Biographical Sketch of Dora Gelletly Ogle

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Dora Gelletly Ogle, 1882-1960

By Andrew Forschler, Undergraduate, University of Maryland, College Park

Dora Gelletly was born on July 15, 1882, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Emma M. (England) and James F. Gelletly (Scotland). Her father was a silversmith. After her birth, her family moved to Denton, Maryland, where her father was a farmer. She had four siblings: Alfred, James Frank, Grace, and May. Dora Gelletly graduated from Denton High School in 1899. She attended balls and teas as a member of Denton society. She was treasurer for the Denton Library Association. She attended Columbia University and the University of North Carolina.

Dora Gelletly married Charles J. Ogle in 1910. He was secretary of the Direct Legislation League and of the Maryland Tax Reform Association. They lived first in Baltimore, then Lochearn, and finally Catonsville. They had three children: Dorothy Ogle, Emerson Des Fryer Ogle, and Hugh Malcolm Ogle. Charles J. Ogle died in 1932, leaving Dora Ogle a widow.

Dora Ogle began her suffrage work with the Just Government League of Maryland, an affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1912, during a Baltimore suffrage parade, she directed female newsies, who sold copies of Maryland Suffrage News, the League's newspaper, along the way. Ogle served as vice president of the league and business manager of Maryland Suffrage News. She asked the state legislature for a special session to ratify the federal Nineteenth Amendment for the league in 1919.

Dora Ogle was also a National Woman's Party (NWP) member from its founding as the Congressional Union in 1913. In 1916, she picketed the White House. She helped secure subscriptions to the Suffragist, the NWP's newspaper, in 1918 and 1919. In 1923, Ogle became the business manager of the NWP's Equal Rights magazine and served in that position for many decades. She wrote articles for Equal Rights and editorials in the Baltimore Sun on topics ranging from taxation to equal rights.

Dora Ogle served as legislative chairman of the Maryland NWP during the 1920s, lobbying the state legislature to pass equal rights measures. In 1924, she helped pass three equal rights measures. These measures prevented sex discrimination in employing teachers, secured equal pay for Baltimore policewomen, and ensured grandmothers inherited equally with grandfathers. In 1924, she was offered the nomination to be a representative from Maryland in Congress, which she declined. In 1929, she lobbied for an equal guardianship bill in the state legislature. In 1930, she was introduced as “a fearless fighter, whom we all love, always on the progressive lines” by Emma Maddox Funck at a Maryland NWP Legislative Dinner. Ogle listed 29 discriminations against women in Maryland at this dinner. In 1946, she was honored as a “suffrage pioneer” by the Baltimore NWP.

Dora Ogle worked with the national NWP as well. She was a member of the national council of the party from the mid-1920s to the early 1940s. In 1933 she was part of the escort of honor at Alva Belmont's funeral. Belmont was a prominent member of the NWP and a noted wealthy socialite. Ogle was partly in charge of NWP activities at the 1939 World's Fair. From 1925 on, Ogle lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), an amendment to the US Constitution proposed by the NWP, which would have required that laws treat men and women identically. In 1925, she spoke on street corners on the eve of Calvin Coolidge's presidential inauguration to make a statement about the ERA's importance. In 1928, she was on a NWP delegation that spoke to Herbert Hoover about equal rights for women. In 1929, she testified for the ERA at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. In 1945, she lobbied Congress for the ERA with Alice Paul. In 1948, she spoke for the ERA at a Congressional hearing.

Dora Ogle attended numerous NWP conventions, including the first Congressional Union convention and its parade in 1915. At the 1926 national convention and the 1931 party worker's conference, she extolled the virtues of Equal Rights. She was on the resolutions committee at the 1931 conference. At the 1933 Maryland State convention, she spoke on the federal program of the NWP. She served on the credentials committee of the 1936 and 1938 national conventions, as well as the nominating committee in 1938. She attended the 1929 and 1940 national conventions.

Dora Ogle frequently honored the history of the suffrage movement. She participated in 1929 and 1931 NWP ceremonies commemorating Susan B. Anthony's birthday at Anthony's statue in the Capitol. In 1929 Ogle read a poem at the ceremony. In 1942 she helped plan events commemorating the day the Nineteenth Amendment went into effect. She participated in Women's Independence Day (the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention) receptions at the Alva Belmont House in 1942, 1947, 1949, and 1950. In 1943 she spoke over the radio about the Seneca Falls Convention's anniversary on behalf of the NWP. In 1951 she played Lucretia Mott in a televised “Equal Rights Review.”

In 1939, Dora Ogle left Maryland to live in Fairhope, Alabama, and teach at progressive educator Marietta Johnson's School of Organic Education. Johnson grouped students by age and did not grade them, focusing instead on individual student's development. Ogle wrote A Philosophic Phantasy in 1939, a pamphlet that put quotes by Johnson into conversation with other progressive educators.

Dora Ogle returned north in 1940, living in Washington, D.C., at the Alva Belmont House, which was the NWP headquarters. She served as house director, preparing the house for each day's business. Alice Paul unjustly blamed Ogle for the theft of records by a rogue faction in the party in 1946. As a house resident, Ogle frequently helped host teas, receptions, and garden parties there, and served on refreshment and flower committees for events at the house.

Dora Gelletly Ogle passed away on March 7, 1960, at age 77 in Baltimore. She was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore. For her funeral, it was asked that flowers be omitted, and donations made instead to the NWP.

 

CAPTION: Dora G. Ogle, ca. 1920s.
CREDIT: Cover. Image of Dora G. Ogle. Equal Rights 14, no.44. December 8, 1928, p.345. [LINK]

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