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Ida Husted Harper

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ida Husted Harper
"A woman of the century"
"A woman of the century"
Born I da A. Husted
February 18, 1851
Franklin County, Indiana, U.S.
Died March 14, 1931(1931-03-14) (aged 80)
Occupation author, journalist, suffragist
Language English
Nationality American
Alma mater Muncie Central High School, Indiana University
Genre biographies
Thomas Winans Harper
(m. 1871; div. 1890)

Ida Husted Harper (February 18, 1851 – March 14, 1931) was an American author, journalist, columnist, and suffragist. A prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement in the U.S., she wrote columns on women's issues for newspapers and handled press relations for several suffrage campaigns. She wrote a three-volume biography of suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony at Anthony's request. Harper and Anthony together wrote the fourth volume of the History of Woman Suffrage, a project that Harper completed by writing the fifth and sixth volumes herself after Anthony's death.

For a number of years after marriage she did a considerable amount of writing. For a dozen years, she conducted a department in the Terre Haute, Indiana Saturday Evening Mail, that discussed the questions of the day and was widely copied. During that time, Harper traveled extensively and corresponded for a large number of papers, including the Christian Union, Western Christian Advocate, Advance, Chicago Inter Ocean, Chicago Times, the Detroit Free Press," the Toledo Blade, the Boston Evening Traveller, The Cleveland Leader, the Indianapolis Journal and the Terre Haute Gazette and Express. For ten years, she edited a woman's department in the Locomotive Firemen's Magazine. In 1889, she decided to make literature a profession. She was at once invited to an editorial position on the Terre Haute Evening News. In a short time, she was made managing editor by the directors, one of the first instance on record of a woman occupying the position of managing editor on a political daily paper. She carried the paper through the hottest municipal campaign ever known in that city, making up an independent ticket from the best men on the other tickets. She wrote every line of the editorials and dictated the policy of the paper throughout the canvass, and every man on the ticket was elected. At the end of a year, she was called to a place on the editorial staff of the Indianapolis News, which she filled for two years. Socially, Harper was very popular. Her family consisted of one daughter. She was conspicuous among the advocates of woman suffrage, being secretary of the Indiana National Woman Suffrage Association.[1]

Early years

Ida A. Husted was born in 1851 in Fairfield Township, Franklin County, Indiana. Of New England parentage,[1] she was the daughter of John Arthur Husted and Cassandra Stoddard. When she was ten years old, her family moved to Muncie, Indiana in search of a better school system. She showed in childhood a remarkable memory and marked literary talent. Her education was almost wholly received in private schools, although she was graduated in the public high school[1] in 1868, and entered Indiana University as a sophomore.[2]



She left Indiana University in 1869 at the age of eighteen to become the principal of the high school in Peru, Indiana.[2]

Ida Harper
Ida Harper

In 1871, she married Thomas Winans Harper (1847–1908) of Terre Haute, Indiana, who went on to become the city attorney and the chief legal counsel for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, a trade union whose main officer was Eugene V. Debs, a socialist leader who also lived in Terre Haute.[3] Despite her husband's disapproval, she began writing articles for the Terre Haute Saturday Evening Mail and several Indianapolis newspapers under a male pseudonym.[2] Later, under her own name, she wrote a column for the Terre Haute newspaper called "A Woman's Opinions". Her column included topics that were traditional for women's columns, such as food and fashion, but they also discussed women's rights.[4] From 1883 to 1894, at the invitation of Debs, she wrote a monthly column called "The Woman's Department" for the magazine of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen.[5]

In 1878, Harper met Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), when she spoke in Terre Haute under Debs' sponsorship. The NWSA was one of two rival women's suffrage organizations that later merged into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) under Anthony's leadership. In 1887, Harper served as secretary of the Indiana chapter of the NWSA. In that capacity she coordinated thirteen district conventions in a drive for the passage of a state bill to allow women to vote in municipal elections.[6]

At her initiative, Harper and her husband divorced in 1890.[7] Two weeks later, she became the managing editor of the Terre Haute Daily News. She stayed in that position for only a few months, a period during which she and the newspaper successfully supported a slate of reform candidates in the city election.[8] She left that job to move to Indianapolis to be with her daughter Winifred, who was going to May Wright Sewall's Girls' Classical School, which offered rigorous college preparatory courses. Sewall, its principal, was also chair of the NWSA's executive committee. Harper joined the editorial staff of the Indianapolis News, a newspaper to which she contributed long after she left Indiana.[9]


