Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biographical Sketch of Alma L. Sickler, 1887-1958
By Jessica D. Jenkins
Curator, Minnetrista, Muncie, Ind.
Alma L. Sickler was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1887 to Edward E. and Alice Scott Sickler. Edward and Alice were married in 1882 in Tippecanoe, Indiana; settling in Indianapolis by the time of their daughter's birth. Edward, an accomplished artist and painter, often exhibited his work in Indiana, and continued his artistic career until his death in November 1904.
After Edward's death, Alice and Alma continued to reside in Indianapolis where Alice was a member of the First Congregational Church, the Magazine Club, a charter member of the Woman's Department Club, and active in the Indianapolis branch of the Needlework Guild. For eight years she was also chairman of the Maternity Society.
Alma attended Indianapolis's Shortridge High School where for several years she worked on the school's newspaper and served at times as editor. Following the completion of her high school education she attended Indianapolis University, graduating in 1909.
By 1913 Alma L. Sickler had developed an interest in social reform and was serving as President of her local branch of the National Consumers' League. The following year the Woman's Legislative Council of Indiana was created. The organization consisted of representatives from several women's organizations throughout the state, and worked as a united group to lobby the General Assembly for legislative measures in their interest - including the right to vote. Alma was elected the first secretary of the organization, and in that role kept an office in Indiana's State House where the organization was headquartered.
Alma's investment in women's rights only continued to grow, and by 1916 she had become involved in the state's push for women's voting rights. That year she took on the role of chairman of the Publicity Committee of the Indianapolis Franchise League. Soon she was serving as editor of the Hoosier Suffragist, a pro-suffrage publication distributed around the state.
Over the next several years Alma's involvement with the Indianapolis Franchise League only deepened. She served as chairman of the nominating committee, worked on the organization's Advertising Committee, and in 1917 headed up a Canvassing Committee that aimed to deepen the interest of women in the city in the next fall election. Her dedication to the organization remained strong until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Alma Sickler's public work did not end once voting rights for women had been secured, however. In 1920 she was elected President of the Indianapolis League of Women Voters - a position she held for over a decade. During that decade she also served as the Democratic Vice-Chairman of the Eighth Ward of Indianapolis, and in 1924 was an unsuccessful candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives.
In September of 1927 Alma L. Sickler was married to Edward B. Bender, a longtime State Representative in Indiana's General Assembly. After their marriage, the couple resided on a farm near Zionsville, Indiana. She passed in 1958.
Information about Alma L. Sickler's life and political work was gathered from United States Census Records, and through a survey of published newspaper articles in the Indianapolis Star, 1882-1958.