Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Ruth Amelia Noble Warren, 1869–1954
By Nancy Alexander Simmons, Fairfax Station, VA
Woman Suffrage Activist
Ruth Amelia Noble was born December 13, 1869, in Menomonie, Wisconsin, to Nathan Bundy Noble and Ellen Tainter Noble. Her father worked as a bookkeeper and lumberman. In 1894, she graduated with an A. B. degree from the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. And on September 25, 1894, in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, she married fellow student Cyrus Carleton "C. C." Warren. He was born in Illinois in 1871 and attended the university from 1888 to 1893, but did not graduate.
By 1900, the couple was living in Mississippi, where C. C. Warren began his life-long career as a lumber manufacturer; they had two daughters and two sons. Their colonial revival style home in Jackson, Mississippi, called "Fairview," was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Spencer and Powers and was said to be a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon home.
Warren's suffrage activities spanned at least 8 years and two states. Minutes from the seventh annual session of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA), held in Cleveland, Mississippi, on April 11-12, 1911, record that both Warren and her husband had paid their dues. In October 1911, Nellie Nugent Somerville, president of the MWSA, called together woman suffragists in Jackson, Mississippi, for the purpose of forming a suffrage league there; the initial meeting was held in Warren's home. At the next meeting, on November 15, Warren was elected the local league's vice-president. During the December 12 meeting, Warren presented a history of the woman suffrage movement in the United States in which she noted that the beginning of the suffrage movement was more like "the coming to light of an old idea—the first visible result of unseen forces already long at work." Her presentation was published in the Jackson Daily News. The meeting was held again at the Warren home on January 18, 1912, at which Warren was the interim recording secretary; they discussed using cards to enroll the names of people friendly to votes for women. At the February 2 meeting, Warren "gave a resume of the different bills in which women are interested, which have been defeated or laid on the table."
Meanwhile, Warren had taken on leadership roles at the state level. She was a member of the MWSA's Press Committee, along with fellow suffragists Helen Drane McClurg, Annie Kinkead Dent, and Madge Quin Fugler. Lily Wilkinson Thompson's report of press work said that "Mrs. Ruth Noble Warren and Mrs. Mary Green Burke have contributed admirable articles to this department." During this state meeting, Warren discussed having a booth at the state fair in Jackson and was authorized to make provisions for it. She also was the sole member designated a Member of the National Committee, addressed attendees during the Thursday session, chaired the Resolutions Committee, read a resolution of thanks, and personally pledged financial support for the MWSA.
Back in Jackson at the May 17 meeting of the local league, Warren took the minutes, recording that the women decided to rent a booth at the state fair. At the June 4 meeting, members chose a name for the local league—The Equity League—and elected Warren secretary for the coming year. The members also made decisions regarding their booth at the state fair and assigned Warren the task of decorating and arranging for the reception of visitors. Warren hosted the September 3 meeting at her house and stood in for the absent treasurer, accepting dues from those who had them. In preparation for the state fair, Belle Kearny—another noted temperance leader and suffragist—had sent them a handsome California pennant and Kansas also offered them a pennant. At the October 1 meeting, which was again at Warren's house, she was appointed temporary chair of the press committee because the chair had resigned. And she retained her recording secretary duties for the November 5 meeting.
However, Warren's suffrage work in Mississippi was coming to a close. The MWSA report for the quarter ending November 1912 included the following: "Mrs. Warren sent in her resignation as member of the National Committee, and Mrs. Monroe McClurg of Greenwood, was appointed in her place. Mrs. Warren will shortly move to far away Dakota. In her departure the Association loses one of its most devoted and valuable members." This was about the time that C. C. Warren became a stockholder in a lumber company in Rapid City, South Dakota, and moved his family there. The last record of the Warrens' suffrage support in Mississippi comes from The History of Woman Suffrage, which says that in 1913 they loaned furnishings from their beautiful home, "Fairview," to the first ever suffrage headquarters at the state fair; these headquarters included "a rest room for mothers and babies" and was maintained by the Equity League of Jackson.
Even after her move to South Dakota, Warren was included in the history of the Equity League of Jackson. Specifically, league minutes from 1915 stated
‘I believe in the right of suffrage for women, and thereby enrolled myself as a member of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association,' constitute the enrolled membership of the Equity League of Jackson, auxiliary to the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association."
Among the names annotated as having moved away from the area were Ruth Noble Warren, C. C. Warren, and their daughter Dorothea Warren. Both Mr. and Mrs. Warren also were acknowledged as having paid yearly dues into the treasury of the Equity League, either part or all of the time since the League was organized.
