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Catherine Talty Kenny

Catherine Talty Kenny, suffragist and political activist, was born in Chattanooga in 1874. She married John M. Kenny of Atlanta in 1899 and moved to Nashville, where her husband became president of the Nashville Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Catherine Kenny became active in the Nashville Equal Suffrage League and in local Democratic Party politics. In 1915 she cochaired with Chattanooga native Abby Crawford Milton the campaign committee of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association. This campaign committee organized local suffrage societies across the state. By the time the Nineteenth Amendment for national woman suffrage passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification, Tennessee had a suffrage club in almost every county.

Kenny was the intellectual of the Tennessee suffrage movement and was highly regarded for her organizational skills. According to Abby Crawford Milton, Kenny's organizational skills, her strength in the cause of woman suffrage, and her political common sense made the difference in the Tennessee ratification movement. In 1919 Kenny became the chairman of the ratification committee of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage League and organized a statewide effort to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. Her strategy for ratification was based on organization by congressional districts. When Governor Albert H. Roberts agreed to call a special session of the general assembly to vote on the amendment, Kenny's organization personally lobbied every member of it.

After the passage of the suffrage amendment, Kenny became the second president of the Tennessee League of Women Voters. Kenny served as Democratic national committeewoman from Tennessee and held several position with the state Democratic Party. She was also chairman of the Nashville City Hospital Commission for eight years, where she worked to improve working conditions for nurses and other female employees. Upon the death of her husband in 1926, Kenny left Nashville. She died in New York City in 1950 and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010