Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of May Lee Wooten, 1881-1968
By Blair Stapleton, Assistant Dean of Public Services, Edith Garland Dupré Library, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
May Lee Wooten was born in February of 1881 in Farmerville, Louisiana to John M. and Vada B. Lee. Her grandfather, Judge John Taylor, provided the land for the site of the town of Farmerville. She attended Ouachita Parish Schools and upon graduation from high school, attended North Texas College and received a diploma from North Texas College (later Southern Methodist University). She married James R. Wooten of Cuthbert, Georgia in 1902 and lived with him there until they later returned to Monroe, Louisiana. Their first child, Anna Wooten, was born in 1903 and was followed by a brother, John, in 1906. She died at the age of 87 on June 30, 1968.
May Wooten was a prominent advocate for her community and spent a large portion of her life serving others through her involvement in a number of organizations. She was a strong supporter of women's rights and served in multiple organizations that were part of the suffrage movement in Louisiana. Between 1912 and 1915, she was a founding member and first Vice President of the Political Equality League of Monroe. She also served as a Vice President for the Fifth District of the Louisiana Federation of Women's Clubs and was the recording secretary of the Woman's Progressive Club. In 1915, she presided over the formal opening exercises of the sixteenth annual convention of the Louisiana Federation of Women's Clubs where nearly 100 delegates attended. After women won the right to vote, Mrs. Wooten served as a commissioner and clerk of elections for Ward 3 from 1922-1947.
Her involvement in politics was not limited to the suffrage movement. In 1917 she served as the Chairman of the Fifth District Section of the Woman's Section of the Navy League of the United States and was asked by the president of the national organization to create a Monroe chapter of the American Red Cross. During this time, she also served as a member of the Council of Defense.
Outside of her dedication to women's clubs, May Lee Wooten had a great love for her home and an interest in the beautification of the city of Monroe. In 1919, she and her husband purchased the Lower Pargoud Plantation and she had it fully restored to its former glory and lived there until her passing in 1968. She shared her passion of beautifying her home and her love of gardening with others. In 1935, she became a charter member of the Monroe Garden Club and served as president of the club. She later helped to organize the Monroe Beautification Board and served as Chairman of the board for eight years.
May Wooten had a great interest in genealogy and preserving the history of the families of Monroe. She was a member of the Monroe Committee of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Institute of American Genealogy. Her efforts tracing family lineages helped to boost the participation in these groups. An article in the Monroe Morning World from 1938 says, “There is no better authority in all Monroe than May Wooten, who has spent a lifetime delving into the archives of the city” (p.2).
A photograph of May Lee Wooten can be found in “The Interesting World of Women,” Monroe Morning World, April 2, 1964, p. 1B
Burns, Dottie. “The Interesting World of Women.” Monroe Morning World, April 2, 1964, 1B. http://www.usgwarchives.net/la/ouachita/photos/leemb.htm
“Social Department...Political Equality League.” Monroe News-Star, March 22, 1912, p. 2. Newspapers.com (Website)
“Women Urged to Fit Selves Now for Red Cross Service.” Monroe News-Star, February 9, 1917, p. 1 and 7. Newspapers.com (Website)
“Beauty Fostered By Garden Club.” Monroe News-Star, May 30, 1935, p. 2. Newspapers.com (Website)
“Society...Personals.” Monroe News-Star, February 5, 1952, p. 6. Newspapers.com (Website)
Eva C. Bradford. “The Sundial.” Monroe Morning World, June 19, 1938, p. 2. Newspapers.com (Website)
“Federation of Women's Clubs: Nearly a Hundred Delegates Attending Meeting at Monroe.” The Shreveport Times, November 18, 1915, p. 9. Newspapers.com (Website)
“Mrs. Wooten, 87, Of Monroe, Dies.” The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, July 1, 1968, p. 9. Newspapers.com (Website)