Caroline Spencer, MD

Dr. Caroline E. Spencer was a bold and courageous leader of the early twentieth century women’s rights movement. Although a licensed physician, her heart’s desire was to correct women’s political and economic inequalities. She organized and managed the radical wing of the women’s suffrage movement in Colorado.

Dr. Spencer made Colorado Springs her home from 1893 until near her death from tuberculosis in 1928. Despite a debilitating illness, Dr. Spencer became a community leader and an activist for reform in local political and cultural affairs. She was a founding member of the Women’s Club of Colorado Springs in 1902 and of the Civic League in 1909. By 1913, Dr. Spencer was among the most significant regional and national leaders of Alice Paul’s Congressional Union/National Woman’s Party.

Dr. Spencer displayed great courage by forcibly and publicly demanding gender equality. In 1916, she appeared with banners, interrupting the political speeches of William Jennings Bryan in Colorado Springs and of President Woodrow Wilson as he addressed Congress in Washington, D.C. Her banners asked what the men would do for women’s suffrage. Between 1917 and 1919, she picketed the White House for the passage of the 19th amendment, for which she was three times arrested and twice imprisoned. These events helped to publicize the demand for the federal suffrage amendment.

Determined to secure the right to vote for females, Dr. Spencer devoted her energy, time, and resources, and risked her life as a picket, to force the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enfranchising women.