Biographical Sketch of Etta Haley Osgood

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Etta Haley Osgood, 1853-1928

By Gloria Polizzotti Greis, Executive Director, Needham History Center & Museum, Needham, MA.

Affiliations listed at bottom.

Etta Haley was born in Chatham, NH on 21 January 1853 to Thomas Jewett Haley and Lucretia Eaton (Colby) Haley. She attended Mt. Holyoke Seminary (now Mt. Holyoke College) from 1874 to 1876, with later graduate work at the University of Washington in Seattle. She married Edward Sherburne Osgood (1848-1930) of Portland, ME on 20 October 1877, and together they had three children – Ethel Stirling (b. 1878), Edgar Allen (b. 1880), and Arline (b. 1887). Ethel (Mrs. Charles Harry Leech) followed her mother's path and became a journalist and teacher. Edgar died at the age of 4 years. Arline (Mrs. Arnold P. Yerkes) died from tuberculosis in Washington DC in 1911, at the age of 23. The Osgoods moved from Portland to Philadelphia in 1904, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Etta Haley Osgood died in 1928 and is buried in Fryeburg, Maine.

As a young woman, Etta Haley supported her own education in part by teaching, beginning at the age of 16 in 1869, and continuing on and off until she married in 1877. Her husband, Edward Osgood, encouraged her to become a journalist. She started out as a special staff writer reporting on social and event news for the Portland Daily Argus, at which her husband was city editor. She later went on to report on the state legislature as a staff writer for the Portland Evening Express and the Portland Sunday Telegram, as well as writing as the Bar Harbor, ME correspondent for the Boston Globe, the New York Herald, and the Bangor Commercial.

Etta Haley Osgood is considered a pioneer of the Women's Club movement in the late 19th century. As women began to seek a greater voice in public affairs, women's clubs transitioned from primarily social and literary societies to more political entities seeking social reform in areas such as public education, child welfare, family planning, temperance, and suffrage. Because of her experience in writing and lecturing, as well as her familiarity with state government, Osgood was considered an authority on parliamentary procedure when establishing these clubs. She had a strong belief in the power of this collective action to effect reforms, and was a founder and member of a great many such clubs. She was the Founder and/or President of the Civic Club of Portland, the Maine Federation of Women's Clubs, the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association of Maine, the International Health Protective League (women's health and welfare), and was Parliamentarian for the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Later in her life, she became dedicated to mission work, and was a member and sometime officer of the Philadelphia branch of the Women's Board of Missions, the Pennsylvania Mission Society, and the Women's Board of Foreign Missions, focusing on children's health and welfare. She was also a member of the Livingstone Manor (Washington, DC) Chapter of the NSDAR, the New England Women's Press Club, and the Women's Literary Union.

Osgood's work in support of women's suffrage was an outgrowth of her broader support for women's intellectual and social well-being. She was the Maine member on the Executive Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, a life member of the New England Woman Suffrage Association and the Maine Equal Suffrage Association, and an officer of the Portland Equal Suffrage Association. She served for ten years a secretary of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association. She was included among the “pioneer suffragists” featured in the grand parade for the suffragist cause held in Washington DC on 3 March 1913. The Washington Times' report on the parade made much of the fact that it would include a mounted troop, led by two “beauties” riding a matched pair of Andalusians. Other participants would march, with cars provided for the women who were “too old” to march, Etta Osgood (aged 60) among them.

 

Sources:

“Etta Haley Osgood.” n.d. Prabook, World Biographical Encyclopedia. https://prabook.com/web/etta_haley.osgood/1082051. Accessed 11 April 2018.

Howe, Julia Ward and Mary Hannah Graves. 1904. Representative Women of New England. Boston: New England Historical Publishing Company. (via Google Books)

“Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association – Maine Association.” 1898-1899. Catalogue of the Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College. (via Google Books) [similar volumes from 1888-1900]

“Among Our Exchanges – The Club Woman.” The American Kitchen Magazine: a Domestic Science Monthly. Vol VIII, Oct 1897-1898, p. ix. Boston: The Home Science Publishing Company. (via Google Books)

Life and Light for Women, Vol 38, 1908, p. 132. Boston: the Woman's Board of Missions. (via Google Books)

“Beauties to Ride in Women's Parade on Fancy Steeds.” Washington (DC) Times, 13 January 1913, p. 1-2. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/79890474/. Accessed 11 April 2018.

Maine in History and Romance. 1915. By Members of the Maine Federation of Women's Clubs. Lewiston, ME: Lewiston Journal Company. (via Internet Archive) – source for image of EHO, frontispiece.

Women's Who's Who of America: a Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women in the United States and Canada. 1914-1915. John William Leonard, ed. New York: the American Commonwealth Company. [LINK]

Affiliations for EHO:

Societies and Clubs:

  • Affinity
    • Livingstone Manor Chapter, NSDAR (Washington DC)
    • New England Women's Press Club (member)
    • Women's Literary Union (VP)
  • Women's Clubs
    • Civic Club of Portland, ME (founder and 1st President)
    • Maine Federation of Women's Clubs (1st President, Director, and later Honorary Pres)
    • General Federation of Woman's Clubs – Parliamentarian and officer, 1890-1904
    • Intl Health Protective League (1st President)
    • My Holyoke Alumnae Assoc of Maine (Founder and President, incl at least 1888-1899)
  • Mission Societies
    • Woman's Board of Missions (Member and Treasurer, Philadelphia branch)
    • PA Mission Society (State Secretary)
    • Women's Board of Foreign Missions (life member – child welfare and mission work)

Jobs:

  • Teacher (at intervals) from 1869-1877
  • Bar Harbor, ME correspondent for the Boston Globe, NY Herald, Bangor Commercial
  • Special staff writer, Portland Daily Argus – social events etc
  • Editorial staff –Evening Express, and Sunday Telegram (both Portland)
  • Contributor to The Club Woman, journal, started 1898

Suffrage:

  • Life Member – National American Woman Suffrage Assoc
  • NE Woman Suffrage Assoc
  • Maine Woman Suffrage Assoc
  • Portland Woman Suffrage Assoc - officer, exec committee member
    • These last two are variously named as the Woman Suffrage Association and the Equal Suffrage Association. Although “Equal” sometimes indicates an association of men who supported women's suffrage, this does not seem to be the case here.
back to top