Kate F. O'Connor A Story to Share - New Summer 2017 Exhibit

Kate F. O'Conner a native of Rockford, Illinois was the youngest of Cornelius and Mary O'Connor's eight children. After graduating from Rockford H.S. she studied at Chicago's Academy of Fine Arts. As a business woman Kate interacted well in the Rockford community and was respected by community business men she interacted with. She attended St. James Catholic Church, Girl Scouts, Young Women's Christian Association and Rockford Riding Club. The Irish Gallery exhibits many of Kate O'Connor's achievements listed as follows:
  • 1882 Kate was appointed Deputy to the County Clerk with Illinois Governor Ogilsby making her a notary public four years later
  • Kate's service as Winn. Co. Deputy Clerk continued for sixteen years
  • Then she opened her own Rockford office to provide services in pension, probate law, insurance, govt. claims and real estate. She fought for Civil War soldiers and widows to receive husband's pensions.
  • Ms O'Connor continued as a leader for passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 
  • 1898 Kate moved her succesul real estate office from Rockford to Chicago to Detroit. In Detroit she was vice-president of Woman's Association of Commerce assisting with immigration and labor issues for women and girls in the state.
  • After the death of Kate's niece she moved back to Rockford at her sister's urging.
  • In 1920 Carie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Women Suffrage Association presented her with a certificate extolling her work as a pioneer for the cause of woman suffrage.
  • 1921 Kate joined the local Business & Professional Woman's Club to give support for Rockford teachers dispute over equal pay for female teachers. Made honorary Kate was then appointed to serve on the Board of Education. After one year she resigned and became credited with persuading passage of many Illinois state laws aiding working women and minors.
  • After Illinois passed suffrage to women Kate became a Charter Member of the Illinois League of Women Voters. She was honorary member of the Steamfitters & Plumbers Unions, chairwoman of transpotation for the General Federation of Women's Clubs and served as membership chairwoman for the IllinoisWoman's Press Association where she remained an active member for years.
  • Governor Henry Horner appointed her Supervisor of the Women's and Children's division of the Ill. Department of Labor in 1933. She became responsible for new wage scales for women and minors in various businesses. 
  • In months before her death, she resigned as president of the Chicago Lodge, No. 648 American Federation of Government Employees and had been president for life.
This exhibit coincides with an additional new League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford display in an adjacent museum space. The LWV exhibit showcases Rockford women and their contributions to the suffragist movement and efforts of promoting Getting Out The Vote in Rockford for all residents. Many of these women went on to serve as State Senators and community leaders. The Rockford League is celebrating its 95th Anniversary and will be scheduling a reception for this occasion at Ethnic Heritage Museum.