Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary Eleanor Shockley (Mrs. N. F.) Drake, 1867-1926
By Megan Byrnes, museum educator, American Association for State and Local History, Women's History Affinity Group, Bentonville, Arkansas.
Third Vice President, Arkansas Woman's Suffrage Association (1914-1916); member of the Political Equality League; Chairman of Home Economics and Domestic Science, Fayetteville Woman's Council of Defense (1917-1918)
Mary Eleanor Shockley was born on August 21, 1867 in or near Lancaster, Ohio. Prior to her marriage, she was a North Methodist Missionary to China. Shockley lived and worked in China for eight years, and met her future husband, geology professor Noah Fields Drake, during that time. They married on July 30, 1904 in Tientsin, and Mary gave birth to their two daughters, Doris (born July 22, 1906) and Vera (born February 19, 1909) in China before the family returned to the United States. She spent the majority of her remaining years living in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where her husband was a professor at the University of Arkansas, and where she was involved in a variety of community organizations until her death in 1926 at age 59.
Mary Drake was present at the formation of the Arkansas Woman's Suffrage Association on October 13, 1914 at the Hotel Marion in Little Rock. She was elected to a yearly term on the executive board as the third vice president of the organization. In addition to women's suffrage, the Woman's Suffrage Association also supported the Palmer Child Labor Bill, preventing the shipment of child-made goods across state lines; national prohibition of alcohol; pro-federal censorship of movies; and the “wear cotton-made clothes” and “cotton acreage reduction” movements. As a member of the Political Women's Equality League in Fayetteville, Drake was also noted for a 1916 presentation, “Women in Municipal Life,” and in 1917, was selected as one of 25 delegates from Fayetteville to participate in the Women's State Convention in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Support of women's suffrage was only one of a number of Mary Drake's civic activities. In July 1915, she was elected president of the School Association in Fayetteville, spearheading an improvement of school conditions for the children of Washington County. Drake was also still involved in supporting missionary work at this time. She served on two committees, “Policy and Methods,” and “Young Women's Work,” for the Missionary Federation of Fayetteville, and hosted a visiting Methodist minister at her home in 1916.
In 1917, Drake hosted meetings of the Domestic Science Club and was elected as a member of the Tuesday Musical Club. It may be assumed that she was also working with other women's organizations at this time to secure the passage of the state primary law in February of that year, which made Arkansas the first non-suffrage state to allow women to vote in state primaries.
After the United States entered World War I, Drake used her homemaking skills on behalf of the war effort, serving first as the Chairman of Home Economics in the Fayetteville Woman's Council of Defense when it was formed in December 1917, and later as the Chairman of Domestic Science in 1918. On July 29, 1919, the suffrage efforts of Mary Shockley Drake and so many others came to fruition when Arkansas became the twelfth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, securing women's suffrage nationwide.
By the 1920s, newspaper accounts of Mary Drake are few, and mostly in relation to her husband's professional activities as a professor and the state geologist of Arkansas. Mary Shockley Drake died in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1926 at the age of 59, leaving behind her husband and two married daughters.
Center for Arkansas History and Culture: Arkansas Women's Suffrage Centennial, “Timeline,” accessible at https://ualrexhibits.org/suffrage/timeline/.
“Domestic Science Club Discussed ‘Housekeeping of Yesterday,'” Fayetteville Daily Democrat, November 15, 1917, 3.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, eds. History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920. Vol. 6, Chapter 3. 1922.
“Fayetteville had a Splendid Representation...” Fayetteville Daily Democrat, November 6, 1917, 3.
“Fayetteville Woman's Council of Defense,” Arkansas Democrat, February 14, 1918, 7.
“Mary Eleanor Shockley Drake,” U.S. Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Present, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/140134799 Accessed December 3, 2017.
“Mary S. Drakes,” 1920 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=6061&h=41479242&ssrc=pt&tid=1520028&pid=24002393333&usePUB=true Accessed Nov. 3, 2017.
“Missionary Federation Committees Appointed,” Fayetteville Daily Democrat, April 17, 1916, 3.
“Newly Elected Officers of Arkansas Suffragists,” Arkansas Democrat, October 15, 1914, 1.
“Noah Fields Drake obituary,” Ancestry.com, Public Member Photographs and Scanned Documents. https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/81587539/person/83005409234/media/4be00906-596d-4e0f-a0c5-612f3901f7cb?_phsrc=tgf326&_phstart=successSource. Scanned by Judy West, April 3, 2016.
“Noah Fields Drake,” Ancestry.com, U.S. Consular Registration Certificates, 1907-1918, Vol. 28. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2995/40457_2421406271_0595-00446/59600?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/1520028/person/24002380532/facts/citation/100005120571/edit/record
“School Association Organized by Local Ladies,” Fayetteville Daily Democrat, July 8, 1915, 1, 4.
“Suffrage League to Meet Thursday,” Fayetteville Daily Democrat, March 13, 1916, 3.
“Washington County Forms Defense Council,” Arkansas Democrat, December 24, 1917, 2.
“Women Perfect State Organization,” Arkansas Democrat, October 14, 1914, 5.
Photograph of newly elected officers of the Arkansas Women's Suffrage Association, Arkansas Democrat, October 15, 1914, 1. Mary Shockley Drake is located in the top row, second from the left.