Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Edith Simonds Johnson, 1876-1961

By Maya Martinez
Undergraduate Student, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma

Mary Edith Simonds Johnson was born in 1876 in Yonkers, New York to Samuel Ephraim Simonds and Elizabeth Sands. Johnson attended Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1897. She also studied medicine from 1899 to 1900 in Cold Spring Harbor in New York. She married Roswell H. Johnson in Chicago, Illinois on February 10, 1900. Together, they had five children.

Johnson maintained an active role in her alma mater. She was a member of the Pittsburgh Wellesley Club, as well as a member of the Wellesley Alumnae Council. She often donated books to the Wellesley Library and participated in alumni activities such as monthly luncheons and events.

Johnson devoted most of her time to The Woman's Alliance of the Unitarian Church. Created in 1890, The Woman's Alliance was founded to give voice and support to issues involving women. Luncheons were held monthly where women gathered to discuss topics, such as women's suffrage. Johnson frequently attended these luncheons and remained involved with the suffrage movement following her family's move to Oklahoma in 1908. From 1908 to 1912, she and her family lived in Bartlesville, Oklahoma where her husband contracted as a consulting oil geologist. During her time in Oklahoma, she served as a state officer for the Oklahoma Woman's Suffrage Association, a NAWSA chapter. As a member, she assisted in lobbying for an amendment to be added to the state's constitution and gathered signatures for petitions. Unfortunately, during her time in Oklahoma, the vote for women's suffrage was not reached. She was also a member of the Tuesday Club, State Federation of Women's Clubs, and the Musical Research Society.

Johnson and her family relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1912 where her husband accepted a job at the University of Pittsburgh. Although she lived various places, Johnson remained involved with her alma mater by serving as vice president for the Alumnae Council in 1930. Once in Pittsburgh, She remained active in women's clubs, involving herself as a member of the College Club, while also maintaining her hobbies of reading and music. She also had an interest in weaving and established the Weavers' Guild of Pittsburgh. Mary Johnson died on April 19, 1961 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


"Mary Edith Simonds," Ancestry, accessed October 1, 2016; All Souls Church: Eighteenth Annual (Chicago, Illinios:1910) 60; Harvard College Class of 1900 Secretary's Fifth Report, (Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press, 1921) 282; Calendar of Wellesley College: 1897-1898 (Boston, MA: Frank Wood Printer, 1897) 74; Wellesley College Annual Reports President and Treasurer: 1921-1924 (Wellesley College Press, 1925) 60; Bartlesville Daily Enterprise (Bartlesville, OK) 23 November 1912; Morning Examiner (Bartlesville, OK) 13 January 1910; Morning Examiner (Bartlesville, OK) 28 January 1910; Morning Examiner (Bartlesville, OK) 10 April 1910; Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada 1914-1915 (New York: The American Common Wealth Company, 1914) 436; "The Woman's Alliance" All Souls Church NYC accessed October 2, 2016; Wellesley News, vol. 38 no.15 (Wellesley College, Mass.,1901); The Ten-Year Book of Cornell University 1868-1908, (University of California Press:, 1908), 310; Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA)19 April 1961

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