When an Unlikely Ally of Women's Suffrage Emerged In Edgefield, Support for the Cause Grew

Aug 11, 2020

Emily Anderson Dunovant

Emily Anderson Dunovantfield lived in Edgefield, South Carolina. She was well-educated and what many called a traditional woman. But during the early 1900's, Dunovant used a radical voice to help elevate the women's suffrage cause in South Carolina. 

Dr. James O. Farmer, Jr.  is author and emeritas professor of History at the University of South Carolina- Aiken. From his biographical sketch of Dunovant, written for Biographical Database of NAWSA  Suffragists, 1890-1920, we learn Dunovant was born in December of 1866 in Spartanburg County. Her father was a Confederate veteran and a "red shirt" during the campaign that overthrew the state's Reconstruction regime. Her mother was the daughter of a clergyman and raised Emily to be a devout Christian. In 1888, Emily married William Lowndes Dunovant of Edgefield, and settled into the life of a traditional wife and mother. But in 1910, Dunovant's voice skillfully emerged from her quiet life in Edgefield to the podium of suffrage movement.

In this episode of Sisterhood: SC Suffragists, Farmer explains how the well-publicized child custody trial involving Edgefield County's powerful Tillman family, struck a chord with Dunovant, connected her to an unlikely partner and placed her on a radical path fighting for women's rights.