Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Mrs. Julia Penrice (McGrath) Greenley, 1860–1929
By: Daphne Lavonia Stanley, Freelance researcher and writer
Woman Suffrage Activist
Julia Penrice McGrath Greenley served as an advocate for the women's suffrage movement. Born in Greenville, Mississippi, October 3, 1860, to Caldwell McGrath and Alice Penrice, she married James Coleman Greenley. Mr. Greenley (1847–1935) owned Greenley's Men's Retail Store. The couple made their home on Centre Avenue in Greenville, Mississippi. The Greenleys, along with their only child, Alice (1888–1969), were Episcopalian and Democrats. They were well known in Greenville, often hosting teas and gatherings. She was often mentioned in the Greenville newspapers. In an article about the wedding of her daughter, Mrs. Greenley was described as "the handsome mother-of-the-bride."
Greenley is noted as having been employed as secretary to an organization called the King's Circle, possibly a women's auxiliary group that was a part of the Protective order of the Elks, in 1911. She and her husband were also involved with the Elysian Club.
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving two separate terms, the first being from 1908 to 1913. In 1912, she entered the Belvediere chapter, which no longer exists today. Greenley was a member of the organization from 1915 until her death in 1929.
Greenley proved to be an active suffragist. In 1910, the report of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) annual meeting lists Greenley as "Member National Executive Committee," an officer position that she held through 1912. At the opening session of the 1910 meeting, Greenley introduced a resolution that authorized the state president to appoint a committee on anti-tuberculosis work; the resolution passed. The report on press work noted that "the Civic Improvement Club of Greenville, under the efficient management of Mrs. J. C. Greenley," had been doing valuable work editing a column in Greenville's Daily Democrat.
The 1911 MWSA annual report again commended Greenley for her press work in Greenville, saying: "If in every large town of the State there was a club as energetic as the Civic Club, which would edit in its local paper just such a column as Mrs. Greenley is so admirably editing, it would mean an immeasurably rapid increase of sentiment in favor of Woman Suffrage. All hail to the Civic Club. May others follow its shining example." Greenley reported that her civic club had over 70 members. Later in the session, Greeley and two other members of the resolutions committee introduced several resolutions that were adopted. Among other things, the resolutions called for woman suffrage, praised the state of Washington for having adopted woman suffrage, decried the "White Slave horror" of women and children in the industrial world, petitioned for increasing the age of consent from 12 to 18, and recommended passage of a child labor law.
According to accounts in the Jackson Daily News, Greenley served as a delegate at the annual conventions of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in October 1911 and November 1914.
Greenley passed away on December 15, 1929. She is buried at the Greenville Cemetery in Greenville, Mississippi.
"Brilliant Wedding at Greenville," The Vicksburg American, October 2, 1909, p. 2, accessible through www.newspapers.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 351.
Jackson (Miss.) Daily News, November 6, 1914, p. 3.
"Julia Penrice McGrath Greenley." FindaGrave https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147882576 (accessed July 4, 2018).
Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association: 7th Annual Session. 1911, Enterprise Print Cleveland, pp. 3, 10, 11, 22, 23.
O'Donnell, Joy. "More DAR Suffragists". Email, May 14, 2018.
Sixth Annual Report of the Mississippi Woman Suffrage Association, 1910, pp. 2, 6, 17.
"The National Convention," Jackson (Miss.) Daily News, October, 21, 1911, p. 2.
The Weekly Democrat Times, December 16, 1905. www.newspapers.com.
US Cities Directories, 1822-1995, "Julia McGrath Greenley". www.Searchancestorylibrary.com.
*Special thanks to the research center, The Virginia Room, Main Library, Roanoke, Virginia.