Biographical Sketch of Alice M.G. Pattison

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Alice M.G. Pattison, 1860-1947

By Maddison Haynes, Undergraduate Student, Northwest Missouri State University

Edited by Dr. Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University

Alice Maynard (Gould) Pattison was born on September 4, 1860, in Portland, Maine, to William Edward Gould and Emma Maynard (Dow) Gould. She was a member of a prominent banking family and developed a passion for art, instilled in her by her father who was a founder of the Portland Society of Art, now the Portland Museum of Art. Alice studied art in 1876 and 1877 at Wellesley College, a private women's liberal arts school in Massachusetts.

In 1892, at the age of thirty-two, Alice married Everett W. Pattison, a well-known lawyer living in St. Louis, Missouri, who was more than twenty years her senior. Everett and Alice had no children and traveled frequently. Everett had served in the Civil War, where he lost his hearing, and Alice learned to read lips in order to better communicate with him. She later studied lip reading formally at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis in 1914 and 1915 and taught her own students.

Alice was recognized for her social and civic involvement in the community. She was a charter member of the St. Louis Wednesday Club, which focused on issues like lessening air pollution and developing recreational facilities for children. The Wednesday Club also was used by women to participate in suffrage-related discussions and activities. Alice became more directly involved in suffrage by joining the Equal Suffrage League. She was featured in a St. Louis newspaper as a “notable figure” at a 1912 rally for suffrage in the city and participated in the 1919 National Suffrage Convention, also in St. Louis.

In addition to her suffrage work, Alice is probably most well-known for her commitment to the arts. Through the Wednesday Club, Alice became a member of the Missouri Federation of Women's Clubs and was the chairperson of its Art Committee. In that role, Alice compiled A Handbook of Art in Our Own Country. The General Federation of Women's Clubs published the book to serve as a guide for people interested in finding art in American cities. Following its publication in 1908, Alice spoke at clubs across the country and used the opportunity to spark an interest in art among the women she met and persuaded many clubs to add an art committee.

Alice also pursued her own interest in art by attending a summer session in 1909 at Harvard University, where she was one of the few women admitted into the program. After her summer at Harvard, Alice was elected the chairwoman of the Art Committee for the national-level General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC), and she became one of the vice presidents of the American Federation of Arts where she was one of only three female vice presidents out of a presiding body of twelve.

After her husband died in 1919, Alice opened the Pattison School for Lip-Reading as a memorial to him. She continued her local engagement, her commitment to the arts, and her love of travel until her death in 1947, at the age of eighty-six. In addition to her direct involvement in the push for suffrage and later as a member of the League of Women Voters, Alice M.G. Pattison's work with many civic organizations, her unusual freedom and independence as a married woman, and her support of the arts on the state and national levels expanded the role of women and supported the women's rights movement.

Images

Photograph of A Handbook of Art in Our Own Country (see attachment 1)

Photograph of Alice M.G. Pattison, St. Louis Dispatch (19 September 1940), p.41 (see attachment 2)

Photograph of Alice M.G. Pattison, St. Louis Star and Times (10 November 1912), p.2 (see attachment 3)

Sources

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and St. Louis Star and Times highlight Alice M.G. Pattison's club work, suffrage involvement, society presence, and educational leadership. Her women's club and deep devotion to art is explained by Karen J. Blair in The Torchbearers: Women and Their Amateur Arts Associations in America, 1890-1930 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994) and the Omaha Daily Bee, “What Club Women Are Doing,” (Omaha, Nebraska) September 8, 1908. She also appears in the Harvard University Catalogue: 1908-09 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1909), and her own publication is A Handbook of Art in Our Own Country, 1st ed. (Washington, D.C.: General Federation of Women's Clubs, 1908).

 

 

Alice M.G. Pattison, St. Louis Dispatch (19 September 1940), p.41

 

Alice M.G. Pattison, St. Louis Star and Times (10 November 1912), p.2

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