Not surprisingly, Warren became active in suffrage activities in South Dakota soon after she moved there. In July 1913, she hosted a meeting of the Rapid City Equal Suffrage Club at her home, assisted by her daughters. Those present discussed the recent state meeting at which the following resolution was passed:
"Resolved, that we, the South Dakota Universal Franchise League do protest against the use of the word ‘male' in the bill now pending before the United States Senate relating to the taking of claims by 18 year old boys as discriminating against girls and we request that the word ‘male' be stricken from the bill, thereby making young men and women co-sharers in this privilege; and resolved further that a copy of this resolution be sent by night letter to Senator Sterling."
In October 1914, Catherine Waugh McCullough, a noted suffragist from Illinois, acknowledged the hospitality of Warren and others on her visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Days later, Warren was elected president of the local franchise club in Rapid City.
In 1916, suffragists placed a full page advertisement in the Rapid City Journal with the heading
"To the voters of Pennington County, South Dakota:
We, the undersigned, Mothers, Wives, Daughters, and Sisters of the voters of Pennington County, believing that we ought to enjoy with you the great privilege of Suffrage, hereby petition you to vote ‘Yes' on Amendment Number 6, which grants to men and women alike the privilege of the ballot."
Warren and her daughter, Dorothea, were among the names listed. The page also listed organizations that supported suffrage and summarized the political parties' positions on suffrage; all of the parties—Democratic, Republican, Progressive, Socialist, and Prohibition—supported woman suffrage. The amendment did not pass.
In October 1918, the suffragists launched a similar appeal by publishing the names of Pennington County women who supported Amendment E, which provided "for the enfranchisement of women and that every voter of South Dakota shall be a full citizen of the United States." Warren's name was again on the list, and the amendment passed in the November 1918 election. In early 1919, the local suffrage club in Rapid City held a rummage sale to replenish funds that had been spent on successfully winning woman suffrage in South Dakota; Warren was in charge of gathering items to be sold.
Concurrent with her suffrage work, Warren was active in other organizations. She frequently hosted the Current Events Club in Rapid City, where ladies discussed topics ranging from the cause underlying the overthrow of the Manchurians in China to the last days of the Russian anarchy. She volunteered for the local Red Cross chapter and taught others how to work with surgical dressings. Warren shared her recipe for salted nuts with fellow members of the Domestic Science department of the Fortnightly Club in Rapid City. She was a leader of her ward in collecting for liberty loans, a war bond that was sold to support the allies during World War I. Warren hosted meetings of the American Association of University Women in her home; and when graduates from the University of Michigan gathered in Mitchell, South Dakota, to form a state alumni association, Warren and her husband were there.
In 1936, Warren moved with her husband to Kansas City, Missouri, and then to Phoenix, Arizona, where they lived for several years. In the early 1940s, they moved to San Diego, California. C. C. Warren died in San Diego, on March 16, 1948, and Ruth Noble Warren died there on October 4, 1954. They are buried there in Cypress View Mausoleum and Crematory.
Ruth Noble Warren
Photo Courtesy of the Warren family from her granddaughter Sally Curro.
1870 U.S. Census, Wisconsin. Menomonie, Dunn County, p. 140A. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
1900 U.S. Census, Mississippi. Laurel, Jones County, p. 15, Enumeration District: 0059. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
1900 U.S. Census, Wisconsin. Rice Lake, Barron County, p. 12, Enumeration District: 0012. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
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"Eighth Annual Report." April 1912. Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, University of Mississippi Libraries Digital Collections, Lily Thompson Collection. Available online at http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/suffrage/id/37/rec/4.
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"Puts Money into Big Lumber Firm." The Mitchell Capital (Mitchell, South Dakota), October 10, 1912, p. 5. Available at https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn2001063112/1912-10-10/ed-1/seq-5/.
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"Second Quarterly Report." 1912, p.2, Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, University of Mississippi Libraries Digital Collections, Lily Thompson Collection. Available at http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/suffrage/id/137/rec/28
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"Suffragists Desire Word ‘Male' Stricken From Senate Bill." Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), July 8, 1913, p. 8. Available through newspapers.com.
The Black Hills Weekly Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), November 6, 1914, p. 8. Available through newspapers.com.
"To the Voters of Pennington County, South Dakota." Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), November 5, 1916, p. 7. Available through newspapers.com.
"Travel Dinner." Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), March 30, 1936, p. 3. Available through newspapers.com.
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"Will Raise Fund by Holding Rummage Sale." Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), January 18, 1919, p. 4. Available through newspapers.com.
"Women Petition Voters Vote Yes Amendment E." Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), October 17, 1918, p. 7. Available through newspapers.com.
"Women's Ward Committees." Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota), April 16, 1918, p. 2. Available through newspapers.com.