In Her Own Words: Remarkable Women in 20th-Century Florida

May Mann Jennings, 1872-1963

"I know you are disappointed that we did not pass the suffrage amendment…. Now we must work for a greater campaign for another two years. I dare say we shall have things in better shape at another time, and be sure we do not have men in the legislature who don't favor suffrage."

— May Mann Jennings [1]

As president of the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs (FFWC) from 1914 until 1917, May Mann Jennings used her political prowess to fight for causes including women’s suffrage, environmental conservation and prohibition.

In 1917, Jennings and her fellow Florida suffragists lobbied politicians to approve a suffrage bill, but they were unsuccessful.

One of her major accomplishments as president of the FFWC was the creation of Royal Palm State Park in 1916. Jennings used her network of women's club members to raise funds for park maintenance and frequently lobbied state politicians for more funds for the park. Royal Palm State Park would later form the nucleus of Everglades National Park, which was established in 1947 at the urging of Jennings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Ruth Bryan Owen and other Florida women.

Following her tenure as FFWC president, Jennings continued to dedicate her life to improving Florida by serving as the legislative chairperson for the Florida State League of Women Voters, campaigning to create the Florida Forestry Board and advocating for the establishment of the State Library of Florida.
Florida Federation of Women's Clubs meeting at the newly opened Royal Palm State Park lodge.

The Florida Federation of Women's Clubs meeting at the new Royal Palm State Park lodge, 1917.

Letter from May Mann Jennings to Members of the Florida Federation of Women's Club, 1930

A letter written by May Mann Jennings on June 14, 1930, calling upon members of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs to make donations for the upkeep of Royal Palm State Park. Jennings addresses Florida's financial woes and stresses the importance of funding and maintaining the park.

Letter from May Mann Jennings to Governor Millard Caldwell, 1945

A letter from May Mann Jennings to Florida Governor Millard Caldwell listing her qualifications to serve as managing director of the Florida Everglades National Park Commission, February 15, 1945.

More from Florida Memory
At the Archives
  • Governor Caldwell Correspondence, 1945-1949, Series S576, Box 25, State Archives of Florida.
  • Governor Carlton Correspondence, 1929-1933, Series S204, Box 78, State Archives of Florida.
  • Governor Shultz Correspondence, 1933-1937, Series S278, Boxes 41 and 42, State Archives of Florida.
  1. ^“Suffs Are Undaunted by the Recent Defeat,” The Miami Herald, May 1, 1917.