Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Josephine Schain, 1886- 1973

By Hamza Umar, student, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, WI

Director, Browns Valley, Minnesota, Department of International Relations for the National League of Women Voters from 1924 -1928

Josephine Schain was born in Browns Valley, Minnesota in 1886 to Irene Burdick Schain and Jacob Theodore Schain, a former state senator. She earned her Bachelor's in Law from the University of Minnesota in 1908. On April 1973, Josephine Schain died. She was buried at the Valley View Cemetery located in Browns Valley, Traverse County, Minnesota.

Schain spoke to women about suffrage at the homes of Dr. McCoy and Mrs. Nolte on December 9, 1914, about the fear that local Americans had about immigrant women voting. She was puzzled about the fear, because she believed that most people could trace their ancestry back to immigrants. Schain along with other women toured Minnesota and interviewed Congressmen about the amendment of the enfranchisement of women. The purpose of the campaign carried out in Minnesota by the National American Woman Suffrage Association in August 1915, was to make sure no Congressman returned to Washington a winner, without acknowledging or supporting the interests of women in Minnesota. Schain stressed that woman suffrage was a practical political issue today. On August 1915, Schain spoke about the importance of women casting a ballot, as only twelve states allowed women to cast votes at the time. The issue of voting was important to Schain because four million women were about to take part in the next election in 1916. Women would therefore have a say in who becomes the next president. Schain recognized that problems that were formerly dealt with at home became political: issues such as access to pure milk, moral conditions, pure food and cost of living. Schain argued that because women were involved in business and held stocks, they deserved the right to vote.

Josephine Schain attended the Twelfth Congress of the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship in Turkey in April 1935, where she spoke about the importance of freedom for women. Schain served as the director of the Department of International Relations for the National League of Women Voters from 1924 to 1928, and as the national director of the Girl Scouts of America from 1930 to 1935. Schain chaired the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War from 1936 to 1941. She urged women to fight for the right to take part in politics and to have legal rights to their children. Upon her return from the International Suffrage Conference in Turkey, Schain believed that women had more gains than losses in their fight for equal rights. While on a trip to Turkey, Schain witnessed the growth of women's political power and the tension the Turkish government endured to promote peace. Schain spoke at the University of Minnesota as a member of the National League of Women Voters.


Biographical Note, Josephine Schain Papers, 1907-1960, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.

“Dies at Fair,” Sisseton Weekly Standard (Sisseton, Roberts County, S.D.), Septemper 15, 1911, p. 1.

Find A Grave, Josephine Schain.

Josephine Schain, “The Social Side of Life. Suffrage Women Have Jubilee,” Duluth News Tribune, December 10, 1914, p. 5.

Josephine Schain, “Woman Strides Forward: An American Observer Cites Gaines for Her in Europe Despite Difficulties,” New York Times, July 21, 1935, p. X7.

“Noted Women to Speak Here,” St. Charles Cosmos Monitor (St. Charles, Missouri), September 11, 1925, p. 4.

“Turks Aid Suffragists,” New York Times, March 31, 1935, p. 25.


1943 Press Photo Members of United Nations Conference on Food in Washington [online] eBay. Retrieved from:

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