Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Jane A. McLennan, 1862-1954

By Erin Hvizdak, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Washington State University

Jane A. McLennan was born on March 22, 1862, in Oak Park, Illinois, to William Deane and Cecilia Drury, and had at least one sister, Cecelia Deane Haynes. She married druggist Kenneth Stuart McLennan (sometimes spelled MacLennan), born in 1852 in Ontario, Canada, in approximately 1881. The 1910 U.S. Census lists her and Kenneth at 6054 Jefferson in Chicago, and indicates that she had two children with one of them still living at that time. Kenneth died on February 4, 1922, and their address is listed on his death certificate as 1318 Richie Court. Jane died on June 11, 1954, residing at 330 Greenwood Boulevard at the time of her death. Her daughter, Elsie (Elspeth) McLennan Smith, was born on June 27, 1882 and died in 1959, and her address at the time of death is also listed as 330 Greenwood Boulevard. Jane and Kenneth are both buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

McLennan was heavily involved in the Chicago Political Equality League (CPEL). During the 1910s, she acted in the following capacities: Director for two years; CPEL delegate to the Drama League, and chair of the CPEL program and social committees. Just after the law passed granting suffrage to Illinois women in 1913, a parade was held in downtown Chicago on July 1, 1913. McLennan acted as grand marshall for the parade, and explained to the Chicago Tribune that the parade was so "hastily arranged" that they could only provide automobiles for the women's organizations, not every enfranchised voter. Previous to this, McLennan was one of the women in charge of arrangements to send suffrage delegates from Illinois to march in the National Suffrage Parade on March 3, 1913 in Washington DC, organized by Alice Paul. In her capacity as CPEL program committee chair, McLennan was in charge of overseeing numerous events for the group, including a buffet luncheon on November 29, 1913 that featured women activists giving one-minute speeches on "What the Vote Means to Me." At the Illinois Equal Suffrage convention of November 1913, McLennan was in charge of assembling a meeting of the 70 CPEL delegates that attended. She was also featured in an article about a "self-denial fund," which listed what particular suffragists were giving up in order to donate money to the National Woman's Suffrage Association's efforts to aid several states. McLennan indicated that she would not get two pink-backed cameos reset and would give the money to the fund instead.

McLennan was also directly involved in efforts and campaigns to support or oppose candidates. According to a December 23, 1914 Chicago Tribune article, she headed a protesting committee with Lulu Schweitzer, Mrs. Charles Nagley, and Miss I.M. Lane to protest county board President Peter Reinberg's appointment of Hugo L. Pitts and Melville G. Holding to the county civil service board due to records as "party politicians who would be guided by prestige rather than merit and efficiency in making appointments to civil service jobs on the county payrolls." She also worked on the "woman's campaign committee" to support Alderman Charles E. Merriam for Seventh Ward. McLennan also became involved in politics herself. In November 1913, the names of a number of women were submitted to act as elections judges and clerks, which the Chicago Tribune indicated, "promises to start a feminist movement that may swamp the board of election commissioners." McLennan was submitted as a potential clerk by the Seventh Ward Auxiliary of the Equal Suffrage Association and was listed as a "Progressive."

Much of McLennan's service was concentrated in the arts. In addition to being the CPEL delegate to the Drama League, she was also a member of the Arche Club (formed for the study of art by women in Chicago) and the Chicago Woman's Out Door Art League. Later, McLennan was involved in the Art and Literature Department of the Chicago Woman's Club, serving for example on the Civic Art Committee. In the 1930 U.S. Census, McLennan was listed as the "Head" of the Chicago Woman's Club building, with several woman lodgers listed underneath. The Woman's Club Building was finished in 1929 at 62-72 E 11th Street in Chicago and contained several rooms for short and long-term stays.


Collections consulted on FamilySearch (
Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994.
Jane A. McLennan.
Cecelia Deane Haynes.
Kenneth S. MacLennan.
United States Census
Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1871-1940.
Elspeth McLennan.

Other Works:
Directory and Register of Women's Clubs: City of Chicago and Vicinity. 1914. Illinois Federation of Woman's Clubs.
Annual Announcement of the Chicago Woman's Club. 1929-1931. Series: Gerritsen Collection of Women's History. Microfiche.

Newspaper Articles
"Train to Move as Suffragist Starts Engine," The Inter Ocean, February 21, 1913.
"Banners Greet Suffrage Parade," Chicago Tribune, July 2, 1913.
"Mrs. Treadwell Recognized as Skillful Leader of Political Equality League," Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1913.
"Chicago Women Lead in Rows at Peoria Meetings," The Inter Ocean, November 6, 1913.
"Men Go In for ‘Denial' Test," Chicago Tribune, July 15, 1914.
"Women Protest Reinberg Merit Board Appointments," Chicago Tribune, December 23, 1914.
"Women Will Aid Merriam," Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1913.
"Women Demand G.O.P. Board Jobs," Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1913.
"More Women Election Officials Appointed," Chicago Tribune, December 24, 1913.

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