Biographical Sketch of Ida Auerbach

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ida Auerbach, 1885-1968

By Jory Fisher and McKinley Paine, student researchers, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana

Teacher, suffragist

Ida Auerbach was born in Austria (then known as Bohemia) on January 28, 1885 to Morris Auerbach and Betty Barbara Fischl Auerbach. She and her family immigrated to the U.S. in 1890. By 1910, the Auerbachs had settled in Helena, Montana. In 1906, Auerbach graduated from the Montana State Normal College in Dillon, Montana with a degree in Pedagogy. Today the Normal College is known as the University of Montana-Western. Her sister Louise also attended the Normal College. On December 12, 1908, Auerbach received her official teaching certificate from the Montana State Board of Education. Shortly thereafter she started her first teaching job in Fort Benton, Montana, teaching German at West Side School. By 1910, she had rejoined her family in Helena, where got involved with the woman suffrage movement.

At the State Fairs of 1911 and 1912 in Helena, Auerbach helped hand out suffrage literature and buttons supporting the movement from a booth set up by the suffragists. In 1912 she joined the Montana Equal Suffrage Association (MESA). Auerbach worked alongside Jeannette Rankin and other important woman suffragists. Rankin acted as the chairman and Auerbach acted as the press chairman of MESA. Auerbach raised hundreds of dollars for the suffrage movement in 1912 by going door to door in Helena asking for support and donations. When suffragists formed the State Central Committee in 1912, she was elected the committee's temporary secretary.

Auerbach's most influential contribution to the suffrage movement, however, came in January of 1913 when she and the other members of MESA called on the governor and the legislative chambers of the Montana Legislature to support an equal suffrage amendment proposed by Senator Tom Stout. The politicians could not ignore the activity of the determined women and the equal suffrage bill passed easily with 26 votes for and 2 against in the Senate and 74 votes for and 2 votes against in the House. Although this was a promising victory for the suffragists, the amendment would still have to be voted on by the people of Montana in the next off-year election and there was still much work to be done. Eventually because of efforts from women like Auerbach and those she worked alongside, Montana adopted woman suffrage in 1914.

By 1920, Auerbach had moved to California, where she worked as a teacher, registered to vote as a Democrat, and lived with her widowed mother until Betty Auerbach's death in 1947. Ida Auerbach died in Glendale, California on August 15, 1968 at the age of 83.


California Death Index,

California Voter Registrations,

"Life Diplomas Granted," Dillon Tribune (Dillon, Mont.) 1881-1941, December 18, 1908, Page 2, Image 2. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from Montana Newspapers,

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, et al., History of Woman Suffrage, Retrieved March 25, 2018, from

"Suffrage is Gainer in Fair Campaigns," Daily Missoulian. (Missoula, Mont.) 1904-1961, October 01, 1912, Morning, Page 5, Image 5. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from Chronicling America,

[University of Montana-Western] Catalogue, 1907-1911. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from Montana Memory Project,

U.S. Census, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1940,

U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,

Ward, Doris Buck. "The Winning of Woman Suffrage in Montana." M.A. Thesis, Montana State University, 1974.

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