She was born as Carrie Lane in Wisconsin on January 9, 1859. When she was 7, her family moved to Iowa. There she began preparatory schooling, and in 1880, she graduated from Iowa State College at the top of her class. The next year she became a high school principal, and then, in 1883, Carrie became the first woman to be appointed superintendant of schools.
In 1885, she married Leo Chapman, the editor and publisher of the Mason City Republican. The following year he died in San Francisco where he had gone to seek new employment. Carrie, far from home with few resources, landed on her feet by obtaining a job as the city's first female newspaper reporter. Then, in 1887, she moved back to Iowa. There she joined the Iowa Women's Suffrage Association and began a new phase in her life. From 1890-1892 she served as the association's state organizer.
In 1890, Carrie married George Catt, and until his death in 1905, he supported her work financially and with his personal support of suffrage. Their marriage allowed her to spend a good part of the year traveling and campaigning for women's suffrage. She quickly rose in rank and became a close colleague of Susan B. Anthony. In fact, she was asked by Susan to address Congress on the proposed suffrage amendment and later, in 1900, recommended Carrie to succeed her as the president of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In 1904, Carrie resigned her position. George had serious health problems, and she spent her time nursing him. He died in 1905, followed by Susan B. Anthony is 1906; a grief-stricken Carrie spent the next nine years traveling and promoting suffrage rights worldwide.
Then, in 1915, she returned to the United States and resumed leadership of NAWSA. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment officially became part of the United States Constitution...144 years after United States independence from England. Women were, at last, guaranteed the right to vote.
Carrie stepped down from the presidency after the victory, but continued her work for equal suffrage. She founded the new League of Women Voters and served as its president for the rest of her life. In the same year, she also ran as a presidential candidate. Later, she founded and served as chairperson of the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War which became the largest of the women's peace groups during the 1920's. She also actively supported the League of Nations and later, the United Nations.
Carrie died of a heart attack on March 9, 1947 in New Rochelle New York. She was 88 years old. She had always believed that it was a woman's natural right to participate in politics on an equal basis with men, and she fought for us with everything that she had to give. Another of her goals was world peace, a cause she pursued throughout her life. She is buried at Woodlawn Cemetary in the Bronx, New York. She had no children.