Clubwoman and Suffrage Leader Cornelia Jerman


ESA Headquarters

Office at the N.C. Equal Suffrage Association headquarters, 116 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, N.C, ca. 1910s. L-R: Gertrude Weil; Palmer Jerman (a page) with dog; Sallie Dortch, volunteer chair; Cornelia Petty Jerman, chair of the state ratification committee. A “Votes for Women” grosgrain ribbon is tacked to the desk. Image from the Gertrude Weil Papers, PC.1488.50, folder 4, State Archives.

On February 4, 1946, women’s suffrage leader Cornelia Petty Jerman died. At the time of her death, the Raleigh News & Observer called her the “State’s First Woman.”

Born in Moore County near Carthage, Jerman moved to Raleigh shortly after her marriage in 1898. She became active in the city’s social life, and was very involved with the Woman’s Club of Raleigh and state and national organizations of women’s clubs.

Jerman’s social involvement soon became political. She helped organize the Raleigh Equal Suffrage League, served as president of the North Carolina Suffrage League and lobbied the General Assembly extensively for women’s right to vote and other causes. She also helped organize, and served as president of, the Raleigh League of Women Voters.

Becoming active in Democratic Party politics after 1920, Jerman campaigned for Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1928 and 1932, respectively, and was appointed to a position with the Internal Revenue Service in Greensboro.

She worked in a number of other capacities before her death in 1946.

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