Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Edna Wright, 1879-?
By Nicholas D. Garlinghouse and Liette Gidlow, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Paid Organizer for Women's Suffrage
Edna Wright was born in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in December 1879. Her parents were Samuel and Catherine Wright. She also had two younger sisters, Ethel and Rowe. The Wright family later moved from Mineral Point to Milwaukee, where Catherine kept house while Samuel made a living as a druggist and chemist and then as a lawyer. Wright's sister, Ethel, was an actress, who appeared in several movies and later became a high school teacher. Rowe was an editor for books and magazines. Edna Wright worked in the women's suffrage movement as a paid organizer.
As a suffragist, Wright was active in several states, including in Iowa in 1916, and at unspecified dates in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire. She was given a salary by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Wright was mentioned by name and praised for being one of the organizers giving "most effective service" during a report given to NAWSA in 1920. She assisted in the distribution of pamphlets, posters, and buttons; created advertisements; and organized parades. Wright also delivered speeches in support of women's suffrage. One such speech, delivered in Saginaw, Michigan, was publicized in the Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record in 1918. Wright was also the Field Director of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association. In this position, Wright was instrumental in the Wisconsin legislature's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on June 10, 1919. An exhibit in the Oshkosh Public Museum describes the ratification as being "put through" due to the efforts of Wright and Mrs. Jessie Hooper.
After ratification, Wright remained active within the newly created League of Women Voters (LWV). To facilitate the creation of an informed female electorate, the LWV organized "citizenship schools" in many states across the country. These Citizenship Schools taught about city, state, and national governments; political parties; the electoral process; and the rights and duties of citizens. An article in the Green Book Magazine mentions that Wright was a prominent lecturer in the Citizenship Schools in New Hampshire and elsewhere.
By 1940, Edna Wright was living in New York, New York, with a cousin, Alice Wright. A death date could not be established.
Blackwell, Alice Stone. "New Hampshire Citizenship Schools." The Woman Citizen, vol. 4. Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission, 1919.
Blair, Emily Newell. "What Shall We Do With It? The Ballot, of Course! We Have it! Now What?" The Green Book Magazine, vol. 23. 1920.
"Ethel Wright." International Movie Database. http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0942385/filmotype/actress?ref_=m_nmfm_1.
Gidlow, Liette. The Big Vote: Gender, Consumer Culture, and the Politics of Exclusion, 1890s-1920s. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
Harper, Ida Husted. ed. The History of Women's Suffrage. Vol. 6. New York: J.J. Little & Ives Company, 1922. [LINK]
"In Assembly, Journal Proceedings of the Fifty-Fourth Session of the Wisconsin Legislature."
Madison, Wisconsin: Democrat Printing Company, State Printer, 1919.
"The League of Women Voters Through the Decades." Media Library of the League of Women Voters. http://library.lwv.org/content/league-women-voters-through-decades.
McBride, Genevieve G. On Wisconsin Women: Working for Their Rights from Settlement to Suffrage. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.
Shuler, Nettie Rogers. "Report of Nettie Rogers Schuler to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, February 1920." In History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 5. Edited by Ida Husted Harper. New York: J.J. Little & Ives Company, 1922, pp. 688-694. [LINK]
"Suffrage Movement and Women's History." Oshkosh Public Museum. http://www.oshkoshmuseum.org/Virtual/exhibit1/e10021b.htm
"Suffrage Talk." Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record, vol. 21. 1918.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900-Population. Ancestry.com website.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910-Population. Ancestry.com website.
Wilson, Justina Leavitt, ed. Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceedings of the Jubilee Convention, 1869-1919, Held at St. Louis, Mo., March 24-29, 1919. New York: National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company, 1919.