Biographical Sketch of Clementine Davidson Ladley Olmsted

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Clementine Davidson Ladley Olmsted, 1878-1953

By Lisa Hendrickson, independent historian

Clementine Davidson Ladley was born in Michigan on July 12, 1878 to Oscar D. Ladley and Clementine Davidson. Oscar was a Civil War veteran and then a frontier army officer. His extensive collection of letters (from the years 1857-1880) covered his time in the Civil War and frontier career was donated to Wright State University.

Clementine grew up in New York state and Washington D.C. She graduated from high school, but did not go on to further education. On May 2, 1901, Clementine married Edward Olmsted. They lived in Elizabeth, NJ and were married for 40 years but had no children. Edward was a decorated military officer in the Spanish American War, went on to become at Lt. Coronel in the New York National Guard, and then the Assistant Chief of Staff of the New Jersey National Guard. He retired as a Brigadier General in 1936. His large collection of WWI books and artifacts was donated to the New Jersey Historical Society and the Pingry School. In addition to his military service; he was an "engineer salesman" for various companies in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Edward Olmsted died in 1941 and Clementine followed in 1953.

Clementine was a socialite who was very active in many organizations including the New Jersey Society of Colonial Dames of America and St. John's Episcopal Church. She directed dramatic performances and held luncheons for various groups.

She was very active in the suffragist movement in New Jersey attending meetings and organizing fund raising events. Although there is not a record of when she first joined the movement, by 1913 she held elected office in suffrage organizations.

  • At the 23rd convention of New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association in November 1913, she was elected Treasurer of the organization. Reports show that the organization's membership had more than doubled during that year, consisting of 44 local branches with over 6000 members.
  • At the 24th convention, in 1914, she was again elected Treasurer and Alice Paul was the featured speaker. Held in Camden, it was the first time the convention had been held south of Trenton as the New Jersey Association now had branches from Sussex to Cape May counties. Board meetings were held in different sections of the State each month, followed by open conferences for suffragists from the nearby towns. Each of these was attended by from 50 to 250 people and resulted in greatly increased activity in the branches. During the summer, a number of county automobile tours were made which consisted of a "flying squadron" of decorated cars going from town to town, holding meetings and distributing literature.
  • One of her fundraising activities was organizing a Suffrage Ball in May 1915 for the Elizabeth Equal Suffrage League.
  • The New York Times reported on 11/12/1916 that, "Mrs. Edward F. Olmsted was elected Treasurer at the 28th Annual Convention of the New Jersey Suffrage organization. $2000 was raised to be used chiefly to campaign for the passage of the federal suffrage amendment."
  • She was elected Treasurer of the New Jersey Suffrage Ratification Committee gathering on July 26, 1919. The focus of the meeting was to complete the organization of the ten attending groups of women representing every county in New Jersey except for two.
  • She attended the New Jersey Victory Convention for the New Jersey Women's Suffrage Association (NJWSA) as its Treasurer on April 23-24, 1920 at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark. On Thursday, the first day of the convention, reports of officers were given. On Friday, they voted to adopt the Constitution of the New Jersey League of Women Voters finishing with the Victory Banquet. On the final day, Saturday, they discussed business in connection with plans for the League of Women Voters followed by a luncheon attended by many of the pioneer suffrage workers of New Jersey. This was the last official meeting of the NJWSA; a group of women who, for over fifty years, carried on the work of the Suffrage Association culminating in the ratification of the Federal Suffrage Amendment by the New Jersey Legislature in February of 1920.




Timothy Abbott's personal photo of his great aunt, Clementine Davidson Ladley Olmsted


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