Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of May Chase (Mrs. L.H.) Cummings, 1882-1966
By Sonya Babakhanova, SUNY College at Old Westbury, Old Westbury, Long Island, New York
Faculty Sponsor: Carol Quirke. Reference Support, Christa Devirgilio.
Recording Secretary, Newark, New Jersey, the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association, 1915
May Chase Cummings was born on January 29, 1882 in Schenevus, Otsego County, New York. Cummings's parents were Julian F. Chase (1851-1931) and Rose Anna Bennett Chase (1853-1957). She had two siblings, John William Chase (1880-1964) and Lillian C. Chase (no dates available). In the Enumeration of Inhabitants of Schenevus for 1905, May Chase is listed as a school teacher. She was married on June 4, 1906 to Lee Herbert Cummings (1880-1964). She died at the age of 84 on December 25, 1966.
May Chase Cummings worked for the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association (NJWSA). This association was originally founded in 1867 by Lucy Stone. It was revived in the 1890's when it began to hold annual conventions. The Association did many things within the legal realm, such as lobbying for women to have the right to enter the legal profession in New Jersey and for women's suffrage. Cummings was an organizer for the 1914 annual meeting of the NJWSA, according to the Plainfield Daily Press. She was also a member of the Plainfield Political Study Club, was sent as delegate to the statewide NJWSA convention, and was elected Recording Secretary of NJWSA in November 1914. The 1914 convention, held in Camden, was addressed by Fola La Follette, the daughter of Wisconsin's Senator Robert La Follette, who admonished New Jersey women to go out into the countryside in horse and buggy to woo the rural vote. For La Follette, canvassing by automobile might link suffrage with the “money power,” reported the Central New Jersey Home News. In November 1916, Cummings helped host the NJWSA convention in Elizabeth. By 1920 she had moved to New York City.
“Enumeration of Inhabitants,” Schenevus, Otsego County, June 1, 1905, available at Ancestry.com.
New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association, “Campaign Statement: A Resume of Campaign Activities and an Analysis of the Vote on the Woman Suffrage Amendment in the State of New Jersey. October 19, 1915,” at https://lewissuffragecollection.omeka.net/items/show/1259.
“Officers Elected by Suffragists,” Central New Jersey Home News, November 9, 1914.
“Suffragists Meet in Convention,” Bridgewater Courier News, January 21, 1916.
“Women Plan for Great Gathering,” Plainfield Daily Press, October 27, 1914.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920-Population U.S. Census, 1910 and 1920, available through Ancestry.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed., The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 6. 1900-1920, (NY: J.J Little Ft. Ives Company), pgs. 422-3.