Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Rosa M. Ward, 1872-1959

By Christina Larocco, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Ward, Rosa M. (Mrs. William Ward Jr., 1872–1959), was the daughter of William A. Mackinson and Hannah Booth. She spent her early life in York County, PA, and Harford County, MD, eventually settling in Chester, PA. In 1894 she married William Ward Jr. The couple had no children. William served as mayor of Chester and later in the Pennsylvania state legislature. He was also committed to the suffrage cause, and the two could often be found campaigning on street corners together. A social worker, Rosa became chair of the Delaware County Woman Suffrage Party in 1917, and she also served as chair of the Second Congressional District group and on the legislative committee of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association. Her political connections made her an especially effective member of this committee, especially once William C. Sproul became governor in 1919. Sproul had known Rosa's husband since the two had served in the state legislature together, and Rosa was able to act as a mediator between suffragists and the governor, convincing him to help with ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Her activism also extended beyond suffrage. She served a number of charitable organizations, including as a founding member of the Young Women's Christian Association. As cofounder of the Delaware County Women's Republican Club, she was a key figure in getting the party to accept women as committee members. She believed women would be able to play larger roles in the party if direct primaries were abolished, and in the 1930s she advocated openly for a return to party conventions. The club named her "Mrs. Republican" in 1954, although illness had by that point pushed her out of public life. Rosa M. Ward died in 1959 at age eighty-seven.


Information about Ward 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); 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]; and in her obituary, "Mayor Ward's Widow Dies in Chester Home," Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, PA), Nov. 11, 1959.

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