'Inspired To Use Her Voice For Women's Rights,' Eulalie Salley Followed Her Mind, Broke Barriers

Jul 28, 2020

Eulalie Salley pictured second from right, with then governor of South Carolina Ronald McNair, as he signed the 19th Amendment in 1969 .Source: https://sohp.org
Credit Image courtesy of the Edgewood Project.

Eulalie was born in Georgia on December 11, 1883. She grew up on a plantation near Augusta, was privately educated and attended both, Virginia's Mary Baldwin College and Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. In 1906, she married attorney Julian Salley (later mayor of Aiken) and together they had two children. But it was the court case of another woman's fight to regain custody of her own children that prompted Salley to join the fight for suffrage.

In this episode of Sisterhood: SC Suffragists, we learn Eulalie Chafee Salley joined the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League, by sending a dollar in response to an advertisement she found in a newspaper. She is quoted as saying that dollar was the best dollar she'd ever spent. By 1919, Salley was elected president of the League. She would spend her life, fighting for the rights of women and breaking barriers by following (as she puts it) "what little mind she had."

Kristina Hornback, Curator of Collections at Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, talks about the exhibit "Guaranteeing Her Right: The 19th Amendment, Women and the Right to Vote" and how it celebrates Salley.

This episode also includes clips from an Interview with Eulalie Salley by Constance Ashton Myers, 15 September 1973 (G-0054), in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Pickens-Salley House
Credit Google Maps

Today, 45-years after her death, Eulalie Chafee Salley continues to be a part of creating change in society. In 1929, Salley purchased a home, moved it to Aiken and lived in it until her death in 1975- the previous owner was South Carolina secessionist Governor Francis Pickens. Today, the restored home sits on the campus of USC-Aiken and like many Civil War/ Confederate-related monuments and icons, is the center of conversations about accurately depicting American history.

Aiken Standard reporter Colin Demarest talked with SC Public Radio about the house, its history and changes to its name.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, South Carolina Public Radio  and South Carolina ETV are broadcasting the series SISTERHOOD: SOUTH CAROLINA SUFFRAGISTS to look at how local women played roles in a national movement that eventually guaranteed more than 26 million women the right to vote.