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Esther Griffin White (1869-1954)

Esther Griffin White

Esther Griffin White was a feminist, suffragist, politician, journalist, art critic and collector, poet, and a woman of many talents, interests and eccentricities.  For much of her life she made her living as a journalist, and during those periods when she was not employed by one of the local Richmond newspapers, she published her own small paper called The Little Paper, in addition to writing articles for several national periodicals.  An active member of the Women’s Franchise League, she wrote and worked tirelessly in support of the Nineteenth Amendment.  In 1920, before the Amendment was ratified, she applied to have her name included on the ballot for delegate to the Republican State Convention.  She could not vote on her own behalf, but she asked others to vote for her. She was elected and became the only female delegate at the convention.  She has the distinction of being the first woman in Indiana to have her name appear on an official election ballot.

In addition to her political and journalistic interests, Esther was a great lover of the arts.  Frustrated at the level of entertainment available in Richmond in the early part of the century, she arranged to have such attractions as orchestras and famous lecturers come to Richmond.  She also amassed a large collection of paintings by noted local and Indiana artists as George Baker, John Elwood Bundy, and T. C. Steele, as well as those of her brother, Ray.

Writing poetry was another passion and one which complemented her journalistic writing.  She published at least three small collections of poems.  In 1910, another avocation, bookplate collecting, led her to publish a book on the topic.  Indiana Bookplates is a study of bookplates created by Indiana artists as well as those fashioned for famous Hoosiers.

For further reading see Dr. George Blakey’s article from the Indiana Magazine of History, Esther Griffin White: An Awakener of Hoosier Potential