The Antelope Valley has seen numerous strong women contribute their lives to various efforts regarding conservation and human rights. Katherine Philips Edson (1870 - 1933) was one such woman. Katherine is considered to be one of the earliest grassroots activists of the Antelope Valley.
Originally, Katherine was a fairly prominent opera singer and musician, eventually evolving into a suffragette and social reformer. She moved to the Lancaster area with her husband, Charles Edson, and his family in 1891. Their stay here was supposed to be short-lived, but the birth of their daughter, Katharane, in 1892 ultimately made them decide to stay more long-term.
The Edsons, with the help of other locals, established the Antelope Valley's first social and cultural club in 1891, as a chapter of the national Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. The goal of the group was to provide an avenue for people of different backgrounds to discuss current and historic events. Katherine is also responsible for implementing several different "female round-ups", which acted as a gathering for local women to discuss the problems they faced.
Katherine wrote an 1895 "Woman's Column", included in the Antelope Valley Gazette, campaigning for women's right to vote and discussing various social reform issues.
After leaving the Antelope Valley for Los Angeles in 1899, Katherine became a political campaigner working for public health issues, women's suffrage, and minimum-wage legislation for California women, among a variety of other platforms. She also helped to establish the California League of Women Voters.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"