Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Anna Mansfield Orme, 1862-1929
By Therese Boyd, Pennsylvania State University
Born Anna M. Mansfield on June 19, 1862, in Philadelphia, she married Milton Wilkens Orme in 1886. He was a captain in the National Guard and was in the coffee-trading business. They lived in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and had three children: Albert Mansfield, Ruth Parry, and Anna Rhoda. The Ormes were active in local society, participating in social functions such as bachelor dances and local theater. A member of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Woman's Clubs, Orme was elected president of the Saturday Club of Wayne, a prominent local women's club, in 1907.
Over the next decade, Orme dedicated her time to the suffrage effort. In 1909 she served on the civil service reform committee of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women and was elected delegate to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention. She spoke to many groups on behalf of suffrage; for example, that April, as secretary of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association, she addressed the Brotherhood of Carpenters in Philadelphia before they voted to endorse women's suffrage.
At the forty-second annual convention of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association in 1910, where she was elected vice president, Orme gave a report on the Committee on Industrial Conditions for Women and Children. The following year she became chair of the Equal Franchise Association of Philadelphia. She traveled all over Pennsylvania, meeting with women's groups, working women, and politicians, to advance the cause of suffrage, and as legislative chair for the PWSA she was one of two women to meet with state representatives before the first legislative vote on woman suffrage in 1911.
By 1912 interest had grown so much that the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association divided the state into three districts; Orme covered the eastern counties of Pennsylvania. The next years were filled with travel and meetings. On March 5, 1917, Orme led the Woman's Democratic League of Pennsylvania and marched with hundreds of other women in Woodrow Wilson's inaugural parade, the first time suffragists were allowed to march.
Outside her suffrage work, in 1917 Orme helped register women for war work in November of 1917. In early 1918, the Orme family relocated to New York; in October of that year Captain Milton Orme died in the influenza epidemic.
After the death of her husband, Orme worked as an agent for Travelers Aid in New York; she lived with her daughters in Summit, New Jersey, where she died on January 10, 1929. Her youngest daughter, Rhoda, who had graduated from Smith College in 1922, would become acting president of Beirut College for Women (now Lebanese American University) in Beirut in the mid-1950s.
Information about Anna Mansfield Orme is not abundant but her name appears many times in Pennsylvania newspapers (see Newspapers.com) while she worked for suffrage from 1907 until her husband's death. Additional family information, including census records, can be found on Ancestry.com.