Biographical Database of NAWSA Woman Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary Neff Parry, 1881 – 1947
By Ann Morgan, Independent Researcher
Mary I. Neff was born on August 9, 1881 in Smicksburg, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, to J. Dallis Neff of Pennsylvania and Annie L. Neff, originally from England. Mary had a brother, Frank, older by 6 years and by 1900 the family had moved to Punxsatawney in Jefferson County, PA where Mr. Neff was the proprietor of a meat market. She continued to reside with her parents in Punxsatawney at the time of the 1910 census, which recorded her as having no occupation. Her father was a painter by this date.
On July 6, 1910, Mary married William Parry (1879 - 1972), with whom she had three daughters: Millicent (1914-2003), Eleanor (1916 - 2010) and Ruth (1929 -2013). Mr. Parry was an employee of the federal government, and the family lived primarily in Washington, DC as well as briefly in Charleston, West Virginia in the mid-1930s.
Mary Neff Parry is referred to as Mrs. Mary N. Parry in the literature that discusses her brief public participation in the suffrage movement. In 1911, she joined the nascent State Equal Franchise League of Maryland, which published a short-lived but informative newsletter, The Maryland Suffrage News, in 1912. After the death of founder Elizabeth King Ellicott in 1914, the organization was absorbed by the Equal Suffrage League of Baltimore. Mrs. Parry served as an officer in the original group whose work was based on non-partisan, non-political and educational principles, with a focus on the well-being of children.
Mary's mother moved in with the Parrys after their marriage, and Mary took care of her mother who was partially paralyzed in 1912. In 1940 William and Mary Parry continued to reside in Washington, D.C. with their two younger daughters and a lodger, who may have been a servant. Mrs. Parry died on January 8, 1947, and is buried at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Washington, DC.
Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920 Volume 6 (New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), pp. 264-65.
US Census Bureau, federal manuscript censuses, 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940.
Email exchanges with S.T. Peraino, daughter of Ruth Parry Tucker and granddaughter of Mary N. Parry.