Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Isabelle (Mrs. Frank Hiram) Snell, 1865-1938

By Ryan Linthicum, Smithsonian Institution

Mrs. Hiram Snell was born Isabelle Cromwell on March 12, 1865 in Maine. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1879 and lived in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband Frank Hiram Snell. For the first thirty years of her life, she lived a life away from the limelight. It wasn't until her husband, Frank Hiram Snell, died in 1904 that she moved to Washington, D.C. and found her passion for activism.

As the suffrage movement began to grow so did Mrs. Snell's contributions. One of her first achievements was organizing and participating in the 1914 Washington, D.C. Suffrage Parade. Mrs. Snell worked with a number of prominent suffragists. The night before the parade, Mrs. Snell and Miss Eliza Lord spoke at the home of Mrs. Stella McDuffe in northwest DC. As an elected marshal in the suffrage parade, she stood at the front of the procession with three other marshals carried a banner that read "We demand the passage of the Bristow Mondell Resolution, which would amend the Constitution to the United States extending the right of suffrage to women."

Her work continued in Washington, D.C. when she, and others, were elected by The District of Columbia State Equal Suffrage Association to attend the last convention of the National American Woman Suffrage association at Chicago, February 12, 1920.

Mrs. Snell worked with the District of Columbia League of Women Voters where she often hosted other suffrage supporters and influential politicians. In October 24, 1926 she hosted a tea and reception for Mrs. Woodrow Wilson.

Mrs. Snell spent the rest of her life in Washington, D.C. Not only did she continue her political activism, but she also was an enthusiastic member of the American Association of University Women, the Poetry Workshop of the D.C. Branch, and the National League of American Pen Women. During her later years, she worked tirelessly for the enactment of a law authorizing the creation of a national medal to be presented annually by the president of the United States to a poet who made the most outstanding poetical contribution. Her dream would eventually become the US Poet Laureate, which was enacted in 1937. She died in Washington, D.C. in March 13, 1938 at the age of 75.


1900; Census Place: New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0378; FHL microfilm: 1240146 Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

"Indorses Vote for D.C.," Washington Post. February 9, 1920. Page 12.

"Letters to the Editor." Washington Post. March 17, 1938. Page X8.

"Notes of Interest to Workers in Cause of Woman Suffrage." Washington Post. April 12, 1914, Page 31.

Register of theWellesley College Alumnae Association 1901. Natick, Massachusetts: Press of Natick Bulletin 1901. Page 38.

"Strategists in Women's Votes Campaign Have Busy Week Ahead." Washington Post. April 5, 1914, Page 11.

"To Welcome Mrs. Wilson." New York Times. October 24, 1926, Page 9.

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