Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Sophie L. W. Clark, 1855-
By: Ashley Nagel, student, Saint Martin's University, Lacey, WA
Sophie L. W. Clark of Seattle, Washington, was born 1855 in Wisconsin. In 1890, she married Alva Curtis Clark who was a farmer born in Indiana. Together they had seven children, two of whom died before adulthood. According to the 1880 Federal Census, Clark's occupation was “keeps house.” She did not attend school but was able to read and write.
On September 13, 1914, the Asheville Citizen-Times posted an article titled, “Seattle Women Start Fight for Rights of Wives.” A group of Seattle clubwomen believed that American women were being treated as objects regarding their rights to their own citizenship. Hoping to turn this into a nationwide movement Clark, along with other women, discussed two bills that were introduced to Congress. In 1917, Clark gave a speech on how to raise money and pledged her support to W. D. Lane who was running for city council.
Clark was also an active supporter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Clark was the franchise superintendent for the Western Washington Union and said, “Justice to all regardless of race, class, or sex, is what the women of the WCTU stand for. All community property should be under joint control, or so divided that each partner has control of his or her half as separate property.” The first found document of Clark's suffrage activity with the WCTU was from an article in The Seattle Star on July 22, 1915. The short article mentions fifteen veterans who met at Clark's house on 1701 Kilbourne Street to discuss the roll call of “Three-Score-and-Ten Campfire.”
On April 2, 1919, The Oregon Daily Journal printed an article titled, “Need of Greater Paternal Care of Children is Seen.” This was the 12th annual convention of the Pacific Coast Rescue and Protective Society and members discussed the need for greater paternal care of children. Clark was one of the speakers for the evening and suggested that the court should include both a woman and a man judge who work in harmony.
Another article printed in The Oregon Daily Journal on October 24, 1921 was “Miss Laing Is Luncheon Guest.” Members of the Professional Woman's League held a luncheon for Miss Mary Laing, a textbook author from Boston. They discussed the annual mid-year assembly of the Women's Legislative Council Washington. Clark was the editor and was one of many prominent speakers.
Two years later, July 17, 1923, The Tennessean posted an article “Prominent Women to Attend National Celebration at Seneca Falls.” The National Woman's Party was planning the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the first equal rights meeting and Clark was Washington's delegate and the chairman of its group.
The last article that mentions Clark was “Business Women Urge Sanitation” in the Angola Herald, on February 1, 1929. The article discussed sanitation issues throughout the country. Clark was the founder of the Women's Legislative Council of Seattle and was editor-in-chief of its official publication, the Legislative Counselor. She shaped policies and direction of this organization. Her slogan was “For the betterment and enforcement of law through co-operation of home, school and state.”
13 September 1914, Page 3. “Seattle Women Start Fight for Rights of Wives.” Ashenville Citizen-Times.
22 July 1915, Page 2. “Fought D. R. in '73.” The Seattle Star.
13 February 1917, Page 8.” Lane Campaign Boosters Meet.” The Seattle Star
02 April 1919, Page 15. “Need of Greater Parental Care of Children Is Seen.” The Oregon Daily Journal.
24 October 1921, Page 8. “Miss Laing Is Luncheon Guest.” The Oregon Daily Journal.
17 July 1923, Page 6. “Prominent Women to Attend National Celebration at Seneca Falls.” The Tennessean.
01 February 1929, Page 4. “Business Women Urge Sanitation.” Angola Herald.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vols. V and VI [LINK] (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922.
Soden, Dale E. "The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in the Pacific Northwest: Battle for Cultural Control." Pacific Northwest Quarterly 94, no 4 (2003): 197-207. https://digitalcommons.whitworth.edu/historyfaculty/50/
U.S. Census Bureau. (1880). Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2017. Retrieved from: https://search.ancestry.com