By Merritt Peterson, Undergraduate, Loyola University Chicago
Mrs. Valentine Winters was born as Helen Wood Clegg in Dayton, Ohio on December 6, 1867 to Charles B. Clegg and Harriet Clegg (Pease). Clegg married Valentine Winters, Jr. of Dayton, Ohio on February 28, 1889. The marriage brought together two of the wealthiest and oldest families in the Miami Valley. They spent the remainder of their lives together in Dayton, raising three children: Valentine III, Harriet Helen, and Jonathan Harshman. Valentine Winters III passed away less than three months after his birth.
Winters’s most significant roles in the suffrage movement were her positions as a leader of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and as the Ohio Chairman for the National Woman’s Party (NWP). While both organizations fought for suffrage, the National Woman’s Party focused on passing an amendment to the United States Constitution. Winters’s break from NAWSA in favor of the more radical National Woman’s Party is particularly remarkable because she had previously been associated with conservative political organizations. The party’s ideals, history and members can be found in its newspaper, The Suffragist. Winters was present at the suffrage parade organized by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns in Washington, D.C. on March 3, 1913. Her activities with Paul continued through the establishment of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) in 1916; Winters served as chair of the Ohio NWP.
Winters’ efforts did not end at the ratification of the 19th amendment; she remained active in the NWP into the 1930s. She, along with other suffragists such as Jane Norman Smith, Doris Stevens of New York and Muna Lee of Puerto Rico were present at the Sixth Pan-American Conference in Havana, Cuba to fight for the rights of women throughout the Americas in 1928. In 1933, at the seventh Pan-American Conference in Montevideo, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Cuba all signed the equal rights treaty drafted by Alice Paul. As a result of its global impact, the Pan-American conference effort is likely Mrs. Valentine Winters’ most significant achievement of her later years.
Winters was involved in several other organizations in her hometown of Dayton. She was director and life member of the Montgomery Humane Society. At the American Humane Society convention in Cincinnati she took a very active part in its proceedings. Winters was also a member of the Montgomery County Suffrage Association, Christ Episcopal Church, Mozart Club and Country Club of Dayton. Winters spent her entire life working to realize rights for others. She passed away in Dayton Ohio on the 12th of June in 1938 at the age of 71.
National Humane Review. Vol. 5-6, 1917.
Leonard, John W. Woman's Who's Who of America, 1914-1915: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada. N.p.: American Commonwealth, 1914.
Mrs. Valentine Winters, biographical sheet, Series 1, Correspondence 1913-1974, Microfilm Reel #113, National Woman’s Party Papers, 1913-1974, Northwestern University Library.
National Woman's Party, Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. Suffragist, Volumes 8-9: National Woman's Party, 1920. Print.
"Valentine Winters, III (1890 - 1890) - Find A Grave Memorial." Valentine Winters, III (1890 - 1890) - Find A Grave Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2015.
Winters, J. H. A Sketch of the Winters Family. Dayton, Ohio: United Brethren House, 1889.
findagrave.com, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=43452911 accessed, October 1, 2015.