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Profile of the Day: Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis

On this day in 1813, American abolitionist and suffragist Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis was born. An early supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, Davis was also a prominent lecturer on women’s health, anatomy, and physiology.

Image: Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis / Library of Congress

Davis was born on August 7, 1813 in Bloomfield, New York to Ebenezer Kellogg and Polly Saxton. In 1817, her family moved to the frontier near Niagara Falls, however, after the death of her parents, she went to live with an aunt in Le Roy, New York. 

In 1833, she married her first husband, Francis Wright, and together they organized an anti-slavery convention in Utica, New York. After her husband’s death, Davis studied medicine and began giving lectures on women’s anatomy and physiology, which was unprecedented for her time. Her lectures would encourage many women to become physicians.

In 1850, she returned her focus to woman’s rights and helped organize the first National Woman’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. She later helped launch The Una, one of the first woman’s rights periodicals. When the woman’s right movement splintered over the support of the 15th Amendment, Davis joined Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the National Woman Suffrage Association. 

Davis died shortly after her 63rd birthday on August 24, 1876. At her funeral, she was eulogized by Stanton, who encouraged others to follow Davis’s example of service to women.

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