Jennie Carolyn Van Ness

Biography of Jennie Carolyn Van Ness

Jennie Carolyn (Sullivan) Van Ness (August 27, 1879 – September 15, 1967) was a leader in the women's suffrage and Prohibition movements in New Jersey. She was one of the first two women to serve in the New Jersey Legislature, elected in 1920 as a Republican.

Jennie Carolyn Sullivan was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1879, the daughter of John and Caroline Sullivan. She married Frank W. Van Ness, a businessman, and they settled in East Orange, New Jersey, where they raised three daughters.

Van Ness worked as a substitute teacher at East Orange High School and was an active local civic organizer. She also joined the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association (NJWSA), a group founded by Lucy Stone and other New Jersey suffragists in 1867. Van Ness ran the NJWSA's citizenship schools, which sought to educate women throughout the state in government and politics. In April 1920, when the NJWSA was reorganized as the New Jersey League of Women Voters, she was made a regional director and also chaired a board to draw up a state program on legislative issues.

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