Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Emma Shuman, 1866-?

By Anna Zelenovich
Iowa State University

Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Chase Crosby
Subject Librarian: Susan A. Vega Garcia

Secretary of the Nebraska City Women's Club

According to the 1880 United States Federal Census, Emma Stevenson, was born in Binghamton, New York, in 1866. This census data also states that her father was a lawyer in New York, while her mother stayed home with Emma and her older sister Fannie. As reported by the Nebraska State Census, Emma's family moved from New York to Nebraska City sometime in the late 1870s to early 1880s. The date is not directly stated, nor the reason for their move. Based on her father's profession and early travels, Emma Stevenson may have been exposed to political and social issues that sparked her passion to get involved with the suffrage movement.

Along with her involvement with the suffrage movement, there is evidence that Emma Stevenson married and had children. The Nebraska Marriage Records 1855-1908 reveal that, on November 8th, 1883, at age 18, Emma Stevenson married Hanford N. Shuman at the Congregational Church in Otoe county, Nebraska. As reported by the 1900 United States Federal Census, the couple had two daughters, Reita, born in 1885, and Mary, born in 1887. According to the Michigan Marriage Records 1867-1952, Emma's oldest daughter Reita was married in 1920 in Bessemer, Michigan with her maiden name spelled Schuman. Such documents suggest that perhaps Emma Shuman could have also gone by this alternative spelling of her last name.

In addition to these family activities, Shuman was involved in Nebraska and Iowa suffrage movement activities. Multiple publications indicate that Emma Shuman was active in both Nebraska and Iowa in the early 1900s and most likely traveled to conferences and symposiums in both states. The Women and Social Movements in the United States database states that Emma Shuman was the secretary of the Nebraska City Women's Club, which was founded in 1895. The archives in that database confirm that in 1901, Emma Shuman attended a state convention held in Lincoln, Nebraska. According to Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, vol. 6, (see Nebraska state report) LINK Shuman gave a speech at a symposium for this same conference.

Although not much is known about Emma Shuman's life after her involvement in the women's movement in the early 1900s, we can predict Emma was very involved as a female suffragist. As secretary of the Nebraska City Women's Club, along with her involvement as a NASWA Suffragist, Emma Shuman paved ways for the many feminists and suffragists after her.

Bibliography "Emma Schuman." Nebraska Marriage Records 1855-1908. Accessed October 17 2017. "Emma Stevenson," 1880 United States Federal Census. Accessed October 17 2017. "H.N. Shuman." U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. Accessed October 17 2017. "Mary Shuman." 1900 United States Federal Census. Accessed October 17 2017. "Reita Schuman." Michigan Marriage Records 1867-1952. Accessed October 17 2017.

Husted Harper, Ida, et al., eds. "Chapter XXVI: Nebraska." History of Women's Suffrage, vol. 6. New York, NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. LINK

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