Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ruth Woolsey Johnson Mott, 1881 - 1971

By Roberta Walsh, librarian, retired

One of seven directors for the 45th convention of the [New York] State Women's Suffrage Association, a member of the Oswego County Suffrage Club.

Ruth Woolsey Johnson was born February 8, 1881, in Oswego, New York, to Edgar Dole Johnson and Isabella Cole. She was educated in Oswego public schools and attended Vassar College in 1890 and Georgetown University Law School in 1915. On December 10, 1902, she married Luther Wright Mott. He was United States Representative from New York's 28th (later the 32nd) congressional district (1911-1923), an early proponent of women's suffrage, and an ardent prohibitionist. The couple had three children: Luther Wright Mott, Jr. (1903-1970); Alice Wright Mott (Mrs. Edwin C. Tifft, 1905-1985); and Dorothy J. Mott (1909-2000).

She served as a director of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in 1913 and marched in the woman suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. on March 3.

On the death of Luther Mott in 1923, former speaker Thaddeus D. Sweet was backed by party leaders over Ruth Mott as a candidate to replace her husband in Congress. At the same time, Ruth's supporters suggested that she be offered the position of Oswego's postmaster, which she accepted.

Ruth served as the postmaster in Oswego from 1923 to 1936. While many supporters of women's suffrage were wives or daughters of successful professional men or business leaders, Ruth achieved those roles in her own right. Her interests were varied and she was active in a variety of community organizations that provided avenues for leadership, friendship, and networking. She was a member of the Republican State Executive Committee as well as an organizer and charter member of the Oswego DAR chapter.

From 1938 to 1949, Ruth served as resident head at Goucher College (formerly Women's College of Baltimore City) in Towson, Maryland. During that time she was also a member of the Board of Directors of the YWCA and a treasurer of the Congressional Club, both in Washington, D.C.

After leaving Goucher College, Ruth returned to Oswego and served on the Oswego Hospital Board of Trustees, was appointed to the Oswego City Board of Welfare (Social Services), became a member of the Board of Directors of the Oswego County Humane Society and a member of the Oswego County Historical Society.

Ruth Mott died on January 16, 1971, and is buried with her husband at Riverside Cemetery in Oswego.


"Fine School Show at Fair," The Fulton Times, Aug. 27, 1913; From accessible at Newspaper (Fulton Times 1913) - 0273.pdf and

"Mrs. Ruth Mott, 89, Dies; Civic Leader in Oswego," Syracuse Post Standard, Jan. 18, 1971, page 8; From accessible at Syracuse NY Post Standard 1971 - 0472.pdf and

The North Country A History, Embracing Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis and Franklin Counties, New York. Indianapolis, Indiana: Harry F. Landon Historical Publishing Company 1932, From Hathi Trust Digital Library accessible at

"T. C. Sweet can be congressman if he desires," Oswego Daily Palladium, July 14, 1923, Page 4; From New York Historic Newspapers accessible at and

"Pertticoat Cavalry Expected to Make Big Hit in Parade," Washington Times, January 14, 1913, p. 3.

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