Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Florence Humphrey Church, 1881-1952
By Patti Bernard, Nevada Women's History Project
Vice-President, Nevada Suffrage Association; Nevada Governor Boyle's advisor on Suffrage, 1920
Florence Humphrey Church came to Reno, Nevada in 1894. Born in St. Clair, Michigan in 1869, she studied at Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, and the University of Munich. She, then, traveled to Reno, where she married former classmate, Professor J.E. Church. Taking the first several years to obtain both B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Nevada, Florence Church was a founder and president of the Nevada Women's Faculty Club and, throughout her life, had a close association with the university community.
Church also threw herself into women's issues. She had excellent leadership skills and joined many reform minded organizations. She became president of the Twentieth Century Club and vice-president of both the Nevada Suffrage Association and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She served as president and national director of the Nevada Federation of Women's Clubs.
Church pursued woman suffrage endeavors, including Nevada's 1914 successful suffrage campaign. She served as president of the Federation of Women's Clubs, and she used her position to influence state politics in Nevada. The Reno Evening Gazette published an article on January 27, 1920, that credited Mrs. J.E. Church for advising Governor Emmett D. Boyle to call a special session of the legislature regarding woman suffrage. The session was called on February 7, 1920. Governor Boyle was concerned about the cost of calling a special session for amendment ratification. The Federation of Women's Clubs, through its Conservation Committee headed by Mrs. R.D. Eichelberger, took an active part in canvassing state legislators to ascertain if each would attend the special legislative session and donate their time and travel expenses in support of Nevada's passing the nation's nineteenth amendment. As an additional inducement, the women volunteered to use their autos to transport solons to Carson from as far away as Goldfield and Tonopah. The amendment passed.
Unfortunately, almost two years to the day, Florence Church was dead. She had suffered what was probably a stroke, while attending a university game. She died February 5, 1922.
Caption: “Mrs. Florence Humphrey Church, Former President of the Washoe County Equal Suffrage League.” Credit: Photo from Sara Bard Field, “The Clash in Nevada—A History of Woman's Fight for Enfranchisement,” Out West: Where Nature Helps Industry Most (August 1914), p.53.
“Call Is Sent Out by Governor for Extraordinary Session.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) 44, no. 23. January 27, 1920, pp.1-2. Newspapers.com.
Field, Sara Bard. “The Clash in Nevada—A History of Woman's Fight for Enfranchisement.” Out West: Where Nature Helps Industry Most. August 1914, pp.51-66. HathiTrust.org
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “Nevada.” Chapter XXVII in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 383-99. [LINK]
J.E.C. “Three Michigan Women: Florence Humphrey Church.” The Michigan Alumnus 28, no. 293. May 11, 1922, pp. 851-52. HathiTrust.org.
“Prominent Nevada Club Woman Dies at Home in Reno.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) 76, no. 312. February 6, 1922, p. 4. Newspapers.com.
“Special Session Call Was Due in October.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) 44, no. 26. January 30, 1920, p.8. Newspapers.com.
Steinbach, M.R. “Mrs. Florence Humphrey Church--A Tribute.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) 76, no. 314. [February] 8, 1922, p.2. [Note: Issue has wrong month in printing.] Newspapers.com.
“Two Houses Ratify in Record Time.” Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) 44, no. 33. February 7, 1920, pp.1,3. Newspapers.com.