Annie Nowlin Savery, a Des Moines resident born in London, England in 1831, was a pioneer suffragist and a leader in the Women's movement in Iowa during the late 1860s and 1870s. In 1868 she became the first Des Moines woman to lecture on woman suffrage, braving an audience unfriendly to the subject. In 1870, she attended the organizational meeting of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Society in Mt. Pleasant and was elected corresponding secretary. That same year she helped organize the first woman suffrage society in Des Moines.
Savery soon emerged as the leading spokesperson for the suffrage movement in Iowa, lecturing statewide. In 1871, when suffragists were under attack nationally because of the association of free love advocate Victoria Woodhull with their movement, Savery defended the right of any person to join the suffrage ranks regardless of her/his personal morals. Because of this stand, Savery was ousted from the Iowa suffrage movement. She continued, nonetheless, to seek ways to better Women's economic and educational opportunities, including endowing scholarships for women at Grinnell College and establishing a beekeeping business as an example of how women could earn money. In 1875, she was one of two women to graduate from The University of Iowa Law School. Savery died in 1891. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1997.
Author: Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame
Photo credit: Iowa Department of Human Rights, Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame