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Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn

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FEBRUARY 2, 1878–MARCH 17, 1951

Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1878. She was a women’s rights activist. Hepburn became involved with women’s rights causes after moving to Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband. In 1909, she became a full-time activist and founded a group called the Hartford Equal Franchise League, which was later absorbed into the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. Under Hepburn’s leadership, the CWSA became one of the most active chapters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, its membership growing to over 20,000 people. Hepburn eventually resigned from the CWSA to join Alice Paul’s National Woman’s Party in support of its 1917 picketing of the White House. Hepburn was also a supporter of women’s right to have access to birth control, which was illegal at the time. She and Margaret Sanger cofounded the American Birth Control League, which eventually became Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit providing reproductive healthcare still, operating today.

Hepburn spent most of her life after the suffrage movement continuing to advocate for women’s reproductive rights, working as an activist for many more decades. Her daughter, also named Katharine, became the Academy Award-winning actress Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn died in 1951 at age 73.

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