Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez Lowther, 1881-1977
By Sode Smith high school student and Serene Williams, faculty, at Sacred Heart Preparatory High School, Atherton, California
President, College Equal Suffrage League, Spanish Language Orator for Suffrage Movement
Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez was born in San Gabriel in the city of Los Angeles in 1881. Maria's life was heavily influenced by the Catholic church as the San Gabriel mission was run by Claretian priests. Maria's middle name came from her mother, who was known as Guadalupe. Throughout her life she was also known as Lupe, Eva or Marie and she was listed as Guadalupe Lopez in the 1910 census. Her family was from San Gabriel, California and she was raised at that mission. Her father, who was born in Mexico of ancestral background from the highly regarded Lopez family, worked as a blacksmith at the time of Maria's birth. She was raised in a large family with an older sister named Belen and a younger sister named Ernestina. There is conflicting information about the high school she attended as some sources say it was Los Angeles Normal School and others say she attended Pasadena High School and graduated in 1897. It is well documented that Lopez was highly educated as she went to college at the University of California where she also served as an instructor. When her father passed away in 1904 she returned home to care for her family. Maria was a widely respected educator, and with her sister Ernestina ran a school to earn additional income. Lopez later worked as a high school teacher at Los Angeles High School where she taught English as a second language. She also went on to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles. Scholar Eileen V. Wallis has speculated that Maria was the first Latina to teach at UCLA. After her marriage to Hugh Lowther, she was often known as Maria de Lopez Lowther or Maria de Lopez de Lowther. Her sister Belen never married and was not involved in the final push for suffrage in California as she passed away in 1892. Maria's husband Hugh was also an educator and worked as a professor at Occidental College. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. They resided in the well known Lopez-Lowther adobe. It was noted in the 1930 census that she married at age 38.
de Lopez was active in numerous suffrage clubs in southern California. She belonged to the Votes for Women's Club in the city of Los Angeles which was active in 1910 and in 1911 she served as the president of the College Equal Suffrage League. She was a respected orator who worked as a translator to help the California suffrage campaign. She is credited as the first person in the state of California to give speeches in support of women's suffrage in Spanish.
During the first World War, De Lopez resigned from her teaching position and moved to New York City to contribute to the war effort. She applied for a passport when she was 36 years old in 1918. It was during this war that she learned to drive an ambulance and fly a plane. Impressively, De Lopez was honored in France for her contributions to the war effort.
According to scholar Eileen V. Wallis, throughout the 1920s and 1930s she served as a Spanish translator for the Ebell's club. In the 1922 midterm elections, Maria and her husband Hugh were registered with the Democratic Party. The was the first year she appeared in the voter registration lists. From 1937-1938 she served as the 17th President of the UCLA Faculty' Women's Club. In the 1940 census she was living in San Gabriel and teaching in San Gabriel City Jail, Dominican Sisters School. Her race was listed as white in the census that year. She was registered as a Democrat in her 1938 and 1942 voter registration. By 1952 through 1960 she shifted allegiance to the Republican Party. Her husband Hugh passed away in 1959 and she died on November 20, 1977 in the city of Orange. She is buried at San Gabriel Christian Church in Los Angeles.
1) “Angeleno Beauties Proposed for Place in Suffrage Parade” Los Angeles Herald, April 12, 1913
2) California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Register of Voters, 1900-1968
3)L os Angeles Citywide Historic Context Statement: Women's Rights in Los Angeles, Published by City of Los Angeles, October 2018 https://preservation.lacity.org/sites/default/files/Womens%20Rights%20in%20Los%20Angeles_HistoricContextStatement.pdf
5) Martinez, Roberta H. Latinos in Pasadena, Arcadia Publishing 2009 (includes her picture on page 42)
6) San Gabriel Mission Church: https://parish.sangabrielmissionchurch.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=170484&type=d&pREC_ID=351312
7) Star News, Pasadena, California June 18, 1959
8) UCLA Faculty Women's Club Presidents: http://uclafwc.bol.ucla.edu/presidents/presidents.html
9) Wallis, Eileen V. Earning Power: Women and Work in Los Angeles, 1880-1930. University of Nevada Press, 2010.
10) Wallis, Eileen V. "Keeping Alive the Old Tradition": Spanish-Mexican Club Women in Southern California, 1880-1940” Southern California Quarterly, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Summer 2009), pp. 133-154