Biographical Sketch of Nellie King Donaldson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Nellie King Donaldson, 1869-1938

By Monica Meldrum, student, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI

Corresponding Secretary (1911-1913), Racine, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association; 1st Vice President (1910-1911), Racine, WI, Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association; Vice President at Large (1908-1910), Racine, WI, Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association

Nellie King was born on October 20, 1869 in Platteville, Wisconsin to Frank and Emily King. She graduated from the Platteville Normal School with a teaching diploma in 1891 and proceeded to teach in the Milwaukee public schools. On August 29, 1894, Nellie King married Harry Newton Donaldson. The couple had one daughter, Emily. From 1908-1913, Nellie Donaldson was heavily involved in campaigning for the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association (WWSA). In her later years, she attended Marquette University Law School and earned her law degree. She practiced law until her death on April 19, 1938.

Much expected from her role as an educator, Nellie King Donaldson was an advocate for American rights which reflected upon her interest in women's rights during the progressive era. Nellie King Donaldson joined the WWSA in 1908 and occupied the position of Vice President at Large until 1910. While she would hold other roles in the organization, it was during this time that Donaldson was the most active. Donaldson wrote short articles featured in well-known suffrage newspapers such as: the Wisconsin Citizen, the Waukesha Freeman, and most frequently in the Racine Daily Journal. Her articles consisted of fiery advocacy for the suffrage movement and included her own words of remorse towards the way women were treated by men, including sometimes, the hurtful words of their own husbands. The Racine Daily Journal featured one of Mrs. Donaldson eary articles entitled "View of Women's Suffrage," where she states, "Women are doing their share in paying taxes; they are earning money when they are caring for babies, washing dishes, cooking meals, sweeping floors, washing clothes, ironing clothes, mending clothes and making garments. Yet of how many women is it true that if they even intimate a wish to see how the council conducts its meetings they must listen to unkind, sarcastic taunts from their husbands." Following her occupation as Vice President at Large, Nellie Donaldson moved to the position of 1st Vice President where she mainly involved herself with the internal affairs of the WWSA and the Wisconsin Citizen, lasting from about 1910-1911. Her final role with the WWSA was as Corresponding Secretary 1911-1913, writing only a few times for the Wisconsin Citizen before she left the organization.

Sources:

Donaldson, Nellie K. "Says Republicans Were Unfair to Nation's Women." Racine Daily Journal, July 1, 1908, Wednesday Afternoon edition, pg. 2.

Donaldson, Nellie K. "View of Women's Suffrage." Racine Daily Journal, August 14, 1908, Friday Afternoon edition, pg. 3.

Donaldson, Nellie K. "For Women's Suffrage." Racine Daily Journal, October 24, 1908, Saturday Afternoon edition, pg.7.

Donaldson, Nellie K. "Why Disfranchise Women?" Racine Daily Journal, September 5, 1912, Thursday Afternoon edition, pg. 6.

Donaldson, Nellie K. "The Women Must Work Together." Racine Daily Journal, September 25, 1912, Wednesday Afternoon edition, pg. 10.

Donaldson, Nellie K. "Mrs. Donaldson's Weekly Article on Woman's Suffrage." Racine Daily Journal, October 2, 1912, Wednesday Afternoon edition, pg. 3.

Donaldson, Nellie K. "Mrs. Donaldson Asks Voters to Write 'Yes' For Woman Suffrage on Pink Ballot Next Tuesday." Racine Daily Journal, October 30, 1912, Wednesday Afternoon edition, pg. 2.

Newman, Lena V. "Officers." Wisconsin Citizen, November 1908, Brodhead, WI, Vol. 22 no. 2, pg. 1.

Newman, Lena V. "Officers." Wisconsin Citizen, October 1910, Brodhead, WI, Vol. 24 no. 1, pg. 1.

Newman, Lena V. "Campaign News." Wisconsin Citizen, January 1912, Brodhead, WI, Vol. 25 no. 4, pg. 1.

Steingass, Susan, et al. Pioneers in the Law: The First 150 Women. Madison: State Bar of Wisconsin, 1998.

Wisconsin. Grant County. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.

Wisconsin. Racine County. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.

Wisconsin. Racine County. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.

Wisconsin. Racine County. 1930 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.

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