Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Martha Parker Dingee, 1831-1921
By Monica Meldrum, student, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI
Chairman of the Press Committee/Editor, Racine, WI, Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association; Advisory Board Member, Brodhead, WI, Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association.
Martha Ann Parker was born on June 16, 1831 in Boston, Massachusetts to John and Martha Parker. Though little is known about her childhood, Martha Parker was a relation to the 19th century American Transcendentalist, Theodore Parker (1810-1860). She married William Dingee on October 28, 1855. The couple had one daughter, Gertrude. Later the family moved to Racine, WI where Martha Dingee became involved with the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association. Martha Parker Dingee died on March 27, 1921.
In the summer of 1887, while living in Racine, Martha Dingee became the founding editor of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association's (WWSA) suffrage periodical, the Wisconsin Citizen. Her duties to the periodical involved organizing the paper prior to its monthly release, collecting dues from subscribers, and writing columns which informed readers of the happenings in Wisconsin and across the nation. In time, Martha Dingee began to contribute more substantial articles of her own. For the whole of her work with the WWSA and even afterwards, she immersed herself in research of American history and politics in order to write articles in the Wisconsin Citizen outlining American women's need for respect.
In an early column Martha Dingee expressed her ambition for the rights of women in the work place and as citizens of the United States, "When women's work is better organized, there will be more fields open to women in the strictly feminine pursuits, and they will not then be without proper remuneration." Her work as editor of the Wisconsin Citizen was highly appreciated by suffragists across the nation. A fellow suffragist remarked on her work: "To Mrs. Dingee is entirely due the new departure which renders this paper not merely a newspaper, giving items of information about the progress of women not a partisan sheet arguing for reform, but a text book for the instruction of women in the methods and principles of our government." After seven years of advocating for the WWSA through her influential writing, Martha Dingee retired from her editor position in October 1894. She continued to write short columns and subsequently, joined the Wisconsin Citizen once more as an Advisory Board member from 1903 up to 1910.
Charlton, Helen H. "Officers." Wisconsin Citizen, November 1902, Brodhead, WI, Vol. 18 no. 1, p. 1.
Dingee, Martha P. "Clara Barton and the Red Cross Society." Wisconsin Citizen, January 1888, Racine, WI, Vol. 1 no. 6, p. 1.
Dingee, Martha P. "Officers." Wisconsin Citizen, August 1887, Racine, WI, Vol. 1 no. 1, p. 1.
Dingee, Martha P. "Officers." Wisconsin Citizen, October 1894, Racine Convention Extra edition, p. 1.
Dingee, Martha P. "Women at Work." Wisconsin Citizen, January 1890, Vol. 3 no. 4, p. 1.
Illinois. Cook County. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Massachusetts. Suffolk County. 1885 City of Boston Marriage Registration, marriage registration schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Newman, Lena V. "Officers." Wisconsin Citizen, Brodhead, WI, September 1910, Vol. 23 no. 10, p. 1.
Pennsylvania. York County. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Unknown Author. "Our Editor." Wisconsin Citizen, November 1889, Racine, WI, Vol. 3 no. 2, p. 1.
Wisconsin. Racine County. 1870 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.