Women in the late nineteenth century did not have many opportunities to hold public offices. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) opened the door for women to gain leadership skills and become officers. UDC members selected officers for national, state, and local chapter positions. Like the membership guidelines, UCD established firm rules for elections, term limits, and officer duties in the organization’s constitution. Officer positions included President, Senior and Vice-Presidents, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, Historian, and Chaplain. Each position held specific responsibilities. Women elected fellow members based on democratic guidelines. From Article V, Section 3 of the Louisville based Albert Sydney Johnston Chapter Constitution: “Nominations of candidates for office shall be made from the floor. The election shall be by ballot, and the one receiving the majority of votes cast shall be declared elected. No voting by proxy allowed.”
The native Kentucky founder, Caroline Goodlett, became the first national president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Other Kentucky women also became important figures in the hierarchy of UCD like May M. Faris McKinney. She hailed from Paducah, KY and held the position of chapter president there and the state division presidency. At the national level, McKinney worked at Recording Secretary General and chairman of several committees. In 1919, the organization’s members elected her President General, the highest office available.