Biographical Sketch of Bertha Wade

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biographical Sketch of Bertha Wade, 1865-1927

(Also sometimes listed as Bertha Gill, Mrs. Bertha G. Wade, or Mrs O. L. Wade)

By Matthew Dilworth, Katelyn Groff and Frances Yates, Indiana University East Campus Library

Bertha G. Wade (nee Gill) was born in October 1865 in Ohio. She later moved to Indiana with her family. She was a Quaker, the founder of the Indianapolis Day Nursery Association, and briefly, a schoolteacher. Articles also describe Wade's involvement with school administrations in Indianapolis. Bertha Wade was a proponent for women's suffrage, and her efforts in fundraising helped women in Indiana to work towards political equality in the 20th century.

Wade's father, Dennis C. Gill (born about 1832/33), was an Irish immigrant and a railroad conductor. Her mother, Sarah J. Gill (born about 1841/42), was born in the United States. She had an older sister, Agnes Mabel (born 1863), and a younger brother, Carl (born 1878).

On May 26, 1887, Bertha Gill married Ohio L. Wade, a lumber dealer 14 years her senior. During her marriage to Ohio, Bertha had two children: Fredrick H. Wade (born February 1881), and Scott Wade (born May 1889). Both boys lived at home in the year 1900 when Bertha Wade was President of a women's suffrage group (most frequently referred to as the Political Equality Society). As President of the Political Equality Society of Indiana, Bertha sent a petition to Congress supporting a proposal for woman suffrage. Bertha seems to have served as the president of the suffrage group for one year, and was succeeded by Grace Julian Clark.

Bertha held other offices within the Political Equality Society of Indiana including chairman of the national bazaar committee. In an article in the July 21, 1900 issue of the Woman's Journal, Wade was praised for the success of her fundraising abilities while working towards holding subsequent suffrage events and rallies. The article states that the organization of women's suffragists were "expecting good things from that state," and a tone of excitement expresses to the reader confidence in the suffragist cause as well as Wade's ability to campaign for a change.

At the time of her Presidency, her household also included a live-in servant named Sarah Perkins, born September 1872 (Bertha had a live-in domestic servant in her childhood, too, named Eliza Lippencott). Her primary residence in Indianapolis was at 1515 College Avenue.

The family moved to Los Angeles sometime before 1910, with Scott. She died in Los Angeles on July 25, 1927. Her husband survived her, returning to Indianapolis and living until September 22, 1931.

Sources:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Ida Husted Harper, eds., History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, vol. 6 (1922) (beginning on page 166 ) https://archive.org/details/historyofwomansu06stanuoft

Annual Meeting Held," Indianapolis Journal, 11 December 1900, p. 8, col 3

"Women Are Elated," Indianapolis Journal, March 12, 1901, p. 8, Col. 2

"Work of Local Council," Indianapolis Journal, Volume 53, Number 154, 3 June 1903, p. 3, col. 2

Obituary of Bertha Wade, Indianapolis Star, July 27, 1927, p. 3.

Obituary of O.L. Wade, Indianapolis Star, Tuesday, September 23, 1931, p. 2

"Woman's Suffrage Bazar," Indianapolis News, 5 November 1900, p. 1, col 1

Avery, Rachel Foster, "Bazar Notes," The Woman's Journal, Vol. XXXI, Issue 29 (Saturday, July 21, 1900), p. 1, col. 2

Sloan, L. Alene, "Some Aspects of the Woman Suffrage in Indiana" (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Ball State University, 1982), p. 123

Congressional Record: Senate - March 12, 1900 p.2871.

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