Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Tarquinia Losa Voss, 1850-1930
By Ann E. Jacobites, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Prepared for History 5200/7200, "Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern America," Prof. Liette Gidlow
Writer, Speaker, Suffragist
Tarquinia Losa Voss was born in Noblesville, Indiana on November 6, 1850. She was the third child of five in a Presbyterian family and a member of the Second Presbyterian Church. Her father, Gustavus H. Voss, lawyer and judge, was born in Ohio and her mother, Sarah A. Voss, was born in Kentucky. The Voss family was well known and politically connected and had entertained every president but one since Lincoln. In 1896, Voss moved into her own home in Indianapolis on 1301 Broadway Street, where she lived the rest of her life between her travels. Although Voss never married, she became a mother when she adopted her sister Theresa's daughter, Lurline, after Theresa's passing in 1922. Voss was active in a variety of social clubs and societies, mainly holding multiple positions as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She also traveled to France as an Ambassador of Indiana, participated in the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society, and belonged to the Women's School League.
On October 7, 1897 Voss was elected Vice Regent for the Indiana chapter of the DAR. The purpose of the DAR was "to perpetuate the patriotic spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence; to commemorate prominent events connected with the War of the Revolution; to collect, publish, and preserve the roll, records, and historic documents relating to that period; to encourage the study of the country's history; to promote sentiments of friendship and common interest among the members of the society, and to provide a home for and furnish assistance to such Daughters of the American Revolution as may be impoverished, when in its power to do so." Voss continued her work with the DAR in many ways over the years. In 1904, the Indiana State Society of DAR continued its tradition of celebrating Washington's birthday with a Flag Day picnic, a large banquet, and a reception at Voss's home. On May 3, 1904 Tarquinia was appointed to the DAR's board of managers. That same year Voss organized a new DAR chapter in Greenfield, Indiana. In 1907, Voss was elected to her tenth term as State Regent of Indiana. Voss gave many speeches on behalf of the DAR at many meetings and gatherings, which are documented in the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the General Society Daughters of the Revolution (Vol. 12-17). In her "Daughters of To-Day" speech, Voss toasted, "It is with feelings of satisfaction that we observe that the Daughters are one of the factors that has caused a wave of patriotic fervor to sweep this country." She added, "As individuals, we are like the grains of sand upon the shore cemented together by ties of interest; we are the great wall of defense."
On July 4, 1900, Voss traveled to Paris, France as an ambassador for Indiana at the Paris Exhibition where she participated in an unveiling ceremony of a monument to General Lafayette. Although the French government had hinted that it would be embarrassing for the United States to send women as national representatives, Susan B. Anthony and Julia Ward Howe wrote letters to President William McKinley to convince him to allow women ambassadors to participate. Voss was given the honor of reciting a poem ("Dedication Ode" by Frank Arthur Putnam) for the occasion.
Voss was also part of the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society, an organization that worked "for the attainment of equal rights at the ballot box for all citizens on the same conditions." Voss was appointed in 1909 as a director of the Women's School League, an offshoot of the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society. According to the History of Woman Suffrage, the Women's School League's purpose was "to elect a woman to the school board and improve the schools of Indianapolis." Once the Women's School League had accomplished its goal of electing a woman to the Indianapolis school board, it changed its name to the Woman's Franchise League of Indiana.
After an extended illness, Voss passed away in her home in Indianapolis on September 9, 1930. An article in the Indianapolis Sunday Prayers (2013) stated that her neighbors considered her "quite a flamboyant character in the neighborhood, as she lived for a time in Paris, and dressed in colorful clothes." The Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the General Society Daughters of the Revolution (Vols. 12-17) noted that Voss was "well known among the Daughters as a speaker, and [was] always greeted with the most encouraging applause." During her time in the DAR, it was noted that "no Daughter is more deservingly known for patriotic work than is the popular Regent of Indiana."
A photograph of Voss can be found at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/46039690/tarquinia-l.-voss#.
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