Emma Guy Cromwell

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Emma Guy Cromwell
58th Secretary of State of Kentucky
In office
January 1, 1924 – January 1, 1928
Governor William J. Fields
Preceded by Fred A.Vaughn
Succeeded by Ella Lewis
21st Treasurer of Kentucky
In office
January 1, 1928 – January 1, 1932
Governor Flem D. Sampson
Preceded by Edward Blan Dishman
Succeeded by Elam Huddleston
Personal details
Born September 28, 1865
Simpson County, Kentucky
Died July 19, 1952 (aged 86)
Frankfort, Kentucky
Spouse(s) William F. Cromwell
Children William Foree
Parents Benjamin Ashley (or Ashley Duncan) Guy and Alice (Quisenberry) Guy
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation state librarian and director of archives, state bond commissioner, parks director, state treasurer

Emma Guy Cromwell (September 28, 1865 – July 19, 1952) was a suffragist, women's rights activist, and early female Democratic Party politician from Kentucky in the United States. Cromwell became the first woman to hold a statewide office in Kentucky when she was elected state librarian in 1896 by a vote of the Kentucky State Senate.[1][2][3] In 1923, Cromwell was elected Secretary of State of Kentucky in an elections against two other females. She went on to be elected Kentucky State Treasurer in 1927, and because of her conservative handling of state money, which was heavily criticized at the time, Kentucky's state funds remained secure during the Great Depression.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Emma Guy, the daughter of Ashley and Alice (Quisenberry) Guy, was born on September 28, 1865, in Simpson County, Kentucky (or Allen County). She had one sister and two brothers.[3]

Emma attended Howard Female College at Gallatin in Sumner County, Tennessee. Later she studied parliamentary procedures at the University of Michigan.[3]

Emma married Frankfort, Kentucky attorney William F. Cromwell on May 30, 1897 in a church ceremony in Bowling Green, Kentucky. William Cromwell was Chief Clerk of the prior State Legislative session.[5] They had one son William Foree Cromwell. Her husband died in 1909.[3]

Political career[edit]

In 1896, Guy was appointed by the Kentucky General Assembly for the position of State Librarian making her the first female to hold a position in a Kentucky State Office.[3] She made a career in State government and held a variety of positions over the years. From 1916 to 1918 she was enrolling clerk for the Kentucky House of Representatives. In 1922 she was parliamentarian for the Kentucky House and Senate.[3]

In 1918 Cromwell published Cromwell's Compendium of Parliamentary Law.[3] In 1939, Cromwell published her autobiography, Woman in Politics.[3]

In 1923, Cromwell was elected Kentucky Secretary of State in an elections against two other females. She held the office from January 1, 1924 until January 1, 1928.[2] Cromwell discovered the records of previous administrations in the Capitol basement, and retrieved and categorized them.[3]

Cromwell was the first woman to serve as acting governor when the two other officials in the line of succession were absent from Kentucky while attending the Democratic National Convention.[3]

Cromwell went on to be elected Kentucky State Treasurer in 1927, and because of her conservative handling of state money, which was heavily criticized at the time, Kentucky 's state funds remained secure during the Great Depression.

Cromwell was appointed Kentucky State Park Director in 1932.[3]

In 1937 she was named State Librarian and Director of Archives, and arranged for the return of the Kentucky state constitution from the University of Chicago Archives.[3]

Later life and death[edit]

Cromwell continued to be active in Democratic Party politics until she fell and broke a hip in 1949. Cromwell died on July 19, 1952 of medical complications following a stroke. She is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery, in Frankfort Kentucky.[3]


Cromwell was one of seventeen women given a place of honor in the Kentucky State Capital when their portraits were placed in a permanent display called "Kentucky Women Remembered".[6]

"Emma's List", a new Political Action Committee created in 1993 to raise funds for female's campaigning for a Kentucky State office, was named in honor of Emma Cromwell.[7]


  • Cromwell, Emma Guy (1920). Citizenship: A Manual for Voters. Frankfort, Kentucky: Emma Guy Cromwell. 
  • Cromwell, Emma Guy (1939). Woman in Politics. Louisville, Kentucky: Standard Printing Co. 
  • Hanly, Rebecca S. (Summer 2001). "Emma Guy Cromwell and Mary Elliott Flannery: Pioneers for Women in Kentucky Politics". Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. 99: 287‐301. 
  • Research journal posts about Emma Guy Cromwell in History of Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era, University of Kentucky


  1. ^ Crowe-Carracco, Carol (1992). John E. Kleber, ed. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. p. 243. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Step Higher! Woman Climbs to Office of Secretary of State". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida: The Evening Independent. December 11, 1923. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Secretary of State: Emma Guy Cromwell". Kentucky Secretary of State. Frankfort, Kentucky: Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Public Service: Emma Guy Cromwell". Women in Kentucky. Frankfort, Kentucky: The Kentucky Commission on Women. June 8, 2004. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "People We All Know, Local Doings Dashed with Personal Gossip, Marriages Galore". Daily Kentucky New Era. Hopkinsville, Kentucky: Kentucky New Era. May 29, 1897. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "Capitol Display Honors Women From KY.'s Past". Lexington Herald-Leader. Lexington, Kentucky: Lexington Herald-Leader/The McClatchy Company. 26 March 1996. pp. C1. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Emma's List is Hoping to Increase State Rankings". Kentucky New Era. Hopkinsville, Kentucky: Kentucky New Era. 18 May 1993. p. 13. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Fred A. Vaughn
Secretary of State of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Ella Lewis
Preceded by
Edward Blan Dishman
Treasurer of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Elam Huddleston