Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margaret E. Thompson Sheldon, 1861-1942
By Logan Yerrid
Iowa State University
Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Chase Crosby
Subject Librarian: Susan A. Vega Garcia
President of Doane College Alumni Association, President of the Nebraska Federation of Women's Clubs, state (Nebraska) director of the League of Women Voters, founder of the Native Sons and Daughters of Nebraska
Margaret Eleanor Thompson "was born . . . at Nebraska City, Nebraska on June 4th, 1861 [to] her parents William J. and Jane Hillard Thompson," according to the "Sheldon Family" webpage from the Nebraska State Historical Society (NSHS). In 1907, Margaret married Addison Erwin Sheldon in Nebraska. The NSHS notes that Margaret and Addison both did graduate study at Columbia University and "had known [each other] for many years." The Person Record by the NSHS reveals that Addison and Margaret had a son named Philip L. Sheldon in 1891 and a daughter named Ruth Sheldon in 1895. Along with being active in the educational field, Margaret Sheldon was involved through a number of organizations and the suffrage movement.
This NSHS source also reports that Sheldon "had an interest in education at an early age, and began teaching at the age of fifteen." She went to school at Crete Academy in Crete, Nebraska until she was accepted into Doane College, also in Crete; in 1886, Sheldon graduated at 25 years of age with her B.A. Degree, as additionally reported by the NSHS. According to the 1910 Catalogue, published by Doane College, she was the president of the Alumni Association in 1886. The next twenty-one years of her career would take place at Doane College, where, according to the same source, she was "an instructor in Mathematics and Dean of Women." Later in 1897, as revealed by the NSHS, Sheldon "received her masters degree in English Literature from the University of Nebraska [in Lincoln], and became professor of English Literature at Doane College."
In addition to her educational accomplishments, she stayed active through various organizations. Shortly after her marriage, Sheldon became "active in Women's Club and social movements[,] . . . was elected president of the Nebraska Federation of Women's Clubs" in 1917, and, "during the World War she registered the women of the state to help support the United States," as listed by the NSHS. This same source also stated that Sheldon "was a member of the Women's Committee, State Council of Defense . . . [and] the Children's Code Commission in 1919." The NSHS summarizes that by 1924, Margaret was the "founder of the Native Sons and Daughters of Nebraska [,]. . . active in . . . the Nebraska Legislative Ladies League and the Tuesday Review Club [, was the] . . .past state director of the League of Women Voters, and . . . active in the American Association of University Women." In particular, as director of the Nebraska League of Women Voters, Sheldon was likely involved in various initiatives to push for women's rights to vote.
In addition to her teaching career, Margaret Eleanor Thompson Sheldon dedicated her life to being an active member in many clubs and associations that fought for the rights of women in the United States. According to the NSHS, "Sheldon died suddenly while on vacation in Tucson, Arizona on February 20, 1942 . . . [and] is buried in Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska."
Doane College. Catalogue. 1910. Google Books, n.d. https://books.google.com/books?id=81HAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
Miller, Ted and Carole. "Addison Erwin Sheldon." The Nebraskana Society. NEGenWeb Project. Accessed October 2, 2017. http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/resources/ OLLibrary/Nebraskana/pages/nbka0244.htm.
Nebraska State Historical Society. "Sheldon Family." Sheldon Family. Nebraska State Government. Accessed October 2, 2017. http://www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/manuscripts/family/sheldonfam.htm.
Nebraska State Historical Society. "Sheldon, Margaret E. (Thompson), 1861-1942." Person Record. Nebraska State Government. Accessed October 2, 2017. http://nebraskahistory.pastperfectonline.com/byperson?keyword=Sheldon%2C+Margaret+E.+%28Thompson%29%2C+1861-1942.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 [LINK.]