Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mamie Collett, 1871-1942
By Michael Tuffey, Student, Wake Forest University
Mary "Mamie" Collett was born in 1871 in Morganton, North Carolina, to Warghstell Collett and Mary Ruffin Caldwell. Collett was the granddaughter of Tod Robinson Caldwell, who served as North Carolina governor from 1871 to 1874. On February 9, 1921, she married Andrew "A.M." Kistler. Although Collett did not have children of her own, her husband was widowed and had children from his previous marriage, including Fred Kistler, who lived with Collett and Kistler. Collett died on October 15, 1942.
Mamie Collett's most notable accomplishment came with the Morgantown Equal Suffrage Association. Members elected her Vice President in 1913. Although Collett's involvement with the group was brief, she still played a role in its initial success. Beyond her involvement with the Morgantown Equal Suffrage Association, Collett was active in her community. She served as Town Clerk in Morganton, the only woman to hold office in the town of Morganton. In this position, she served as a role model to future generations and paved the way for women to be treated equally in politics. Finally, Collett was also involved in philanthropic work with Grace Hospital, as she was a long-time board member and benefactor. Specifically, Collett worked with the Woman's Auxilary of Grace Hospital to help organize rummage sales by collecting secondhand clothing and goods that could be sold in order to raise money for charity. Her impact with the hospital is still felt today: her great-niece, Jean Collett VanNoppen, is also a former board member and an employee at the Hospital.
Beyond her political activity in Morganton, Collett was well known for her elite social standing in her community. Due to her relation to Governor Caldwell, as well as her husband's standing as the proprietor of one of the largest tanneries in the South, Collett was a very prominent member of the town leadership. Collett often made local news for hosting and participating in social gatherings such as card games and book club meetings, as well as hosting events such as tea parties.
1930 United States Federal Census, http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=1930usfedcen&h=77686573&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&rhSource=2442 accessed 2 November 2016; North Carolina yearbook and business directory, 1915, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nc01.ark:/13960/t9q23vt0q;view=1up;seq=130 accessed 2 November 2016; Grace Hospital – History of Our Leaders, http://www.brhcfoundation.org/history-wall.html accessed 2 November 2016; "Society and Personal," Asheville Citizen Times, October 15,1916; "An Ordinance Authorizing the Issuance of $75,000 Street Improvement Bonds of the Town of Morganton, North Carolina," The News Herald, May 22, 1919; "Miss Mamie Collett is Bride of A.M. Kistler," The Charlotte Observer, February 10, 1921. The History of Woman Suffrage: Volume 6, p. 491, accessible at https://archive.org/details/historyofwomansu06stanuoft