Suffragist Martha Callanan

Mar 25, 2020  | 1 min 40 sec  | Ep 2020

As a longtime women’s rights advocate, Martha Callanan used her wealth to further suffrage work in the state, most notably launching a woman suffrage newspaper.


Raised a Quaker, Martha Callanan devoted her entire adult life to charitable and reform work.

She was one of the most widely-known women in Iowa in the mid-1800s and was very wealthy, using much of her fortune to further suffrage work in the state.

Callanan was one of the pioneer suffragists in Iowa and was involved in the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association and Polk County Woman Suffrage Society for more than 30 years.

She was also a prominent member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

She was a mentor to Carrie Chapman Catt, a fellow Iowa suffragist who would later lead the charge in fighting for the 19th amendment at the national level.

In 1886, Callanan used her wealth to launch The Woman’s Standard, an Iowa woman suffrage paper, which she was involved with up until her death in 1901.