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Lenna Lowe Yost


Activist Lenna Lowe Yost (January 25, 1878-May 7, 1972) held key leadership roles in the woman’s suffrage movement and Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). She was born in Basnettville, Marion County, graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and, in 1899, married Ellis Asby Yost. She was the sister-in-law of West Virginia University football player and University of Michigan football head coach Fielding Yost.

Yost was the state president of the WCTU (1908–18), state legislative chair of the West Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs (1915), president of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association (1917–19), legislative representative for the national WCTU (1918), and Washington correspondent for the national WCTU’s Union Signal (1919–30). She lobbied Congress to adopt the 19th Amendment, providing the vote to women, and in 1920 successfully chaired the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association Ratification Committee.

Yost represented the United States at international congresses against alcoholism in 1921 (Switzerland) and 1923 (Denmark). She was the first woman to hold a variety of positions within the state’s Republican Party, directed the Women’s Division of the national Republican Party (1930–34), lobbied to build the Federal Prison for Women in Alderson, and was the first woman on the State Board of Education (1920s–’30s) and the West Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees (1927–42). She spearheaded efforts to build Elizabeth Moore Hall at West Virginia University and to get the American Association of University Women to recognize the state’s colleges. Yost died in Washington.

Written by Barbara J. Howe


  1. Effland, Anne Wallace. Lenna Lowe Yost, 1878-1972. Missing Chapters. Charleston: West Virginia Women Commission & the Humanities Foundation of West Virginia, 1983.