Biographical Sketch of Elizabeth Donaldson McClary

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mrs. Elizabeth Donaldson McClary, 1846-1926

By Alicia Hanson, student, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

Acting Director, State Board, Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association

Elizabeth Donaldson was born on May 4, 1845, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Elizabeth Lang Donaldson of Ireland and William Donaldson of Scotland. Elizabeth Donaldson married Robert McClary in 1870 in Canada. Both Elizabeth and Robert were native to Canada. They had six children, but only four survived to adulthood. The couple emigrated from Canada to the United States in 1879 with their three oldest children: Chas, born in August 1875, William, born in July 1873, and Robina, born in May 1871. Their youngest child, Donald, born January 1878, remained in Canada until January 1887, when he was brought to the United States as a nine-year-old.

Once in the United States, the family initially lived in Saint Vincent, Minnesota; they later moved to Saint Paul. Despite living much of her life in the United States, Elizabeth McClary was never naturalized as a citizen. She resided in Saint Paul until her husband died in 1918. She then moved to Seattle, Washington, to reside with her children, Robina and William, until her death on February 11, 1926. She is buried at Rose Lawn Cemetery in Roseville, Minnesota. She was survived by three of her children, Robina, William, and Donald.

McClary was an active suffragist as well as being a homemaker. She was politically active in Minneapolis and Saint Paul from 1890 to about 1915. She was a representative from the Minnesota division to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's annual convention in 1893 in Washington, D.C. At that convention, she pledged to be a lifetime member of the association as well as declaring lifetime membership bids for others from Minnesota. She was also active in the Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association and the Political Equality Club of Minnesota. She hosted parties for the birthdays of Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone in 1903 and 1905, respectively. She introduced Lucy Stone at the 1905 celebration of Susan B. Anthony at the Minnesota Political Equality Club. In 1906 Elizabeth took part in the Constitution of Women's Suffrage Convention as a delegate from Minnesota. She was an acting director of the state board of the Minnesota Women's Suffrage Association for several years.


1880 United States Federal Census [database online]. Roll 624, family history film 1254624, page 129C, enumeration district 216.

1900 United States Federal Census [database online].

1910 United States Federal Census [database online].

C. B. Colby et al., "Among the Magazines." The Woman's Tribune. Portland, Oregon, 1905. 4:22.

Find A Grave.

The Hand Book of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceeding of the... Annual Convention, National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1893.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920 (New York, 1922), 317-325. [LINK]

New York Age, August 23, 1890. News Bank/Readex, America's Historical Newspapers, Easton, Pennsylvania.

Weber, Eric. "Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association." MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society.

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