Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Emily Rosa Modlin, ca. 1854-?
By Brandon K Hein, Undergraduate student, Metropolitan (Omaha, NE) Community College
Advisor, Dr. Amy Forss, Professor
Emily Rosa Modlin, maiden name unknown, was born between 1852 and1856 in Michigan. Both parents' names are unknown, but her father was from Michigan and her mother from Canada. According to the 1910 Census Emily at the age of 58 had previously been married. This census shows her as married to John F. Modlin for 23 years with four children. Her son Carl Modlin was 22 and daughter Jessie Modlin was 19. Her other two presumably were not living with her. The 1920 Census shows her married to her third husband Maurice Parker. No further information was found after this 1920 Census.
Emily Modlin, who went by her middle name of Rosa, was very supportive of the suffrage movement in both time and effort. Rosa was quoted at the 1901 Nebraska Women State Suffrage Association saying, "Taxation without representation is tyranny." Rosa was extremely smart in picking her words as she had put her detractors in a no-win situation with that statement. Either they had to agree with her which they did not want to do or they had to go against one of the core founding principles of America. If people thought women could not hold up to a political debate, they had not met Rosa Modlin. It is even conceivable Rosa was pushing for more than a right to vote but the right for women to be a representative in government. Rosa was never willing to settle for anything, she was always pushing for what she believed was her right.
The Nebraska Women State Suffrage Association in 1908 gave Rosa an opportunity to speak publicly; she gave an address titled, "Have our methods in Nebraska proved to be a success?" Her message perhaps being rhetorical in nature was saying supporters of women suffrage in Nebraska needed to do more. Rosa was always willing to do more. In 1910 when women suffragists submitted a national petition with 500,000 signatures demanding women's right to vote, over 400 of those signatures were collected by Emily Rosa Modlin. Over 400 signatures might not sound like many, but considering she lived in Beaver City, with a population of 975, that number of petition signers is impressive. When Nebraska was drawing up a new State Constitution back in 1871 women suffrage only got 22% of the vote. Rosa had almost doubled that percentage. Rosa Modlin was all in for the Women Suffrage movement nationally and in Nebraska. Through hard work and determination Rosa was proving one person can make a difference. Doris Weatherford's book, Women in American Politics: History and Milestones, listed Rosa Modlin as a prominent women's rights pioneer in Nebraska. I have little doubt she is absolutely correct.
"Family Search - 1910 Census." Family Search, 12 April 2017, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RVH-2QC?mode=g&i=10&cc=1727033
"Family Search - 1920 Census." Family Search, 12 April 2017, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RTB-S3KK?mode=g&cc=1488411
"Club Notes: The Week's Review," The Courier (Lincoln, Ne), 23 Nov. 1901, p. 5.
"Women Suffragists Meet," Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Ne), 6 Nov. 1908, p. 12.
"Suffragists Storm National Capitol," New York Times, 19 April 1910.
"Nebraska Suffragists Add Many Names to Petition," Lincoln Daily News (Lincoln, Ne), 7 May 1910, p. 5.
"Limited Voting Rights for Women Approved in Nebraska," Nebraska Studies, 12 April 2017, http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0700/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0700/stories/0701_0111.html
Doris Weatherford. Women in American Politics: History and Milestones, illustrated revised edition, (Los Angeles: Sage Publishing 2012), Table I.9, p. 26,