By Chris Cardona and Jane Bunn, undergraduates, Saint Anselm College
Mary Darrow Weible was born in Fargo, North Dakota on October 21, 1881 to a well-known family that contributed greatly to the arts, medicine, education, and woman’s suffrage. Mary Darrow’s father, Dr. Edward M. Darrow, was North Dakota’s first Superintendent of Public Health and the founder of Fargo’s first hospital. Her mother, Clara Darrow, was an advocate for woman’s suffrage all her life. After attending school in Fargo, Mary Darrow enrolled in the North Dakota Agricultural College and graduated with a degree in chemistry. In June of 1905, Mary Darrow married Ralph E. Weible, a well-established doctor. They had four children: David, Ralph, Agnes, and Clara.
Throughout Mary Weible’s life, she was incredibly active in community affairs and served as a leader on issues such as woman’s rights, cultural programs, education, and even health standards. Her involvement in woman’s suffrage, however, was perhaps her most renowned area of leadership. Mary Weible was active in the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) where she served as the Vice President of the Legislative Committee and the Publicity Chairman for NAWSA. Furthermore, she served as a delegate from North Dakota to their national convention for many years. She also worked as Secretary for the Votes for Women League in Fargo. Interestingly, Mary’s mother, Clara, served as President of the League in Fargo for many years. The committee that Mary and Clara were on was responsible for introducing a resolution that submitted a suffrage amendment to the voters of North Dakota through the legislature.
Mary Weible’s involvement with NAWSA and the Votes for Women League put her on the frontlines of fighting for the right to vote. Mary marched with numerous other suffragists at the White House on March 4, 1917, an extremely cold and windy day. As they tried to keep their banners dry, Mary and the other suffragists stayed during the storm in order to persuade the guards to let them meet President Woodrow Wilson. The Suffragist March 10, 1917 indicates that she was a member of the NWP Executive Board in N.D. When women were finally granted the right to vote through the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Mary was still not done with her service to her community. After fighting for the right to vote, Mary Weible established North Dakota’s first public kindergarten and was active in education for many years. She was also a member of the Edwin Booth Drama Club at North Dakota State University (the college’s new name after 1960), where she was active in the theatrical community for a long time. She was given an alumni achievement award at NDSU for all her work in the community as well as her work nationally for women’s suffrage. In 1963, she had a dormitory named after her in honor of her work at NDSU.
On March 4, 1965, after decades of service to her community and her country, Mary Darrow Weible passed away at the age of 84 in Fargo. She is buried in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Lakewood Cemetery.
Information concerning Mary Darrow Weible’s birth date, place of birth, educational background, family, and community participation can be found at inforum.com, “Mary Weible Fulfilled Her Ideals,” at http://www.inforum.com/content/mary-weible-fulfilled-her-ideals. Information detailing the Darrow family’s contributions to Fargo and North Dakota in the arts, medicine, education, and women’s suffrage can found in the Bismarck Tribune under the title “Dr. Darrow's family had impact on N.D.” http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/eriksmoen-column-dr-darrow-s-family-had-impact-on-n/article_1cdc4259-89cc-545c-923c-ad6576f82859.html. Information regarding Mrs. Darrow’s involvement with woman’s suffrage and multiple woman’s suffrage organizations can be found in The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6:941, accessed at: http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/ida-husted-harper/the-history-of-woman-suffrage-volume-vi-904/page-48-the-history-of-woman-suffrage-volume-vi-904.shtml. Furthermore, texts relating to Darrow’s activities with NAWSA and Votes for Women League are mentioned along with members of her family that were involved with the suffrage movement at: https://htext.stanford.edu/dd-ill/womansuffrage.pdf. See “Part IV: Directory of Leading Women’s Organizations Doing Defense Work,” where her position is listed. American Women and the World War by Ida Clyde Gallagher Clarke also discusses her home state of North Dakota and Weible’s involvement with multiple organizations that goes beyond her pre-1920 suffrage work. In Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens, the book mentions how Mary Darrow Weible was one of the suffrage organizers who marched on Washington D.C. to the White House and persuaded the guards that she wished to speak to President Woodrow Wilson. In the WorldCat database, information concerning Mary Darrow is uncovered through her involvement with the Fargo Theatre House and other activities at NDSU; see: http://worldcat.org/title/collection-of-papers-1894-1956/oclc/28409140&referer=brief_results. Furthermore, Mary’s history of community involvement and why there was a Dormitory named after her at NDSU is described at: https://www.ndsu.edu/reslife/residence_hall_information/weible_hall/.