Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ava Marcella Stoddard (Noone), 1879-1963

By Alexis Dominique, undergraduate student, Harvard University

Ava Marcella Stoddard was born in 1879 in Washburn, Maine, to farmer Orrick H Stoddard and wife, Ada C H Stoddard. In 1913, she married general contractor George H. Noone, and together they had one son named Richard. She died in 1963 in Newton, Massachusetts, at the age of 84.

Ava attended Dillaway Grammar School and Girls' High School before matriculating at MIT in 1899. In 1901, during her sophomore year, she won the College Equal Suffrage League essay writing contest. The contest was open to all women students enrolled in Massachusetts colleges and judged by Mrs. Edwin M. Mead, Dr. Edward Cummings, and the editor of the Boston Transcript on the topic of equal suffrage. Her essay garnered her a $100 prize as well as press coverage in several local newspapers, including the Boston Post, which published an abstract of her essay. The winning essay was entitled "Is the extension of the suffrage to woman an expedient political measure?" In her essay, she states:

To many of us the extension of the suffrage to women seems a measure which would so far promote the common good as to do away with certain of the conditions which stand in the way of our future progress. Others of us regard the measure as not only an added barrier to further progress, but a menace to time-honored institutions whose overthrow would result in a loss to whatever progress we have made in the past.
If the former view is true, all who have at heart the interest of our people must give the enfranchisement of women their favor: if the latter, then the movement must share the fate of all other movements that have opposed the common good.

She received her award at the league's meeting on May 28, 1901, where Representative E.B. Callender gave a speech about the importance of women's suffrage.

Ava went on to graduate from MIT in 1903 with a degree in general studies. Her senior thesis was entitled, "A Study of the Social and Industrial Status of the Negro in Boston." Following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, Ava became a journalist. She continued to pursue writing and in 1910 published "Cost of Home-Cooked and Purchased Food," in the Quarterly Publications of the American Statistical Association. In her article, she covers an experiment that compares the cost of home-cooked food against the cost of prepared food, concluding that there are too many variables to accurately estimate the cost of a home-cooked meals. Her journalism career ceased once she was married.

In 1928, Ava was widowed when her husband passed after being sick for many years. In his will, he left her "what is allowed by law to the wife of an intestate." This in turn led Ava to contest his will, which the local newspapers covered in detail. Ava continued to successfully run her husband's company Noone Sand and Gravel Company after his death, becoming a formidable businesswoman in the local industry.


Annual Report of the School Committee of the City of Boston. 1899. Page 175.

Association of Class Secretaries of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technology Review. 1901. Page 98, 235.

"Boston Woman Only One of Sex to Run Sand and Gravel Works." Boston Herald. 27 August 1931. Digital

"Judge Hears Motion in Noone Will Fight." Boston Globe. 24 March 1928:8. Digital.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 38th Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students. 1903. Pp. 211, 366, 399.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Register of Graduates. 1904. Pp. 145, 176.

"Miss Stoddard's Prize of $100: Presentation at the College Equal Suffrage League's Meeting--Mouse Caused Some Little Excitement." Boston Daily Globe. 29 May 1901: 7. Digital.

Pilgrim John Howland Society, The Howland Homestead. 1911, p. 12.

"Pretty Tech Girl's Essay Won $100 Prize." Boston Post. 28 May 1901: 7. Digital.

Stoddard, Ava M, "Cost of Home-Cooked and Purchased Food." Quarterly Publications of the American Statistical Association, Volume 7. 1910. Pp. 461-64.

"To Fight Any Claim Of Mother-In-Law." Boston Globe, 4 February 1928: 15. Digital.

United States Census Bureau, 1880 U.S. Census. 1880, 1930.

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