My Contribution: I was an educated and articulate physician, who spoke up for the freedom of African Americans in Harrisburg and the political and social rights of women. I broke ground as the first woman accepted into the Medical Society of Dauphin County and gained a reputation as a respected physician. I was an active community organizer and a Sunday school teacher, who started the local chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and worked for the underprivileged in society.
My Legacy: I provide an example of someone who’s will to serve affected great change. My role in working for change for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in the city went hand in hand with my work as a suffragist and with benevolent causes. I worked alongside and lectured with the likes of Sojourner Truth, Frances Harper, Julia Howe, and William Lloyd Garrison.
About Me: “At a time in the history of this century, when to be recognized as an anti-slavery man or woman was to subject one’s self to persecution and often to physical danger, and then to declare one’s self in sympathy with equal political and civil rights for women, was to become socially anathematized, it required no small amount of moral courage in the young matron upon her return home, to prove her ‘faith by works’. But she was equal to the demands of the hour. Firing a few souls with her own lofty zeal, and laughing at all her obstacles, she brought successively to Harrisburg these sturdy pioneers of our latter-day glory, and helped them to sow the seed of a higher patriotism in the conservative capital of Pennsylvania.” Harrisburg Daily Independent, December 5, 1895.
In My Words: “You say a man has inherent rights. Why has a woman no inherent rights? I say if a man has, a woman has…some of us will no longer be imposed upon; we would rather deny ourselves that sweetest of all elements, the bliss of love, than sacrifice a principle.” May 25, 1870.
Full Name: Agnes Kemp
Birth Date: ca. 1823
Death Date: May 20, 1908
Place of Birth: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Places of Residence: Harrisburg: 207 N. 2nd Street, Liberty Street, and 2nd Street; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Zurich, Switzerland; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Worked with the leaders of the Eighth Ward to promote abolitionism and voting rights for women.
Family Members: Father: Anthony Nininger (1816-1868). Mother: Catharine May Nininger (died when Agnes was an infant). Brother: John Nininger. Husband: M1: Colonel William Saunders, died. Husband: M2: Joseph Kemp (18600. Children: Marie Antoinette Kemp, and two children who died in infancy.
Education: Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, 1879; spoke French and German.
Occupations: Physician and Doctor (M.D.). Activist. Writer. Orator.
Church Membership: Market Square Presbyterian Church.
Activism: Dedicated to temperance, virtuous living, and women’s suffrage; spoke at the celebration of the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment in Harrisburg; gave Wildwood Park to the city of Harrisburg; selected as delegate to Women’s National Council in Washington D.C. 1899; abolitionist; founded Magdalene asylums, home for women, and Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Harrisburg.
Connections: Francis Harper.