Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Electa Nobles Lincoln Walton, 1824-1908
By Annika Gompers, undergraduate, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Founder and President, West Newton Women's Educational Club; Vice President, New England Women's Club
Electa Nobles Lincoln Walton was born on May 12, 1824 in Watertown, New York to Martin and Susan Lincoln. Her parents moved to Lancaster, MA when she was two years old, and she lived in Massachusetts for the rest of her life. She married George Augustus Walton on August 27, 1850 in Lawrence, MA, where they lived for eighteen years before ultimately moving to West Newton, where she was most politically active. She had five children, three of whom survived - Harriet, George, and Alice. She died in 1908 in Newton, Massachusetts.
Electa N. L. Walton was active in education throughout her life. She attended the State Normal School in Lexington, MA from 1841-1843, studying to be a teacher, and was then an assistant at the school for seven years. She served as temporary principal of the school in the spring of 1849, the first woman in the country to act as principal of a State Normal School. She was not appointed permanent principal because she was a woman, and her diary from the time reveals that she was very much wanted to do a good job in order to show "that [women] can keep a Normal School and keep it well too for one term at least." She co-authored a series of arithmetic textbooks with her husband, called the "Walton's Normal Series," though the publishers decided not to include her name on the title page in at least two of the books, A Written Arithmetic for Common and Higher Schools (1865) and A Pictoral Primary Arithmetic (1866). It is thought that this event further spurred Electa N. L. Walton to fight for equal rights for women.
Following the passage of the School Suffrage Law in Massachusetts in 1879, which allowed women to serve and vote on school committees, Electa N. L. Walton founded the West Newton Woman's Educational Club in 1880 to work on best implementing the new law. She served as president of the organization for twenty years. Walton held many additional positions in women's clubs and suffrage organizations, believing that women had the power to purify politics. She served as vice-president of the New England Women's Club, one of many women's clubs founded after the Civil War to provide a space for women to have access to education, socializing, literature, philanthropy, and political reform. She was also chairman of the club's Committee on Education, which fought to get women elected to school committees and urged women to work to improve the education in their hometowns. She was president of the Newton Federation of Women's Clubs and of the Newton Equal Suffrage League, vice-president of the Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs, and an officer of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. The Women's Journal of Boston repeatedly recognized Walton as a prominent clubwoman, and she occasionally contributed to the press herself; for example, her 1872 essay in The Women's Journal entitled "Two Waifs and a Moral" urged women to "bring up our daughters to such habits of self-dependence" and men to "see to it that your laws, in giving what you call liberty to man, do not trample upon the liberty of woman."
New England Women's Club. Portrait of Electa N. L. Walton. ca. 1890. Arthur and Elizabeth
Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for
Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge. Call no. MC 178; M-145. Web.
City of Newton. Newton Directory 1881. Newton: Drew, Allis & Co., 1881. Newton City Archives. Web.
Croly, Jane Cunningham. The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America. New York: H.G. Allen, 1898. 197-99, 685-86.
"Electa Nobles Lincoln Walton." American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with Over 1,400 Portraits. Ed. Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore. Vol. 2. New York: Mast, Crowell, and Kirkpatrick, 1897. 744-45. [LINK]
"Electa Nobles Lincoln Walton." Representative Women of New England. Ed. Julia Ward Howe and Mary Hannah Graves. Boston: New England Historical, 1904. 247-49.
"Massachusetts Clubs and Leagues." The Woman's Journal: Boston 18 May 1895, vol. 26, iss. 20:160. Gerritsen Collection - Women's History Online, 1543-1945. Web.
New England Women's Club. Portrait of Electa N. L. Walton. ca. 1890. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge. Call no. MC 178; M-145. Web.
"New England Women's Clubs." The Woman's Journal: Boston 8 June 1895, vol. 26, iss. 23:181. Gerritsen Collection - Women's History Online, 1543-1945. Web.
Robbins, Susanna M. The Profession, Business, and Mission of Teaching: American Women Teachers, 1840-1860. Diss. Indiana U, 2011.
"State Federation News." The Club Woman [New York] Sept. 1898, vol. 2, iss. 6:185. Gerritsen Collection - Women's History Online, 1543-1945. Web.
Walton, Electa N. L. "Two Waifs and a Moral." The Woman's Journal: Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis 25 May 1872, 21st ed.: 163. Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Women: Transnational Networks. Web.
Walton, G. A. and Walton, Electa N. L. An Intellectual Arithmetic. Philadelphia: J. H. Butler, 1866.
Walton, G. A. A Pictoral Primary Arithmetic. Boston: Brewer and Tileston, 1867.
Walton, G. A. A Written Arithmetic for Common and Higher Schools. Boston: Brewer and Tileston, 1865.
Walton, G. A. and Walton, Electa N. L. The Illustrative Practical Arithmetic. Boston: Brewer and Tileston, 1869. Google Books. Web.