Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Zell Hart Deming, 1869-1936
By Joel Coblentz, undergraduate, and Leslie Heaphy, faculty sponsor, Kent State University, Stark, North Canton, Ohio
Treasurer, Ohio Woman Suffrage Association, First Female President of the Warren Tribune-Chronicle, first female member of the advisory board for the Associated Press
Zell Hart Deming was born in Trumbull County on September 18, 1869. She married Frank Hart around 1890 and moved to Chicago. However, she returned to Warren in 1893 after her husband passed away, leaving her with an infant daughter. After returning to Warren, she began to work as a society reporter for the Warren Tribune and by 1907 had served as secretary, treasurer, president and general manager and earned a controlling stake in the paper. That same year, she married William C. Deming, who was the publisher of the Cheyanne Tribune. The Twentieth Century History of Trumbull County Ohio attributes the financial success of the newly formed Tribune Company (a merger of both the Cheyanne and Warren newspapers) in no small part to Mrs. Hart Deming. However, by 1918 she was divorced and had begun to expand the Tribune from a minor, local circulation to a nationally syndicated newspaper. By 1921, under her supervision, the paper was a Warren staple, being read by nearly every household in the city. In addition, she had expanded the operation into a new building, a modern spectacle that was studied by many other pioneers in the industry.
What is remarkable about her fight for admission to the central advisory board of the Associated Press was, according to contemporary sources, the ease with which she fought for it. According to The Editor and Publisher from April 1918, she fought "like a woman thoroughly accustomed to campaigning" against a man named Samuel McClure. McClure believed that Warren was part of his newspaper's territory, and in order to override his protests, Deming needed four-fifths of the contemporary Associate Press board to vote in her favor. Ultimately, they voted 214-19 in her favor. Deming's fight with the A.P. was notable because she was the first woman to gain such a position with the organization. However, the article is also apt to point out the connections between Deming's get-out-the-vote efforts which paralleled her work with the suffrage movement.
Hart Deming was able to use her power as a local newspaper mogul to advance the woman's suffrage movement. She greatly encouraged another area suffragist, Harriet Taylor Upton, to write pro-suffrage articles, which were then published in Warren's most respected newspaper. In addition, she served as treasurer for the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association during Upton's tenure as president.
"12 to Join Ohio's Honored Women." The Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio). October 6, 2002, p. B4. http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2002/10/06/loc_12_to_join_ohios.html.
Coupland, Bob. "Warren's Upton House: Trip Down Memory Lane." The Tribune Chronicle (Warren, Ohio). November 8, 2016. http://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2016/11/warrens-upton-house-trip-down-memory-lane/.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "Ohio." Chapter XXXIV in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 508-519. [LINK]
Royster, Jacqueline. "Zell Hart Deming." Profiles of Ohio Women. (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003), 25.
Schmitt, Samuel. "On This Day in 1914." Carl Schmitt: The Vision of Beauty (blog). August 11, 2014. https://carlschmittvisionofbeauty.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/on-this-day-august-10-1914/.
Upton, Harriet Taylor. A Twentieth Century History of Trumbull County Ohio. The Lewis Publishing Company: Chicago, 1909.
"Wins Her Battle for Franchise of A.P." The Editor and Publisher 50 no. 46. (April 27, 1918), p. xviii.
"Zell H. Deming, Warren, Ohio, Publisher, Dies." Chicago Tribune. April 27, 1936, p. 14. Newspapers.com.