Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Nathalie Clinton (Mrs. Thew) Wright, 1877–1966
By Gina Valenzuela, SUNY Old Westbury. Faculty Sponsor, Carol Quirke.
Permanent Chairman, Erie County, New York, Buffalo Woman Suffrage Party
Nathalie Clinton was born on June 20, 1877, in Buffalo, New York. Her father, Spencer Clinton, was thirty-seven, and her mother, Cora Clinton, was sixteen. In the years that followed, her parents had five additional children. Her great grandfather, naturalist and politician DeWitt Clinton, was the Mayor of New York City, sixth Governor of New York, and a United States Senator. In 1904, at the age of twenty-seven, Nathalie Clinton married Yale-educated Dr. Thew Wright, an American surgeon, who was born on June 19, 1877 in Boston, Massachusetts to parents Rev. Dr. William Burnet and Lucretia Wright. The Wrights's first child, born also in 1904, died a short six years later. Their daughter, Gertrude Clinton, was born that same year, in 1910. A son followed in 1913, named after his father. Wright was a fixture in Buffalo society, appearing in a Greek tableaux vivant for the 1912 golden anniversary of the Albright Art Museum, and helping to host the International Congress on School Hygiene in 1913.
Wright's interest in suffrage is first found mentioned in a May 1915 Buffalo Enquirer article, which discussed her co-hosting a tea at the local suffrage headquarters. Ultimately, she became head of the board in Buffalo for the suffrage movement. As a February 1917 Buffalo Commercial article indicates, Mrs. Dexter P. Rumsey introduced Wright as the new city chair of the Woman's Suffrage Party for Buffalo. Wright helped lead "suffrage schools," according to the Enquirer. Wright shared the NAWSA's commitment to support the government during World War I in the hopes that their avowed patriotism and labors for the war effort would help women get the vote. Wright issued a statement rejecting the "militant boycotts" of the Women's Party against Liberty War Bonds. She, along with the statewide Women's Suffrage party, committed to "welcome all patriotic women who are willing to co-operate in helping Buffalo to complete its quota of buying Liberty loan bonds." At the November 1917 New York State convention, Wright moved to have the New York State Suffrage Party focus on passage of a statewide amendment, in place of focusing upon a federal amendment, and also establishing welfare programs for the vulnerable.
In October 1917 Wright was elected to chairman of the women's committee of the National Council of Defense for Erie County, an alliance of thirty-three women's clubs and several Erie County district clubs. She proposed to the Home Defense Committee of Food Production and Conservation to limit food wastage by establishing the Buffalo Thrift Kitchen to distribute foods from local markets that were near spoilage. Wright also presented suffrage history to the suffrage schools organized in Buffalo in 1917.
After fifty-four years of marriage, her husband passed away at the age of eighty-one in 1958. Eight years later, in 1966, Wright passed away in her hometown at the age of eighty-nine.
Buffalo Evening News July, 3, 1917, Newspapers.com.
"Calendar for Today," Buffalo Enquirer, May 4, 1915, Newspapers.com.
"Cardinal Will Open Hygiene Conference Here," Buffalo Evening News, August 5, 1913, Newspapers.com.
"Doings for this Week," Buffalo Enquirer, November 15, 1915, Newspapers.com.
"Greek Pageant Celebrates Fifty Years," Buffalo Evening News, November 26, 1912, Newspapers.com
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History Of Woman Suffrage, VI, National American Women Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK]
Nathalie Clinton. (n.d.). ancestry.com, from https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/83972898/person/46529976653/facts
"Reprisal Plank is Withdrawn by Suffragists," New York Tribune, November 22, 1917, Newspapers.com.
Thew Wright. (n.d.). from https://prabook.com/web/thew.wright/1112930.
"Suffrage School," Buffalo Enquirer, January 9, 1917, Newspapers.com.
"Suffrage School," Buffalo Commercial, February 3, 1917, Newspapers.com.
"Suffragists Greet New City Chairman," The Buffalo Commercial, February 24, 1917, Newspapers.com.
"Suffragists Have Luncheon Talks," Buffalo Courier, January 13, 1917, Newspapers.com.
Sweeney, Daniel History of Buffalo and Erie County, 1914-1919, for the Committee of 100, Buffalo, New York, 1919.
"Women Enlist for National Defense Work," Buffalo Evening News, October 22, 1917, Newspapers.com