Biographical Sketch of Mary Irvin Thompson Orlady

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Irvin (Irving) Thompson Orlady, 1854-1930

By Christina Larocco, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Orlady, Mary Irvin (or Irving) Thompson (Mrs. George B. Orlady, 1854-1930), was born in Curwensville, PA, to Dr. Hardman Phillips Thompson and Martha Jane Thompson (nee Irvin). In 1877 she married lawyer George B. Orlady, who went on to serve as a justice of the superior court of Pennsylvania for more than thirty years. Based in Huntingdon, PA, the Orladys had three children, all of whom survived them. In 1916 Mary Orlady successfully ran for president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association (PWSA). In this contentious election, Orlady had the support of the established leadership of the PWSA, which was being challenged by an insurgent faction that desired a greater role for rank-and-file members. Although Orlady won the election, her power as president was limited by her inexperience and ill health, forcing her to rely largely on the expertise of first vice president Lucy Kennedy Miller. However, Orlady was able to use her husband's position to gain an audience for the PWSA with US Senator Boies Penrose. She resigned from the PWSA presidency in 1917.

SOURCES:

Information about Orlady can be found in Henrietta Louise Krone, "Dauntless Women: The Story of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Pennsylvania, 1910-20" (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1949); and Ida Husted Harper, ed., "Pennsylvania," chapter XXXVII in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920 (New York, NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), pp. 550-564. [LINK]

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