Biographical Sketch of Mary Inez Stevens Wood

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Mary Inez Stevens Wood, 1866-1945

Katie Corbett
MA student, University of New Hampshire

Mary Inez Stevens was born on January 18, 1866 to John L. Stevens and Jean Brand Stevens in Woodstock, VT. Her marriage in 1884 to George Albert Wood, and the births of their four children – Helen (1885), Albert (1887), Mary (1888), and Keith (1890) – may have been her first entries into public documents, but they were by no means her last. Her involvement with the suffrage movement began with her participation in "women's clubs" – an early form of suffrage meetings – in and around Portsmouth, NH. Her participation increased exponentially after her promotion to manager of the Bureau of American Federation of Women in 1900 (noted in the 1900 federal manuscript census, but this organization not found in any other online sources). This position offered her a paid salary, which provided her a financial independence outside her husband's income as an Internal Revenue Collector.

In 1907, she was elected to the position of Vice President of the Federation. Her work in this position did not go unnoticed, and a few years later she was elected as President of the New Hampshire State Federation of Women's Clubs. In these roles, Mary I. Wood was frequently called upon to organize and speak at rallies and general membership meetings. She also acted as a representative of the Federation's state chapter at events throughout New Hampshire, as well as in Boston and Washington, D.C.

Her talents as both a speech writer and general spokesperson for the movement were sought-after qualities. In 1912, she was invited by the History Department of the General Federation to publish a history of women's clubs. The finished product, The History of the General Federation of Women's Groups for the First Twenty-Two Years of its Organization, was almost 500 pages long. Throughout the book, she described how each women's club began on a town-by-town basis, before being integrated into a "federation" at state levels after the potential of these groups was realized. Overall, Mary sought to emphasize not only the history of these groups in connection with the suffrage movement, but also to articulate the power of women when they come together to work towards a common goal.

In addition to her work for women's social equality and universal suffrage, Mary was also an outspoken advocate for the education of women. In 1919, she presented a speech at the opening ceremony of the School of Citizenship for women voters at New Hampshire College. The speech called for the need to educate women to be active citizens and conscious voters in society. Her commitment to education also resulted in her election to the New Hampshire Board of Education. She would continue to be a member of this board for 24 years, working right up until her death on April 24, 1945 at the age of 79.

Sources:

Information on Mary Inez Stevens's birth, parents, and marriage to George Wood can be found on her marriage certificate at "Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XF7K-QQK). Information about her position as manager of the Bureau of American Federation of Women, her children and her husband's occupation can be found on the 1900 census, available on Ancestry.com. Information about her activities as Vice President can be found in A Brief History of the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association and a Report of the Annual Meeting, available through Google Books at https://archive.org/stream/abriefhistoryne00assogoog/abriefhistoryne00assogoog_djvu.txt

Information about her role as President of the New Hampshire Federation can be found in the Google Book, The Women of the Suffrage Movement: Autobiographies & Biographies of the Most Influential Suffragettes, published by Musaicum Books in 2018, available at https://books.google.com/books?id=OxFkDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT6398&lpg=PT6398&dq=nancy+w.+paine+smith+women%27s+suffrage+movement&source=bl&ots=GwGwUQwm6Y&sig=BoWos1MxdiKZw6todc1DX1bDJlQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi6toGCmqncAhUBZN8KHeIwA_8Q6AEIUjAN#v=onepage&q&f=false

Information about her publication of The History of the General Federation can be found in the article "Federating Women's Clubs is Described" (1914 Jun 17). The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File) Retrieved from http://libproxy.unh.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.unh.edu/docview/509105168?accountid=14612

Information about her speech at the School of Citizenship can be found in "No Party Lines for Women Voters" (1919, Jul 10). The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File) Retrieved from http://libproxy.unh.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.unh.edu/docview/510177621?accountid=14612

Information about her death and role on the Board of Education is available in her Boston Globe obituary, "Mrs. Mary I. Wood". (1945, Apr 29). Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960) Retrieved from http://libproxy.unh.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.unh.edu/docview/822202883?accountid=14612

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