Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Perlina "Ina" Sizer Cassidy, 1869-1965
By Kylie Ulibarri, undergraduate student, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Perlina "Ina" Sizer was born on March 4, 1869, in Bent, Colorado. Her parents were Eber Rockwell and Mary (Savage) Sizer. She was the second of five children. She had an older brother, a younger sister, and two younger brothers. Ina Sizer married John Boyd Davis in November 1890, but she was a widow by January 1899. Still residing in Colorado, she married Ira Dymond Gerald Cassidy, a muralist and painter, on January 10, 1912.
The History of Woman Suffrage, volume 6, notes that Ina Cassidy served as chair of the New Mexico League of Women Voters after the Nineteenth Amendment passed, but there is more to her story. During the suffrage movement, Cassidy advocated for woman suffrage on the East Coast. She marched in New York and advocated in Washington, D.C. Despite her extensive travels to lecture in support of suffrage, she did make it back to New Mexico on occasion. For example, in 1918, Ina Cassidy spoke to the Santa Fe Woman's Club regarding the contribution women were making to the war effort from her experiences in New York City. For Cassidy, war work demonstrated why women deserved the right to vote. Reflecting at an event in 1951, Cassidy recalled her experiences immediately following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and the thrill of attending the last suffrage meeting in New York. A fellow event attendee, Augustine Stoll, remembered marching down Fifth Avenue with a drum to celebrate the achievement. In 1920, Cassidy established the League of Women's Voters of Santa Fe County, an organization designed to educate women, given their new rights, to become active voting citizens.
In addition to suffrage, Ina Cassidy had a passion about art. Like his wife, Gerald Cassidy was big in the art community as well as an advocate for American Indian rights. Ina and Gerald seemed to split time between New York City and Santa Fe until 1920, when they moved to Santa Fe. They were on the search for better health care for tuberculosis. They were also drawn to the art and culture of New Mexico. Their home was often the center for artists and arts in Santa Fe.
Beginning in 1931 and extending for twenty years, Ina Cassidy wrote a regular column, "Art and Artists of New Mexico," for the New Mexico Magazine. Her work as a writer made her an excellent candidate for Federal Writers Project of New Mexico, which began in August 1935 as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Work Progress Administration. The New Mexico project was directed by Cassidy until 1939. The project collected many files that pertained to the New Mexico culture and history, including some written by Cassidy.
In addition to suffrage, art, and nonfiction writing, Ina Cassidy was involved with several organizations including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the New Mexico Folklore Society, and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, among others.
Ina Sizer Cassidy died on September 9, 1965, in Santa Fe. She is buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Santa Fe with Gerald Cassidy, who passed away in 1934 of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Cassidy Family Papers, [circa 1897-1965]. Finding Aid. 2013. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf887006p5/entire_text/.
Constable, Anne. "A Community's Voice." Santa Fe New Mexican. September 16, 2011, p.C1-2. Newspapers.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "New Mexico." Chapter XXX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 445-450. [LINK]
Ina Sizer Cassidy Collection. Finding Aid. January 11, 2017. New Mexico Museum of Art, Library and Archives, Santa Fe, New Mexico. http://nmartmuseum.org/assets/files/Finding%20Aids/Ina%20Sizer%20Cassidy%20Collection.pdf.
Cassidy Family Papers, 1897-1965, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
"Paso Por Aquí." Santa Fe New Mexican. October 24, 1951, p.3. Newspapers.com.
"People of the State Capital Still Interested in Work of Women as Factor in Winning War." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). January 20, 1918, Society Section, p.2. Newspapers.com.
"Silver Bowl Trophy Awarded to Santa Fe Woman of the Year, Mrs. Sam D. Johnson." Santa Fe New Mexican. November 1, 1964, p.22. Newspapers.com.
Sze, Corinne P. "Fairview Cemetery Santa Fe." New Mexico History. New Mexico Office of the State Historian. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://newmexicohistory.org/people/fairview-cemetery-santa-fe.