muir and the Kents worried that development of the county was threatening the survival of the forests and open spaces. Together, Elizabeth and William purchased the grove of redwoods that became Muir Woods, as well as additional acreage that is now watershed land.

As a society woman, Elizabeth participated in women's suffrage organizations such as the Clubwomen's Franchise League of San Francisco. She was one of the leaders of the successful campaign to win the vote for women in California in 1911. By that time, her husband was in Congress, and Elizabeth moved to Washington to join him. She lobbied his colleagues in Congress, testified before committees and campaigned nationwide for suffrage. With other members of the National Women's Political Party, she protested in front of the White House and was arrested twice (her husband, then campaigning for President Wilson's re-election, paid her bail).

In 1920, women won the vote -- and Congressman Kent lost his bid for the US Senate. Elizabeth moved back to Marin County and slipped into the background, compiling her husband's papers and writing his biography -- and voting.