Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Honora McPherson, 1858-?
By Alena Beard, student, Colorado State University
Honora McPherson, a long-time Denver Educator and Women's Activist
Honora McPherson was born in 1858, in Massachusetts. McPherson moved to Denver in 1889, from Muskegon, Michigan. According to the 1910 United States Census, Honora was married to John McPherson and living in Colorado. In an expected win, McPherson was elected Denver County Superintendent for Education for the 1912-13 term. Prior to the election, McPherson held positions as a teacher and secretary, including years as a secretary to Aaron Gove, the City Superintendent of Schools for Denver.
Starting in 1895, McPherson is listed as annual member of the Colorado National Education Association. Starting in 1900, she was a longtime been a member of the board of directors of the Denver Woman's Club, holding the role for at least 12 years. During the summer of 1914, Denver public schools passed a rule that declared that any female teachers who were married during their employment would be automatically fired. As a long-time educator and women's activist, Honor McPherson was one of the first in line to push back against this sexist new rule. McPherson was quoted saying, "In a suffrage state women should have just as much right to marry as men." She went on to say, "The rule is a step backwards twenty-five years. In my opinion a woman is a much better teacher who has had the experience of marriage."
Leading Denver women's activists led the fight against this rule, including the Denver Woman's Club. McPherson began working on the board of directors for the Women's Club in 1900, and by 1922, she was president. She served as the treasurer of the Women's Public Service League.
Part of her philanthropic work included teaching a sewing class to working girls and working with the Equal Service Association and the Young Woman's Rest and Recreation Association. Although the details of her suffrage work and involvement are not extensively known, her long-term work within local women's clubs suggest that she was associated with leading Colorado suffrage and women's rights movements. The Colorado Report in volume 6 of the History of Woman Suffrage states that she served as president of the Equal Suffrage Association, but the dates are not given. The date and location of her death are undetermined.
Topeka Daily Capital, June 8, 1914, p. 5. https://www.newspapers.com/image/64082424#
Stratton, Anna R. "Women's Activities the World Around." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 20, 1913, p. 5. https://www.newspapers.com/image/86159534/.
The Hutchinson News, July 9, 1912, p. 6. https://www.newspapers.com/image/17095748/.
National Education Association of the United States. Journal of Proceedings and Addresses: Session of the Year 1895 held at Denver, Colorado. St. Paul: National Education Association of the United States, 1895.
Brooks, Eugene C. Agriculture and Rural Life Day: Material for Its Observance. Washington: United States Bureau of Education, 1913.
Colorado Medicine: The Journal of the Colorado State Medical Society. Vol. XIX (1922)
Journal of Education: New England and National. Vol. LXXVI, no. 2 (July 4, 1912), p 52.
Harper, Ida Husted et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]