Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Ruth Hamilton, 1876-1954
By Monica Meldrum, student, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI
Executive Secretary, Racine, WI, Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association, 1916-1920
Ruth Johnson was born on April 3, 1876 in Warrington, England to Frederic and Mary Johnson. She immigrated to the United States in 1883 and married Charles C. Hamilton on April 19, 1898. She occupied herself with small secretarial jobs, however her main priorities were keeping house and raising her six children. Her involvement in the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association (WWSA), although short term, was a beneficial contribution to the achievement of women's suffrage. She died on April 11, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Ruth Hamilton was able to parlay her secretarial experience into a desire to advance women's suffrage in September 1916 when an executive secretary position opened up at the WWSA headquarters in Milwaukee, WI. Her office skills and determination to work for the organization impressed WWSA President Theodora Youmans.
The WWSA headquarters in Milwaukee were opened partnership with the Milwaukee County Suffrage Association and were in need of organization. Although her role as executive secretary did not give her much opportunity to campaign or speak on the suffrage trail, Mrs. Hamilton busied herself in correspondence with not only WWSA members, but also state and nationwide suffragists and politicians. Under the direction of Mrs. Youmans, Hamilton took charge of ordering and sending suffrage literature for community lectures as well as managed the suffrage periodical, the Wisconsin Citizen. She was responsible for passing letters to the editor, updating the mailing list, and reminding members to pay their dues and subscriptions. Mrs. Hamilton worked with the WWSA for the next three years, contributing to the success of Wisconsin suffrage efforts up until suffrage was all but guaranteed. According to the Waukesha Freeman, her service to the WWSA lasted until the closing of its doors on March 1, 1920. Following her occupation with the WWSA, Ruth Hamilton returned to her role as a wife and housekeeper.
Bain, Harriet. Harriet F. Bain to Ruth Hamilton, Kenosha, 23 September 1916. Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association. Wisconsin State Historical Society, Wisconsin.
Hamilton, Ruth. Ruth Hamilton to Theodora W. Youmans, Milwaukee, 30 September 1916. Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Wisconsin State Historical Society, Wisconsin.
Warrington. Buckinghamshire. 1881 England census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Wisconsin. Wood County. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Wisconsin. Milwaukee County. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Wisconsin. Milwaukee County. 1940 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2017.
Youmans, Theodora. Theodora W. Youmans to Emily J. Hurlbut, Waukesha, 16 October 1916. Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Wisconsin State Historical Society, Wisconsin.
Youmans, Theodora W. "Good Citizenship for Women." Waukesha Freeman, August 26, 1920, Thursday edition, p. 2.