Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of CLARA L. CAMPBELL, 1846-1931

Number 1051

August 1994

This biographical sketch appears on the website of the Idaho State Historical Society and appears here by permission. Their website can be reached at

Clara L. Campbell was born Clara Permilia Little in Somers, Connecticut on February 12, 1846, the eldest of three daughters of W. J. and Amelia Little. She was educated in the public schools where she then taught music. She married Civil War veteran William Orando Campbell on May 8, 1867, in Vernon, Connecticut. He lost his first wife and three children during the war and was fifteen years her senior. They moved west to Illinois where they had two sons and on to Oregon where they had a third son. In 1878 William accepted a position with the U.S. Indian Service to run the school on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, and Clara became Matron of the school. After five years, the family moved to Blaine, then Moscow where Clara helped found local chapters of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) and the Women's Relief Corps Auxiliary (W.R.C.)

The family located in Boise in 1893, where Clara was a charter member of the Congregational Church, became active in the woman suffrage movement, and served as state secretary of the W.R.C. She declined to run for secretary at the Ada County Republican Convention in 1898, preferring a bid for the County Treasurer nomination that she lost. After winning a state legislative nomination, she won the general election and survived a legal challenge by the male fusionist, who lost out to her by only 64 votes.

After her legislative tenure was completed, Campbell served as W.R.C. state president in 1901-02, and later as national chaplain for the W.C.T.U. She and her husband moved back to Moscow for a few years, but later returned permanently to Boise, where he died July 24, 1916. She was honored for her public affairs work by W.R.C. women's clubs of Idaho with the planting of a maple tree on the capitol grounds in 1929. She died two years later on December 16, 1931. At the time of her death, her son Howard Earl Campbell and wife Myrtle, along with their three children Harland C., Gladys R., and Donald L. were living in Boise. Another son, William Little Campbell, was living in Santa Barbara, California and a sister, Mrs. Ida Casey, formerly of Moscow, Idaho, was living in Portland, Oregon.


U.S. Census 1860, Vernon, Tolland County CT; (Little) #75: 456. [National Archives, Washington, DC.]

1880, Territory of Idaho, Nez Perce County, 226, #25.

1900, 539 5th St., Boise, Ada County, Idaho; Pct. #2, sd 43, ed 2, s 5, 90.

1910, 420 6th St., Moscow, Latah County, Idaho; S. E. Pct., ed 193, s 1, 164.

1920, 539 5th St., Boise, Ada County, Idaho; Pct. 2 & 4, v 1, ed 3, s 1, L4.

U.S. Pension record, William O. Campbell, G1 Conn. HA, Pension File; Clara P. Campbell; Widow; Application #1068,848; Certificate #816298, Idaho, passim. [National Archives, Washington, DC.]

Fifteenth National Convention of the Woman's Relief Corps. August 26, 1897, 8. [Library of Congress, Washington, DC]

Eighteenth National Convention of the Woman's Relief Corps. August 29, 1900, 8. [Library of Congress, Washington, DC]

Correspondence Clara Campbell, President, Woman's Relief Corp, Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, n.d. [MS 503 (W.R.C.) Idaho Historical Society]

"County Ticket Named" Idaho Daily Statesman, September 2, November 29, 1898; "Tree is Planted to Honor Woman," October 29, 1929; p. 1, "Clara Campbell, Early Resident Dies in Boise," December, 1931, p. 10.

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