DIGGS, ANNIE (1848-1916)
Annie LePorte Diggs played a prominent role as a Kansas-based journalist, orator, and political organizer for women's suffrage, the Farmers Alliance, the Populist (People's) Party, and many other causes. The thread that joined all the causes together was her quest for a more equitable distribution of wealth and power.
Born in London, Ontario, on February 22, 1848, and raised in New Jersey, Annie moved to Kansas in 1873. She soon married, bore three children, and found she needed employment to supplement the family income. She chose newspaper work, which threw her among all classes of people. Although she entered the political arena via temperance and religion, a trip to Boston in 1881 convinced her that the reforms she sought were more economic than moral. The Boston trip also marked the beginning of her pattern of leaving Kansas to research social issues, give speeches, and write articles for local and national publications, and then returning to Kansas to organize for major political campaigns.
From the 1880s to 1912, when Kansas finally ratified the women's suffrage amendment, Annie was a leader in the suffrage struggle. For the Farmers Alliance she wrote and lectured on the themes of money, transportation, and land, and pushed for farmers and workers to form a national third party. Her hard work in the development of the Populist Party culminated in her appointment as Kansas State Librarian (1898-1902), the most important governmental office assigned to a Kansas woman by that date. Even after the Populist Party died, she remained committed to its principle of public ownership of public utilities and its mission of bringing justice to the dealings between owners and workers in the realm of industry. Annie Diggs died in Detroit on September 7, 1916.
Joan Stone University of Kansas
Clanton, O. Gene. Kansas Populism. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1969.
Weddle, Connie Andes. "The Platform and the Pen: The Reform Activities of Annie Diggs." Master's thesis, Wichita State University, 1979.