Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margaret Susanna Harwood Reynolds, 1868-1953
By Amanda Spinks, Master of Public Administration
Margaret Susanna Harwood Reynolds was born in New York City on April 3, 1868. She was the youngest of three children born to Irish parents, Francis and Elizabeth Harwood. The family lived in Brooklyn, New York before relocating to Yellow Creek, Missouri by 1880. She attended Brookfield Academy in Brookfield, MO as a child. Upon graduating from Brookfield Academy, she went to live with her sister Elizabeth Harwood Millar in Altus, Arkansas. Elizabeth's husband, A.C. Millar, served as the president of Central Collegiate Institute. In 1890, Margaret graduated from Hendrix College with a major in English. She was one of three members of the institution's first graduating class under its new name. Shortly after her graduation, the institution moved from Altus, AR to Conway, AR.
It was at Hendrix College that Margaret met her college sweetheart and future husband, John Hugh Reynolds. The two married in Brookfield, Missouri on June 27, 1895. Less than two years later, they welcomed the first of their four children, Dorothy Ruth Reynolds, who was born in Chicago, IL, where the family was living while John completed a Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago. Upon completion of his degree in 1897, the family returned to Conway, AR, where John began a lifetime career in education as a professor of history and political science at Hendrix College. He later became vice-president of the college. In 1902, the family, which now included a son, George, moved to Fayetteville, AR, when John took a job as a professor of history and political science at the University of Arkansas. The next four years brought the birth of two more daughters to the couple.
Margaret traveled with her husband to Oxford University for several months in 1911-1912 so that he could complete further graduate work. During this time, the children stayed with Margaret's sister in Arkansas. Before returning to the United States, Margaret visited family in Ireland. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the couple returned on separate ships. Margaret had initially be scheduled to return to the United States on the Titanic, but chose to return on a different ship at the last minute. According to family, it took several days for them to learn that Margaret had not perished on the Titanic in April of 1912.
The year 1913 brought the family back to Conway as John accepted the position of president of Hendrix College. Margaret became an active member of the small, religious college campus. In October 1916, Margaret was elected the third vice-president of the State Woman Suffrage Association at their meeting in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. At the age of 48, she had lived a distinctive life as the wife of a well-known academic who regularly spoke and wrote about social issues affecting the nation. She was also the mother to three daughters, so it seems natural that she would be interested in issues that would impact the lives of women. Her participation in the State Woman Suffrage Association would have allowed her to be a vital part of the discussion on how suffrage would impact Arkansas women.
Margaret spent 32 years as the wife of a college president. She as regarded warmly by all that interacted with her on campus, so much so that Hendrix students dedicated their 1931 issue of the their yearbook, The Troubadour, to her. During her lifetime, she was active in many different organizations, such as the Woman's Society of Christian Service, the Conway Shakespeare Club, the Hendrix Dames, and the American Association of University Women. Described as “unusually intelligent” and kind, she was also seen as a partner to her husband as the college they both loved grew under their care. She died on March 1, 1953 at the age of 84. Dr. C.M. Reves said in her eulogy that in his long and fruitful labors as a great educational and civic leader in Arkansas, she was to him “inspiration and wisdom and discernment and understanding, a counselor who made his judgments doubly sound.” She was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Conway, AR.
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Arkansas Women's History Institute Collection. UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture. UALR.MS.0201, Series 1, Box 3.
Charles, Myrtle E. (1953) “An Appreciation of Mrs. John Hugh Reynolds.” The Arkansas Methodist, April 2, 1953.
Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 16 June 2019), memorial page for Margaret Harwood Reynolds (3 Apr 1868–1 Mar 1953), Find A Grave Memorial no. 63794832, citing Oak Grove Cemetery, Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by ghost girl (contributor 46963474).
History of Woman Suffrage. Volume 6, page 18. [LINK]
“Mrs. Margaret Reynolds.” The Arkansas Gazette. March 4, 1954.
“Mrs. Reynolds Dies.” The Hendrix Bulletin. February 1953.
Rothrock, T. (1966). Dr. John Hugh Reynolds. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 25 (1), 22-35. Retrieved March 20, 2019, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/40018527?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ad687e915078596a2471abd285e105f5e&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents