Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mabel V. Osborne, 1866-1905
By Kyle Turner, undergraduate, teacher Robin Einhorn, and Jennifer Dorner, librarian, University of California, Berkeley
President, Los Angeles Women's Equal Suffrage Association,
A great suffragist named Mabel V. Patterson was born in Antioch, California in 1866. A San Francisco Chronicle article writes that in 1887 she married Julian Osborne, a miner by trade, and proceeded to later divorce him in 1895. Mrs. Osborne had a single son named Julian Jr, and he was raised primarily by Julian Sr. due to Mr. Osborne's belief that a man was far superior in raising a boy than a woman could be. This without a doubt contributed to the couple's divorce. Mabel V. Osborne recognized the struggles and injustices women faced, and the divorce allowed Mrs. Osborne to focus on pursuing the cause of woman's suffrage.
Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Mrs. Osborne worked as a stenographer in San Francisco. During this time period, she was also the secretary of the State Suffrage Association. In 1895, she was elected the leader of the New Woman's Club. This club's mission was to empower women to better themselves and engage actively in the betterment of society. The club advocated for equal opportunities to be given to men and women. She gained experience in this club which she was then able to transfer down to southern California.
In the year 1903, two years before her death, she moved to Los Angeles and took even greater leadership in the suffrage movement. She became the president of the Los Angeles Equal Suffrage Association due to her earnestness and ability. In this position she led conferences bringing women together to seek change. Leading these conferences for women's rights was a passion of hers and something she thoroughly enjoyed doing. Finally, she led a coalition of women to the state capitol in Sacramento to lobby for the right to vote of women. She prepared extensively for this opportunity and did not feel simply complaining to the legislators was a good form of advocacy. She collected data and developed strong reasons for the legislators to support the issues she believed in. They even brought with them a petition with 7000 names that demanded suffrage for women and had half of its signatures coming from male voters themselves. She was disappointed that she did not succeed in gaining suffrage for women during this lobbying trip, but it was a major step.
Unfortunately, Osborne passed away in 1905 at the age of 39 due to complications from a surgery that was she was hopeful would revive her exhausted body. The Los Angeles Times wrote, she "died of overwork and worry," a testament to the dedication and passion she had in the fight for suffrage. With California being such a large and influential state, it was highly critical that Mrs. Osborne was able to mobilize such a large group of women and men to advocate for suffrage. During her advocacy she had also developed personal friendships with other great suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw. Her abilities were acknowledged and honored even after death as the Los Angeles Times wrote of her, "She was a woman of brain and purpose, of energy and amiability, and skillful tact; one who threw her whole soul into the mission of reducing women to the plane of men in civic affairs."
1."Answers The Call of Death: Mrs. Mabel V. Osborne Unable to Survive Operation," Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1905
2."Mabel Osborne is Now Divorced," San Francisco Chronicle, December 5, 1895
3."New Woman's Club," San Francisco Call, July 21, 1895
4."Cold-Blood Ballot Hunt," Los Angeles Times, January 6, 1905
5. "Answers The Call of Death: Mrs. Mabel V. Osborne Unable to Survive Operation," Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1905