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Where are the Women: Examples from the LVA Collections
Property Rights


Shaping Public Opinion

Women's Organizations



Service to Country

Votes for Women


Where are the Women:
Examples from the LVA Collections



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Virginia’s property law permitted women to veto land transfers arranged by their husbands that involved their inheritance and dower rights. In her letter, Nancy Polk appealed to Governor Joseph Johnson to clarify her rights to land her husband, Daniel, was selling but that she believed was part of her inheritance from her father, William Armstrong. The Polks, married 11 February 1831, had separated, and Daniel was threatening to sell or rent fifty-nine acres, including a house in which Nancy and their five children lived. Governor Johnson never answered Nancy Polk’s letter. She died intestate in August 1858 and Daniel sold the land to his oldest daughter, Isabella.

Letter from Nancy Polk, Roanoke County, to Governor Joseph Johnson, Richmond. N.d. (received 6 September 1855). Manuscript. Letters Received, Office of the Governor, Executive Letter Books, 1848–1860. Library of Virginia.