Biographical Sketch of Margaretta Dietrich

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Margaretta Dietrich, 1881-1961

By Jaden Klein, Dr. Amy Forss, professor

Undergraduate student, Metropolitan (Omaha, NE) Community College

President of the Nebraska Woman's Suffrage Association; Nebraska Social Activist

Margaretta Stewart Shaw, later known as Margaretta Dietrich was born in November 1881. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where her parents, Dr. William Shaw and Delia Allman Stewart, raised her and her sisters. She ended up marrying Charles Henry Dietrich in 1909, and he was also the former governor of Nebraska. After the marriage, Margaretta quickly moved to Hastings, Nebraska where she built her home and began her historical movement for women's rights as well as multiple other movements. Margaretta and her husband Charles never conceived a child, but she was survived by 2 sisters as well as a niece and a nephew. Margaretta Stewart Dietrich died in 1961. 

Margaretta Dietrich attended a private school in Philadelphia when she was younger. Later she received her A.B. Degree from Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia, which leads me to believe she was a very smart woman and that is why she left such an impact in history. In 1919 Margaretta was elected president of the Nebraska Woman's Suffrage Association, which led her to be the chairman of the Nebraska State League of Women Voters in 1920. In 1920 Margaretta was quoted saying "I was one to attend the Suffrage Emergency Corps to visit Connecticut in May," (Margaretta Dietrich). This event was set up to ratify the 19th amendment in the state, and this shows her hard work ethic in the suffrage movement, not only in Nebraska, but also in other states. Margaretta joined many movements that later led to the advancement of the 19th amendment; she also was the President and regional Director of Nebraska and National League of Women Voters from 1921 to 1926. She influenced the League to become active in striding towards improved welfare for women and children. 

Since Margaretta was a later women's suffragist and during her time the right for women to vote became prominent, she later went on to other movements that helped the community of Nebraska. She lived in Nebraska till 1927 which was the year after she left the League of Women Voters. After that year, not much was documented on her activism in women's rights, however in 1927 she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico with her sister Dorothy Stewart where they bought three houses to save them from redevelopment and she restored them with her friend Katherine Chapman, who loved traditional New Mexico builders and their methods. One other movement she was deeply involved in was the Sunnyside Home, which helped dependent elderly people. Although these movements don't have anything to do with Women's suffrage, they do show background on Margaretta that tells us what kind of person she was and how she helped communities all over to strive for improved ways of thinking. Margaretta Dietrich was a very strong woman who had the courage that most people don't possess. This courage led her to help ratify the 19th amendment in Nebraska and in other states. I believe if Margaretta was here today she would almost be like a Mother Teresa or a person close to that status, however she will go down into history as being the president of the Nebraska Women's Suffrage Association, which is a great title.   

Sources:

Crawford, Sue. "NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE the Official Site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature." Women's History Month « District 45 News and Information, Nebraska Legislature, 20 Mar. 2015. Accessed online at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist45/2015/03/20/womens-history-month/.

"Margaretta Dietrich." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Apr. 2017 accessed online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaretta_Dietrich.

Sanders, Jean. Notable Nebraskans. Lincoln, NE, Media Productions and Marketing, Inc., 1998, Accessed online at http://nebraskahistory.org/museum/teachers/material/nebdata/noted_nebraskans.pdf.

back to top