Henrietta Skelton


Henrietta Skelton was born on November 5, 1839, in Giessen, German. Skelton was a social reformer, writer, organizer, and lecturer in the German Spanish, and English languages. Her father was a professor at the University of Giessen and later was elected to one of the principal professorships at the University of Heidelberg. Skelton had two sisters and three brothers which she spent most of her early childhood with until she was five, when two of her brothers and her sister died within a short period.

At 18, Skelton married an English traffic superintendent of the Northern Railway. Mr. Skelton died in 1874 after 13 years of marriage and soon after, their son began showing signs of pulmonary disease. For the sake of her son, Henrietta moved to southern California hoping to find help. At that point she entered the lecture field and became a powerful persuasive public speaker. Skelton joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and eventually became the national executive board. She devoted herself to WCTU and later became the national organizer and traveled around the United States. Skelton encouraged local WCTU chapters in Idaho to incorporate women’s suffrage into their cause and they also helped push the territorial government to consider the issue of women’s suffrage.

Skelton gave a speech at the Constitutional Convention of Idaho in the year of 1889 requesting two clauses in the new state constitution; that of women's suffrage and an alcohol prohibition provision. She devoted a lot of her time advocating for them, trying to link the causes together. Many women in Idaho supported both temperance and women’s suffrage movements and Skelton became renowned for her activism.


Henrietta Skelton profile image from A Woman of the Century Available from Wikimedia Commons


Works Cited

Okker, Patricia. 2008. Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Sarah Rounsville, "Women’s Suffrage and Temperance in Idaho," Intermountain Histories, from https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/250?tour=25&index=4

Wikipedia contributors, "Henrietta Skelton," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Henrietta_Skelton&oldid=947560748 (accessed November 5, 2020).