Katharine Benedicta Trotter Claypole, 1847 – 1901

Katherine B. Claypole, supporter of the early suffrage movement in Ohio, used her organizational skills to unite the women of Summit County.

Born near Gloucester, England, in 1847, Claypole came to America in her early 30s to help her cousin’s widower with his 2-year-old twin daughters, Edith and Agnes. She married Edward Waller Claypole in 1879, and they lived in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Professor Claypole was the chair of natural sciences at Antioch College.

Because her husband was renowned for his studies of armored fish, he was asked to join the staff of the geological survey of Pennsylvania as a paleontologist in 1881. Claypole moved again with her family in 1883, this time to Akron, where her husband served as chair of natural sciences at Buchtel College (now The University of Akron).

During this time, Claypole was appointed the 4th vice president of the Woman’s Suffrage Association of Ohio. She also became interested in uniting several smaller women’s clubs in Akron. She believed that there would be a stronger sense of purpose in the community if they joined together. As a result of her leadership, the Akron Women’s Council was formed in November 1893, with Claypole serving as the organization’s first president until 1897.

The Akron Women’s Council was one of only eight similar organizations in the U. S. at that time, but Claypole had seen the effectiveness of such alliances while living in Europe. She is quoted as saying, “Akron women [are] among the first in advancing woman’s work.”

Claypole was also instrumental in organizing the New Century Club in 1893, and worked with Laura (Mrs. Elias) Fraunfelter to organize the Columbian Club. Members of this club painted and did needlework to display in the women’s building at the Columbia exhibit that year.

Because her husband taught at Buchtel College and the twins attended classes there, Claypole’s home was often open to students. In 1898, Professor and Mrs. Claypole moved to Pasadena, Calif., because of her health and both died within a few weeks of each other in August 1901.

After her death, the members of the Akron Women’s Council established a student loan fund in her memory. The Katherine Claypole Student Loan Fund was set up because “those who knew and loved Mrs. Claypole delight in honoring her memory in this most appropriate method of service.”

Photo of the Claypole family courtesy of The University of Akron Archives.

–Penny Fox