This day in NC history: Women’s suffrage leader Jerman died

On February 4, 1946, women’s suffrage leader Cornelia Petty Jerman died. At the time of her death, the Raleigh News & Observer called her the “State’s First Woman.”

Born in Moore County near Carthage, Jerman moved to Raleigh shortly after her marriage in 1898. She became active in the city’s social life, and was very involved with the Woman’s Club of Raleigh and state and national organizations of women’s clubs.

Image from the State Archives Suffragists, circa 1920.

Image from the State Archives
Suffragists, circa 1920.

Jerman’s social involvement soon became political. She helped organize the Raleigh Equal Suffrage League, served as president of the North Carolina Suffrage League and lobbied the General Assembly extensively for women’s right to vote and other causes. She also helped organize, and served as president of, the Raleigh League of Women Voters.

Becoming active in Democratic Party politics after 1920, Jerman campaigned for Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1928 and 1932, respectively, and was appointed to a position with the Internal Revenue Service in Greensboro.

She worked in a number of other capacities before her death in 1946.

This Day in North Carolina History is a production of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources.

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