Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sara Wilde Houser, 1870-1948

By Haleigh Marcello, Graduate Student, Department of History, UC Irvine

Leader of the Socialist Party in Southern California, Member of the Women's Lawyer Club of California, Professional Woman's Club, Founded Phi Delta Delta Los Angeles County Suffrage Club and the Woman Suffrage League

Sara (sometimes spelled ‘Sarah') Isabelle Wilde Houser was born in 1870 near San Francisco, California. Houser's grandparents were “California pioneers,” among the first people of European descent to settle in the state. Houser's family apparently had deep roots in the county as well; she was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and was related to Colonel W. Mead. Houser's father, Francis Brook Wilde, was a supporter of suffrage; it was reported that he paid for the meeting-place for the local suffrage movement.

Houser was one of the founding members of the University of Southern California's Law School. Houser graduated from the USC Law School in 1900. She was the second woman in California to be admitted to the Bar. After graduating, Houser became a member of the Women's Lawyer Club of California, the Professional Woman's Club, and founded the first legal sorority in America: Phi Delta Delta. Houser seemed to stop practicing law soon after her marriage to fellow law school classmate and co-councilor, Frederick Wilhelm Houser. They would both later work together on the case D.M. Tittle v. T.D. Mott, about a violation of contract – a case which went all the way to the Superior Court.

Sara Wilde and Frederick Houser were married on 1 January 1903. Frederick Houser later went on to become a Justice on the District Court of Appeals, and a California State Supreme Court Justice. They had two children. One of their sons, named Frederick F. Houser, later went on to serve as a Superior Court Judge, and Lieutenant Governor of California. Their other son, Rodman W. Houser, was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

Houser was an early advocate of women's suffrage and was an active member of the Los Angeles County suffrage club and the Woman Suffrage League. In 1904 she was voted to be an alternate delegate to a California state suffrage convention. In addition to her activities as a suffragist, Houser was also involved in Socialist circles, a Red Cross member, and advocated for pensions for stay-at-home mothers. She also ran a boarding house in her home with the help of her sister, Kate Wilde Barber.

Sara Wilde Houser died on 22 March 1948 at the age of 78 at her home in Alhambra, California. It was reported that she died peacefully, in her sleep.


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