Linna Saunders (1865 – 1944)

Linna Saunders was one of the leading civil rights activists and suffragists in New Haven County. She was born in December 1865 in Pennsylvania. In 1890, she married Canadian Judson Saunders from Nova Scotia, and they settled in New Haven, Connecticut. The Saunders lived on Harriett Street and were members of Temple Street Baptist Church and Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church.

Through her membership in the Twentieth Century Club and the Northeastern Federation of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Saunders became a towering figure in New Haven’s Black women’s club scene. In this capacity, her influence on the Federation’s Executive Board led to their advocacy for the suffrage movement and the long struggle for voting rights. She was also a devoted member of the New Haven Chapter of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP). She served on the Board of Directors of the Dixwell Community House. Saunders moved her family to Hamden, Connecticut, in 1920, and she remained active in New Haven politics until she died in 1944.

Back to: The Work Must Be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote

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