Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists. 1890-1920
Biography of Olive Rand Clarke, 1841-1923
By Jayne Morris-Crowther
Teacher, journalist, club woman, conservationist, suffragist
Olive Rand Clarke was born May 26, 1841 in Warner, New Hampshire to Joseph Rand and Olive Whittier Rand. She studied at Hopkinton Academy and Contoocook Academy and upon graduation she taught locally for a few years. She started writing for the Manchester Mirror and married the publisher, Col. John Badger Clarke in 1886. She wrote travel pieces and published a book, A Vacation Excursion: Letters from Mexico 1886; Letters from Spain, France, Italy, Central Europe and the Near East, 1894.
In addition to her writing responsibilities, Clarke was quite active in civic groups. She
was a trustee of the N.H. Industrial School from 1888-1911 and was appointed
by the governor (Charles H. Sawyer) as Secretary of the Manchester Aid and Relief
Society in 1873. She was a founding member of the New Century Club, a member of the Children's Aid and Protective Association, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the New Hampshire Peace Society.
Clarke's activism was particularly channeled into women's clubs and associations. She was the President of the Manchester City Federation, 1896-1898, and a founding member of the New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs (NH Federation) in 1895 where she was elected Corresponding Secretary. Although she declined the presidency in 1899, she chaired the Press Committee for nine years starting in 1907. She wrote the club motto and "A History of the Federation" for the Women's Edition of the Manchester Union in 1917.
Within Clarke's activism she had a special passion for conservation and women's suffrage. As the NH Federation sought to widen their work and influence, they established a Committee on Forestry in 1897. Clarke became the state chair and successfully appealed to the General Federation of Women's Clubs to pressure Congress to pass the Weeks (John W. Weeks, Massachusetts Congressman) Bill for a National Forest in the White Mountains, NH where 708,483 acres were preserved. She also helped pass a bill for a state forester and better forest fire protection in 1909 and under her leadership the NH Federation contributed money to successfully protect NH's primeval pine trees. A "Forestry Report" written by Clarke in 1906 is included in a document project on this site focusing on the conservation work of the General Federation of Women's clubs.
Clarke was at the head of the campaign for women's suffrage in NH. She was the President of the Manchester Equal Suffrage Association from 1907 as well as on the advisory board of the NH Equal Suffrage Association from 1917 until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She personally addressed the NH Executive Council to call for a session of the legislature for ratification which occurred November 21, 1916.
Following the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, the NH Equal Suffrage Association resolved to become the New Hampshire League of Women Voters. She was then elected to their Board of Directors.
Following the death of her husband in 1891, Clarke continued to reside in Manchester with her own income until her death, January 6, 1923.
Sources used: New Hampshire Death and Burial Records, 1654-1949, accessed through Ancestry.com, 12/13/2016; Henry Harrison Metcalf, One Thousand New Hampshire Notables: Brief Biographical Sketches of New Hampshire Men and Women, Native or Resident, Prominent in Public, Professional, Business, Educational, Fraternal or Benevolent Work, (Concord: Rumford Publishing Company, 1919), 226-227; Aurore Eaton, "Aurore Easton's Booking Back: The Story of the Manchester Woman's Aid and Relief Society," New Hampshire Union Leader, Feb. 24, 2014, accessed through www.unionleader.com, 3/5/2017.
Alice Stratton Harriman, Chairman. et al, A History of the New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs, 1895-1940, (Bristol, NH: Musgrove Printing House, 1941), 25, 35-6, 110, 149-150,
New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs - Yearbook, 1915-1916, New Hampshire Federation Online books, p.66, accessed through Hathi Trust Digital Library, 3/6/2017, "A Brief History of the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association and Report of the Annual Meeting held in Manchester, Oct. 25, 1907" (Concord, NH: Rumford Printing Company, 1907);
Anonymous "How New Hampshire Ratified," Woman's Journal, 4:17 (1919), 431,438; anonymous, "New Hampshire," Woman's Journal, 4:20 (1919), 530-31 both accessed through Gerritsen Online.