Women Who Paved the Way

Here at Old Swedes Historic Site, we’re commemorating the 100th anniversary of women gaining voting rights in the U.S. Although passed in Congress on June 4, 1919, it wouldn’t be until August 18, 1920 that enough states ratified the 19th amendment for it to go into effect. Old Swedes is the resting place of women who gained national prominence in the National Woman’s Party, including Florence Bayard Hilles and Martha Penny Derickson Bringhurst. Our site has also borne witness to homegrown advocacy in Wilmington. The East Side, Old Swedes’ neighborhood, was home to the Equal Suffrage Study Club, an African American led suffrage organization founded at the nearby Thomas Garrett Settlement House. This is where women like Blanche Williams Stubbs and Fannie Hopkins Hamilton concentrated their work. Suffragists from the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association, Josephine White DeLacour and Jane Pennewill, too, rest at Old Swedes. Every effort, no matter how local, helped to enfranchise women, improve people’s lives, and push for equal rights. Enjoy video profiles of Josephine White DeLacour, Blanche Williams Stubbs, and Jane White Pennewill:

Josephine White DeLacour

Josephine White DeLacour, M.D. (1849-1929) is one of the remarkable individuals buried at Old Swedes. Educated at Wesleyan Female College and the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Dr. White deLacour became Delaware’s first practicing female physician in 1878. Aside from her successful 50+ year medical career, Dr. White deLacour was a very active advocate for women’s suffrage and served as President of the Wilmington Equal Suffrage Association. 

Blanche Williams Stubbs

Local suffragist Blanche Williams Stubbs is a prime example of women who went far beyond women’s suffrage in working to benefit their communities. Stubbs was instrumental in founding the Thomas Garrett Settlement House—a cornerstone of the African American community in Wilmington’s East Side. Stubbs continued to push for equal rights throughout her life.

Jane White Pennewill

Jane White Pennewill (1866-1929) was a prominent community leader and suffragist, now buried at Old Swedes. Pennewill lived with her sister and fellow suffragist Dr. Josephine White DeLacour in Wilmington. Previously involved in the Delaware Anti-Tuberculosis Society and International Sunshine Society, Pennewill emerged in 1918 as the secretary of the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association. She continued promoting female political participation until her death.