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West Virginia Women's Suffrage Trail

Zone 3 of 10: Clarksburg

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Julia Slocum Walker Ruhl was president of the West Virginia State Federation of Clubs, president of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association (1917-1920), first chair of the West Virginia League of Women Voters (1920-1922), and the first West Virginia woman elected to a city council. She also taught for a period at Broaddus College and helped found the Clarksburg Public Library. 


Julia Ruhl

Forehead, Lip, Eyebrow, Eye

"WVESA Ratification Committee (Henrietta Romine, Cora Ebert, Julia Ruhl, Nancy Mann, Daisy Peadro, and Lenna Lowe Yost) with petitions for ratification. Huntington Advertiser, September 26, 1920"

Font, Art, Gesture, Event

The Fairmont West Virginian, November 21, 1917

Font, Material property, Publication, Paper

The Fairmont West Virginian, March 13, 1920

Publication, Font, Newspaper, Newsprint

Clarksburg City Directory, 1921

Font, Material property, Paper, Document

Clarksburg City Directory, 1921

Font, Material property, Parallel, Paper

Julia Walker Ruhl marker at Elkview Masonic Cemetery, Clarksburg

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Julia Slocum Walker was born on June 17, 1861 in Groton, CT to David and Mary Walker. She received her education at Mt. Holyoke College, Massachusetts and then moved to West Virginia to teach at Broaddus College (1881-1885). Walker married John L. Ruhl in 1890 and the couple had three children. Settling with her family in Clarksburg, Julia Ruhl helped found the Clarksburg Public Library and Clarksburg Women’s Club and was active in the YMCA auxiliary.

Julia Walker Ruhl was elected as president of the West Virginia State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1911 and served until 1914, then took the position of state secretary. She was a member of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association and in 1914 joined the Ratification Committee. Ruhl and her husband supported the 1916 referendum campaign for women’s suffrage, which ended in a defeat for West Virginia women.

In the wake of the 1916 referendum defeat, Julia W. Ruhl assumed the presidency of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association (WVESA). She assumed the position when West Virginia suffragists were demoralized, and the state movement largely diminished for the next year. Working with the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the WVESA turned their focus to supporting a federal amendment to secure women’s suffrage. When the Susan B. Anthony Amendment again went to the U.S. Congress in 1918 and 1919, the West Virginia movement revived. Ruhl led the WVESA through the ratification campaign of the 19th Amendment in 1920 and was the organization’s president when women gained the right to vote. With the suffrage victory, the WVESA disbanded in 1920 and transitioned over to the League of Women Voters. Ruhl was chosen as the first chair of the West Virginia League of Women Voters and served until 1922. In 1924, Julia W. Ruhl was the first women in West Virginia elected to a city council with her election to the Clarksburg City Council.

Julia Slocum Walker Ruhl died on June 2, 1956 at age 94 and is buried in Elkview Masonic Cemetery in Clarksburg, WV. 

1920; Census Place: Clarksburg Ward 1, Harrison, West Virginia; Roll: T625_1956; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 57. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Accessed February 25, 2022.

Clarksburg, West Virginia, City Directory, 1915. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed February 25, 2022.

Clarksburg, West Virginia, City Directory, 1921. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed February 25, 2022.

Effland, Anne Wallace. “The Woman Suffrage Movement in West Virginia, 1867-1920.” M. A. Thesis, West Virginia University, 1983.

“Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote.” A West Virginia Archives and history Online Exhibit. West Virginia Archives & History. http://129.71.204.160/history////exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrageintroductiontoc.html

Gonzalez, Suronda. “Biography of Julia Slocum Walker Ruhl, 1861-1956.” Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920. Accessed February 25, 2022. https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/d/1011167632.

“Women in the West Virginia Woman Suffrage Movement.” Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote. A West Virginia Archives and History Online Exhibit. Accessed February 25, 2022. http://129.71.204.160/history////exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffragewomen.html. 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"Julia Ruhl, The Silver Gleam, Sc2014-019, West Virginia State Archives." Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote. A West Virginia Archives and History Online Exhibit. Accessed February 25, 2022. http://archive.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage35.html.

"WVESA Ratification Committee (Henrietta Romine, Cora Ebert, Julia Ruhl, Nancy Mann, Daisy Peadro, and Lenna Lowe Yost) with petitions for ratification. Huntington Advertiser, September 26, 1920." Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote. A West Virginia Archives and History Online Exhibit. Accessed February 25, 2022. http://archive.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage71.html.

The West Virginian. [volume], November 21, 1917, Page PAGE 4, Image 4. Chronicling America. Accessed February 25, 2022. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1917-11-21/ed-1/seq-4/.

The West Virginian. [volume], March 13, 1920, Page PAGE 3, Image 3. Chronicling America. Accessed February 25, 2022. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1920-03-13/ed-1/seq-3/

Clarksburg, West Virginia, City Directory, 1915. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed February 25, 2022.

Clarksburg, West Virginia, City Directory, 1921. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed February 25, 2022.

"Julia Slocum Walker Ruhl." Find A Grave. Accessed February 25, 2022. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/163458163/julia-slocum-ruhl.