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History Bytes: Susan B. Anthony’s Rhode Island Roots

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906), the most recognizable of American social reformers and women’s rights activists, was the product of eight generations of Quaker teachings. From the establishment of the Quaker religion, women in the Society of Friends had complete equality in the worship service and governance of the congregation. This practice of equality was passed down through generations and must have shaped Susan’s strong support of abolitionism, suffragism, property rights and fair wages for women and more. Susan’s ancestry can be traced to John Anthony (1607-1675), who settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island around 1640. Through intermarriages, her ancestors include Potters, Clarkes, Shermans, Coggeshalls and other founding settlers of Rhode Island. Over time, her family followed very typical Quaker migration routes from Portsmouth to Dartmouth and Adams, Massachusetts, through the Nine Partners region of Dutchess County, New York, finally settling in Rochester.

Image: Early Anthony family death entries from the records of the Rhode Island Monthly Meeting of Friends