In 1893, Harper moved to California to be with her daughter while she was attending Stanford University. Harper also enrolled at Stanford but did not earn a degree.[2]} In 1896, Anthony placed Harper in charge of press relations for the NAWSA's campaign for a women's suffrage amendment in California.[10] Harper also began to assist Anthony with her writing. Anthony praised Harper, saying, "The moment I give the idea—the point—she formulates it into a good sentence—while I should have to haggle over it half an hour."[11]

New York

In 1897, Anthony asked Harper to write her biography. Harper moved into Anthony's home in Rochester, New York, to sort through her papers and distill them into what eventually became a three-volume biography. According to Harper, Anthony's papers occupied "two large rooms filled, from floor to ceiling".[12] Working directly with Anthony, Harper published the first two volumes of the biography in 1898, and a third volume in 1908, after Anthony's death. Harper also worked with Anthony to publish the fourth volume of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage in 1902.[2]

From 1899 to 1902, Harper was in charge of the press committee of the International Council of Women, which Anthony had been instrumental in creating, and wrote articles for International Suffrage News, which was published in Europe.[2] In 1910, she became head of the NAWSA's national press bureau in New York City, supplying information and developing a market for articles about women's suffrage in magazines and newspapers around the country.[2] Harper continued to write for newspapers in several major cities, including a woman's column in The New York Sun from 1899 to 1903 and a women's page in Harper's Bazaar from 1909 to 1913. She also lectured around the country and testified in favor of women's suffrage before several congressional committees.[2]

Washington, D.C.

In 1916, she moved to Washington, D.C., to take charge of the Editorial Correspondence department of the Leslie Bureau of Suffrage Education (a part of the NAWSA's Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission), which strove to improve public understanding of the women's suffrage movement. Her department was responsible for responding to a steady stream of newspaper editorials about women's suffrage from all over the country, praising the editors when they supported suffrage and trying to answer their objections when they opposed it.[13] In 1922, after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed the right of women to vote, Harper published the fifth and sixth volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage.

Personal life

Harper was a Unitarian by religious affiliation.[9] An active member of the American Association of University Women, she made her home in the last years of her life in that organization's headquarters building in Washington. She died in Washington on March 14, 1931.[2] The Ida Husted Harper papers are held as a collection by Archives & Manuscripts Division of the New York Public Library.[14]

Selected works

Major works

Booklets and other

  • The Associated Work of the Women of Indiana (1893)
  • Suffrage A Right (1906)
  • Woman Suffrage Throughout the World (1907)
  • A Brief History of the Movement for Woman Suffrage in the United States (1907)
  • How Six States Won Woman Suffrage (1912)
  • Suffrage Snapshots (1915)
  • A National Amendment for Woman Suffrage (1915)
  • Story of the National Amendment for Woman Suffrage (1919)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Willard & Livermore 1893, p. 358.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Garraty & Carnes 1999, p. 126.
  3. ^ Jones, p. 82
  4. ^ Jones, pp. 82–83
  5. ^ Jones, p. 79
  6. ^ Jones, pp. 97–98
  7. ^ Jones, p. 88
  8. ^ Jones, p. 96
  9. ^ a b James, James & Boyer 1971, p. 55.
  10. ^ Jones, p. 98
  11. ^ Quoted in Opdycke
  12. ^ Harper, Ida Husted (1898–1908), Vol. 2, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, p. 909
  13. ^ Harper, Ida Husted, ed. (1922), Vol. 5, History of Woman Suffrage, National American Woman Suffrage Association, printed by J. J. Little and Ives, New York, pp. 527–528, 570–571. Opdycke says Harper was in charge of the entire Leslie Bureau, but that is contradicted by Harper herself in this cited work (which was written by Harper), which says that Rose Emmet Young was the bureau's director.
  14. ^ "Ida Husted Harper papers". Retrieved 24 September 2018.



External links

This page was last edited on 24 September 2018, at 00:20
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