Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Mary Gray Peck, 1867 - 1957
By Marjorie Sloan, student, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Green Bay, WI
Headquarters Secretary, New York, New York, National American Woman Suffrage Association
Mary Gray Peck was born October 21, 1867 in Seneca Castle, Ontario County, New York. Her mother was Mary Diantha Peck and her father was Henry Jones Peck. Growing up, Mary Gray Peck had two older brothers, Fredrick Burritt Peck and James Ingraham Peck. Mary Gray Peck never married. She lived to the age of 89 and died on January 11, 1957 in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. She is buried at Whitney Cemetery in Ontario County, New York.
Mary Gray Peck went to Elmira College and graduated in 1889. She studied music and taught piano in New York and St. Paul. Later in her life she studied English and graduated from the University of Minnesota. She then studied early English literature at Newnham College, Cambridge University, England from 1905 to 1906. In England, she was accompanied by her friend Frances Boardman (Squire) Potter and Potter's children. Peck taught in the English department from 1899 to 1909 at the University of Minnesota. She was very active in the women's suffrage movement. She was interested in the economic and industrial problems of women. In 1909, she left Minneapolis and joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association as a corresponding secretary in New York. Peck was described by her peers as a top notch secretary while she worked for the Association. She directed press work in several state campaigns, and lectured on suffrage in many mid-west states. In 1915, Mary Gray Peck was chairman of the speaker's bureau of the New York State woman's suffrage campaign. She was under the direction of Carrie Chapman Catt. Mary Gray Peck continued working with the suffrage movement until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.
By 1920, Peck had become a very prominent writer. She wrote for the Woman's Journal. She gave lectures to the international women's organizations to keep the peace. She wrote a biography of Carrie Chapman Catt, which was published in 1944. Peck settled in New Rochelle, New York, from 1929 to 1953. By the end of 1953, she moved to Jenkintown, Pennsylvania to live with her niece, Mrs. James F. Koehler. She lived there until she died in 1957.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 5 (New York, 1922), 267-269.
Leonard, John William, Woman's Who's Who of America (New York, 1914), 633.
“Mary Gray Peck,” Find a Grave website (added May 13, 2011)
“Miss Mary Peck, Suffrage Leader, Dies; Biographer of Carrie Chapman Catt, 89,” New York Times, January 13, 1957, 84.
Peck, Mary Gray, “Miss Jones & Miss Freeman in Ohio”, ca. July 1912
Peck, Mary Gray, Carrie Chapman Catt: A Biography (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1944).
Portrait of Mary Gray Peck, Elmira College Women's Rights and Suffrage Collection, graduating class of 1889.
Mary Gray Peck
Mary Gray Peck's Tombstone